Sunday, July 31, 2011

Finally in Kyiv

We made it to Kyiv a couple of days ago after the most miserable day of travel I've ever had in my life (and this is saying something because I've had some pretty miserable travel days in the last few years, including a 24 hour surprise layover in Russia where I wasn't allowed to leave the smoke filled airport due to visa restrictions and also the infamous Jordan/Israel "take to nearest police station" border crossing episode, which grandma recently referred to mid shudders as "that aweful aweful day"). It all started in SLC where a flight delay got me freaked out that I was going to miss my connecting flight in NYC where I was supposed to meet up with Matt to fly on to Paris and the from there, to Kyiv. The flight made it to NYC in time, however, not that it mattered because when I arrived I was told by Air France (aka, the WORST airline in the history of aviation) that I was nowhere in their records but not to worry because "we'll totally put you on standby for flights over the next day until we find you something suitable. Totally." After lots of panicked yelling (not the mean kind of yelling, but the productive kind), I was passed off to Delta (I think because it was Delta who I made the reseravations with in the first place) who was much more responsive to my productive yelling when I told them that I didn't care if they had to hire me as a flight attendant to put me on a flight that went through Iraq on an airline that came into existance that morning, I had to be in Kyiv by Saturday afternoon. This panic was because Matt had made the flight out of NYC and the thought of him rolling into totally unfamiliar and (let's be honest) not super friendly Kyiv airport (which is actually a good half hour drive outside of the city) was a little worrisome, particularly because I had no way to communicate with him to let him know that a) I was alive, b) I was coming to Kyiv at a later time, and c) when that later time was. Eventually the Delta people worked something out with a Russian airline (Aeroflot) where surprisingly nobody speaks any English at all, including the pilot who, to his credit, desperately tried to translate all of his messages throughout the flight until some point toward the end of it where he finally gave up. I think this didn't matter, however, because most of his translations ended up being an incomprehensible attempt at interpretation of about 2% of his original message. At one point he came on and spoke in Russian for about 4 minutes and then followed it in English with something that sounded like, "Hello. I'm pilot. I fly plane. Plane, he flying. Fly. All you need is love. Heppy birsday" followed by fragments of what I think was the pledge of allegiance. But it have also been lyrics to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." (This is actually almost no exaggeration).

Of course the flight out of NYC left about 2 hours late (because when has a flight from JFK ever been on time). But I barely made my connecting flight in Moscow anyway (yes, I woke up in SLC and somehow ended up in Russia, never intending any of this). I rolled into Kyiv about 5 hours after Matt and frantically searched the airport until I found him, totally relaxed and, according to him, prepared to just make the Kyiv airport his permanent home until someone he knew showed up. I think Matt has never been stressed out in his life, which is probably something I should try to pick up from him because between the bar a few days ago and a few days without sleep mixed in with that travel day, I aged exactly 37 years and have started experiencing some bizzare hallucinations (which always happen at night and strangely always have to do with really large spiders above my head).

Anyway, we eventually got into the city a couple of days ago and met up with our first couch surfing friends Max and Natallia who live on the edge of Kyiv. They are probably the nicest people I have ever met in my life and I'm considering moving in with them permanently. They have two little boys (ages 2 and 3) and if I can figure out a way, I'm going to try to take one of them with us when we leave. I don't really care much which one but the older one is a little bit quieter so I think it will take them a few minutes longer to notice that he's missing. Max is a bishop in one of the Kyiv wards (he's a couple of years older than me and was called to be a bishop at age 24). We've mostly hung out with them over the last couple of days and it's been a lot of fun. Tonight we're going to try to make them Mexican food if we can remember how to make tortillas, which is iffy at best.

Yesterday we visited the temple site, which is really close to where we are staying, and then wandered the city for most of the afternoon and evening. We spent some time wandering around Big Mama, cautious of course because I'm still conviced that that thing is within minutes of coming to life and terrorizing the world with her giant mammoth head and sword (when I brought Krishelle, Will, Megan, Matthew, Andrea, and Stacee to see her 2 years ago, they had to undergo several months of therapy just to overcome the initial shock of seeing her. Big Mama is sort of the statue of liberty equivalent for Ukraine but she sits on top of the highest hill in the middle of the city and she is quite a bit bigger, plus somewhere around 600% scarier).

We'll go check out some great churches, including the catacombs and the Lavra today before hopping a train tonight to L'viv. We plan to stay in L'viv for probably just one day before heading off to Krakow.

Things are going really well so far. I'll probably touch base again in a few days. Hope everyone is doing well.

~It Just Gets Stranger

1 comment:

  1. Um, just so you know, Platt and I blame you for the fact that we can't hear Rob speaking in any church meeting without a) counting how many times he says "like" and 2) counting how many time he repeats himself. All your fault. Just so you know. And we're glad that you're not dead.