Kicking summer off right is essential to a good summer. You need to do it early on otherwise you run the risk of never kicking it off. I have succeeded at this during the past three days. Here’s how.
To kick off the weekend, I headed out to the river with Lyuda and some of her friends for a day of swimming and the sun. We took the 8:30 train for about a half hour then hiked forty-five minutes to the riverside. Walking through the Ukrainian countryside was peaceful, relaxing and unlike most of what I’ve seen in the States.
After setting up camp on the beach, we stripped down to our swim suits which were an odd mix in my opinion. I had my board shorts. The other guys (both older than me, one much older) wore Speedo type suits. One of the ladies had a two-piece (normal to Americans) and one had an American style top and was wearing what appeared to be underwear bottoms. I felt out of place. I am out of place.
I decided to wait on hitting the water until the sun came out in full force so I lied in the sun and read and then took a short nap. Should have applied a layer of sunscreen before my nap because my skin was tender when I rose. I attempted a dip in the water to cure my burn, no dice.
After playing some badminton we packed up and headed back to catch the last train home (around 4:45). I asked Lyuda where we were going to buy our tickets because the ticket window at our stop looked like it hadn’t been used in years. She said we weren’t going to buy tickets. Not exactly legal, but I didn’t put up a fight (we ended up buying tickets on the train because the woman in charge of the train car came by and asked if we needed tickets).
Next time I will remember to put on a thick layer of my children’s sunblock before I lie in the sun.
Sunday, I started my week long trip by heading to Kiev for a Technology for Development working group meeting. We’re just a bunch of nerds sitting around trying to find ways to help increase technology use in Ukraine and then we head into the field and do it. I do my part by being the PR Czar (my official title). Every week, I write Tech Tips for the Peace Corps Ukraine Friday Digest, I take minutes at meetings and I’m in charge of any other PR related things.
I received a lot of praise for my work on the Tech Tips column. I thoroughly enjoy writing it and it’s nice to hear good words from time to time about it. It also constitutes a small, but significant, portion of my email traffic because people email me with praise for it or, more often, seeking solutions to computer problems.
Our meeting went smoothly and ended early so I had time to kill before my train left. The working group decided to get lunch together and settled, without much trouble, on Chinese food. I haven’t had Chinese food in over eight months, so I was in. I originally ordered sweet and sour pork but I guess the kitchen was out of it. So, after a fair amount of time, I switched my order to some dish with beef and had a rating of three chili peppers. I also do not think I’ve had beef in over eight months (with the exception of McDonalds). Due to me having to wait a long time, the kitchen staff sent out a huge portion of my food for me. I finished almost all of it.
After the lunch, I jumped on a five hour train to Jacque’s site for the week. She asked if I wanted to help her with her school-sponsored summer camp. While the camp isn’t what I expected, it certainly has started out with some fun.
Today, we took a trip to another PCV’s site about an hour from Jacque to visit a monastery and then teach the kids how to play flag football. Both were fun, but I enjoyed the football the most. It was interesting to hear three of us PCVs try to explain as simply as we could in English and Russian how to play the game. I’d say we half succeeded.
If being awesome at summer is a competition, I’d consider myself to be in the lead.