Saturday, January 9, 2010

Last Steppes of Crimea

Turning myself northward, I began the walk off the Crimean Pennisula, back to the mainland to pick up St Andrew's travels to the series of ancient Greek villages along the Black Sea.

The black stones and gravel of the south coast are replaced with coarse golden sand on the west coast, below high bluffs of punky sandstone and conglomerates. I took to the surf again - in places needing to sprint between breakers on the bluffs (as well as one can sprint on sand in hiking boots with a backpack!). The flat expanses on the tops of the bluffs are for many kilometers Russian and Ukrainian military bases, but the beaches are open access - so some soldiers told me.

I stayed one night in a church house where the priest told me he recently acquired relics of 300 Saints, including St Andrew and John the Baptist. I didn't realize the guys were still getting parted out. This is the second bit of Andrew I've encountered.

New Year's Eve was full of the sounds of fireworks, but for personal parties it seemed, not something everybody engages in. (This is Santa's secret, though... how he manages to deliver all of the presents to good little boys and girls - he gets two nights, not one. With Snow Princess, he leaves presents under the tree on New Year's Eve, not Christmas here.) Orthodox Christmas came and went, too, without much fanfare. There were only 6 elderly ladies in the village church when I arrived on Christmas Eve in the pouring rain. The priest interrupted the service to attend to me and went to each babushka to determine who would take me in for the night. Thus accommodated, there was a small evening meal with her grown children and everyone was in bed by 9:30. Christmas morning, I nearly slipped out at dawn to begin my long walk, but the babushka caught me at the door and sat me down for a hot meal and tea. The village slept in.

The bluffs have petered out, the mountains long out of view... a cold north wind brought snow, then was blown away by a slightly warmer east wind that brought mud. How I do prefer snow! Inhabitants are few and villages far between, meaning long treks with no place to stop for rests. Several times, my desires were filled by farm ladies tapping on their windows as I passed and inviting me in for tea, conversation, and the warmth of a stove fire.

The half light of dawn persists on these last steppes of Crimea until the twilight of dusk in low clouds that hug the gently sloping land. The metronome of my walking sticks taps out an allegro in the morning and a bit more of an andante in the afternoon as the kilometers add up and the tread of my boots wears thin. I have no desire for this to ever end.

6 comments:

The Solitary Walker said...

Great post! Farm ladies fulfilling your desires... can only be a very good thing indeed. Keep on truckin'...

MermaidLilli said...

One difference between your walk here and the ones in Spain that I read about, is the people who accommodate you are very willing to help you and even call you to them.
I guess there you are a novelty. On the Camino they are overrun.
Enjoying your Camino.

LDahl said...

New posts from you! I think I'll think of you as Hen-Anna from now on!:)))

Sylvia said...

Ann,

Glad you weren't taken for the 20 USD. Ukrainians are quickly coming up to speed on what Americans will pay.

Keep up the good work1

Sylvia

Compostelle 2008 said...

Anne,

Is it possible that your coming is being transmitted from village to village? Thank you for wonderful descriptions that allow me to dream!

Michèle, Ottawa (Canada)

永遠 said...

一起加油吧 ..................................................