I’m already halfway through my two weeks in Donetsk. Until today, I’d only ventured outside the hotel to go to work or out with friends, always driven or escorted to a specific location with no danger of getting lost or need to attempt any Russian beyond ‘spasiba’.
However, this afternoon I found the time and courage to explore a little of the city by myself. Here’s something I wrote halfway through my adventure into the unknown, enjoying the feeling of not having to be anywhere in particular and not knowing exactly where I was anyway. The blazing sunshine helped.
I’m sitting in a garden of scented roses overlooking a lake, surrounded by kids eating candy floss and strolling lovers. Arms drape over railings and be-heeled feet flick for lakeside portraits. Beneath the rose bushes, invisible against the dark, manure-rich soil, hundreds of sparrows tweet a continuous high-pitched beat, giving themselves away to the passersby.
How did I get here?
Out of the hotel – sunglasses descend onto my nose, held in place by the bony ridge therewith – left onto Boulevard Pushkin, down shady steps all the way to the bottom, right, past stalls selling dubiously sparkly-looking amber necklaces and black-and-brightly-coloured Peruvian shoulder bags, under a bridge, doughtily/ doubtingly across a disused railway track, through a cloud of candy floss and roller blades and over another bridge guarded at either end by sagging-bellied, strong-willed babushkas selling nuts.
Afterwards, I walked around the lake, enjoying the challenge of trying to discover the source of the amplified squawks and rasps at the edge of the water (answer = big, green, noisy frogs). On the way back up Boulevard Pushkin I happily play up my naive tourist status with two more babushkas, who press The Watchtower into my hand but give up after a few minutes of courageous glossalalia against shoulder shrugs and an inanely good-natured smile.
Back to the hotel, safe and a little more sound, to type up my blissful wanderings so as not to forget.