Last weekend Janira and I ventured to the northern part of our oblast (the Ivano-Frankivs’ka Oblast) for a “Collaborative” meeting with all the other Peace Corps Volunteers who live in our oblast. There are 13 of us. Collaboratives happen 3-4 times a year, and they’re a place for PCVs to meet new Volunteers (that’s us!), discuss upcoming events, talk about any issues, and do whatever else we want. This particular Collaborative was hosted by Robin and Jim, a wonderful retired couple who work as Community Development Volunteers in Dolyna, a town about 60km east of the city (and oblast center) of Ivano-Frankivs’k. One of my fellow Group 39-ers, Anna, also lives in Dolyna so there was plenty of space for us to sleep over.
Long story short, Janira and I went to Ivano-Frankivs’k on Friday afternoon to spend the evening with Phillip, one of our link-mates, who works at a university in the city. Saturday morning we met up with some other PCVs at the bus station and headed out to Dolyna. We had a good meeting and then piled into a van for an excursion to Dovbush Rocks, named after Oleksa Dovbush, the historical/folkloric Robin Hood figure of Ukraine. It was a perfect day — cold but sunny, not a cloud in the sky. We climbed on the rocks for a while, and then a few of us started exploring and ended up hiking for an hour or so among the rocks and trees. It was wonderful.
Back at Robin and Jim’s, we had lots of snacks, drinks, and a delicious dinner of Thai curry stew to accompany a great evening of socializing and even music-making.
Janira and I stayed overnight at Anna’s apartment with three others, and we all headed home Sunday morning. It was great to see more of my region of Ukraine, figure out the bus system — really easy, as the buses are all well-labeled, but I was glad to be with Janira so we could figure it out together — and meet the other awesome PCVs in my oblast. Ivano-Frankivs’k is a great city, too — once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, like Chernivtsi, it’s a very “European-looking” city and easily walkable, with beautiful buildings and churches.