On the second day of our stay, Oksana took us on a drive through the countryside, south of Kiev.
We drove through miles upon miles of flat, fertile farmland. It was plain to see that Ukraina once had had, and is rapidly regaining the position of Europe’s main producer of grain. We passed through small villages and an idyllic countryside. Ukraina is truly a place of beauty.
We were going to visit a farmer and his family who lived on the river Dnepr, south east of Kiev. It was a three hour drive to gett there but Oksana had planned several stops on the way to show us some lovely wievs.
There were small chapels and stunning wievs, the roads could nedd some repair but all the sights soon made us forget that. To us it was like taking a ride back in time, local small farmers were selling their produce by the roadside; apples, pears, bread all sorts of things were presented by the roadside. You could just pick up what you wanted and leave money in a small box. There were even empty glass-jars signalling tht you could buy milk. Surrounding every house there was a vegetablegarden where the city-people would grow their own, as a sort of weekend-farmers.
Finally we arrived at the farm and were greeted by the farmer Vassilij, a big, burly and very friendly man, his friend Alexander (Sascha) and his two beautifull little daughters.
The girls were busy decorating the wall of the farmhouse and Vassilij wanted us to contribute to the decoration by adding something typical Norwegian.
Our contribution was given by the one among us who has an artistic vein, Stein Erik.
Vassilij is a former historyteacher but he lost his job when the government decided to reduce its funding of schools and he is now working as a farmer, breeding pigs and living off the land.
However he wanted to show us a special, historic place nearby where the first attempt was made to cross the River Dnepr by the Red Army in 1944 when the Germans were driven back towards Kiev. The operation rresulted in a bloodbath as the Red Army was ill equipped and was forced to use whatever means of transportstion they could find to cross the river. But even though the Germans were dug in and had an open range of fire the attackers managed to set up and hold bridgeheads on the south banks for several days. They were then driven back across the river, taking large casualities. The attack did however prepare the ground for the subsequent attack on Kiev.
Back at the farm, Vassilij’s wife and his friend Sascha had prepared lunch for us, delicious Ukrainian Borscht, a rich Beetroot/meatsoup with smetana or sour cream. With an ample flow of very potent, homemade vodka the meal was something to remember. Oksana told us that it is a tradition to tell stories during meals, and in spite of the language barrier we really enjoyed it, we even responded by singing of few songs that is part of the eating/drinking traditions back home.
There is definetly piece and tranquility to be found in a place like this.
Drowsy from all the food and possibly also from the vodka, we thanked our hosts for the privilege of getting to know them and a little about their way of life and set off towards Kiev again.
The plan was to go to a typical Ukraininan bath-house, but as it turned out, the house was situated close to the Dnepr and the access to it had been flooded. But, never mind – we’ll save that for another day.
And thus we ended the day going back to our dwellings by Metro (in order for Oksana to avoid the heavy afternoon traffic)
Tomorrow is Ukraina’s Naational day or Victory Day and we are looking forward to celebrating it.