Journey to Axe-Land (Сокиряни)

This week my school has autumn holidays, so on Sunday I journeyed to my friend and clustermate Kate’s town, Сокиряни (Sokyriany) to pay her a visit! Sokyriany is located in the eastern corner of the Chernivets’ka Oblast, about four hours east of my town, Sniatyn. Part of the name of her town, Sokyr-, means axe in Ukrainian, thus the title of this post.

Sokyriany is beautiful and Kate has a wonderful community. She has a beautiful apartment-like living situation where we cooked (yes, Kate cooked! And quite well, I might add) beef fried rice, pancakes, and scrambled eggs to fuel us through the time I was there. Kate’s not on break yet so I went to school with her on Monday morning and helped out with 2nd and 11th form.

But the best parts of her town were the excursions Kate took me on and the people she introduced me to. We took a lovely walk to the яр (“yar,” aka ravine), where we collected many liters of fresh spring water. And had a silly photo-shoot, of course. Our second excursion was to the prison, on the way to which we passed the Jewish cemetery — grave stones in Hebrew — and behind which is a beautiful pond where we contemplated life as the sun set.

Kate has some really wonderful friends in her town. Olha is a 40-year-old woman who has two shops in town: a little cafe in the administration building and a lady’s shop not far from Kate’s apartment. She is a great person and has helped Kate out with so many things. I’d heard a lot about her from Kate so it was great to finally meet her. She’s healthy and forward-thinking. She plied us with coffee in the morning and did a needle trick to predict what kind of children we’ll have: Kate will have a boy and a girl and I’ll have two boys, apparently. Ask me if it comes true in 10-15 years… In the evening Olha gave me a small bottle of perfume to take home with me.

One of Kate’s other good friends happens to be Olha’s son, Slavic (short for Sviatoslav). He’s a lawyer in her town and he and Kate tutor one another in English and Ukrainian, respectively. He speaks really nice English. We had some interesting conversations about the Ukrainian language and Surzhyk, the mixture of Ukrainian and Russian that so many people here speak. Slavic caught me using a few Surzhyk words/phrases: I say нє (“niye”) for “no” — rather than the pure Ukrainian “ni” — всё (“vsyo”) for “that’s all” or “everything” — rather than Ukrainian “vse” — and привет (“pryviet”), Russian for “hi” — rather than the pure Ukrainian привіт (“pryveet”). I remarked how interesting it is that my clustermates and I all learned Ukrainian together in training but since we’ve been at our sites we’ve started speaking the way our locals speak.

Here are some pictures from Sokyriany:

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