A Closer Walk

Archive: Spring 2009

Over the past couple of months I have come to appreciate the little known town of Krasnodon, where I live. Partly, because I have to leave back home soon, but more importantly because I have started exploring more of my new home/the Motherland. I remember days talking with my friend and fellow Peace Corps Volunteer Gillian, whom has already left back home, while she was taking her daily walks. I would always ask her -“Why would you want to walk around such a depressing place?” Like me she also lived in Eastern Ukraine… and I forget how she would answer, but now that the end of my service is in sight, I also find myself strolling about town more often. I guess Gillian was just soaking up as much of her little town as possible before she had to leave, as I am now doing.

A typical Ukrainian town is pretty quaint, albeit a little depressing to the point of insanity. In the east or industrial part of the country towns are just a little more dusty and dirty, but underneath that rusted Soviet facade lies the charm. Towns usually have the same infrastructure as they did when Stalin and Lenin were walking arm in arm with their fellow comrades. Tall gray drab apartment buildings nestle amongst the natural landscape, and succeed to this day in their goal: bringing together the masses for a more communal way of living. Every city that I have traveled to in Ukraine has at least a couple of similarities: ugly buildings, extremely beautiful women, and nostalgic Soviet monuments; some places more, some less.

In my town, Krasnodon, I stumble upon many types of buildings; I try to find designs that exclude the normal gray motif, and every now and again I do find a building that is interesting because it is different and not gray. Now that I have been taking my daily walks I found a couple of items of interest. Today took me through the city park, where I came across a small stone building. The stone looked to be of limestone, and the design pre-dated the concrete architecture that dominates the rest of the town. Green leafy plants rested in its window sills, and majestic trees with thick foliage dotted the yard; I could not believe the picturesque image placed on front of me!

I get my entertainment and inspiration in creative ways here in Ukraine, and that small stone building made me think of what this part of the world would have looked like if it was not destroyed in World War II. The monotonous gray style of today is the reality however, and I think I would not be pushing the envelope to say that: Eastern Ukraine prior to its devastating past would have looked like the garden of Eden, compared to what it looks like now. The luster of old world Krasnodon can be found in the local museum, and is similar to the rest of Western Europe in some regards. Western Ukraine for example has many older beautiful buildings, and this adds a lot to the aesthetics of her cities. In just a few walks I have unearthed a rich and diverse past in the land of the glorious “Young Guard.” I guess I will just keep walking and exploring, along the way finding answers….. hopefully :p

Krasnodon - Downtown Krasnodon

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~ by Joseph Garza on December 30, 2009.

2 Responses to “A Closer Walk”

  1. Great blog! I love to walk around my town and look at the buildings and architecture too. And I’m in heaven when we go to New Orleans!

  2. It is such a shame that we, as human beings, tend to destroy the best of ourselves when we fight. I don’t know much about Ukraine (other than natives hate it when we say “the Ukraine”), but the pictures you’ve posted and your description make it sound like an interesting place to visit even if it’s been altered by war.

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