Sunday afternoon in Donetsk

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.

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