Ukraine Travelogue -
Visiting Villages near Lviv

Visiting at Anna's Home

Anna's home was the most modern of the four homes we visited today. I tried to keep notes of the conversation bits when Mom would translate them for me - it was all in Ukrainian. So it might seem a little jumbly :)

Kusten Photo

The house was lovely with a smaller house to the right where the inlaws used to live, and a big barn building in the back. There were 3 bedrooms and a dining/living room each full of lovely embroidery. The doorways all had raised lintels. A blanket on one bed was made by Anna's mom with local wool.

My mom says:

"The bedspreads at Anna's house - her mother made them using wool from their sheep. That means she sheared the sheep, did whatever needs to be done to make yarn, dyed the various yarns to attain the different colors, then used a loom to produce the patterns for the bedspreads. Anna said it was a way to spend the winter days when you couldn't work the fields. That and embroidery. "

Kusten Photo

They hung rugs on the walls for decorations and as headboards. Other family members began to arrive and we had a "pre lunch". Soon Anna's older sister, Yakoslava, arrived. She was born in 1937 so many years before Anna. Yakoslava lives 3km away and walked over to meet us. She said that Baba would take her to church when she was little. When Yakoslava was born, Baba was 27 years old. Baba was her aunt.

In this photo it's Anna (my mom's cousin), an unknown woman who is the mother of one of the 2 girls who helped tour guide us the next day in Lviv, Len, unknown son, mom, Yakoslava (Anna's older sister), and unknown man who I think was the woman's husband. Andri (Anna's husband) isn't in this photo.

Kusten Photo

We were served homemade blackberry wine which was quite good - smirohnihi, like Baba had made with gooseberries. They work all spring and summer growing sugar beets and there's nothing to do in the winter so they make and drink thir own wine as well as embroider. They also go to the local distillery to make their own whiskey. They add water, sugar and vinegar to make vodka along with flavoring of pepper or lemon. They boil water, add sugar and ferment it, filter it. They say the language from Hutsul is very lovely (where mom's dad is from). Their daughter works with Biscana chocolate. We talked about Nick being from Belarus and how Bela Rus is white birches along with Rus for the general Russian area.

Anna when she was young would walk 18 miles into town at 3am with eggs milk and cows for the farmer's market, then she'd have to walk home and do her regular chores. She talked about Baba walking into Lviv for markets. In Lviv there's only water for regular people from 6-10am and then 6-10pm. They have to bring it in from 70km out of town in old pipes that lose water. Us tourists are very lucky to get it whenever we want.

Minimum wage here is 8 hryvna, a good university job would bring in 700/month. In Italy they can make 6 or 7 euros/hr. Anna gets 380h/mo for retirement (about $75/mo) and he gets 360h/mo. For every birth now there are 10 deaths so population is really falling. There are only 8-10 kids in a given class and sometimes no kids at all.

Andri's mother was born in the house next door. After the war many kids got typhus and died. They currently have a cow, pigs, chickens and sheep. In the winter snow gets up to your waist and you practically can't travel the back roads then.

Andri makes his own wine, in a carboy in the window with a glove on top for keeping the air out. It won't be ready for 2 months. Apparently "wine is for the girls". The homemade wine was very nice, sweetish made from blueberries. I think they were serving us wine at all the houses because we drank wine yesterday with Anna. This might have saved us from being deluged with vodka :) They make grape wine too, buying grapes from the market.

Kusten Photo

Andri did in fact own a still too. Soon it was time for more food. They brought bread and butter with roe, and Italian sausage.We looked at pictures of Baba's house with her and her sister Dorota (Janina's mom). Andri went out to chase the cow down. More food - we had cut up banana, coffee and little fig newton style pastries.

The walls are all white washed to disinfect and add color. It's traditional to add stencils around the top but they lke it plain. They think mom's dad lived in Nibilu in the Hutsul region. Mom said she heard that Romana had to hide in the outhouse here when the police first came. Taking the bus to Lviv takes a full day. We saw photos of the funeral of Aunt Anna (i.e. Baba's sister). They explained how Janina's mom Dorota married a Polish guy - and as a result, the others in the family wouldn't talk to her after that.

Note the boy teen here had a cell phone with a cool ring town. Many of the homes here don't have phone service, you have to call a neighbor to get word to them.

We're next going to go to Kusten, a nearby village, for lunch. This is where the family lived after their own little settlement was burned down during the wars. Eugenia - Anna and Yakoslava's sister - lives there.

Part 3 - Lunch at Eugenia's Home
Slideshow of Kusten Photos - 178 images
Videos from Kusten


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