1. In the summer of 2008, my older sister was stationed in Crimea with the Peace Corps. My uncle was stationed in Warsaw with the Army. @crackdkettle had just finished a semester abroad in Scotland.
  2. When her semester was over, @crackdkettle flew to Warsaw. My mother & I, both living in Texas at the time, also flew to Warsaw, where we spent several days with my uncle.
  3. We then flew to Kiev, where we met my older sister.
    We missed our original flight to Kiev, due to the airline being ridiculous. We should have taken this as a sign.
  4. From Kiev, we travelled by bus to the town my sister had trained in, staying with her host mother. We then made our way by train down to Crimea.
  5. My sister's apartment was ~terrible. The corner of her sitting/bedroom that I got to sleep in was filled with black mold. There was no gas in the town, which meant no hot water. They also shut the water off entirely most days of the week.
    Her apartment floor was covered in 5L bottles of water, some for drinking; others that she refilled & stored for backup/flushing the toilet/bathing. Most town residents used propane instead of gas for heating - due to the propensity of propane tanks to explode, PC volunteers aren't allowed them. Instead, my sister used a hot metal rod that you plugged in & then stuck in a bucket of water - she also technically wasn't allowed to have this, but I guess it was easier to hide than a propane tank?
  6. One day during this visit, we took a trip to Yalta. This involved taking a bus from the town my sister lived in to the nearest city, where we caught another bus that drove us at terrible speeds over mountain roads to Yalta.
  7. Once we arrived in Yalta, we made our way to Livadia Palace - the summer palace of the Romanovs and the location of the Yalta Conference - for a tour. @crackdkettle wasn't feeling well, which I think we all assumed was just a result of the treacherous bus ride.
  8. I don't remember exactly what the course of events was, but at some point it became clear that the cause of @crackdkettle feeling unwell was NOT the bus ride, but rather some type of flu or food poisoning.
  9. (We all eventually got it, and it was quite genuinely the worst thing that's ever happened to me - I blacked out twice, fell into a wardrobe & off a toilet, & spent a long time sitting in the bathtub, cold & mostly naked, vomiting into a bucket, I think.)
    (Hopefully not the one in which we later heated up water for bathing, but honestly I don't remember & don't want to.)
  10. Before all that though, we were in Yalta, with @crackdkettle feeling terrible, needing to get back from where we were to the bus depot, so we could travel back over the horrible roads to the comfort of our older sister's shitty apartment.
  11. We got on a local bus to travel back to the bus depot.
  12. @crackdkettle had drunk a Sprite in an effort to calm her stomach.
  13. Tragically, it didn't do any good, and as we travelled down the road, she leaned forward and vomited soda half into a plastic bag and half onto the floor of the bus.
    (As @crackdkettle points out in the comments, she made a good faith effort to get it entirely in the bag, but the bus was bouncing around a lot. Also it should be noted that many Ukrainians apparently think fresh air blowing on you will basically kill you, and thus opening windows on public transport is taboo, & idk about you but lack of fresh air makes me ~120% more likely to be sick. What I'm trying to say, if it wasn't clear before, is that none of this was @crackdkettle's fault.)
  14. The bus driver slammed on his brakes and started yelling at @crackdkettle for daring to be ill on his bus, and telling us we had to get off.
  15. Concurrently, a general sense of horror arose around us, with people whispering and tutting to each other, as they stared derisively at our family.
  16. And as we stood up to get off the bus in our cloud of shame, a woman across the aisle shook her head at us, and in a long-suffering tone full of condescension, disgust, and a sort of 'well what can you expect from these people?' despairing acceptance, loudly huffed, 'Ugh. Americans.'