Last time I was here, it was winter and bitterly cold. As a result, I was surprised to see how lush and green the land is around my friend's house. She informed me that Ukraine was considered the Bread basket of the Soviet era. Everyone has a garden plot that they tend lovingly and intentionally because they often depend on their plots for many of their vegetables and possibly some of their income. In a truly foreign twist, many of them seem to find the most comfortable way to garden is in their boxers and bras. Is this any different than those in our country that find it sensible to garden in their swimsuit or trunks?
I have been able to spend two evening meals eating with local families. The first family had their Russian sister also visiting who taught me the find Russian art of toasting elaborately and often while eating. Needless to say, her tongue was loosened soon after we started to ask us our views on politics and to give us hers in return. The second meal was an open house birthday celebration where the mother in law gave us a beautiful bouquet from her lush garden. Both of the homes were sized for modesty and usefulness. When you don't have space to waste, you learn how to make do and use well the space you have. Kitchens double as living rooms and living rooms double as bed rooms and all this is perfectly normal in this part of the world.
I also went to the dentist while I was here. I'm always surprised at how cheap medical/dental services are overseas. For $40 I was able to get two cavities taken care of by a very professional, albeit slightly old school, dentist. Why in the world does America allow the crazy insurance scheme continue instead of opening it up for competitive prices?
Twelve days is much too long to be away from my husband and kids. Thankfully both the Amsterdam airport and Warsaw airport had free wi-fi available. With Skype on my iPod I have been less sad as I'm able to see their sweet faces and scold them if needed.
On Monday I will be taking a 3 hour train ride to Lviv, Ukraine and then a 5 hour plane ride to Amsterdam. I am hopeful that trying to fly standby out of Amsterdam at the beginning of summer won't cause me to have to spend multiple days waiting in the Amsterdam airport, but we will see.