Angels in Sklov – April 4, 2006

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.