When I went to Maria's I was hoping to help her get some work done, too, since she is now alone. Her brother and daughter-in-law had said they would prepare all of the food and come pick her up on Monday so she didn't have to prepare anything. So instead of preparing food or cleaning, she took me inside the house and we looked at tons and tons of old photographs. She showed me two medals that had been awarded to her during the Soviet times... one was the "best teacher in the Soviet Union" and the other was the "Lenin award". They are both incredibly honorable medals that were supposed to mean she would get a higher pension upon retirement, but unfortunately they are now completely overlooked and she is not rewarded for the incredible work she did as a teacher (for things such as the language learning technology lab she created in the 80's where every student had their own headsets and microphone and she talked to everyone individually to improve their language... or the 50+ students that are now English teachers around the world... or the plays and musicals and performances she put on with the students in English). However, for the anniversary of her 30th year of teaching she was given a book that was hand painted and put together by past students with photographs and a wonderful letter from the Ministry of Education. From that book I was able to see photographs of how the school and the village looked back in the Soviet times and I couldn't believe how much everything has changed (or stayed the same). We have the SAME desks that they used in the 80's- just repainted. We have the same chairs, the same chalkboards (except now 3 of our classrooms have amazing dry erase boards), the same materials for the walls (that Maria made), and the same display cart. The once beautiful apartments across from the school are now falling apart and need a lot of work for people to live in (most are even vacant now). It was just so fascinating to me to sit and listen to her stories of how life was back then in comparison to how it is now... it even makes me want to believe that Communism is what this country needs again- but then I come to my senses and remember that while Communism may have been "good" for this country, it is also what made it fall apart later. That is all I'm going to say about that (probably the only political comment you will ever see me post, or even say for that matter. Politics just isn't my thing. Although being here and seeing the changes that are happening has led me to have a little bit of an interest in it..).
Anyways, it was fun reminiscing with Maria. She has done such amazing things in her life. Someone needs to write a book about her.
After Maria's house I joined Ollie to go to her grandmother's to dye eggs (the photo is of the woman I mentioned in the beginning of the post... but the eggs are from Ollie's gma). Like I said earlier, they usually only color them red here. The buy packets of die, pour the powder in the water, and then boil the eggs in the red water. Ollie had bought some wraps that were pretty fun to add some color- we stuck the wrap around the colored egg and then dropped it in boiling water. It instantly shrunk around the egg to fit perfectly. It sure makes it difficult to peel the shell though!