Today Juan and Nancy Gonzalez met me at 'my' Metro station at 11:00 am (which by the way is the 'Ukraine Palace' stop--sounds more like 'pahlosh Ookryna'--and I never figured out until I got the tour guide book 2 days ago that the stop is named for this huge curved-front building we pass on the way to the Metro station where they have had 'solemn occasions and concerts for the last 30 years.' Today we were heading for Kiev-Pechersk Lavra down by the river which we found with the help of a map and several locals pointing us in the right direction. It was a FREEZING cold walk but our destination was so beautiful. According to my guidebook this monastery was founded in 1051 and the first monks there lived in caves. Over time several churches were built. On the map I count 12 churches plus gorgeous bell tower and lots of other buildings. We didn't see near all of it but the part we did see was very beautiful. Actually our first stop was at the ticket booth and then directly to a room where you could buy coffee or tea which they serve very hot in plastic, not styrofoam cups. Just holding the cup felt wonderfully warm. I don't know what kind of tea it was but there were at least 3/4 inch of leaves in the bottom of the cup. I didn't of course eat the leaves but the tea was very tasty. That room had brick walls that looked like they had to be nearly 2 feet thick plus a coating on the inside of cement or plaster that was 1 1/2 -2 inches thick. It looked like it had been there a LONG time. I was particularly impressed by the sparkling gold-colored domes and the multitude of pictures on the outside of one church in particular--if I'm following the diagram right, it is the Dormition Cathedral--a different picture under every arch and in every cubby around all the domes and spires. We went inside one church--it seemed like every bit was covered with artwork. When I saw the frescoes and mosaics in various places I was remembering how Teresa and I learned about those art forms when we were studying with the Idaho Virtual Academy. Nearly every woman there had her head covered--some with hats, some with scarves, some (like me) with the hood of their coat. A person could easily spend several hours at this site but we had to get back because we were very cold and because time was getting away from us.
We got back to Juan and Nancy's stop and they took me to a wonderful cafeteria-style establishment where I got what I think was a chicken patty with cheese and pineapple on top, deliciously-flavored potatoes, a Russian salad, a tubular-shaped bread thing stuffed with what tasted like cream cheese, maybe pineapple, some bits of something else-raisins? and then had sour cream over the top and tea. I was very hungry but still could not eat it all and I gave it a gallant effort. It was yummy but I was glad we waited to fill our tummies until after our long walk.
Then they took me to a pharmacy where I was finally able to buy wet wipes, baby shampoo, plastic dish, cups, spoons, more diapers, baby cereal, even a couple jars of baby food. It's still a little different because everything but the diapers, cup and spoons were inside various locked glass cases--like jewelry or watches in the States--and the nice lady had to get them out for us. She took all the stuff to a counter as I picked it out and wrote the price of each on a piece of paper. Then she sacked them up while I took the piece of paper to the cashier and paid for it.
And at the multi-level grocery store which they discovered near their house I even got something that looks like Fruit Loops and some chocolates for the ladies at the orphanage. I feel so unbelievably relieved to finally have this stuff.
I am going to miss Juan and Nancy. They are flying back to the States tomorrow while Dima resolves a paperwork challenge with one of the girlies they're adopting. Don't worry though, they really love Nastya and Sophia and will be eagerly awaiting Dima's call to come back for court to make them legally their own.
10 more days (hopefully) until I'll be headed home with Caleb to see Kevin and Billy and Scheri and Teresa and James. Though I have honestly enjoyed my time here, I am also glad that the end is in sight.