Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Traveling Vicariously with Olga in Southwestern Ukraine

Olga in Yaremcha, Ivano-Frankivsk: her hotel; with folkart sculpture; with Hutsul musicians in traditional dress; picking apples; on the River. Below: Map showing Ivano-Frankivsk oblast in red. If you go due east across Ukraine to the Russian border, you'll be in Starobelsk, in Lugansk oblast. Photos of Ivan Franko, his gravesite in Lviv, and Hutsul bead embroidered wedding dress (from wikipedia articles on Ivano-Frankivsk and Ivan Franko).

My friend Olga Myroshnchenko (мирошнченко), my guide, mentor and fellow traveler during my two years in Starobelsk,
recently visited Ivano-Frankivsk oblast with a group of disabled women. She was a tour leader along with her friend Natalia. They stayed in the town of Yaremcha, on the Prut River. They hiked in the gentle mountains, picked apples, went to a restaurant that featured traditional Hutsul music, visited a museum of musical instruments unique to that historic region, and stopped to smell the flowers. Olga sent photos. I felt I was there.

This region in the Carpathian mountains in southwestern Ukraine was named after renowned poet Ivan Franko (1856-1916). Its historic name is Prykarpatia, and it is home to some of Ukraine’s storied patriots, like Stephan Bandera and Dmytro Vitovsky. It is also a seat of traditional Hutsul culture that goes back to the 12th and 13th centuries, and influenced poets like Franko, Lesya Ukrainka, Vasyl Stefanik, and Mykhilo Kosiubynsky (whose home is in Chernigov, open to the public). The region’s celebrated folk traditions include intricate bead embroidery, woodworking, wooden architecture, and music featuring unique instruments in the horn, flute, bagpipe and hammer dulcimer categories.

I never made it there, so I am traveling vicariously with Olga, doing a little travel research, dreaming Ukrainian. When I return, I’ll start in Lviv, go to Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, and travel east from the Carpathians (instead of the other way around as I did when I lived there)! I hope it’s soon.

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