August 6, 2009
Alexander, better known as Sasha (Here if you guess a name to be Sasha 1 out of 2 times you'll be right!) picked us up at the airport at 1am. He made us feel very comfortable and we quickly realized that everything was as QSI had promised. We were not in danger. We were not part of a scam. This was the real deal. We enjoyed our one hour ride with Sasha from the airport to the apartment. Sasha is highly respected and a Kiev hero! After the 1986 nuclear power plant disaster of Chernobyl, Sasha led a group of men to clean up and seal the area to prevent the spread of toxic waste and radiation poisoning. Unfortunately all of the men responsible for the clean up of the area have since passed. Sasha is the only survivor of his crew, but too suffers from health problems.
Once we arrived at our apartment after our very long journey to Kiev, I briefly eyed over our new home, sat on the couch and cried. I guess reality hit me that we actually made the two year move to Kiev. We were in a foreign place, without necessities, without friends, without any contacts, and with many questions. Questions like: Is the water safe to drink? How and where do we get money? How in the world do you read these crazy symbols called letters? Can you flush toilet paper? Wait, do we even have toilet paper? We were dropped off at the steps of our apartment at 2am without food, water, money, phone number contacts, toilet paper, and other necessities. We didn't even know when we would get in contact with someone who could help us.
We decided that the best thing would be to try to sleep until the stores would open. Adam ventured out that morning and found a local grocery store with an ATM machine. He pulled out 100 Hrivna, the Ukrainian currency. With that he bought bread and water. We were unsure of the value of the Hrivna and later learned that a 100 is a whopping $12. In Germany with Ben's family they gave us a small jar of homemade strawberry jam. Unpacking my bags I rediscovered we had packed peanut butter, unsure if Ukraine would have it. Now with jam, peanut butter, bread, and water, we were all set. We ate PB&Js for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for about the next three days!
Later, Adam and I explored our neighborhood and walked back to the grocery store. Adam gave me the money he had pulled from the ATM to go get some necessities. Walking up and down the isles of the store I quickly became very overwhelmed! I could not read anything, and many things were difficult to figure out what product they were. My mission was to get necessities, so that's what I did. I found my way to the cleaning isle and, well, stared at the shelf for what had to be over 30 minutes. Nothing made sense. Nothing was recognizable. Is this mouthwash or all purpose cleaner? Finally, I made my decision. When Adam saw that my "necessity" was cleaning supplies, he regretted not going in the store with me. We went home, I cleaned and made PB&Js.
Adam and Riley looking out our 16th floor apartment window. Wow are we high. Riley misses watching out the window and seeing the squirrels run and play.
Around the corner from our apartment is a forest. The forest is unlike anything I am used to seeing back home in Colorado. The trees are very tall, skinny, and naked lacking fullness of branches and leaves. It is a great place to run Riley. Besides the trash throughout the area and the occasional fire left unattended (Smokey Bear would not be happy) it is a very nice park. This photo was taken in the Fall.
Welcome to Kiev International School! Our school campus is very clean and beautiful. I forgot how green it actually gets. I have not seen it like this photo in 4 months. Now it is buried under massive banks of snow.
Downtown Kiev, Independent Square. This is the hot spot for Kiev. This area is lined with beautiful architecture, popular restaurants, underground malls, fun activities, and the main street closes down on weekends for pedestrians.
Behind me is the Dnieper River. Upon moving here I saw many fisherman out on the river. Initially I thought it was normal here to fish in underwear, then I learned I am now in Europe and speedos are the cool thing. Scariest thing I have seen: Mullet-thong combo. We dubbed it the 'Mullong'.