A day in V'yunyshche
Once Andrey and I arrived at V’yunyshche, his mom Sveta and godmother Tanya were there to meet us, as were an older godmother Romania who lives nearby and Tanya’s mom. None of them spoke English, but Andrey acted as translator.
The house is very traditional: it has an old fireplace and a saint’s corner in honor of saints from both Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches. It doesn’t have running water or electricity, but there’s a well in the back with cold water. We drew water from the well to drink and wash our hands with.
They used to have a bathtub in a second shed, but someone stole it, probably to sell for alcohol. An outhouse is attached to the storage shed with firewood. Past Couchsurfers have drawn pictures and written messages on the shed as evidence of their visits, so I added my own.
To get the party started, Andrey chopped firewood into smaller pieces for the fire pit, and his mom did some prep work like slicing up a hunk of pork belly. While she was doing that, Andrey and I went to pick apples from a couple of trees in the yard of an abandoned house to add to our compote of cranberries and blueberries, to be used as a chaser for his mom’s samohon. The word means “made by yourself”, which is appropriate for moonshine.
I cooked the pork belly and onions over the fire, and we boiled potatoes to mash.
While we waited for the other dishes, Andrey and I went to look for Barsik, his cat. Ever since Barsik started living in the village, he transitioned from being a completely domestic cat to a partially wild one. He gets to chase butterflies, hunt for birds and mice, and play in the forest every day. What a great life he has!
We came back to a feast. There was a huge plate of berries, a cucumber and garlic salad, a tomato and cucumber salad, pickled herring, pumpernickle bread, mashed potatoes, and the pork belly with onions I had cooked earlier.
We enjoyed our dinner outside on a table under a tree while the sun was setting. Andrey and I took so many shots of samohon and talked about different topics.
He studied psychology but doesn’t do it for money. Instead, he helps kids who are ill or orphaned, as well as the elderly. For work, he builds furniture and houses. Sveta works at a daycare. But after the most recent revolution, their salaries dropped by two thirds! (Wars are stupid.) He’s currently studying orthodoxy at a seminary even though he doesn’t believe in God but because he likes to understand where people are coming from. Maybe he’ll become an atheist priest. Andrey’s girlfriend Mariana is traveling around Kazakhstan and other countries in that area. She sounds like such a cool person! I hope I can meet her one day when she and Andrey visit SF.
Romania kept saying how beautiful I am: she appreciated how much I smiled. She has only met two people from outside of Ukraine, and the other was Stuart, a British guy who lived in Thailand and was Andrey’s first CS guest in the village. She made a yellow cake that we enjoyed with the berries. It was not too sweet and was just the right denseness. What an adorable grandma: I just want to take her home.
I introduced Andrey to the Sky Guide app since the stars were brilliant out in the countryside, and we saw the big and small dippers, Cassiopeia, and Draco. Around 00:30, Andrey and I finally took our leave and went to sleep. I took the bed in the first room, and he slept on some blankets on the floor. I really enjoyed my day in a traditional Ukrainian village!