“I’m all second chances; save your ammunition”

22 Apr

“Well, at least you’ll be able to say you saw the sun rise over the Carpathians” Kari mumbled groggily as our taxi rolled steadily toward Mukachevo (мукачево).  The four of us drowsily faded in and out of rudimentary conversation for roughly half the trip before slipping into drowsing silence, I believe much to the relief of our driver who was dragged out into the crisp 4 am air.

Whirlwind would be the adequate word for our weekend if all of us had been rested enough to fully appreciate the rich diversity of food, activities, and people flitting around us.  An out and out Monet, it wasn’t until I was sitting restlesly on the early morning train rattling away from beautiful, blooming Beregovo (also known as Berehovo and Beregszasz) that I felt the effects of the heady mixture of the syrupy regional wine, comfortingly heavy dinners, practically tactile perfume of brazenly open flowers, and soothing mixture of lilting Ukrainian and Hungarian.

As it were, our introduction to this vivid town was stepping into a blanket of darkness from the overnight train at 4:30 Friday morning still sweating and gasping for breath from the intensely heated sleeping car.  Eyes half closed, I blindly followed our pack of Americans through the puddle-ridden, silent Ukrainian streets, periodically tugging up my sweatpants sagging from the mud and water weight collecting in the hems.  No one had the energy for pessimism when we found ourselves lost and quickly accumulating mud; in fact, Kate’s outburst of «Hey, remember that time we got lost in Beregovo at 4 am» was met with everything from appreciatory grunts to outrageous laughing fits from those of us drunk with exhaustion.  We thankfully found our way somehow, for I would have blindly followed anyone in circles for hours without much thought. Two and a half hours were spent in a comatose rest on a volunteer’s fouton with Kari in a room where four other volunteers laid scattered over chairs, foutons, and floor space before we hauled ourselves across town to a Hungarian restaurant for breakfast. 

On behalf of fellow volunteer, Matt, I would like to point out you know you’re tired when you use a water bottle as a pillow.

The rest of the weekend passed in a rich blur.  I remember Hungarian and Ukrainian conversation being tossed here and there between acquaintences scattered throughout the Wine Festival tents, but it seems indistinguishable from the thick smell of cooking shashlyk/shish kebabs (шашлик) just as the forgotten luxurious taste of chocolate covered raisins cannot be severed from bonding laughs and discussions shared with a volunteer soon to leave the country, who I’m going to miss dearly.

Forcing myself to stay awake on the train back home Sunday morning because of some Ukrainian teenagers amusing themselves by taking pictures of us sleeping, I savored the intangible feeling of a fulfilling weekend.  Most of my seven months in this country have passed in quite the opposite manner – painfully detailed minute to minute, days seem to drag on well past my energy reserves while hearty sections of my calendar suddenly fill with x’s standing in for days indistinguishable from the ones they followed or preceded.  As painful as that seems to me some days, for the present moment it’s enough that I saw the sun rise gloriously over the Carpathians.

*Music: “Second Chances” -Paper Route


One Response to ““I’m all second chances; save your ammunition””

  1. Evan Henricks 25 May, 2010 at 15:47 #


    Just caught up on your well-written blog for a couple hours, quite the never ending adventure you’re having! It seems teenagers in Ukraine are similar to those at DPU in that, for some reason, there has become an obsession here over taking pictures of someone you find passed out and put them on the ‘passed out’ facebook album. I’ve been the victim of these immature individuals too many times haha! Hope all is well!


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