July 16, 2008
Greetings from Vinnytsia !       We just returned from a 3 day international music and land art festival.   It was a wonderful event, lots of music with bands from all over Europe, including Sweden.  Also much traditional Ukrainian music and dancing, done in traditional dress, both on the main stage and at various impromptu spots throughout the grounds.   We camped with the 30 young volunteers from Karen's organization who were part of the clean up crew.   The campground was all small tents, we never saw anything that remotely resembled what we would call a camper.   Also there are no pick-ups in Ukraine.   One of the Peace Corps volunteers who has been here a year and a half says he has seen maybe 5 or 6 the entire time he has been here.   Firewood was provided, so everyone had a campfire to cook over, with a three legged holder for the pot they were cooking in.   It was very hot - about 90 degrees everyday, with no shade in the campground (the campground was a pasture.)     We will write more later, but these are some of our observations:

 1)  Speedos do not look any better on fat Ukrainian men than they do on fat American men.   Likewise for women and small bikinis.

2)  A two man tent does not work for two men (or a man and a woman) with stuff unless they keep the tent flaps open and stick the bottoms of the sleeping bags outside the tent.

3) the absolutely most wonderful shower in the world is very cold and is taken together and lasts for 3 minutes and comes after waiting only 1 hour and 52 minutes in line

4) when it is very very hot during the day and your tent is one of about 1000 crammed in the middle of a pasture the only way to stay cool is to either sit in the middle of a river or go into the forest and spread out your towel and take a nap

4) even if they did not go to bed at night there are still some humans in the world who think it is a good idea to sit in the middle of a campgound and play saxaphone and bongos and guitar at 6:30 in the morning

5) some land art is very good and some is not

6) most of the music was very good.    The two best bands (in our opinion) were from France - Nourou was the name of one, we will find the name of the other.

7) borscht cooked in a large kettle over an open fire is wonderful and is even better than borscht cooked on a stove, even though borscht cooked on a stove is still very good.  

8) they do not have marshmallows in Ukraine even though we looked several places.   We wanted to show them s'mores, but without the marshmallows it just isn't the same.

9) when it is very very hot during the day it makes sense to wait until about 7:00 in the evening to start the program, even though the program is scheduled to run 8 hours.   We are sorry to report that we missed the fire dancing, even though it would have been great to watch.   It did not start until 3:00 in the morning.   Most people did not seem to think that this was a problem.

10) there were several Peace Corps volunteers there working;  we knew this was a good place to be when we found many other volunteers there, just for the fun of it.

 Anyway, we had a great time.  The event was called Sheshory.   It used to be in the Carpathian mountains (western Ukraine), but needed to move when the event site ran out of room.   So they got the Nemiroff vodka plant about an hour outside of Vinnytsia to be the main sponsor  (it reminded us of John C Fremont Days with all the Budweiser signs) and moved the event to a very large pasture located between a forest/hill type area and a river.   Many hundreds (thousands) of people, and many more than they had planned for.   It was a great time.   Many many young people, but also many families and older people too.   We hope that they can figure out a way to keep up with the crowds in the future, there is nothing in the world quite like a 3 day old pit toilet (Turkish type) that has been used by many more hundreds of people than was anticipated.     Lots of beer, no other alcohol sold and no drugs.   (Ukrainian police do a great job of just being visible, and having the drug dogs walk through occasionally.)     Anyway, a great time had by all and we are looking forward to next year.   Karen's organization is involved with running this event, and since we are new they let us off the hook this year and said we could just enjoy ourselves, next year however we will "get" to work.        Take care   

Don and Karen

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