Despite what you may think, the title of this entry is not misspelled. Rather, Carter decided to name Vladimir Vlamidir, which is not too bad for a 2-3 year-old who is just working on his English. We spent the last week catching up on eight years' worth of news from our dear friend from the Arctic North, his wife Natasha, sons Anton and Timofei, and good friend Yos (we also know Yos well). Vladimir currently works for the main tourism bureau of the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug, YamalTour. The region is particularly promoting itself as a place for hunting and fishing, as well as eco-tourism and encounters with indigenous peoples. If you want to go to Salekhard, drop Vladimir a line!
Vladimir's mother and other close family members live in Ukraine, many near his hometown of Trostyanets in the northeast. Vladimir's childhood chum, Roman, also stopped by our house on a few occasions. Roman works in the same institute where Phil (Thomas' father) is a trainer for the British Council. Roman showed us lots of interesting photos, especially of his deployment to Iraq where he was part of the modestly-sized Ukrainian force. We were surprised to discover that there was a great competition to become eligible for this deployment; we anticipated that most Ukrainian troops would want to avoid Iraq at all costs. Over the last few days, we walked all over town, showing Vladimir the highlights, including our favorite tsukernya (the Cake Place). Today, he left on the overnight train for his hometown. We hope to see him and his family again, and sooner than eight years in the future!