Monday, May 3, 2010

The Old Country 1

Oh happy day, I've found a computer that "really understands" my camera. And so here is the post with pictures.

Well, when I last left you, I was on my way to the sticks - or the true Old Country. Cousins Kathy and Tim and I were met in Lviv by Cousin Arsen and his friend Pavlo, who is actually a relative. I believe that his grandmother was my great-grandfather's cousin, but don't quote me on that. But Pavlo is one hell of a nice guy. He was nice enough to drive us all the way back to the village from Lviv in his new (to him) Subaru that he bought from some gangster in Donetsk. Before we hit the road, we stopped in at Galya's for food and booze. Volodya was there, but he was quite antisocial. That's OK. I still like the guy.

(From left: Cousin Tim, Galya, Cousin Kathy, Cousin Arsen, Pavlo)
And then we were off! And then I remembered that I left my back pack with all my money in it at Galya's. And then we went back! And then we were off! And five bone-jarring hours later we pulled into Peremyliv. I tell you what, it was a very tough drive. The roads in Lviv Oblast (the Ukrainian equivalent of a state) are horrible. They're all uneven and there are potholes everywhere. When you get to Ternopol Oblast things improve, but by comparison with roads in the U.S., they still suck mightily.

So we pulled into Arsen's place (formerly my Aunt Zosya's house) at around six. Thanks to the fact that Arsen is a genius workman, he has a modern house. By that, I mean he's got indoor plumbing. I believe he's the only house in the village to have that. Everybody else has outhouses. So running water and a real toilet - we lived like kings! Anyhow, we got settled and I went around back to take a look at the river.

You'll also notice that this waterway is suspiciously straight. That's because the Communists deemed it too meandering, so they had it straightened. Not only are they dicks, but they're also laughably petty.

OK, so we sat down to evening food-and-booze. Arsen's wife Lesa went quite heavy on the pork products. She said that was because just the day before, they had four pigs and now they have two. Yeah, so just the previous day, our dinner had been oinking and wallowing in its own filth and enjoying life as much as a pig can manage, but now it was one of the entrees. Although it's bit tragic, the pork was very tasty.

I guess I should introduce Arsen and family. The last time I was there, his first marriage was coming to an end. Since then, he's gotten married to a nice country girl and had three kids: two twin boys, Volodya and Andriy:

And his youngest is Orest:

The twin boys are slightly strange. They do a lot of staring. After we arrived, they would, say, be in a room playing and somebody, say, me, would walk in that room. They'd stop playing and just stare, stare, stare. It happened again and again. I'd cobble something together in Ukrainian like: "Hey, what are you guys doing?" Stare, stare, stare. They had a friend come over, a very boisterous kid named Artur. They made Lego things. I came in and asked them what they were building. Stare, stare, stare. It wasn't until a few days later that I was able to have actual fun with them after I invented a game called "Give Me Your Face." As for Orest, he's a very active baby, very friendly, very good-natured. I don't know whether it's because we're in the middle of freakin' nowhere or in a simpler part of the world or what, but playing with this kid is more fun than a video game. He likes to jump, so you just hold him up and he starts jumping. It's fun all the time, every time.

Well, most improtant of all is that we arrived. Tomorrow, the hard visiting (and drinking) will begin. My Cousin Ivan is coming in from Kiev to see us. He's a jolly fellow, always good for a larf and then some.

So I'll close with these two cow's eye views of Peremyliv:

And here's neighboring Karashintsy:

There's nothing out-of-the-ordinary with either of these places. They're just Ukrainian villages.


Anonymous said...

Too bad about the camera, but your great writing more than makes up for it.

ruffhauser said...

Post the pics when you get back to the States

Anonymous said...

I think I like the Imagination Game more than seeing actual pictures, honestly.

Anonymous said...

Wish you had more pictures since I am apparently related to most of the people in this small village.