Since I have no idea when I last updated, and I'm now sitting in Kiev, waiting for my flight to New York-I'll just account for the last 24 hours or so.
Yesterday we had a day off (kind of). We went by Magic Bus to the catacombs outside Odessa city. We had a tour of the underground museum where the dissenting party from the Nazis built an underground city. The catacombs crawl beneath the city outskirts and all the way to the center.
People built a hospital, water well, radio room, artillery room and bedrooms underneath the city by carving out circuitous tunnels in the limetone beneath. It was freezing down there, very narrow and dark. There were inscriptions on the wall from the 'party line' and carvings like in a cave. Eventually, there were battles underground too. The partisans won in the end but many did not live to see Victory Day. Those that died are buried down there-creepy.
Above ground, we had a walking tour of Odessa's port and famous boulevard, Potamkin steps and famous buildings. We stopped a few times for photos, coffee and to gaze at the Black Sea.
We saw a lot of new developments, luxury apartments, renovations etc. I'm sure it will all look very different in a year.
Back to the hotel to rest-and out for an early dinner with the mission coordinators. Although the pace of dinner was slow due to translations, we got a lot of work done in that beautiful room. There was a built-in bookshelf and old fashioned appliances (thermometer, fan, calculators). We gave and received gifts...ask me about the ones I got sometime.
We met with volunteers (Dina and Sol) back at our hotel after a long stroll down the boulevard at night (with Nicolay of course, our strongman!) they shared their work they've done for the past year in Odessa by photo-hard lives to see, the people are truly living in another world.
Time to fly up!