Thursday, December 31, 2009

A lilliputian puppet

Sometimes, ya just gotta laugh...

On my way over a few final mountains before the deep descent into Balaklava, I encountered an uncommon fence barring my way. Anyone familiar with walking in Colorado leaps over 3-strand barbed wire fences all the time; similarly, stile-stepping over stone walls is common in the UK. But my long walks through Ukraine so far have required infrequent barriers like these. This particular fence was something on solid ground I could have easily vaulted over; however, today, there was plenty of mud and evidence of many farm animals recently passing by. Because of the stinky mud, I chose not to remove my backpack and drop it over the fence before climbing over it myself. That was the foreshadowing of a minor disaster. Just as I crossed my first leg over, my hiking poles slipped and crash, bang, I lost my balance, perching myself somehow with the slats of the fence lodged between my back and my backpack, my toes just shy of the mud no matter how much I kicked and wiggled. Hung up like a puppet. I had to laugh out loud at my own predicament.

Before I had a chance to unclasp my hipbelt and drop into the poopy mud, and still laughing at myself, I heard the guffaws of two people behind me. Unable to turn around because of my pack, I wiggled all the more to see my heckling audience, making even more of a fool of myself. Two Tatar adolencents moving a few goats came up splitting their sides laughing. I laughed even harder. Each stepped over the fence with long-legged ease and came to my aid. Taking me by the elbows, the boys lifted me from my perch and delivered me to the drier grass. One of the guys retrieved my poles and washed the mud off in a brook. With the other, I was able to converse - my bad Russian being remarkably better than his bad English. They were from some 'stan' I didn't recognize but have lived here for a few years, I gathered. Nice kids.

It just goes to show that visual comedy, even unintended, transcends age, gender, nationality, culture and language. We all laughed hard at the silliness of my getting hung up on a small fence, there on a hillside above Balaklava, just above the valley where a light brigade charged in some battle long ago.


Sylvia said...

Ann, what a great jolly way to start the New Year! I hope you have many more happy days on your journey, however not quite so precarious!

Best Wishes!


Dan Wright said...

Happy New Year. You just gave mine a happy start :-)

Anonymous said...


That would have made for a great photo opporutunity. You are going to have to try and paint this one. We'd all love to see it visually even though you made it sound very funny.

Continued happy and safe walking.

Vera - Erie

The Solitary Walker said...

Great story, Ann, and beautifully told. I liked the almost throwaway reference to the battle at the end. Happy walking!

Anonymous said...

Happy walking and happy New Year dear. And stay away from mud and guns!


Ukiefriend said...

Anna, now we even have comedy...this will make a great book! Keep walking, scaling, jumping, sliding, catapulting and writing. We all sit back and visualize all your successes in this memorable journey of yours! Don't think St. Andrew had to jump over that little fence...

Keep on!

Anonymous said...

Enjoying each and every entry. Wishing you a safe and blessed New Year! Keep posting, I look forward to them all so much!


Kateryna Yushchenko said...

Dearest Ann,

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!

We have been following your travels through our country and thank you for your interest, knowledge, political sensitivity, tolerance and good humor!

I am glad you have met so many people who have helped you and respected your mission; I apologize for the few "dinosaurs" you have encountered. This is our post-Soviet legacy, which is, thankfully, gradually fading away.

It is really too bad that you did not spend Christmas in our Carpathian Mountains, where this is a spectacular religious holiday, with beautiful church services, numerous carollers dressed in costumes wandering the streets, horse drawn carriages, lights and music. In Lviv, they held a larger than life Christmas nativity play with choirs, dance and fireworks and opened their first annual Christmas markets.

The "Sovietized" part of our country, like Sevastopil, will soon rediscover Christmas as well.

My family and I wish you God's blessing, health and happiness.

Khrystos Narodyvsya! Slavimo Yoho!

Kateryna Yushchenko and family