Presentation on theme: "Our Kerch Flat Tour! Want to see how Peace Corps folks live? Why? Well, Peace Corps Volunteers in Ukraine arrive at their sites with only about a hundred."— Presentation transcript:
Our Kerch Flat Tour! Want to see how Peace Corps folks live? Why? Well, Peace Corps Volunteers in Ukraine arrive at their sites with only about a hundred pounds of luggage - two bags and a carry-on is all you can bring! And - two bags and a carry-on is all you can bring! And when it is time to leave here twenty-seven months later we are still only authorized a hundred pounds – just two bags and a carry-on is all you can take home with you! So, our lifestyle is pared down and modest. We live simply. Most of the things we accumulate here will be left behind when we leave – but we will certainly take away some wonderful memories i Well, time to tour our cozy Crimean flat!
Before I actually take you inside our tiny flat, lets take a quick look at the outside of the building. We live just two blocks from the Black Sea – among the trees near the Ferris wheel in the lower photo on the left. Our courtyard window in the fenced garden above, is behind the little store above right. Our street-side window looks out on the edge of the outside seating area. You will see when you get inside. OK. Lets go in – the entryway is dark and scary which seems typical of all Ukrainian apartments weve visited.
We live on the ground floor at the bottom of the stair on the left. The doors opening into our flat are double-wide and padded; common features here. No windows in doors either. Entryways and public areas seem to be rather dilapidated and poorly lit here in Ukraine. OK, come inside where it is light. I told you it was dark in here! This is a typical entryway.
In Ukrainian tradition one removes their shoes and dons slippers when entering a home – Heres our entryway. Directly in front of you when you enter our flat is this map of Kerch and the door to the toilet. Toilet access in flats is often in the front hallway. The arched doorway on the left of the map goes to the kitchen. Front door Toilet door
We are still in the entryway. Lets look inside scary Ivan (who is old and rusty, not dirty). Heres my Russified- Spouse in his fur hat. On to the kitchen…
Welcome to our kitchen! The photo on the left is from the entryway and the other photo looks back at Ivan.
A quick peak at the toilet - yep, no sink in there. It is in the water closet off the kitchen. Another typical arrangement here! The usual TP is brown and harsh. I am standing in front of the doublewide entry doors looking at the built in wardrobe behind Ivan, our tiny soviet-era refrigerator. The toilet door is on my right. I can touch both Ivan and the toilet door at the same time – it is a small space. Ivan has a view into the kitchen, which we will visit in a moment.
The sink and cupboards Our modest selection of cracked, chipped soviet-era, flat soup bowls: similar to what our host family had in their modest cupboards. People use what they have and are still getting used to having choices available. This modest kitchen is typical of a family kitchen in any flat here. We bought the coffee cups on the top shelf.
The 2-burner stove and the rest of our kitchen storage! Mark talks on the mobile phone by the kitchen window where the reception is best. Storage is limited, but we shop daily. Peace Corps asks Volunteers to live the way our co-workers do, so our standard of living reflects how locals might live.
The view from the kitchen window on a rainy day. There are often 8-10 cats perched on the bench in our garden.
The tour continues with a visit to the water closet and laundry room. Step inside and have a look! We have a small electric hot water heater. Many PCVs have gas kolonkos which provide on-demand hot water and are great when they work. They can be problematic and dangerous! Some PCVs in Ukraine have no indoor plumbing at all! Many days we do not have water and/or electricity due to infrastructure challenges. Our flat was recently remodeled so we have a fine shower arrangement. When PCVs visit us, we encourage them to take a luxurious hot shower!
A little about our laundry facilities before I show you our kitchen table and then step into the main room on my left for the rest of the tour! To the right of the water closet sink is our drying rack and our 2 buckets which we use to do a load of laundry each day. Weather permitting, we hang our laundry on a line in the garden, but during the winter we drape them o the steam radiators where they dry quickly. We use cold water to launder. The soap is strong and things soak several hours then soak in rinse water. Living room Water closet
In a Ukrainian home, six-eight people would gather around this table to sip vodka and feast on a dozen tiny plates of pickled veggies, rye bread, and salo.
OK, we are in the living room. Behind the kitchen door is a map of Ukraine - weve marked locations of our fellow Group 28 PCVs. In these photos youre looking back at the kitchen door. We purchased two bookshelves for the flat The other furnishings were here already. Above the small bookshelf is a USA map. We divided the living space with the tall bookshelf (you see the corner of it in the bottom right photo).
The living room! The TV gets three channels and poor reception. Two volume choices LOUD and soft, both with static. TV shows are in Ukrainian since is the official language. Most people speak Russian though! Note my laptop in front of the couch
More living room views. Our coffee table is made from a piece of wood propped on our emergency water bottles. I drape a bedspread over it and my lap top is usually parked there. The couch, covered with a rug is typical. It is very hard and serves as a narrow double bed for our guests. Most peoples living rooms are sleeping rooms at night. Private spaces are not standard here. We made the wall behind the couch from a bedspread supported on a metal rod attached to the tall bookshelf. This gives us a separate sleeping and dressing space.
A look at Marks work space. This little table is Marks desk. This is where he spends many hours each evening studying Russian and working on lesson plans. The window is on the wall with the Russian alphabet. The bed parallels the desk on the wall on the other side of the window. In the middle picture you are looking toward Marks desk from the living room. You can see a small corner of Marks desk in the upper left corner of the photo. Mark decorates our Christmas tree which perched on the small bookshelf.
An overview of the living space. The top two photos look past the living room to Marks workspace and our sleeping space hides around the corner near the window on the opposite wall. Now you can see the yellow fabric wall with the plant perched atop (behind the couch). The lower photos are taken looking back toward the kitchen door. You can see the bookshelf that faces the sleeping area and Marks workspace. The pothos plant is visible on top of he bookshelf in the photo on the lower right. Now, on to the sleeping area.
On the other side of the yellow fabric wall hangs a brown bedspread - our headboard. Our very narrow bed is on the floor and now has a gauzy mosquito net canopy around it to provide an illusion of privacy and romance. The street window is at our feet (in the lower picture). We can hear the sea at night.
Heres the view from bed of Marks work space just a few feet away. There is a large window here. The ceilings are really high in our flat – we could build a cozy loft here. Ed the Duck stands guard on the windowsill. Today he watches White Dog and Black Dog on their usual rounds.
Views from our street window - there are always cats, dogs and shoppers frequenting the small store or visiting at the tables when they are out. The park and the sea are across the street on the right behind the red water pipes.
This orange cat lives outside our window. He makes us think of Bubba, our own big orange guy, staying on a farm in the USA along with our dog, Miss Zoe Mae.
Well thats it! Now you have had a tour of our cozy nest! Come see us if you can!