I’ve always been more of an adventure seeker. I beg my parents each year to go try something new like elephant riding in Thailand or hiking to a cloud-covered Machu Pucchu in Peru. But every Spring Break, my parents limit my adventure to a new area or island in the Caribbean. I’ve been to my share of turquoise-shaded waters–Antigua, Mexico, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Saint Barthélemy–and I don’t really see the pleasure in waking up each day at noon and being handed a piña colada while I fry up on the beach.
That’s why I find the little pockets of adventure in the tropics so exhilarating: finding a few orange starfish while I swam with my mom in Antigua, driving on the roller-coaster roads in Saint Barthélemy, visiting the Chichen Itza pyramids in Mexico, or seeing this scarlet macaw walking around our hotel in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Okay, so it was the hotel’s bird but still. Her name was Esmeralda, and she was a feisty bird who snuck into the women’s bathrooms a lot.
Even though I do enjoy a good tan and a cocktail, I live in Southern California. I have enough daily dose of paradise everyday. I guess I’m just spoiled in that way, so those of you outside the Mediterranean zones, don’t listen to a word I say, because I say bring on the seven A.M. guided tours, the humid weather, the insurance signatures, all those flying shots, bring on the mosquitos.
Unlike your typical American neighborhood, there aren’t really things like animal shelters to house the street kitties and puppies in Ukraine or even Russia. It may seem sad to some, but to me it is my culture–they walk around, mewing, and occasionally one kid will take them in as a pet or feed them a few pieces of barbecue. Occasionally, when I see a cat in the states with that same street look, uneven fur, and fast trot, I remember my summers visiting Ukraine. I remember seeing similar cats fleet from us as my mother and I approach the old lady who sells the best damn white peaches in the whole world. Nothing tastes better than a Crimean peach. Nothing tastes more of summer days.
Ukraine is Ukraine. It is filled with its faulty imperfections, from the screeching elevator in our apartment building my brothers would always trap me in to the country’s endless search for a clean public bathroom anywhere. And some might view the strays as another health-hazardous imperfection of the country I am from, but I see these tough kitties as another Crimean (and Ukrainian) quirk, like fresh-fried Kambala fish or the sound of waves crashing on a rocky Yalta shore. So while suburban America might have bikes and toys in the streets, we have cats and dogs, and I wouldn’t change that.