Off to Ukraine today. I got up early knowing that because in Ukraine I would be in an Internet black hole for a few days that I'd better get any messages or postings done before we left.
The four of us were ready to head for the train station by taxi and we were on a high knowing that we had all our bases covered, train tickets bought the day before and knowing EXACTLY where to go. Out of about a dozen train trips from Budapest to Ukraine, only once did it go exactly to plan. We were completely it would be this way today. But, it wasn't.
First, we found we needed two taxis because of all our luggage and four people. The Hungarian taxis are all quite small cars. So we called for another taxi and sent the ladies in one taxi to the train station and we would be right behind them in ours. I clearly told the taxi driver to take the ladies to the Nyuagatti train station. There are two stations, however, that trains leave from for the East. Sure enough, the first driver drove the Bev and Carolyn to the Keleti, the WRONG train station.
In the meantime Scott and I are triumphantly driven to the Nyuagatti station where we wait for the ladies. We have plenty of time...an hour. We clearly see platform 10 where our train is to leave from. We wait...and....and...wait. I run around the train station and taxi stands. No ladies. Scott does the same. OK. Something's wrong. Where ARE they? Taxi got into an accident? Kidnapped? The worst thoughts come to mind. Do we call the police, the American Embassy? The hospital? We start thinking about what could have gone wrong. I wouldn't think the driver would take them to the other station. Our train was pulling out of the station. We decided that MAYBE they got to the wrong station. I took the metro to the Keleti station and immediately saw Bev standing in the doorway. Relief. They were going through the same thoughts we were at the other station.
We got a cab to take us from Keleti to Nyagatti. Scott was at the McDonald's. We found another train to take us east, a fast Intercity train leaving in six minutes. We quickly hopped on it hoping our ticket would be good. It was. Our arrival in Chop, Ukraine would not be delayed. We'd still make the train to Chop arriving at 4:17 PM.
We have enjoyed being with Scott and Carolyn who have such big hearts for disadvantaged people in different places in the world and in the United States and thereby the time went extremely fast. We didn't have breakfast, but were able to survive on nuts, pretzels and water.
We got into Chop with a cold rain falling. It's been quite gray our whole time in Hungary so far. We arrived in Chop and had a comfortable hour and 15 minutes to wait for our one car train across the border into Ukraine. This was a little reminiscent of the time with the Harper's a year ago where we got gyro sandwiches and sat in the restaurant.
Our Chop train arrives and we embark on our 17 minute journey across the Tissa River which is the border between Hungary and Ukraine.
After clearing passport control and customs we are met by Vasya who works the Polichko's. We are very happy to see each other. They take us in the big red van back to Vinogradov which because of the falling snow takes us about two hours.
We come to the orphanage where we will be staying while we are here. The Polichko's happily greet us. First Irina, then Vasya's wife Marichka....then the kids.
We recognize the boys from last winter. We are equally happy to see each other. We are continually asked, "Where is Daniel?" "Why isn't Daniel with you?" They were referring to Daniel Harper.
There are 14 children in all now in the orphanage-there were only the six boys from last winter. This is in addition to the 30 street children that are cared for in town. The orphanage is located on the outskirts of Vinogradov.
On the drive from the Chop train station to Vinogradov Vasyl Polichko told us about the new children. There are eight new ones and a few more guardians for them. The model for this orphanage is to provide a family atmosphere, not an institutional one. They try to keep orphaned children together. This home is for boys only, but an exception was made for a one and a half year-old girl who whose brothers are part of the home. Her father murdered her mother and then turned himself in. Vasyl Polichko related a few more stories while Bev took notes.
We had dinner with all the kids, Polichko's and Vasya and Marichka who work with the Polichko's. Also the new guardians for the extra kids. There is lots of excited talk and good food starting with bright red borscht.
We talked a few hours before being really really ready to go to sleep.
Arrival to Vinogradov, Ukraine
Thursday, January 15, 2009