We woke in the morning and had a very lovely breakfast, provided by the same members of Pastor Margulis' congregation who had prepared dinner the night before. We were a little surprised to find that the cold sausage that they served us was pork; we couldn't eat it, of course. I did feel bad because the lady who had prepared it felt bad; as Bev noted, it's not expected that Christians will care about what meat they are eating.
The pastor ate with us as well, but his mind was elsewhere; one of his very good friends was having a major operation. He left to go to the sanctuary and pray at one point. I made sure to pray, as well, but silently. I reflected that this was one problem of our journey--would I ever know how the operation came out? Probably not.
We were on the road again quickly. We did go a little astray at first, but we found our way again, thanks in small part to my road map (which had been provided by my Norwegian friend, Brian). The scenery became a little more predictable on this morning, or perhaps we were just used to it and less enchanted.
Reaching Kiev was exciting. For one thing, it meant that our journey was nearer completion; and for another, it was a complete change from the sleepy scenery we'd been seeing. To my eyes, it just seemed massive and truly bustling as Ivan took us on an abbreviated tour of the city. It was simply amazing. The only thing I could compare it to (with my limited experience) was a cross of Québec City and Washington, D.C. But it was so much more. It sprawls down to the Dnipr River from the crown of a hill, and the streets were teeming with cars and people.
Here, the difference between economic levels was most obvious. In Khust, almost everyone was very poor, driving cars (if they owned one) that were sometimes as much as 35 years old, or if they did not own a car, walking. Ivan's sister's SUV stuck out there like a sore thumb. In Kiev, though it still was obvious enough that we did not leave it unattended, it wasn't completely out of place. There were plenty of old cars, but a healthy mix of newer and more expensive ones as well.
We drove past government buildings, fountains, monuments, and huge hotels (including the one that Victor had stayed in with Dr. Hoeh in the late '60s). Had we had time, it would have been nice to walk through the center of town and look at the statues and monuments up close. The two that I saw and recognized were of Shevchenko and Lenin. I was a little surprised to see the latter.
We ended up parking near all the embassies. Victor had some documentation that he wanted to clear up, but he got the royal run-around. We ended up spending (between the embassy and all the other Notaries we had to search out and visit) three and a half hours, and it all ended up being for naught. At the last Notary, the notary refused to sign the document, saying she didn't know what she was signing. This was only the first excuse, with her ending up by saying that she couldn't prove that Victor existed, somehow. The whole thing was maddening, and Ivan was very angry; he seemed to remain so for the rest of the drive to Chernihev.
There were three highlights of Kiev. First, Bev and Kassie went for a walk in the government district while we were still parked by the embassies. In the middle of chatting, they were overheard by a Peace Corps worker from California, who said how nice it was to hear Americans in Ukraine.
A little later, my having an urgent need to powder my nose while Victor and Ivan were headed to another embassy, it was suggested that I go into a nearby hotel, which I did. it was a sort of combination of hotel, restaurant, and salon. I headed into the wrong door once, but then entered the restaurant portion and was able to use my shaky Ukrainian skills to get directions to the necessary facilities. I was so pleased that I had been able to carry out even this simple transaction on my own!
And thirdly, I knew that my friend Ruth would be proud--I did indeed manage to eat street food! We had chicken gyros, which were completely unlike any gyro I had eaten before. They consisted of small pieces of cooked chicken nestled on a bed of shredded cabbage and then covered in some sort of sauce--sort of a Russian dressing, but not as heavy. They were very good!
After lunch, Bev had a yen for some ice cream, and she and Kassie finally spotted a stand on a corner. Ivan bought us various ice cream confections--they were delicious. I had some sort of strawberry bar.