We took an amazing drive this morning, after a wonderful spinach omelet for breakfast.  I was surprised that after last night we were all awake and energetic.  Sasha went to the store to by some fruit and other treats for a snack along the way and returned with the car.  I was surprised at how cool the temperatures were and was a little regretful that I was wearing shorts, of course it warmed up and later on I was very comfortable.

As we left I-F we saw lots of new construction of private houses on the way to Kalusz.  There are very few private homes (not apartments) in the towns themselves but the outskirts often have multi-storied brick homes that appear

On the road to boulders

On the road to boulders

large, even by American standards.  Also on the outskirts of town, further away, are farm cottages and farms.  It is awful to see the stoop-backed elderly doing work in the fields or carrying farming tools alongside the road.  The roads are a mixture of repaired, newish roads on which fast driving is possible, and pot-hole after pot-hole, connected by a road – Sasha drives the car the way I ski – I ski traversing the mountain from side to side to avoid speed, Sasha does it on the road, to avoid the worst of the holes – it is as if the car itself is bending as it navigates the worst of the pot-holes!

Next we came to Broshnyu – we were driving to a place called the rocks of Dovbush.  We drove through a charming town called Dolyna which means “valley”.

I meant to write several days ago about what I had found out about driving a car here – no one is permitted to drive a car unless their name is on the car registration and no more than two names may appear on the registration!

We arrived at our destination which took us on a 4 k drive up an unpaved mountain path which we shared with hikers, other vehicles, dogs and horses!  At the beginning of the path we stopped at a small inn and ordered a picnic lunch which would be ready when we finished our hike!  More on that when we finish the hike!

We parked the car and hired a young guide to explain what we were looking at – there were huge monoliths standing

Ukrainian Boulders

Ukrainian Boulders

New Zealand Boulders

New Zealand Boulders

amidst the trees which reminded me of the Moeraki Boulders Robert and I saw in New Zealand.  The link was not because of their appearance – they don’t look anything alike, but because there is no explanation of how these huge rocks got to this place.  We climbed up some paths and looked in some shallow caves.  I took a ton of photos.  Shira and Ryan would love this – there were rock climbers having fun making their way up these steep rocks.

Ella found a mushroom which she said was a good one and very like those that Sasha goes into the mountains collecting.  She said there is a Ukrainian saying that Ukrainians eat all mushrooms, but some they only eat once.  This is a beautiful forest – not many firs, lots of deciduous trees.  One woman on horseback kept bugging us about renting horses from her.  It was a  relief when she finally left us alone.

We headed back for the car and drove down to the inn.  There were several tiny covered pavilions for picnics and the staff set the table in one o them for us and brought out food – first an absolutely incredible soup made of a variety of dried mushrooms, carrots and onions.  This course (served with dark bread), was following by light, thin potato

Mushroom Soup in the mountains

Mushroom Soup in the mountains

Pancake with mushroom sauce

Pancakes with mushroom sauce

pancakes covered with a sauce of mushrooms, onions and was cream based.  It was amazing.  Finally they served bowls of kasha – that is what grain is called – this was a coarse corn meal cooked with sour cream and goat  cheese with a covering of cheese.  I didn’t care for it at all – it was too sour for my taste and I was much happier finishing the rest of the pancakes on my plate!  We walked behind the inn to the river where there were small waterfalls and the remnants of an old bridge. I of course took tons of photos.

We left on the long drive back to I-F and Ella and I managed to nap for a bit during the drive.  When we got back to I-F, we had coffee, rested for perhaps 5 minutes and then set off for Julia’s where I happily indulged myself on the internet, downloading hundreds of messages which have been piling up during the period between internet access!

I only have a few more days here – we will go to Kolomyya perhaps on Wednesday – on Monday we know we will be at the archives for most of the day.  There are millions of documents waiting to be looked through and thanks to Lyuba we have access to as much as we can read – the archive reading room is officially closed to the public and I believe she is taking some risk in giving us access.

I should comment that yesterday when we were shopping,  I insisted that Ella allow me to pay for the wine and cake to take to Nathalie’s and in retribution, she bought me a beautiful silver necklace that matched a pair of earrings I bought in Santa Fe at Silver Sun when I was shopping for gifts to bring here with me!  The necklace is lovely – it was a great trade!  BUT, boy, do I feel guilty – my visit here must be very expensive for Ella and Sasha.  They are very gracious and never make me feel as if I am imposing on them, but I know that in order to host me this way, they must be doing without other things.  I hope that whatever they are scrimping on, are luxuries and not necessities.  I wish there was an easy way to send them things (or money) to make their lives easier.

I leave here next Friday and will be happy to be back in NY spending a couple of days in Far Rockaway with my parents and then seeing Efrem in the city.  I’ll be doing some workshops at JTS and having dinner with Lee who finally (hurray!!!) got her apt in the city, and then with Joan who I haven’t seen in ages and ages and have been missing so much!

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