As I type, I am very much aware that I am missing the culminating event of the summer for Jack Pine Stables: the skill showcase. Hopefully everyone does their best and has fun. I have been promised pictures, and hopefully can share one or two soon. Meanwhile, my laptop has been rather uncooperative for pictures and poor Internet connection, but I shall press on nevertheless.
Well, it all started a while ago, with my host mother wanting me to bring my language teacher over to watch her wedding video with me to provide commentary. He wasn't too thrilled by this idea (matched only by level of embarrassment of actually asking him after several days of hounding!), and we settled on a plan to have me watch and write down any questions. However, then Hugo was invited to dinner. Leanne had already drilled me on him, and knew his name before anyone else in the group. She feels very sorry for his "deprived" situation, and last night I actually discovered why. Well, I actually learned a lot. Maybe even possibly too much. He arrived and she immediately said that she had a secret. Through the help of her translation program, she explained that she had wanted to host a boy, and her husband a girl. They then rock/paper/scissor-ed it out, with her winning. However, when Sparta informed her there was only one boy coming, she agreed the more spartan living conditions would be easier for a boy. So I was slightly chopped liver. I made the joke they would send me home and not Hugo, but apparently I have met at least basic expectations and they'll keep me.
Anyhow, we ended up looking at her wedding album before her friend the English teacher and husband came home to eat...which culminated in her and Hugo having 6 shots of vodka...oddly enough (by Ukrainian standards) her husband does not drink vodka, and she was happy to have a guy to drink with. I was not offered, but at is not really a path I want to explore. My low and abrupt tolerance would probably not do me credit. Thankfully Hugo is an archeologist, and has plenty of field experience....
On the First Day of the Wedding...
That's right! Weddings are apparently yet another thing we do wrong! Thankfully, not all traditions around world have been lost. On the first day they dress in what looks like typical western-world wedding garb- and Leanne looked GORGEOUS. They brought along a intricately designed loaf of decorated wedding bread, which got blessed by their mothers. They stood on what looked like a table runner, beautifully embroidered by Leanne, and got married by a priest. Next they headed to the Dnieper to take pictures and drink champagne. When the bottle was empty, they blew a wish in, along with a slip of paper and chucked it into the river. (Perhaps not the most ecologically-friendly practice, but quite romantic, no?) Then the real fun started. On the way back to the party, the groom must carry his bride across 3 (different, we clarified) bridges, including the vast Dnieper in this case. So that was impressive. Next? We DRINK!
Day 2: The Dirty Work
So, the next day when they get together, it is a time of some real family bonding...the mother-in-laws test the respect of their new children in a ver interesting way. First the bridegroom washes her legs, which she has generously smeared with earth. Then a second washing with vodka, and he presents her with new socks and boots. Then the bride must wash her mother in law's equally dirty face with water and vodka. Since they will likely live in close quarters with at least one half of their family for the rest of their lives, these are not particularly empty gestures...
Anyhow, I am flagging here, so you will have to stay tuned for the continuation, as there are still another FIVE MORE DAYS to cover...and some of it is pretty unbelievable, even after seeing the photos!!
Hope all is well,