Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Road to Starribilsk

Gabe and I were up until almost 2 AM last night trying to make flight arrangements for his return home. Court is Monday, August 17th at 11:30 and he will fly home on Thursday along with Roman. Thank you for praying for an early court date that has enabled Gabe to get home in time to help Luke get moved into his college dorm for the first time. We were tired but we left at 10:00 this morning for our daily trek to Starribilsk. It is really a very beautiful drive so I thought I'd tell you about our day with pictures.

There are beautiful sunflower fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. Everyday we talk about stopping and taking some pictures and today we finally did it. If you have ever ridden with a Ukrainian driver you know that you always seem to be in a hurry so stopping for pictures can be a monumental task!

As I mentioned yesterday, the road is shared by all sorts of vehicles. Cars, bikes, pedestrians and even horses. Everything we pass is picture worthy. It is such a beautiful place and there is so much character in every scene, in every face.

I mean, wouldn't you like to talk with this man? Ride with him on his cart? See where he came from and where he is going?

Our driver, Sergey, laughs at some of the things I take pictures of, especially cows. Yes, we have cows in Alabama. But I don't see them on leashes being led out to the side of the highway to graze for the day. And I usually do not see them in open carts being transported down the highway.

We always talk about stopping and getting watermelons to take to the Bela kids. But we haven't done it yet. Today we took ham and bread and some sort of meat filled rolls. The dorm parent requested that we stick to fruit so we may yet stop and get some watermelons. The road is lined with small stands such as these with not only watermelons but cantalopes, tomatoes, beans and all sorts of produce.

We see this bread truck everyday. I don't why but I think it is cool. I guess its just the big "bread" on the side. Plain and simple.

We got into Starribilsk about an hour early today and discovered a market and some small shops that are only open until 1:00. We browsed through them, didn't buy anything but Sergey was scoping out the local scene and found us the coolest restaurant called Shaslick (Shish-ka-bob). We were in this private room. There was no one else in the restaurant. No menu. She told us what they had and we said "we'll take it." It was delicious. The meat was more like huge pork chops rather than shish-ka-bob meat. Tomato and cucumber salad and fried potatoes rounded out the meal and it was way more than we could eat. We felt like we were guests in someone's home.

This is the grill out back where the shish-ka-bobs were made. You see it before you walk in the restaurant and feel a little wary at first but once you get inside, its all good!

This is our driver, Sergey, outisde the building where the restaurant is. He not only drives us around all day but he is very protective of us and helpful in finding whatever we need.

This statue of Lenin is in a very nice park in the center of Starribilsk. We walked here one other day but today was a bit more leisurely. There are statues and busts such as these in every town and village in Ukraine.

This was the second hidden treasure we found today in Starribilsk. A small amusement park. It never ceases to amaze me how complicated things can be in Ukraine. Something as simple as buying 4 tickets can take 15 minutes. And its not the language barrier. We have 2 Russian speaking children. Its just the way it is.

Gabrielle is not yet keen on trying new things. Here she and Gabe watch the rest of us on a soviet-era ferris wheel.

It didn't look very sturdy but it didn't go very high so I figured if we fell, the most we might do is break an arm or a leg. Maybe Gabrielle was just smarter than the rest of us!

Now, you've got to love this. Bumper cars so old that we were told not to bump them! They must have been originals! The boys still had fun on them and wanted to go a second round. Gabrielle still was not so sure and just watched.

After the bumper cars that couldnt't bump, we bought pellets for 25 kopecks each and took target practice. But no prizes here, no matter how many targets you hit!

Here we are outside a little magazine (store). We were getting drinks and ice cream. Gabrielle is so beautiful but shy about taking pictures. So I will post everyone she will pose for! How blessed we are to have 2 beautful daughters! She is also shy about trying English. I'm sure she is even more self-conscious since the boys already know English. I have told her that when the boys got home last year, from day one they were required to speak to me in English. There were lots of charades and dictionary moments but they had to try. I know that she will want to rely on her brother/translators for as long as possible so we will have to start working through that soon.

We left Starribilsk a little early today and made it out to Camp Druzhba before the night service. We got to see most of our interpreter friends as well as Shane and Marilyn and Lori Jackson. It is always good to visit there. Here is Alexandra with Lori, Yura and "Soccer" Sasha.

Tomorrow we will do it all over again. The Bela kids continue to warm up to us and Roman and Vitalik are getting some soccer in. They asked to stay longer today so that was a good sign. Vitalik is enjoying getting to know Gabrielle. Roman practically grew up with her but Vitalik only met here last week. He has given his vote of approval. I believe their personalities will work well together. The dorm parents are kind and helpful to us. We are just counting down the days till court.


  1. Loving your blog! SO glad your court date is soon. Thank you for loving the Bela kids. Please give our love to all of them.

  2. Love all the pics. It's almost like we're there with you... almost! Praying for a great court date on Monday. Tell Gabe to let me know if Roman wants to come play with Noah when they get back. We'd love to have him.

  3. We were told not to 'bump' the bumper cars in Yekaterinburg, Russia!!!!!!!! We were so puzzled by that!! Now, everytime we ride bumper cars we are reminded of the babushka telling us NOT to bump the cars!!! :-)