Marshrutky, Mashiny and Yamy

July 11, 2011

Wow, this weekend was exactly what I was dreaming about when I was dreaming of this trip. I don’t even know where to begin to describe how absolutely wonderful it was. But here goes nothing.  This is going to take several posts to cover it all.

 On Saturday we went to the village that Ulyana is from.  It’s about an hour northwest of Lviv.  We took a marshrutka, which look like shuttle buses but they run on certain routes for the same price as the buses and they take off as soon as there are enough people in them.  So they kind of undermine the bus market, I guess you could say.  It would be like people with private planes waiting on the tarmack at the airport and they offer to get you there for the same price but without any layovers.  See, they don’t have a bus lobby(then again we don’t hear a lot about the ‘bus lobbyists’ in Washington, do we?) here that would throw a giant fit about such a business, so it works out.  So the marshrutki are convenient, yes, comfortable, no.  Which is funny because, you know, convenient and comfortable are the same word in Russian/Ukrainian: udobno/zruchno.  

One of the most common themes that Ukrainians ask me about Americais ‘how are the roads there?’ Their roads are a source of shame for them, for some reason.  Yes, they are pot-holed, as are the roads in many bankrupt cities in America, but they are nothing to humiliated by.  But…sitting in the back of that marshrutka  I realized, wow, the pot holes kind of suck. It was hot, the air smelled of body odors (which I’ve become used to but when you’re nauseated they can just send you over the edge) and the bus was bumping all around on the yamy (pot holes).

If Ukrainians have cars they are treasures. Ulyana’s dad and boyfriend would drive so fast, maybe 80 mph, but when they came to those pot holes they break and slowly, gently and lovingly try to navigate around those potholes.  The amusing thing is that the stretches that they were able to drive fast were only maybe for about 20 seconds.  Oleh also slowed down for an actual speed bump.  I found it funny that the town would spend money for speed bumps when they have the yamy that do the trick just fine.

I knew we were going to be driving to the nightclub and I was a little worried that Oleh, Ulyana’s boyfriend might be drunk by the time it came time to drive us home.  I didn’t really know how I was going to react if he got behind the wheel drunk. I was nervous about it.  But then when I saw how he so affectionately protected his car from the damage of pot holes I realized that he wouldn’t drink and drive, not so much for moral reasons or because of the danger it might pose to his passengers but out of love for his car. So this put my soul at peace.

And then there’s also the old horse and carriage that people still drive everywhere in the village, with hay and groceries in the ?trailer?(sorry I’m not up on my horse and carriage vocabulary).  This horse and carriage was parked outside the bar.  This puts the horse in sort of an awkward position when it comes to being responsible about drunk driving.

The other thing you have to share the road with in the village is livestock.  There are goats and chickens wandering around freely.  Horses tied to poles outside of little shops, just patiently waiting for their owners.  Dogs that bask in the sun in the middle of the road… Ulyana’s dad, Bogdan turned the corner and came to a screeching halt because of the scene you see here to the right.  Yes, we have cows in America but they aren’t being herded across the highways by little old grandmas.  Again, Ulyana and Bogdan were so amused that I found this surprising.  I’m sorry, call me naïve, but this struck me as a photo must.

More to come on my trip to the countryside!

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