Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Village

Merry Orthodox Christmas!  Since we were not allowed to visit our boys today, we went for a stroll around the village.  If ever there was a prime location for a prayer walk, this is it.  This is a fascinating place to visit.  I have always wanted to travel.  And not just to travel, but to see real life, away from the big cities and the tourist attractions.  Well, let me tell you, we have found real life here.  This is a very poor village in a rural area of the country.  On our walk to visit our boys each day, we attract many curious stares from the locals as we wind our way through narrow muddy streets, seemingly walking in circles, looking for the landmarks that will tell us where to go at each fork in the road.  Let's see . . . do we veer left after the slave market or right?  And if we go down this road, skirting around that giant pothole/mud puddle, and past the Muslim Temple, will that get us to the road with the sheep?  And then we look for the dome of the Orthodox Church . . . I am just glad we brought a compass, because it is easier to get turned around than you might think!  
this may look like an alley, but this is one of the many roads we walk down
to get to the Children's Home to visit our boys

we are told that this plaque explains that this park used to be the town's slave market

more remains from the slave market:  bars still on the door of this creepy
cell . . . ugh . . . gives me the shivers.  The auction block is right across the path

there are a surprising number of small shops downtown with
plenty to choose from . . . we've found a toy store, a clothing store,
an appliance store, a hat store . . . they look quite . . . ahem . . . intimidating
from the outside sometimes, but when we are brave enough to go inside
and try out our pitiful Russian on the shopkeepers, we usually find
ourselves pleasantly surprised by the selection and the service!

stray dogs fighting down the road we usually walk down . . . we decided
to go a different way instead

Lest you think all of the town is in quite so rough of shape, we also
discovered another part of town.  Here there were Soviet-era apartment
buildings in the "nicer" part of town.  Many of the roads were paved here.

There are usually people everywhere, walking right down the middle of the street,
but there were far fewer than normal today because it was Christmas.  So in all
of these pictures, keep in mind that there are normally far more people walking
all over the village than you see here.

This is the nicest house we saw in the entire village, and there
were several houses on this block that were very neat and clean.
Then we got to the next block and it was more
crumbling bricks and mud.

statue in the village square

another very nice home

And then, surrounded by all of that, in the village square, there is some sort
of children's carnival set up.  We are assuming it is only here for the holidays?
I am posting these pictures especially for my kids back home, because after
I told them about it, they wanted to see it for themselves!

more of the children's carnival

for a fee, children can drive a vehicle around the square

Sort of a trampoline/bungee jump type of attraction that my kids would LOVE!

The man would pull her down as far as he could before launching the little girl
backup into the air.  And the whole time, Derek was watching and saying,
"I could build something like that . . . "
By the way, if any of you are wondering about the fancy building behind that trampoline, I will tell you more about that in tomorrow's post.  But first here is a video of the trampoline, because my kids asked for it!  :)

And in case if today's photos have painted too bleak a picture of this village,
it actually seems to be a very warm and friendly place.  Everybody
is so helpful here, and forgiving of our total lack of communication abilities.
And there is joy in this village, right alongside the hardship:  this morning I heard
yelling and cheering outside our hotel window.  I stepped out onto the balcony
to see this Christmas Day wedding taking place right across the street from us!  
 Have you ever watched one of those cute European television programs filmed on location in a charming, rural village, populated by eccentric, unforgettable characters?  Those are some of my favorite types of shows.  And I feel like I am walking around on the set of one of those shows.  Like perhaps we are this week's guest stars in a show that really has nothing to do with us.  We are the strange Americans who wandered into town and everybody is glancing at us and then glancing away, wondering what would bring such unusual foreigners to a place so off the beaten path.  

So you may be wondering what sort of a place we may be staying in, after seeing the condition of the rest of the town.  More on that tomorrow!  Until then, Merry Orthodox Christmas from Rachelle and Derek!


Laura said...

Ukraine gave us a whole new appreciation for our lives in the United States. Hard to care if your kids all have the newest cell phones and IPods when you see this kind of poverty and experience life inside an orphanage. Take it all in and take notes. One day, you'll tell Gideon and Micah all about it.

Anonymous said...

Is it always so gray? Between the gray and the crumbling buildings it looks rather depressing. Praising God your hotel is a bit more cheerful! (I read the hotel post too.) The children's carnival seemed curiously devoid of actual...children. *chuckle* Aside, of course, from that one fearless little girl bungeeing her little heart out. Glad you are getting out and taking it all in. When we were on our pick-up trips we were pretty much hotel bound due to anti-American sentiment in Guatemala. White adults with brown children were met with suspicion and sometimes outright violence. Only two more days until you can see your boys again! I will pray that you are able to find and afford someone to accompany you on the pick-up trip.

Blessings, Judee in IA

Stephanie @ Ralphcrew said...

Prayer walk is right. This villiage is mostly Muslim. Glad you are exploring. Have fun!!