Friday, December 7, 2007

What We Will Not Miss

While we have enjoyed our time in L'viv, certain inconveniences make daily life challenging. When reflecting back on our trip, we will not wax nostalgic about:

1. Marshrutkas
. We have described these run-down, jam-packed, privately-run buses in other posts. We try to avoid travel on them at all costs. Nothing has been more frustrating and uncomfortable than getting around town on a marshrutka. Erik's foot has been closed in the door, he has performed a sort of game of twister while careening through traffic in order to try to stand up, and a driver refused his calls to let us off, requiring all three of us to walk nearly a mile to get to our destination. Thankfully, living downtown, we have not used them as often as most L'viv residents must.

2. Crazy Products.
Imagine, if you will, lemon-scented, pre-yellowed toilet paper. Finding a plain white, non-scented variety has been a challenge. Or, perhaps Bobos -
you know what you have left when you have sucked the orange powder off a cheese puff (come on, you have all done it)? Add a sickly sweet flavor, and you have plain Bobos. If you prefer, try the bacon or chocolate flavors. How about prune yogurt? Another "favorite" was unsweetened cranberry spice pop (made by Schweppes). Finally, who could forget water-resistant paper towel?

3. Arbitrary Decisions. As we have noted before, everything is negotiable. This means that few if any decisions are firm, complicating planning and leading to head-spinning results (for an example, read our previous post about traveling back to Ukraine from Poland via the train). We have learned to just roll with this inconvenience, but it constantly invades daily life.

4. Outlandish Theories. Kansans with nightmare visions of a UN-led One World Government operating black helicopters for nefarious purposes have nothing on many of the locals. We have heard explanations of events - both big and small - that make the DaVinci Code seem like a documentary (for an example, read our previous post about our Tustan host's view of the world).

5. Unsolicited Parenting Advice. This usually comes from old ladies, not from the other responsible parents who are smoking in front of their kids and letting them ride in the front seat of cars unbelted (and are NOT subjected to criticism). We and Carter are regularly berated because he is not dressed warmly enough (where are his snow pants? where is his hat?), or he is sucking his thumb (accompanied by their efforts to physically remove his thumb from his mouth). Carter is by no means a constant thumb-sucker, but any time he even attempts to do it in public, he encounters the wrath of old women, who otherwise would likely be offering him candy. The other day, Lea and Carter fell while crossing the street and Erik scooped Carter up, held him on his lap crouching and was trying to console him (fortunately, he was crying to clean his hands, as they got dirt on them) when an old lady approached and started talking to Erik. No, she did not offer to call a doctor or otherwise help, rather, she loomed over Erik telling him that he was not properly consoling Carter.

6. Lack of Automation. Washing all dishes by hand and hanging all laundry in the shower makes us appreciate the great convenience of dishwashers and clothes dryers even more.

Despite the negative tone of this post, our time in L'viv has been quite nice, especially due to our good friends in town. But, we are also looking forward to the return home.

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