22 August 2016

I woke up at Oleg’s home rejuvenated. By this point, my distress over the vehicle and safety concerns were long gone. I was excited to start a new day in Nadvirna.

After a delicious breakfast cooked by Oleg’s aunt, we hopped in Oleg’s grandfather’s car- a manual Ukrainian vehicle from the 1970’s. We made our way through Nadvirna to the nearby village of Pasichna. As the roads faded, the views became increasingly more beautiful.

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As we made our way up the mountains and through the winding trails, our vehicle came to an abrupt halt. Alas, instead of confront the problem then, we put rocks beneath the tires and continued our journey by foot. Apparently car troubles are common with manual vehicles.

After a short stroll with breathtaking views of the Carpathians we arrived at the waterfalls. To reach them we had to carefully climb into the canyon.

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We carefully climbed back up the canyon (perhaps would I did could be better referred to as a crawl). We arrived at Oleg’s car only to find that in addition to the engine troubles, a front tire was now flat. Thankfully, Nadvirnians are resourceful and self-sufficient, unlike Americans. While Oleg handled the car situation, I sat down with young Roman and taught him how to play ‘chopsticks’.

Before long, the car had a new tires and the engine was roaring.

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We made our way back down the mountain, and on the way back to Nadvirna we stopped by the quaint home of Oleg’s grandmother, ‘Babusya’, in the village Pniv. She maintained a lovely garden in addition to raising chickens.

We stopped to pick up a new spare tire, at which point Oleg contacted our mechanic. We found out that the rental would be ready by evening, but would cost a bit more than expected. Still a better deal than to go through insurance. Nevertheless, we decided to stay another night in Nadvirna and wake up early the next morning to continue our journey.

Back at Oleg’s home, his aunt cooked us another delicious meal. We were soon uncomfortably full, but continued to eat so as not to offend.

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Afterwards, we walked to the city center where we met Nazar 1 and Olga. They drove us about 25 minutes south to the picturesque Carpathian town of Yaremche, not far from Mount Hoverla.

We began our afternoon in Yaremche by visiting the zoo. We fed bread to beautiful elk, deer, and wild pigs.

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Olga bought us a delicious traditional snack, and we headed to the Yaremche falls. The waterfalls were a Unesco World Heritage sight. The rough current flowed in contrast to the serene Carpathian backdrop.

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On our way back to Nadvirna we stopped by the mechanic to pick up our rental. It was such a great relief to have the car in working condition once more, although it will surely need a carwash before we return it.

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Oleg really enjoyed driving our car- ‘very cool’ apparently. After dropping of Igor at his home and helping Nazar’s sister move some furniture into her new office, we made our way to the home of Nazar 2 for coffee. After coffee we made our way to dinner on the outskirts of town. We indulged in another delicious, traditional, dish, known as Chebureki. The night began to feel like a going away party.

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From dinner we quickly changed and then headed for the home of Nazar’s uncle, where we had an eternally memorable night. The home was very large and beyond gorgeous. I think it is safe to say the our new friends come from the upper echelons of Nadvirnian society, but they were nevertheless frequently curious about costs in America.

The home housed a luxurious sauna- the night’s primary activity. It was positively the hottest sauna I have ever been in.

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By the time we stepped out, the dinner table was abundant with food and liquor. Chase astutely pointed out that gender rolls are very different in Ukraine. As we drank and ate, Olga and Nazar’s mother prepared food and ultimately cleaned up. Meanwhile, the men ate, drank, and enjoyed the sauna.

On one sauna excursion were asked to lie nude on our stomachs, at which point we were smacked with leafy branches soaked in cold water. As the cold water, mixed with the massaging leaves, hit our legs and back, the feeling was pretty close to serenity. The mild intoxication and and extreme dehydration only added to the effect.

Back at the dinner table we continued to take shots of Ukrainian vodka, apparently a tradition for departing guests.

After a quick shower, we dropped off Olga and headed on a nighttime journey through Nadvirna. The boys really enjoyed American rap.

We took selfies at various locations and at one point were pulled over by the police, only to find out that they were Nazar’s friends. From what I understand, the police are a complete joke in Ukraine.

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Finally, we headed back to Oleg’s house for our last night of sleep in Nadvirna.

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