On the Front Line

–What is your name?
–Zhenya.
–Where are you from?
–From Sverdlovsk. Nearly all of us are from there.
Zhenya is so young, tanned, and cute, that one wants to hug him. In a motherly fashion, with no ulterior motives. And it’s so wistful, so sad, when one realizes where he is.
I don’t know what they call the line of contact in other hot spots, but on the Donbass they say “the front”. It’s the very edge. You look over, and 800m away is “their” checkpoint. “Ukie” one, as they say.


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Gurzuf in the Fall

 

During the summer, the sky is nearly always blue. It’s difficult to take a photo to make it look beautiful. It’s blue and that’s that.
But the fall fills it with clouds which layer themselves all over.
I don’t like an empty sky.
And I don’t like the summer in Crimea.
I love the fall, when everyone leaves and yearning begins.

The view on Gurzuf from Ayu-Dag.

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Parthenium

There is a truly wonderful place in the world. It’s Crimea.
It has sights that take your breath away. No matter how many times you’ve been there.
It’s impossible to become accustomed to such beauty. Eyes do not grow dull.
And if you haven’t been to Cape Fiolent, you haven’t seen Crimea.


The Bridge to Crimea

That’s what it looks like right now.
They say it will be ready in 2018.
Right now all the cars are held hostage by good weather. Any storm or a strong squall, and everyone freezes in expectation. There are many ferries, which means the situation is very different than two years ago when one could spend days waiting to get through.
Now the wait is short, but the sea is the sea.
We got stuck when leaving Crimea during the storm.

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Winter Lugansk

Do you think it’s a pile of ruins with survivors wandering about?
The city has long returned to normal life. It is teeming with life, with holiday decorations everywhere and vitality emanating from every corner.
It so happens that every time I visit, I see the city only from the car window.
I never manage to visit local museums or theaters.
Though I really want to!

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Judean Fortress

One day, I will definitely become a guide. In Africa, Iran, Uzbekistan or Cuba. OK, at least in Crimea. I will be one cool guide.
And I will definitely show you this peninsula’s mountains. Caves, where people used to live.
Also the spot where the daughter of Toktamysh, who plundered Moscow, is buried, and which was inhabited by Karaims, Greeks, Armenians, and Golden Horde invaders.
The city-fortress Chufut-kale.


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Velvet Crimea

Crimea in autumn can vary. One day there is a strong wind blowing, with trees bending down along the roads. Storms waves beat the rocks, the air is crisp and clear, and there are far fewer people though it is still the tourist season.
Another day, the sun can be blazing so much so that it seems it’s still summer.
It seems this is the best time for these spots.
Today it’s cooler, though the sea remains warm.
I’m sitting in the garden, wrapped in a blanket, and am catching the neighbor’s Vai Vai.

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This kind of Gurzuf

I am fed up with the usual “will the tourists come or not” debate over Crimea.
It’s been two years, and it’s still the same discussion, as if the peninsula would obtain some sort of enjoyment from the price of sausage and the arriving crowd.
Our internet battles change nothing.
And here is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, no ands, ifs, or buts.
This is “Leningradka,” Gurzuf’s central street.
A mountain looms in the background. I know every tree on it. I remember, when I was 14, my sister and I climbed it. We didn’t know they way so we simply went up. We got only halfway because our legs were scratched bloody by the vegetation. Like fools we wore shorts. We conquered the mountain the next time, and since then the mountains of Crimea have been a home to me.


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