10 June 2006

First American Meal

Our summer escapade to visit family in the USA has officially started. We boarded Continental 067 for Cleveland at London's Gatwick airport. The smiling flight attendant gave the kids their "children's meals". The kids were excited. "Our first American meal!" says Romchyk. The tray is loaded with fried chicken fingers, french fries, potato chips, and a Kit-Kat chocolate bar. Welcome to America.

08 June 2006

Crimea Induced Blogger's Block

It's been a long time since I blogged. Suffering from blogger's block. It all started with the crazy Crimea road-trip more than a month ago. The trip was so incredibly rich in varied and surreal experiences that I generated reams of notes and thoughts but ironically no writing output. The thought of sitting at a PC and coming out with the words became somehow inconceivable, and worse with everyday. To do our Crimea trip justice I should write a complete narrative... yeah right.

When I think back I see a movie montage of endless driving across steppes and winding up and down mountains. Crossfade to checking in and out of different hotels. In and out six times in nine days. Exploring the deserted pre-season beachfronts with their boarded up cafes like the “La La Land” in Alushta. The meeting with Dimri the real estate guy in Yalta whose parents are 100% Tatar, who spent 12 years living in Donetsk and now taught himself to speak and read Ukrainian and insists on raising his children as Ukrainians. “Where can I get Ukrainian books?” he asks. Hey…yevshan.com of course. Next scene we’re walking into the fortress in Sudak only to stumble into a medieval reinactment where fully suited knights are hacking at themselves with real swords. Big ones. Then, still in Sudak, a glimpse of the hotel restaurant where the lounge singer (from Lviv no less) lets each of the kids sing a song on the microphone. The oseledets was good. Oh yeah…the waitress told us how her 17 year-old son just finished a paper on the Holodomor. How proud he is to be Ukrainian. Hmm.

More driving scenes with empty pringles containers, squashed grapes and sprite bottles dropping out of the car when the doors open for pee breaks. Family roadside peeing: morning, day, and night.

Then there’s Koktebel. A fascinating beach and our walk in search of Voloshin’s house. There it is --- oops, closed for remont. Then I realized the boardwalk (no wooden planks here, like in the USA, but a granite and marble promenade) was particularly well done. Wait…zoom into a plaque hanging on the side of a stone fence…donated by Poroshenko, Kinakh, Tyhypko…hmm.

The sun was hot and bright on arrival in Feodosia. We loved the aura here – the small hotel we found even had a great swimming pool. Maybe the closing scene would be the view I had in the square in Feodosia as nightfall arrived and the flashing neon-sign on the wall of the bar in front of me read: “Bar-Tyr”. Yes, “bar-shooting range”. Strangely inviting. Fade to black.