This will be my last post for my 2006 trip as I am on my way back to Belarus for this years delivery. I am going to try to post while I am in Belarus so check back regularly to watch for updates.
This was my last day delivering in the Chausy area as I would be heading to Minsk the next day with an early departure the following morning. There were some great moments during the day, but one of the best was when I delivered a new stove to my family. Their old one had only two working burners and a broken oven. I had been given some money by family and friends before leaving Canada and decided that this was the right thing to do with it. I ran into Sveta outside the bank and I had an interpreter with me so I explained what I was planning to do. She told me not to as it was “too much”. I told her that I was going to do it anyway and I sensed that she was very pleased and excited. I exchanged my money at the bank, it cost 520,000 Belarussian Rubles (approximately $200 U.S.) and I got a couple of guys and one of our drivers to help me deliver it. When I arrived home that evening Sasha had it all hooked up (no gas fitters ticket required here) and we celebrated with tea and “harooschee” a sort of donut that Sveta had made on the new stove.
Here is a picture of Sasha and Sveta with the new stove:
Afterwards we walked to Sveta’s parents house behind the bus station, where the big table came out and was covered with food! Sveta’s Grandmother (Baboushka) also lives with her parents. We ate potatoes, hamburger like patties, kielbasa, tomato slices and bread. A little (choot-choot) vodka and of course tea (chai) and cookies. They are really lovely people and once again the old Russian/English dictionary got a good workout!
After walking back home in a light rain, Sveta wanted to cook some more so she made some pasta, I told her I was still too full from dinner, but managed to eat another donut with my tea before heading for bed!
While eating my breakfast of macaroni with tea, ham and bread, Sasha brought me one of my shoes (it is a pair of Doc Martin’s I have brought as a backup) and shows me where he has repaired it! The cuff at the top had separated from the leather on the side and he had stitched it up for me. I am still wearing them a year later!
At the end of the day I brought Lena, one of our interpreters, home and was able to have a reasonable conversation with Sasha & Sveta. It was great and we covered a lot of topics, the most important was Kristina’s health. I was finally able to explain to them what the Canadian doctors had said and it was a great relief to them to hear that she was fine and would have no long term problems. I also took this opportunity to try to find out what sort of things we could send over to help out … of course they would not tell me anything and asked only what we would like them to send over with Kristina in the summer. It proved to be a stalemate!
Dinner that evening was chicken with rice and vegetables. It appeared that Sveta gave her dinner to Lena as she did not eat!
If this is Tuesday, it must be Banya Day in Belarus! Since there is no running water, showers are not a possibility here, however I have been promised that this is the day we are going to the banya. Many people in Chausy use a community banya, however my host Dad’s father has his own that he built in his backyard. Basically it is a sauna operated using wood burned in a petchka. It is hotter than any sauna I have ever been in, so hot that that I am given a small pail of cold water to splash on my face so that I can breath and we wear a funny knit hat to protect our hair and to keep you from feeling faint. It involves being lightly beaten with birch branches dipped in scalding hot water. This is to open the pores and loosen any dead skin (and maybe a couple of layers below that!). After a short break from the heat, and a sip of beer (piva), we go back in and wash using a rough knit cloth and lots of soap and hot water in large basins. I have to admit, when I was finished I felt cleaner than I can ever remember. Afterwards the women take their turn, then out comes the table covered in food and we spend the rest of the evening eating, drinking and conversing through my trusty Russian/English dictionary. Another great night with “my” family.
However that was the end of the day, previously in the day, I was involved in delivering some boxes to some more of the most dedicated Mom’s I have ever met, this time in the village of Sklov. But I will leave that for the video.