Soviet Love Scene <3

Travel adventures from my waning time here in Ukraine.

L’vov for the day:)

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I have made it to the city of L’vov, it’s not quiet the final destination on my trip but close enough. L’vov is one of the nicest places in all of Ukraine, and along with 6 other guys last night we conquered the 27 hour train ride to have the chance to walk on the cobble stone streets of the ancient city.

The train ride was actually quite pleasant. It provided some time for male bonding, which never hurts and just a chance to relax. And considering that the bed on the train is probably better than my bed at home, I slept very well, which speaks volumes about my quality of life (sleep). But!!!!!! But most important! We left fiber out of our diet for 27 hours and hence avoided certain death. 

So back to L’vov… everything is green, the sun is shining and people are smiling. A stark contrast to what I left behind in East Ukraine. In about an hour I’m getting on a bus and heading to an even nicer part of Ukraine – the mountains. I would like to stay in L’vov a little longer but this is my second trip here already and I yet to make it out to the Carpathian Mountains.

 Thats all for now<3<3<3

P.s. I’ll upload pics when I get a chance. The Internet cafe that I am sitting in doesn’t have a usb drive.

Written by Joseph Garza

April 21, 2009 at 08:45

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Since last post…

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Its been a busy couple of weeks for me.

Since my last post I celebrated my birthday by taking a train to Kyiv and participating in a basketball tournament. It wasn’t too serious but nonetheless it was fun.

After that I went to Oster, the village that I lived in when I first arrived to Ukraine, to hang out with my host family. My host mother’s birthday is a day after my own, so I decided to pay them a visit. The village was great. Nothing has changed too much, aside from a couple of new stores. I planted a couple of cherry trees there before I left. They were a gift for my host mother and she insisted that I plant them, and so I did with the help of my old host pops Sasha.

I left the village back for Kyiv and then caught a train back to Lugansk. I met a really wonderful girl on the train, Masha, and so the ride back home wasn’t too bad. I made it home just in time to get right back to teaching. I wanted to work a lot that week and the following because I knew I was packing up to travel again the next week.

What else…

I have  taken up old school soviet bike riding. I borrowed a really old soviet bike from my friend and now I can go off-roding in the steppe. Its been great to get some fresh air and see spring blossom before my eyes. Coincidentally I have also taken up old school soviet bike repairing. The old thing has to be oiled up every couple of days. I guess its a good thing, before that the only thing I knew about bikes is that the two wheels spun around. Know, with the help of buddy Leosha, I know the finer points of old school bikes.

Tomorrow I leave for the Carpathian Mountains for our Close of Service conference. Its the conference where Peace Corps gives us all kinds of information about what to do when we are done with our service. I’m glad because I get to see all of my friends and we get to relax in a sanatorium in the mountains.

I hope everyone is enjoying Fiesta :)Ye ol' soviet Bike in the steppe.

Written by Joseph Garza

April 18, 2009 at 12:41

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Walking around town

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Over the past couple of months I have come to appreciate the little town of Krasnodon where I live. Partly because I get to leave back home soon but more importantly because I have started exploring more of it. I remember my friend and fellow volunteer whom has already left back home, Gillian, would call me up on the phone while she was strolling about her town. I would always ask her why she would want to walk around such a depressing place. Like me she also lived in Eastern Ukraine. I forget how she would answer, but now that the end is in sight for me I also find myself strolling about town. I guess she was just soaking up as much of her town as possible as I am now doing.

Most Ukrainian towns are pretty quaint albeit a little depressing. In the east or industrial part of the country the towns are a little dirtier, and a little dustier, but underneath that rusted soviet facade there is still some charm. The towns still have the same infrastructure as they did when Stalin and Lenin were walking arm in arm with their fellow comrades. Tall gray apartment buildings stand out amongst the landscape and succeed to this day in their goal of bringing everyone together for a more communal way of living. Every city that I have traveled to in Ukraine has at least this common denominator: tall, gray, drag buildings. Some places more than others and some less.

Here in my town I do stumble upon other kinds of buildings every now and again; a building that is nice because it is different and not gray. Today on my walk through the park I came across a small stone building, I think it could of been limestone, which predated the current soviet concrete architecture. It had plants in the windows and trees in the yard, and I just couldn’t believe it – I get my entertainment and inspiration in more creative ways here in Ukraine in case you haven’t noticed. Well, the small stone building made me think of what this part of the world would look like if it wasn’t all destroyed and then rebuilt into the monotonous gray style that it now is.

I think I would be pushing the envelope to say that it would like the rest of Western Europe, but I’m sure that it would look at least 3 times better than it does now and it would make Krasnodon an overall better place to live. For example: Western Ukraine has many older and beautiful buildings, and appeals to people for that fact alone. In my opinion the people are nicer there in comparison to easterners because they have a more aesthetically pleasing environment to live in. The west gets more tourists which in turn puts more money into the local economy, and I could go on and on but you get the point. And all of this is possible because a simple building, or rather a lack of them. 

I guess the grass is always greener on the other side, but I’m okay with that. I have come to appreciate my town on a different level. And if I lived in a nice looking town I might have not been able to reach that level of awareness. This ol’ dusty place has become my second home.

Written by Joseph Garza

April 2, 2009 at 22:56

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Spring Break 09′

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YYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEAaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!! Alright Spring Break! I am so happy:) I love the sun, and the beach, and the ladies.

Wait wait wait, just one second now. I’m in Ukraine. Oh yeah:( Bummer. That means Spring Break is the absolute same as any other week. I guess I am happy for all of my friends back in the States or wherever they may be living it up under the sun.

I wasn’t lying I really do love the sun, and shiny bodies ,and all that good stuff, but I’m doing fine without all the niceties. The weather is gradually getting better here in Ukraine. Right now my heater is on the lowest possible setting, which is good for two reasons: 1. its getting warmer outside and 2. my landlady won’t come around and tell me my apartment is too hot (what’s up with that).  Back to the weather. Yeah, so, instead of the sun setting at 4 o’clock in the afternoon – I was wondering why I was so SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), the sun has been setting at the nice healthy hour of 6 o’clock.

Don’t get me wrong the sun is great and all, but that doesn’t mean everything is fine and dandy. When the sun comes out after its Winter nap everything gets really nasty. Why? Because all the snow melts and turns into brown, gray, mud. It’s nasty.2

Besides the nastiness of Ukrainian streets in small towns, I still have a week off of school for Spring Break and I’m making the most of it. Yesterday I went on an excursion with my buddy Leosha. Ancient wall 1I have to tell a little back story on why I went on this excursion in the first place: the other day for fun I googled restaurants in Krasonodon, the small city where I live here in Eastern Ukraine, and found some pretty cool information about the town written by an Ex-Pat who lives in Lugansk – sorry for dropping all of the names of places that you guys have never heard about. So the site I found was on virtual tourist and it had links on interesting things to do in Krasnodon. I told Leosha that on the outskirts of town that there is an ancient wall that’s over 1,000 years old. We checked out some pics then decided to go out and find the site. After getting on a huge soviet trolley bus we were on our way.

On the ride there Leosha and I were having a discussion on the exact location of this so called ancient wall. The information on the site said it is by a cemetery and to take a certain bus. So with that information in hand we began to search the steppe for signs of ancientness. I spotted a cross atop a church in the distance and from there we figured that the cemetery would be nearby and our wall. And it was. The only bad part was that we had to trek across the steppe to get there, a muddy situation indeed. Once we arrived to the wall by sneaking through on old soviet cemetery (creepy) it was pretty anti-climactic. The wall, or rubble was weak sauce. The guy who estimated the wall to be around 1,000 years old might have been a couple of centuries off with his calculations.3

It was worth the trip though. We found this old building in the middle of the steppe that looks like an old Star Wars vehicle that you would find on Tatooine. I really have no idea what the building is. What do you think? At the top of this building there are doors that I think used to open and close.4

Oh my!!! What other adventures will I seek out on my way back home?5

Written by Joseph Garza

March 24, 2009 at 17:23

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