Lance & Megan's Blog

Breakfast with Armenians

January17

Our last day in the Carpathians was unique. Allison had gone out for one last walk, Joanne and I were showering and packing. Just as Joanne and I were finished and I had just started to read The Magician’s Nephew out loud to Joanne, Allison burst into the room saying, “Hurry up get your coats on. We’re going to go have breakfast with Armenians.” [If anyone ever says that to you, do it.]

We were a little dazed and confused, but we obeyed. We went out and met with two families from Armenia that had come to Ukraine to vacation for the holidays. Allison had randomly started talking with them and they invited her to breakfast with them at a home down the road which they were renting.

On our way there they explained what we would be having for breakfast. It was a little difficult to figure it out at first, something about a cow that was boiled for days. We had a rough time figuring out what that something was. Was it just the meat? The bones? Some other strange part of the cow? Well it was not until they pointed to their feet that we realized that we were going to be eating cow hooves. Yep, cow’s hooves that have been boiled over several days… yum!

You eat it with a garlic mixture and salt, put a mountain of dried lavash (it’s a type of flat bread, the closest thing to a tortilla here.) And I’m not kidding about that mountain, a big pile of dried lavash, then you mash it all into your cow hoof soup. It’s called hash, the ‘a’ is long.

I don’t know quite how to describe the taste. The lavash created a slimy texture to it, the garlic was a nice touch. The Armenians that we breakfasted with told us that this is their national food and it is only had on special occasions. They look forward to eating it every year.

Some of our Armenian friends

The meal was followed by chatting, laughing, tea, dessert, and dancing. They told us about Armenia, their lives in Ukraine and at home as we shared about our lives. We were so blessed to be welcomed into a family’s meal and experience a bit of Armenia in Ukraine! What other way would you want to spend your last day in the Carpathians?

I wasn't kidding about the dancing.

A miraculous return

January15

Just wanted to share about two English students that we feared may not return to the school after holidays.

One student, Sveta, returned to her home in Belarus and was told at the border that she did not have the right paperwork and that she would not be allowed to come back into Ukraine. She had not had problems before and has frequently crossed the border between Belarus and Ukraine. The officer was nice and told her that when she tried to return to call him (he gave her his number) and he would make sure that she got through.

Sounds so nice right?

Well she knew better, she asked him how much that would cost. He said “Oh don’t you worry, not much.” Hmmm, right. Bribes are incredibly common in just about any part of Ukraine.

Another student, Ruslan, went home to Moldova. He has had multiple problems before so it was no surprise that he was stopped at the border and actually had to get off the bus to talk things over with the border guards. He was told a similar story; not the right papers, need some stamp here, pay some fine, bla bla bla. He was told he would be deported if he returned without the right papers and stamps. He had to wait until another bus came through the border in order to get home.

I met with both students over skype to hear their stories and gain some understanding. We prayed and asked God to make a way.  We all believed that they would get through since God had already called them to the school.

Two days before the school started, I got an email from Sveta in Belarus saying that she made it back and was in Kiev! They did not even ask her any questions!

I sent Ruslan a message asking what he was planning on doing. He replied saying that he was leaving the next day. Later I got a call from a mutual friend who was driving Ruslan back saying that they had been stopped again and that we should pray. Ten minutes later, he called back saying that he had been deported.

Yep, then he laughed and said “Gotcha, they let him through.” Praise the Lord!

Our whole class made it back from their holiday break!

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New Year’s Getaway

January15

Our time in the Carpathians was wonderful… we had a great break. No one could ask us grammar questions, we didn’t have to worry about anyone doing their work duties or not, no marking papers, and no writing of lesson plans. It was shear bliss.

Allison hiking away

 

Climbing the mountains

One student, Dima, came with us just to make sure the hotel was good and that they would not try to cheat us. The hotel was tiny, but it was nice. We arrived on New Year’s eve and were exhausted. We laid down for a bit, watched a movie and then went down to try and order some food. The restaurant was being prepped for the evening’s festivities so we could only order food to be brought up. It was kinda funny since all the hotel staff knew we were foreigners who did not know Russian or Ukrainian and they all knew what rooms we were in. We went up to decipher the menu and a little later the waiter came to our door to take our order.

While we were waiting for our food we played a game, but in the middle of our game the power went out. There were emergency lights in the hallways but not in the rooms. The food came shortly after, but we had to eat in the dark. It was hilarious since I had randomly packed my headlamp and that became our only source of light for about 3 hours.

The hotel was moderately quiet the whole of the night. We watched one more movie, chatted and then fell asleep at about 11. The fireworks woke us and we wished each other happy new year and went back to sleep again with our clothes on. It was quite comical to wake up the next day all in the same bed with our clothes still on.

Our Hotel: El Dorado

Almost to the top…

The rest of our time there was spent wandering the hills (I call them hills because compared to the mountains in Washington that’s what they are.) We explored mountaintops and wound around hills. There was not much snow, but the scenery was beautiful.

 

(If you came across a mini snowman on a mountain, wouldn’t you want to decapitate it too?)