Getting Here and Day 1

I wanted an adventure and I got one.

Moving from one flight to another was easy enough in Paris. Getting through customs in Kyiv was also a breeze. Time creeped by in the three hours I waited for my first teammate, Neena, to arrive. She’s a really fun, and awesome lady from Miami, and she made the following four hours bearable.

We passed most of the afternoon sitting at the cafe in the International terminal, watching the snow fall outside. Just as we were about to go for a walk around the terminal, more team members showed up. Two flying in from the states and two from Europe.

While trying to sort out our flight from Kyiv to Kharkiv (was it delayed? cancelled? rescheduled? we watched it snow heavily all afternoon) we met up with a team member from the UK. Turns out, our flight did indeed get cancelled, and everyone got bumped to Monday morning at 9 AM. Seeing as how we had to be ath the hospital around 10 each morning, that was not good. So we “obliged” one of the “kind” gentleman who had been following us around for the better part of a half hour, asking us if we would be interested in a taxi to Kharkiv. Only a four hour drive? We’ll be there by midnight, we’ll take it!

The 8-seater van that got us to Kharkiv, very bumpily, and very slowly, was nice enough. The 4 hour drive that turned into 8, on the other hand, wasn’t. I appreciate the many times our driver avoided dangerous potholes on what seemed to be completely unplowed roads. But at the same time, his violent swerving was robbing me of the only sleep I’d gotten in the past 24 hours. We checked into our hotel just after 4 in the morning. I have never been happier to fall asleep on such an uncomfortable bed. It’s really not that bad.. but it’s not my bed at home, for sure.

If this is all the adventure I have all week, I’ll be quite happy.

Our first day was pretty eventful in the lives of two courageous boys, right now getting a good night’s sleep with a fixed up heart in our PICU, but from a doctor’s perspective, I am gathering that this is pretty routine. As I’ve stated before, the heart defects that children come in with in this part of the world are pretty rare, but a lot of times, fixeable, in most other parts of the world. But as I learned today, this is not most parts of the world. More can be read (at some point, real soon), at http://chernobyl.typepad.com

After the day’s work was done, we enjoyed dinner at a Ukrainian restaurant near to our Hotel (so near, that it was already on my list of places to check out). We ate at Sloboda, which looks like a Ukrainian village on the inside. The main dining room (pictures will be added tomorrow, so check back), looked like you were standing outside, complete with christmas light stars suspended in the ceiling and a large fake tree dominanting the room. We ate in a separate room, which felt like we were going into some villager’s home to dine on some real honest-to-goodness home cooking. I enjoyed many Ukrainian appetizers (salads, breads, pickled vegetables and kolbasy) and for dinner I ate borscht (beet soup) and varenyky with cherries. Cherries! I have had varenyk many times in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever had them with cherries (maybe my mother can correct me).

After dinner we enjoyed some traditional Irish stout in a tradition British pub (tell me how that sorts out, really), and relaxed with some of the teammates while discussing everything from current Ukrainian politics, to WWII and our favorite movies. All in all, a great night. Now, time to upload all my files for CCPI. It’s about 1:00 AM here in Ukraine, and I guess, just about dinner time back home in the states.

I miss everyone terribly, but I can quite honestly say that I am simply having a blast. I spend all day with truly inspirational people, doing inspirational, and completely life-altering work. This is truly an experience of a lifetime. Also.. most of the English that I am listening to is British English, complete with some British slang and the whole accent. When I come home I think I will also be speaking just a little bit of the Queen’s English with the accent to match. Cheerio, i spakoyniyi nochi, me mates!