Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sleeping With Sergei, L'viv

When we last left you we were in Kyiv having a great time with Max and Natalia. We spent a lot of time with both of them and toured a lot of the city (and I mean a LOT--Max may be the fastest walker I've ever met in my entire life. There were several moments where we actually had to break out into a run to keep up with him, which was strange because he looked like he was going at a leisurely pace). On our last night there we thought it would be nice to make them some Mexican food (because, you know, we're from Mexico). This did not go without turning into sort of a mess where at the grocery store I sent Matt to weigh peppers (you have to weigh produce and get a label on it before checkout).

When he brought it up to the checkout lady she freaked out because he had come back having labeled his two red peppers "apples" and something that we still can't identify. To his credit, when I took them back to give it a try I found that even an understanding of the language wasn't that helpful because the label machine was like a very stressful identification game with black and white "pictures" of about 2,000 different items of produce that all looked exactly the same. I got about four or five different labels for each and took it back to let the lady choose whichever one she thought would work. We finally made it home and cooked (chimichangas, or something we called chimichanges--very Mexican, I know). We think they liked it. In any event, it all worked out very nicely and we were very sad to leave them and the kids and we miss them quite a bit already.

Then we boarded our first of what will probably be many many trains over the next week. Things that happened on the train: homegirl from below tickled Matt's feet (he was on the top bunk) every hour, on the hour, all night long; the train seemed to hop the tracks and just go off-roading for most of the night; Matt came back from the bathroom and only had one thing to say--"well, it was pretty wet in there"; and it was well over 200 degrees for the vast majority of the trip. All of the usual really.

We rolled into L'viv early yesterday morning and wandered my favorite parts of the city, including every church that I wish I could live in permanently. We attended a great Orthodox service in the middle of all of that. Then lunch happened where we had some of the greatest borsch of all time. Part way through lunch we both started talking about how we wished we were wearing shorts instead of pants.

We then remembered that we are currently packing our entire lives around with us at all times so changing is usually an option. Matt stepped inside the restaurant to ask where the bathroom was so he could change and then came out about 5 minutes later looking very confused. I then went in to look for myself, going down the basement of the place because we thought that looked like a place where one might keep the bathroom. I didn't find a bathroom however down there but did find an empty dining room, so naturally I just changed in there.

This seemed like a good idea until I came back up there stairs and passed every single person who worked there who were now each staring at me and my handful of clothes that they had just seen me in, probably wondering why I just got undressed in the basement of their restaurant where there is no bathroom. We got out of there in a hurry thinking that we would never have to see those people again. Wrong. About four hours later we went back for borsch (you have to believe me--this stuff was really good).

We still desperately tried to hide from anyone who we recognized which was effective until we ran into one girl on our way out who actually laughed in our faces. We're positive they've been thinking all day about the Americans that took their clothes off in their restaurant. And who came twice in one day to eat borsch. And who don't smell so great. And who look incredibly sleep deprived.

But our real concern throughout the day had to do with where we were going to stay last night.

We had set up something through couchsurfing with a guy named Sergei who looked nice enough on his profile to trust with our lives. Right before we were supposed to meet him at his place, Matt happened to look at his profile again, in time to read a message I seemed to have missed when I initially searched for people in L'viv and sent him a request: "I have one room where i'm living, so i can share with it! There can be placed 2 people on my bed!" This was in the middle of several other things he wrote about how "L'viv is fan place!" and "come stay! 3 days is too many!"

We got to Sergei's apartment at 9:00PM wondering all day whether "there can be placed 2 people on my bed" meant what it sounded like (and optimistically coming up with thousands of other possible interpretations, none of which actually made any sense at all. But we were hopeful).

Our hopes were in vain as we entered Sergei's apartment and he showed us his room with the worlds smallest bed and optimistically told us, "I think we can all three fit there tonight!" He then pointed to Matt and explained, "it is good thing you are big zis way and not big zis way" (using hand gestures to explain that he is relieved to see that Matt is just tall and not fat). We enthusiastically agreed, trying desperately not to make eye contact because we knew we would lose it the second we did. We had a good conversation with him for a while before he told us we were welcome to go to bed if we wanted to.

I'm not sure that we really wanted to go to bed but we were incredibly tired from train off-roading the night before so off to bed we went. Sergei stayed up for a while in the kitchen while Matt and I lay in bed trying with all our might to gain composure, more freaked out that we were going to start laughing when he came to climb in with us than we were about sleeping with a stranger in the first place. There were a lot of jokes exchanged during this time that did not help us in our pursuit to either fall asleep or get really good at being stone-faced (there were suggestions that I should have told Sergei that Matt wets the bed every night).

The anticipation almost killed us and unfortunately neither of us were even close to being asleep when Sergei climbed in. Although we pretended to be. We pretended to be all night. Including every 45 minutes or so when Sergei attempted to cuddle with me in his sleep. He took up about half of the tiny bed, and we took the other half--although Matt had one arm on the ground the whole night, holding himself up in a half pushup as I inched closer and closer to him each time Sergei put his arm or leg around me.

We got up incredibly early and high-tailed it out of there after Sergei made me hold some rodent he had bought that day. Despite all of the strangess of the situation, I do have to say that he was incredibly nice and actually pretty normal to talk to. And we learned something new about what to look for on couchsurfing profiles.

We hoped to take a bus early today out of L'viv to Krakow but we couldn't get one until 10:00 tonight so we are lounging in L'viv for the day before another inevitably sleepless night.

Ok, we're off to the next adventure. Thanks for all your email responses. Sorry I don't have to time to write back individually--but it's good to hear from you anyway.

~It Just Gets Stranger 

1 comment:

  1. Ah the memories...I always tried not to question the wet bathrooms on the trains and why they had to pound on the train up and down everytime they stopped!!
    Makes me just a little jealous, but only a little!! :)