Thursday, November 21, 2013


The bus system is fun. Today I was planning to meet some American friends at a particular metro stop in the city. To get to the metro I have to take a marshrutka, aka bus. 

This is my story. 

To catch the bus, close to where I am you get somewhere in an open area where the bus can stop, when you see the correct bus coming, you wave at it like you would a taxi. You get on the bus, tell the driver where you are going, give him money, he makes change as he starts driving and you try to find a seat, or just hold on standing up. 

I need the 301 to get to town. I went to the open are where I was shown I could catch the 301 yesterday, stood, waited and saw the 301 coming. I waved. He stopped. I got on. I said the name of the metro stop I needed, he verified, gave me change, shook the ash off his cigaret and drove on. As I sat down. The card inside the bus said "306." With a list of "stops" that not only can I not read, but I am quite sure that my stop is not on the list. I panic. I have a card in my pocket with the metro map on it and I start scanning furiously for the name that matches the only metro station on the list in the front. I figure out my plan but realize that this metro station may be hard to see. I am trying to be sneaky with looking at the metro card as I am trying to look as little like a stupid tourist as possible.... A large man sits next to me. 

I, thankfully, see the metro station as we come close, stand up, the old man seems frustrated that I made him stand up. About 20 other people got off the bus, so I get off the bus. Looking around, I see nothing familiar, so I go into the tunnel leading to the metro. Get to the place where I should buy a metro ticket and suddenly realize I am in the place where I should be! I have no idea how I got there.... But apparently I was on the right bus after all. 

Turns out, sometimes the drivers drive different routes. This guy must drive both the 301 and the 306 route. He just has one sign that he turns around backwards sometimes... Not confusing at.all.

I met with friends, we found some pretty cool shopping areas for groceries and such, got a few things, ate lunch. It was time to go home. 

It costs 2 grivna to ride a bus in the city (app. .25) it costs 4 grivna to ride out of the city (.50). 

I got on a 301 bus to go home. Tell the driver I am going to Вишневе, which, if you said it like it is spelled would sound like "vizshnehveh" but is actually pronounced "vizshnOhveh" I said it 
Like it is spelled. He looked at me confused. So I tried the second pronunciation. He started yelling some Ukrainian at me. Wouldn't take my money and pointed across the street.... Still yelling as I said spaciba (thanks) and walked away. 

I crossed the street, through a tunnel, to the other side, got on the bus and tried the pronunciation that was my second choice on the other bus (vizshnOveh) He looked at me like I was crazy, so I corrected again to vizhnEhveh... He said oh, yes, vizshnOveh! I have no idea what my American accent is doing to the name of my town. But these bus drivers obviously don't understand Alabama tainted Ukrainian! 

Finally I start seeing familiar places, but the driver stopped a bit earlier than I expected to let someone off, and then skipped the stop where I thought he would stop. You cant count stops here.... Because drivers just stop when they want to, for who they want to, apparently. If no one is waving, they don't stop, but it isn't necessarily an official "stop," When they do. 

So I stood up, he starts asking me a question. I knew that if i missed my stop, I would need to get off at the grocery store that I was at yesterday. So I said "fora."  He starts asking Odin? Or dva? (One or two?) I just said Odin.... I just wanted off! So he stopped.... Finally, I walked about 1/2 mile home.

It gets dark here around 4:30. I needed to go to see Lena around 5. So, I grabbed yet another bus. To get to her orphanage I walk about a quarter mile, ride a bus for about 5 miles and just around the curve in the road (yeah real specific) I take the exit, and then walk about 1/2 mile down the road. 

When I got on the bus, two guys got on at the same time. We loaded up in the back of the bus with about 35 people and then they just passed their money to the front. I was a bit unsure of handing my cash to these complete strangers, but I handed the guy that was in front of me some grivna as well and a few minutes later my change was passed back to me. Strange. 

Then the two guys asked where I was needing to get off the bus, at least I think that's what they asked. I apparently pronounced this one wrong as well.... They corrected me. They made sure I got my change back correctly, and then checked that I got off the bus at the right time. Pretty nice guys. If I had seen them in a parking lot in the us I would have been terrified of them! 

The walk to the orphanage is dark and jagged.... But I made it safely there and got to spend good time with Lena without a translator.... It's nice to have someone to help sometimes. But sometimes it is nice to just be us... We looked at photos of the family, the house, the church. We looked at her birthday gifts from Tuesday. It was fun time together. 

The ride home was pretty uneventful. I may get the hang of is bus thing one day. Adding Josiah and Lydia to this mix will definitely be interesting in a couple of weeks... But it will be fine. 

Even with the chaos and adventure. There is such a peace about being here. I am so grateful. I miss my family at home, but these moments are precious treasures that I will always hold very dear. 

1 comment:

  1. How I envy you! Yes, those moments ARE precious treasures, and it seems to me the more you get to "know" Lena's land by just living in it, the more you will understand her. I was always so distressed when people came back from Russia with nothing but criticism. And, people DO have a different manner (none of those false smiles you are accustomed to in the US), but in the end, I thought people were helpful and kind for the most part. You are so blessed to be where you are right now!