(All opinions and descriptions of life in Ukraine contained herein are mine. I do not, nor am I qualified to,
express the official opinions of the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Последний звонок! (Last Bell!)

So I lied. But it's a lie that errs on the side of good fortunately. I thought that the last post would be the final one in a while, but today I got some great photos of my students' graduation, and decided to quickly throw them up before my hectic weekend starts.

It was a beautiful day in Armyansk, and it was great to see a cultural tradition of "ringing of the last bell" where students and teachers alike gather and get recognized for their hard work.

Here's to the last day of school and the beginning of summer!

Much Love,

Nitai

The "football" crew.
The two beautiful Dasha's, both English teachers, both goddesses.


The ladies.
Romchik, Denis and Yulia making us all laugh.
Director and staff.
Dashinka getting the first of her 2 awards! WOOOOOO!
Dasha and her mom.
Congratulations!!
Savekina getting her award! Congratulations!

Oleg knows what the ladies like...


That's it! Last bell!

Crew shot.
Danil, Senya and Myself (I just realized i'm the shortest in the picture...)
Danil being a ladies man.
Kristina and I
Zarina and I.

The teaching staff getting down at the annual last bell dance.
Savekina and oranges mix well!
Lets Kushayt! (eat)
Me and Dashinka
Vodka+Teachers= Good times

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Safta time!

Yes that's right- my grandma came to visit me!!! She totally surprised me and told me she was coming about a week in advance. I was thrilled, and got the royal treatment from her- got to eat at restaurants, got to travel with her to Yalta to the botanical gardens and the Lavadia Palace (the place where the Yalta convention was held).

Anyways, the weekend was a success, and I felt very loved and nurtured. Now back to the last few days of school before summer (I will miss the teachers and my students very much!), and i'm off to a camp on the beach here in crimea which promises to have a ping-pong table and a swimming pool! Good times are to be had for sure this summer!

Update on Armyansk: IT IS HOT! The weather has been quite crazy too, with strange thunderstorms in the afternoon and lots of humidity. I like the change of weather, but it is also causing a lot of allergies from the pollen that gets thrown into the air with the occasional showers.

Excited and awaiting summer, I will bid you all adieu, and warn that I will probably not be able to update my blog now for the next month or so due to camps/traveling. Until next time, Much love and peace from Armyansk!


Gursuf and the "drinking bear" mountain in the background.
My grandparents, Adrienne (my friend from Simferopol), Judy (Adrienne's mom), and Barbara also a PCV from Simferopol





Classic bab in front of lavadia



My favorite salad: Olivier!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Веснa пришла!

Yes, Spring has fully arrived to Armyansk. It's official. The weather has been nuts. Yesterday for example it was warm and sunny in the morning. As soon as I stepped out to go to soccer training, a strong wind started to blow, and thunderclouds appeared out of nowhere. All of a sudden a crack of lightning bolted down in my vicinity, and the skies opened up dousing me with warm spring rain. I was elated. Skipping to practice in the rain, I was like a little boy again. As soon as I got to practice the rain stopped, but the lightning persisted.

I love how warm it's become. There are many benefits to this weather. First and foremost- not playing soccer in the snow. Secondly, being able to buy all sorts of fresh veggies at the local market for half, if not quarter the price I was paying only several months ago.

Anyways, got back home recently, made myself an amazing fresh vegetable salad, which has been a rarity in my diet since arriving in Armyansk. Life is good in this hood, and can't wait for summer to begin already- the beach is beckoning!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Israel and Crimea trip

Yes! I'm back in Armyansk finally! How i've missed you so, and in good time too, everything is beautiful and blooming with spring fervor!

It's been a while since my last post, over a month to be exact. I can't believe all the things that I've managed to squeeze into my hectic schedule this past month. To say the least, I have a lot of catching-up to do.

I will first summarize what I've done, and then I have 2 whole photo sets that I'd like to share. This is due to the fact that I have so many photos, I don't want to confuse and overwhelm you all ;)

Anyways, I was in Israel a few weeks ago, where I met my mother and stayed at my Uncles house outside of Tel-Aviv. It was amazing, I got to spend some good quality time with my extended family, which I rarely get to see nowadays. It was especially shocking to see my cousins, who have all sprouted and matured in such fantastic ways.

This visit really brought the kid out of me again, mainly due to the fact that the only recollection I have from Israel is really from my childhood days when we would go once or even twice a year to visit. As of recently, I have only been able to visit twice in my adult life, and it's a whole different reality.

Israel is going through some amazing economic changes, and it's looking like the country is financially going through an economic boom. Tel-Aviv has changed drastically since I saw it five years ago. Everything is being revamped, remodeled, and made to look much more modern. To be honest, I kind of liked it before, the way I remember it as a child, but I guess you have to be open to change.

It was nice to walk around with my Mom in her childhood neighborhood. I saw the building where she grew up, and the school she went to when she was young. The old section of Tel-Aviv (Dizingof area) is really nice, and has an old-world feeling to it still.

I also got to see some of my old school-friends from Gilon (the Neighborhood I grew up in when I was younger in the Galil). It was really nice to catch up with my good friend Ziv. We went out for Thai food, which I had been craving for for so long here in Ukraine. We then went and met up with Yael, another friend from Gilon and got a few beers at a local pub in downtown Tel-Aviv. We finished up with watching the "El-Classico" at Ziv's friends house.

All in all, it was a very pleasurable trip to Israel, but my vacation wasn't over... yet.

My mother and I jumped on a plan that next week back to Simferopol via Istanbul. Let me tell you, nothing made me more excited to travel than when our plane came down over Istanbul. Seeing Istanbul from the air is shocking, mainly due to the shear size of this city. As you land, there is nothing you see other than city for miles and miles around, with the Bosphorus snaking its way through the clusters of buildings.

When we got to Simferopol, my mother and I met up with a good friend of mine from PC. She showed us an awesome place to eat downtown, and we ended up walking around the city on a chilly Friday night.

Luckily for us, the weather warmed up and we were able to hike the whole week in sunny, warm spring weather. It was amazing. We got a great guide named Sergey Sorokin, who was so kind and very much our type of outdoorsy person. He is an experienced Alpine climber who now climbs for fun in and around Yalta as well as paraglides. I've always wanted to paraglide, so I took the opportunity to inquire about a local teacher who I could take lessons from, and it could be that I will taking lessons this summer!

At the end of the week, I was able to meet up with some more friends who are from Yalta and Sevastopol, and it was really nice to introduce them to my Mom, who got a good taste of the the local crowd.

All and all, a great trip, with many memories for years to come. I hope you will enjoy the photos, some of which were taking by my cous. I had a great deal of pleasure taking them, so I hope it will show.

Thinking of everyone back home, and must say don't miss home quite as much as I did now that I know that i'm only 50 minutes from Istanbul by plane... But you will see me... some day ;)

'Til then,

Much love and peace,

Nitai

ISRAEL

UNCLE AND AUNT'S HOUSE
(Cousins and I went a bit crazy with the Camera)

Any resemblance?

Ridin' dirty

Uncle and Cousins

Lilach and I in all of our glory

Beautiful Ronnie

Sun Drop

Too cool for school... or actually they just had vacation.

Swingin' tough

Monkeys (special variety of Orangutans to be exact).

Nappy Dreads

It reads: I <3 JB :) (I love Justin Bieber)...
gotta instill some good music-taste in these ones :)

The ladies

Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs. Hapoel Ber Sheva (we got worked... 2-0)

Mika's Game-Face

My youngest cousin: Tamar, with my Uncle Ori.

Mica's Zombie-pesto-face


PASSOVER WITH THE ROTLEVY FAMILY


Michaela, my second cousin (I think)

Traditional singing of the Kushiot while sucking the thumb and grabbing the nuts...
I love my family haha.
Gadi and Mik

A friend of mine requested a picture of me with a Yarmulka, so here it is
(you know who you are- and yes, you owe me).

Traditional dance while holding your ear
(don't ask me, I have no idea what it means)

Beautiful Daniel (also my second cousin)

Cousins, from left to right: Mika, Daniel, Me, Maya

I think Mika and I have about a hundred of these type of pictures...

Shira and Ori (my Uncle)

THE GALIL WITH THE MILSTEINS

Naharriya, not far from the Lebanese boarder, the home of my Grandparents

In Israel traffic jams are caused not by cars, but by tanks...

Looking down the barrel...

Tank tune-up on the boarder of Lebanon.

Tal-Toola and Michaleh, best people ever.

ACCO: THE OLD CITY
View of the entrance to the old city

Hookah village

The old Roman Walls

Yum

Chillaxen

Nipple slip

Good god, I can't look at these too long without drooling all over my keyboard...

Warning: These pictures may cause extreme salivation.

I would give anything for this "Mashowsha" again... This is a special kind of Hummus where the ration of Tahini to Hummus is higher than normal, and it's also much thicker, also the key ingredient is an insane amount of Garlic... Hummus Sayid in Acco has to be the best Hummus I have ever tasted, and believe that I will ever taste... and trust me I've tasted many in my life.
The magic in progress...

MMM... Fresh Hookah Tabak, straight from the Market.
Got me some Double Apple goodness :)

Zaatar- the worlds most delicious spice-
used in a lot of Arab-Israeli Cuisine.
Everyone checking out the Sting-Ray


CRIMEA

BAKCHISSARAY

Kahns Palace

Avi and Collette, best PC buds.
Our wonderful guide, Sergey

Mom's favorite room and door


Inshallah

Even found some "Karaite" Jewish burial quilts
Crimean Tatar Wedding photos at the Kahn's palace

View from near Shooldan Mt., South-Western Crimea

Shooldan Cave Monastery

Eskikerman Cave town, dating back to around 1200 AD

View of the valley floor from the top of Eskikerman- if you look closely on the bottom right, you will see my Mom napping in the valley.
Light house monestary on the way from Yalta to Sudak, Southern Crimea.

Little roach we found

Novi Svet
(Unfortunately my camera's batteries died after this point,
but still got a good amount of photos in!)