Very long walks
Spring is taking its time to arrive in Kirovograd. Last Monday, a friend of mine suggested that we take a walk. As it was hailing, and then snowing, on Monday, I declined the offer.
However, after a week of cold and rain, and a sunny but deceptively cold day on Friday, when she suggested a walk yesterday, I was feeling a bit stir-crazy, having had enough of hiding inside in front of a space heater. So I decided to take her up on it. Little did I know what a “walk” means to her!
She showed me a part of Kirovograd that I previously did not know existed. It is another location that is more popular in the summer, as it is along a river. I also saw that Kirovograd has a dam. We walked until we hit either the edge of the city or just until we could no longer walk, and as the sun was going down, I suggested we return.
On the way back into the center of the city, she asked if I wanted to go for coffee (or tea). I said I would rather have a beer or glass of wine, so we decided that was the way to go. We decided against the first cafe because it was small and people were smoking. The second one we passed by because it was busy. The third, because it was smoky AND busy. The fourth, which took a rather long time to get to and was no longer in the center of the city, was empty…because it was not open.
At this point we had been walking for three hours, so I was very tired, very thirsty, and needed “facilities”. I declined her offer to find another cafe, and decided it was time to go home. She suggested that we meet again today and explore another part of the city, and luckily I was still clear-headed enough to bump her suggested meet time from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
So this morning we met, took a short marshrutka ride, and then went on another walk. On today’s walk we went around part of a lake that I did not know existed, literally in the shadow of some of the large apartment buildings in town. Both yesterday and today it was much like being in a village, but we were only a short way from the center of the city. At the lake we saw a beaver, many frogs, and the first ducks of the season. Also many dachas, both there and further away from the lake – ah, there are where all the veggies and fruits at the bazaar come from during the summer!
These dachas were tiny – most of them don’t have kitchens, only one small room, and outdoor toilets (if any). Some have outdoor showers as well. Many of them were no longer kept up, because the people who had used them died, and they were passed down to the next generation, who is too busy or too indifferent to use them. I took photos of a few of them, of course.
After we left the lake area we walked to the next area, passing bee houses, more dachas, through a cemetery, and happened upon a rather interesting sight – it was not a real church, but was a small roundish building, with religious icons on it and people standing in front of praying to them. Behind it was a fresh water source (which, I’ll be honest, I won’t be using – I’ll keep buying bottled water for drinking) and near it was a small pool in an enclosed (without roof) area, which, we were told, was blessed water that people were meant to bathe in (bathing being without soap, of course, as it was for being blessed or something). It was very interesting, and even my friend said she did not know that it existed before we happened upon it.
And then…we went to church. On my way into the center of the city this morning, the marshrutkas were unusually busy, and I asked her why. I forgot that today is Palm Sunday – in Ukraine it is not called Palm Sunday, it is called Willow Sunday. Makes sense, because Willows are in season, whereas palms are not…People were selling branches, which others bought, brought to church, had blessed, and then went into church to light a candle.
After we left the church, I realized that we had been out on another three-hour walk. By this time, I was feeling kind of beat. Maybe it is the fact that I was inside all winter, and did not do a lot of walking. Therefore, when I did all that walking within a 24 hour period, I was feeling it. I am trying not to think that it is my age, or the fact that I have put on some weight over the winter. Whether it was none, one, or all of these factors, I was moving much slower than she was, and even slower yet by the end of our walk today. Guess I have to get into shape to be taking marathon walks with her!