Like many of the other days here in the Ukraine, this one started out the same. Debbie and I still have bouts of insomnia, but have learned we are probably not alone in this country. We found a plethora of sleeping aids that the Ukrainian pharmacies keep behind the counter. Now in the United States that usually means they are strong drugs, but here it could just be so you do not steal them. They seem to help some, but the verdict is still out. It would probably take some sort of horse tranquilizer to completely knock us out, anyway.
Much like Phil Connors reliving his days over and over again in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Priluky is very much the same. Every day we wake up and eat breakfast, take showers, and get dressed and ready to leave the hotel. In the last couple of days we have discovered a new breakfast place, but other than that it does not change much. After walking out of the hotel at 1:00 p.m., we get into the same taxi with the same driver. We take the same road to the orphanage where Stasik lives. At 3:00 we leave and go back to the hotel, put our stuff in the hotel room and go to eat. After we eat we go to the same stores and markets; some days we actually find something to buy. After an hour of shopping (and usually freezing), we go back to the hotel and call it a night; it gets dark here around 4:30. When we get settled, we check on things back home and write on our blog. I think every day is like Groundhog Day in Priluky. Having a routine is a way of life here, especially for us. We see a lot of the same faces at the same time of the day. We have gotten to know store owners and found our routine makes our day a little more comfortable. We are probably the only Americans here and we always get long stares whenever we walk into a restaurant or store. When we try to order something in a new place, there is normally some local in line behind us frustrated, adding to our feeling of uneasiness. So a routine is a good thing for us and I think everyone else here in this small town.
The best three hours of our day are the two hours we spend with Stasik and the hour afterward when we go to eat lunch. The time in the orphanage is typically the only time that we feel totally at ease. This is our time to be ourselves and be laid back. Even though the orphanage has rules, the activities we have with Stasik change daily based on him. Some days he wants to be all over the place and some days he just wants to lie around. Whatever he wants to do, we just go along with it. We wish we could stay there all day! We found this pizza place, I know very American, right?, that we love to go to every day. We can get a good size pizza and two drinks for under $6.00. This is a great thing when you are trying to stay on a tight budget. We have become very chatty with the owners and I believe they enjoy us coming in every day. They help me with my Russian and I feel very comfortable talking to them, even when they laugh at me and my Texas drawl. When we return to the hotel after shopping is when our day just seems to drag on. A person could go crazy here in this little town in the winter. There is very little to do and walking around in the cold aimlessly is out of the question. Just to run an errand requires an onslaught of full winter accouterments and 5 minutes for dress and undress. Today was -20° C (that’s -4° F for everyone doing math at home), so indoors is sounding good to me. The problem is T.V. stations are limited to Russian dramas and American Pop videos. Needless to say we have been bouncing off the walls. We want to get home and we want to get Stasik home with us. Until then we will see you again tomorrow on Groundhog Day.