December 31st, 2008 â€“ New Years Eve Part II
New Years Eve was great! Jess and I headed over to Larissaâ€™s around 8pm. I hung out with Andri a bit and then the table was put in place and the food was brought out. Oh! The food!
There were six of us to start: Jess, Volodimir, Larissa, Vira, Andri, and me. Of the foods on the table my favorite were the cabbage wraps. They were cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and other goodies. There was also a delicious beet dish and the standard cutlets and potatoes. My least favorite dish was pig tongue served in a jello like thing.
The Ukrainians do New Years Eve like this: They start with a toast and then eat for about 20 minutes. Then everyone stops and takes a shot. Repeat. About a half hour before midnight we were joined by Anatolli and a priest whose name escapes me at the moment. Anatolli works to help set up Peace Corps volunteers and speaks English fluently. We had a great time talking about Ukraine and America.
When the countdown began, little changed. In fact, we just stayed at the table and kept eating until about 3am. After eating for 7 hours straight, I couldnâ€™t help but wonder if I was Ukrainian. Perhaps that would explain my unnaturally affinity for the dinner table.
As luck would have it, when we left the sky was clear!! I could see so many stars. I also noticed that it was perfectly quiet. One thing that always bugs me about rock climbing in Connecticut is that there isnâ€™t a place to climb that is far enough away from civilization to escape the roar of highways. Altynivka, however, is perfectly quiet. You might hear an occasional dog barking in the distance, but there are absolutely no sounds of civilization.
I think I am most impressed so far by the night. Between the stars, the quiet, and the beautiful images of trees silhouetted against the sole light beaming from Larissaâ€™s kitchen window. Itâ€™s awesome.
Larissaâ€™s house at night. Sigh. I miss it.