Where I fit in the box of crayons....

Do you ever get that feeling like there's more out there? That's the feeling that brought me to beyond borders. The global community is growing, and I have not yet become a part of it. I want to be a contributing citizen to the global community through participation and action. Over the years, I have developed an appreciation for diversity and difference, and look for other ways that people are doing things. There’s a whole world out there beyond our North American perspective that has the potential to change the way I see things, and to change my life. Gahndi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I think we should not only find the change within ourselves, but also take part in the change we want to see in the world. I hope that Beyond Borders will offer a medium in which I can be the change I want to see in the world, and also take part in that change.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to the post box….

I have this thing about sending postcards. When Felix and I travel instead of buying souvenirs (most souvenirs are tacky made in china junk that no one wants in their house) we send a post card at least once a day from every major attraction/stop. Everyone loves getting mail (no one knows this better than you Janet, thank you soooo much) and it’s our way of keeping our loved ones in our thoughts along our journey. I have tried to keep up with this while here in Ukraine, but post cards are just not as easy to come by as they are at home. I have sent as many as possible (I end up buying 50 post cards any time I find them anywhere and people look at me funny) and today noticed something a little peculiar…

Nearly a month ago I visited Lviv to send off my Canadian travel buddies (you’ll remember Sean and Mike from a previous post). In Lviv there is this lovely restaurant called Криївка (krayeevaka) which is housed in a piece of history - the location used to be a hidden base for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in the time of Stepan Bandera. When you get to the door, you must knock; a little window opens and you are asked who you are; You must say that you are Ukrainian and give the password: "Слава Україні!" (slava ookraeenee - Glory to Ukraine). Once you are let in, at "gun" point you must take a shot of Horilka (vodka) and then you are lead down into the base. It's a pretty neat experience and I noticed they sold post cards!!! Excitedly I bought up a whole bunch featuring either Stepan Bandera or photos of the Insurgent Army in Lviv. I also found a little gift shop in the center of Lviv (horrendously overpriced) where I bought other postcards featuring shots of the city. I cant remember how many I sent out; perhaps 18 ish some from Криївка, and some generic ones from Lviv.

As noted with the Fedex post, Mail is a particular problem here. There is a whole lot of corruption, and it’s not state regulated like Canada Post is at home, it is unbelievably unreliable and for Ukrainians it can be pretty expensive. All in all it is a terrible system that most Ukrainians try to avoid at all costs (Tanya recently traveled to Kiev to drop off a document – a nearly 24 hour turn around trip – because the post here is just not reliable enough to use).

When I send post cards, I always date them: partially so that I document my travels, but also to keep tabs on the various postal systems and how long they take to ship to Canada. Sometimes post cards from Ukraine to Canada travel in as short a period as a week and a half, but can and have taken over a month.

Aside from having a thing about post cards, I also have a thing about conspiracy theories/stories and I definitely enjoy implementing any government in maniacal plans to meddle in the lives of the people. To that end, Tanya and I have had many conversations about the political climate here in Ukraine, particularly the bitter and unfortunate ongoing relationship with Russia which is being coveted by the recently current president. When I showed her the Insurgent Army post cards we joked about putting them in envelopes to send them so that they don’t get stopped by “big brother” so to speak…

Within two weeks of sending my Lviv postcards I started receiving thank you notes from people – but I was only hearing from people who had received the regular Lviv postcards. At that point I didn’t think much of it…. ready for my terrible prejudiced assumption: I sent the Криївка cards mostly to my friends who are my age, a large majority of them male, and assumes that perhaps a thank you had slipped their minds. Then my best friend Nick thanked me for his parent’s post card and I detected a hint of disappointment in his voice. He was sad that I sent his parents a post card (a beautiful shot of the Lviv opera house) and not him – but here’s the thing I had sent him a card – a Stepan Bandera card because I thought he would appreciate that more! I promised him that his was on its way and didn’t think about it again. Then today I got another thank you message from Matt, who finally (a month later) received his Stepan Bandera post card and it hit me: the “rebel cards” have all been significantly delayed in getting to their destinations!!!

I am not sure what is really going on, perhaps it is just a coincidence, but I can assure you that my brain has runaway with stories that would make 1984 look like a child's fable!

IF you get one of these post cards in the mail, please make a note of the date, and save it: I want to make sure that none of what I wrote was redacted!!!!

I’ll keep sending post cards, and I’m definitely going to try and find some more rebellious ones to see if it happens again *grin*


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