The outdoor eco-conference by the sea of Azov was everything you'd imagine a relaxing vacation to be. After the whole issue of where we were going to be staying was resolved, the rest of the time there was spent at the beach, eating, lounging, exploring of the nearby town, and even some skinnydipping (my first time!). So to backtrack a little, I'm going to explain why the living situation was such a mess. In Ukraine, planning is bad luck. I may have mentioned this before, but this was something that I struggled with when I was teaching at camp. Because planning is not really a well-known practice in Ukraine, Theo, her family, and I show up at this campsite with absolutely no housing accommodations. Theo was just going to hope that there would be an apartment available for her parents to stay in, but this did not fly with her parents. After a really awkward lunch where I basically sat through a family feud, I left the lunch early and was able to secure a hotel for the four of us - Theo was going to just sleep at the campsite. Getting caught up in the family issues of my best friend made me think about my own family and our issues. I haven't been the best daughter or granddaughter that I know I can be, but I realized during my time at this conference that I wanted to cherish my family in such a way that they know how much I actually love them. Many times, I'm afraid that this simple fact is not conveyed because I get too caught up in my own life. I don't ever want to get so caught up in myself that I forget one of the only truly valuable thing I have in life. For as long as I can remember, I've always been infected with the travel bug. Starting from the age of two, I sporadically lived out of a suitcase starting with my aunt, then my grandparents, and then when I was old enough, various friend's houses whenever there was a break from school. I lived in San Jose, but I was in San Francisco so much that some people actually thought I lived there. When I was applying to colleges, I wanted nothing more than to be as far away from home as possible. I never really understood the reasoning behind why I wanted to escape home so often, but that is how I felt. When I didn't get accepted to any of the east coast schools I applied to, I was a bit disappointed, but going to Berkeley was one of the best decisions I ever made. It helped shape me into who I am today. When I withdrew from Berkeley at the end of 2008 and moved to Shanghai, I quickly grew accustomed to a different lifestyle and made friends from all over the world, many of whom are some of my closest friends today. The 8 months I was there only made me more antsy, and as soon as I got back to the States, I was waiting for the next opportunity to jet off again.
So to come to the point of this long and somewhat unnecessary insight into my life, I realized at the sea of Azov that I didn't want to be far away from my family anymore. I want to be in a position where I can be close enough to care for them and spend quality time with them. It's kind of funny that I came to this conclusion while at an eco-conference in Ukraine.
I'll leave my adventures in Santorini and Paris for a future post, but for now, enjoy my pictures!
|paddle boat with a slide|
|exploring the beach town|
|the cotton candy is shaped like a bear head!|
|waiting eagerly for food|
|Choppin' firewood in swimwear, just another typical day in Ukraine|
|the view from our hotel|
|sporting traditional Ukrainian men's summer style|
|we watched the sunset every day|
|the playground outside our room|
|bittermelon! my fave!|
|deciding what I want from McDonald's|
|That face was not contrived. I actually look like that when I'm really excited about my food...|
|We're so tan!|
|on a typical 12-hour Ukrainian train ride (no air conditioning)|