Went to the countryside again over the weekend. I know there’s a happening scene here in Lviv on the weekends but I, for some reason, am more interested in the simple life. Here’s a video of the area around Ulyana’s house. It’s so serene. In the video you’ll see geese wandering all around. I asked Ulyana if the geese ever get lost and then there are village scuffles about whose goose is whose. They said that they geese know their homes and so they go out and wander around but they know which house is theirs. So it was funny to see little cliques of animals all cruisin around town. Also, you’ll see a really cool Polish church called a kostel. I found out that if it’s a Greek Catholic church it’s called a tserkva and if it’s a Polish church it’s a kostel. So this kostel is pretty much empty and abandoned.
On our way to Ulyana’s parents’ house in the countryside we stopped by to meet Roma’s parents. I’ve never actually met Roma in person, but he’s told me all about his family and so it was very interesting and surreal to meet them all in person when I still haven’t even met Roma in person. His parents have a big farm with wheat and animals and all sorts of farm stuff. They are usually really busy in the summer, what with harvest and all. So we just stopped in thinking that Oleh would just introduce me, we’d say hello and the whole process would take maybe 15 minutes. I know they are busy and I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. But come on, that doesn’t happen here. People are way too hospitable.
I told Ihor, Roma’s other brother that I was interested to meet them so I wonder if he told them that I might be coming. But they invited us in, had us sit at the table and then proceeded to bring out massive amounts of food. Where did all the food come from? It was all already prepared, the borsch was hot. I mean there was TONS of food.
They were so happy to have me over even though they had lots to do.
The parents took turns scurrying in and out of the kitchen while the other would come out and ask me questions about….American wages and life in America. They got out photo albums and showed me photos. I was loving it. All the while more and more food kept coming out but I was the only one eating because Ulyana’s mom was waiting at home for us with a meal she had prepared.
His sister was the sweetest girl ever. I felt bad though because every time she would ask me a question I would have to ask her to repeat herself because she talked so sweetly and quietly.
They wanted us to stay longer and I really wanted to but the whole group of friends was waiting on me. So we had to say goodbye. Roma’s mom wondered if I could take him back some apples from their farm or some type of food. I tried to explain that I wasn’t going to be back inAmericafor another 3 weeks(and then it would take another week in the mail to get it toNew York) and that you can’t get produce through customs. They were kind of heart-broken.
They were so sweet. I can’t even describe to you how wonderful they were. These are the kind of people that make me so in love with this place.
The next day we went to the sauna(and a little water to the rocks and it can also be called the banya or the parnya, par=steam). Oleh had rented a little cabin in the forest (although it was kind of a park, there were 5 weddings going on at the time we were there) The sauna/parnya is a huge part of the culture here. There are all sorts of customs and traditions and beliefs associated with it. For example, you’re not supposed eat for two hours before steaming. And you’re not supposed to sit in there alone.
You wrap yourself up in towels or sheets and then you go in the sauna for about 5 minutes at a time. While sitting in the sauna people look around at each other to see who is sweating the best. I felt really proud of myself when I could feel sweat dripping down my neck. Also, a new word I learned I learned for this context is peche which means ‘it’s cooking’. I had to put a towel over my ears because they were cooking.
The wood gets so hot that it cooks your bum. The word for both testicles and ovaries in Ukrainian is also the word for eggs. So at one point Ulyana told her boyfriend to but an extra towel under him because she doesn’t like scrambled eggs.
The sauna was about 130 degrees celsius. It was so hot it kind of hurt to breathe. While you’re in there they take a bundle of oak branches and beat your back. I liked this part but I was to shy to tell him to beat me harder. I didn’t want them to think that I was ‘that kind of girl’. After your sessions in the sauna you can take a cold shower or take a dip in the pond. I declined on this part. We sat outside and cooled down, enjoyed the fresh air, while the mosquitoes enjoyed our fresh blood.
After the sauna Oleh made shashlyk. Shashlyk are a wonder to me. How are they so delicious? I can’t wrap my head around it. Everyone knows how to prepare them but I still don’t know how. They are so simple and yet the flavor is so good.
While we were in the cabin there were weddings going on all around. I couldn’t resist the little boy in his traditional embroidered shirt. So we arranged a little interview. He was so cute. I’m a sucker for little kids speaking foreign languages.
That night in the countryside I didn’t sleep very well, although they say that after the sauna you’ll sleep ‘like a dead person’. Well I might have slept well if it weren’t for all the animals squawking, mooing and cock-a-doodle-ing at the buttcrack of dawn. They are so NOISY!!! Who do they think they are? The most annoying of them all were the geese. They just squawked non-stop all morning. Later on that day we ate one of them for lunch, so I felt vindicated.