Kayaking Ukraine: Welcome to Ukrainka
Dispatch No. 3 from Jeffery and Giulio as they paddle the length of Ukraine’s Dnieper River
Jeffrey Andreoni and Giulio D’Eramo paddled the length of Ukraine’s Dnieper River in 2012. As the country they came to love faces its greatest crisis of this century, we take a look back at their journey and the people they met along the way.
Part III: Jeffrey and Giulio dock at Ukrainka on Ukraine’s Dnieper River and make some new friends.
By Jeffrey Andreoni and Giulio D’Eramo
We land in Ukrainka and dismantle the sails. Yuri, the owner of the wharf where we leave the boat, says we can leave it for free, because tomorrow is “praznik” (holiday). While docking we meet Anatoly, who says he will help us with shopping tomorrow as we need to restock. He then drives us to Alexander’s house, another couch-surfer who volunteered to host us for the night. A former professional IT guy, he left his job in Kiev four years ago in search of a slower, moneyless, but enjoyable lifestyle. He chose Ukrainka.
At first sight, Ukrainka is a typical, ugly Soviet city with ten story buildings. But then you walk along the dock, you stare at the sea, the islands, and the green hills that surround it all. But after four years, Alexander and his beautiful girlfriend are moving (the day after we arrive) to the Carpathians: from the sea to the mountains. We are tired from the sun and the previous day’s Olympic vodka session, so we ask Anatoly if he can find us a bed for the following night. He sets us up with Dima, a band mate of his and invites us to their band’s rehearsals. At nine o’clock we are all to meet in front of the local “building of culture”.
Throughout Ukrainka there is no hot water for the entire month of July. This is because of the propane and coal power plant that provides electricity to the city. The hot water used to cool the plant is pumped through all the houses (60,000 inhabitants) to provide heat all winter long. It’s a very economical system, but also difficult to maintain: they shut down the hot water system once a year for repairs.
We take cold showers and at nine PM we follow the five band members to the backstage of an immense Soviet theater: this is their “studio”.
Follow Jeffrey and Giulio’s Ukrainian River Odyssey
Episode 1: Olympic Refugees
Episode 2: Setting Sail
Episode 3: Welcome to Ukrainka
Episode 4: A Day in Town
Episode 5: Hornets
Episode 6: The Yacht Club
Episode 7: The Shortcut
Episode 8: Snakes
Episode 9: The Dam
Episode 10: Take Out