This morning, Ella was very creative at breakfast – she spends so much time thinking about what to prepare and working so hard early in the morning.  She cooked linguine and made what looked like nests and melted cheese on them – it was really delicious.  I shared the spaghetti frittata recipe I used to make when Arielle and Efrem were kids, with her – she said it sounded good and would be easy to try.

Our archivist is amazing.  When we stopped by to pick up the xeroxed copies, she told us that she had found an additional 45 records. We made arrangements to pick them up from her on Thursday morning.

Farmer on the road

Farmer on the road

Some of the things we see are so funny – a billboard advertising Avon (with Avon spelled out in English).  We are driving this morning to Kolomyya where we will meet Genya (Eugene) – a former student of Ella’s.  It truly does feel like the entire immediate world is a former student of hers!

The colors of the landscape here are fascinating – once we get out of town, the houses are mostly red brick and colorful

Kolomyya street

Kolomyya street

stucco.  There are lots of bright red roofs and some of the exteriors of the houses are not only brightly painted but also have decorative touches in etched metal, mirrors and tile.

Remember; “da” is Russian and “tak” is Ukrainian.  BUT if you use the wrong voice tone when saying “tak” meaning “yes” in Ukrainian, it means something entirely different in Russian.  We all know how tone deaf I am – wonder how many people I’ve insulted today! Everyone sounds like a clock: “tak, tak, tak”.

We met Genya and then took a brief walk to see the synagogue – it is part of Rabbi Kolesnik’s community.  The head of

In Kolomyya

In Kolomyya

the community was in the office working, and we looked around for a few minutes before he needed to leave for a meeting – he wasn’t expecting us, so it was nice that he was able to see us even for a few minutes.  There are  holes from where bricks were thrown in the outer window panes.  When asked, he said this is the first time in about 15 years that such desecration occurred.  When my mind links this to the poster in Lviv, I feel a physical pain, an urge to cry out for people to pay attention, to watch carefully.  Are people frightened?  Do they feel this, or is it only me, because I am not used to feeling this way, to being in such a place.  In the US we struggle with the reminders of what happened to slaves and to the Indians – perhaps it is easier for us to confront it in the US since so many of our ancestors weren’t even here when these tragedies and crimes were being perpetrated.  It is difficult in Ukraine for people to excuse themselves so easily – most people living in these cities, are descendants of people who have lived in these same places for centuries if not longer.

We walked around Kolomyya for a while.  There is an interesting museum of Easter eggs that we visited for a while.   Bumped into Genya’s mother while we were wandering around and he introduced us to her.  Of course, I couldn’t follow

Easter Egg Museum

Easter Egg Museum

any of the conversation.  Sometimes I think that is great – it leaves me alone with my own thoughts a lot.

We wandered around – a hot, dusty walk, to see the field where there was once a Jewish cemetery.  Just an empty grass covered field with a couple of very thin paths that people use to cross it.  Ella said there was a pock-marked wall where Nazis murdered Jews – the remnant of the murderous actions in Kolomyya.  Our search yielded nothing – there is a gas station in place of that reminder of what happened here.  Sasha said “kaput”.  Although he didn’t understand what I said, I replied anyway: “certainly – this community is kaput, why would anyone think twice about destroying the evidence of the destruction of its inhabitants.”

There is a memorial to the Chernobyl incident here.  Ella said that on April 26 when it happened everyone was told to just stay put and then further instructed (read commanded) to appear on May 1 for a demonstration of some sort.  Then it rained.  Not today, I mean right after Chernobyl.

We passed a small shop and stopped in for some tasteless ice cream cones – the advantage was that they were cold and we were hot, and the flavor was bland but just slightly sweet and I think revived us somewhat.  I know I’m not drinking enough water (not anything else either) and that is not helping the way I feel.  Physically, I’m fine.  I understand how people live here – it’s their lives, and the emotions I feel pounding me from all sides are because this is all new to me, it’s awful though.  I realize that I have been avoiding physical contact with everyone except the two babies – Ilya and Nathalie’s David, and even touching and holding them is very difficult.  I play with Ilya and make funny sounds for him because I know that in other places, I would do that with joy.  He is cute, fun to be around, and very charming.  My reaction isn’t to him and I know that so I try to behave the same way I would in other places.  Ella, Julia – I wish I was able to just forget about everything I’m feeling while I hold and play with Ilya.  He is very precious and I love being around him.

Genya said he didn’t know there had been Nazi murders of Jews in Kolomyya.  There is a monument just outside the city on the main road that is bullet marked.    Are these monuments such a common part of the landscape that no one

Holocaust Memorial - Kolomyya

Holocaust Memorial - Kolomyya

realizes why they were erected (or cares)?

We stopped at a roadside café and ate fresh fried fish and fried potatoes – the fish was delicious and the potatoes were better than Nathan’s or the Belgian Frites places.  We took advantage of passing the airport on our way home to stop and find out what we had to do for me to check in.  The answer was nothing – 72 hours before flight time, everyone with a ticket is officially registered.  Sounds kind of creepy but maybe I am just being unnecessarily paranoid.

We went home, tired from the excursion, but still awaiting us was taping Babasya’s reminiscences.  Julia, when she was a baby shortened Babushka Asya to Babasya and that is what everyone calls her now.  She fussed a bit over her appearance for her video debut and really surprised me by being eager to talk about her parents and her childhood experiences.  She had not done so before and it was extremely emotional.  Before we taped, she pulled out a photo album and began to identify the people in it.

Asya told us that Samuel, Diana and Eugene wanted to relocate to Poland but that she, Asya, did not – she felt loyal to

Ella and Asya

Ella and Asya

the Soviets for saving her.  Her story was very moving and we stopped taping a couple of times to permit her to regain her composure.  Julia was great about being put on the spot when I asked her to tell about her March of the Living experiences – she and I had already spoken about it previously.  I got about 50 minutes of tape – we watched it afterwards to make sure it was ok.  The sound, color and clarity are really wonderful.

Ella, Babasya and I left to return home and much to our surprise, the temperature had dropped by possibly as much as 20 degrees while we were inside.  As we shivered, Sergey passed us in the car – we waved him down to say hello and he decided to drive us all home.  He is really sweet and thoughtful.  When we got home, Ella tried to get me to eat but all I wanted was ice cream and cake.  I gobbled up the delicious ice cream, which Ella and I agreed was too sweet, but I had it on her honey cake, which is not overly sweet so the tastes balanced out nicely.  I must frustrate Sasha and Ella – they try so hard to make sure that the food they have available is pleasing to me, and I am so rarely hungry here.

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