07 February 2011

The First Day of the Rest of Their Lives

On the drive into Ivano-Frankivsk, through a tiny mountain village, we saw a cluster of large balloons, and a luxury sedan with tinted windows wrapped in white tulle. As we made our way slowly by, a family of four seemed to wave us in toward the festivities. I figured it was just a very well-signposted garage sale, but Merlin assumed it was a wedding. I think he was right - and sadly we didn't stop. Upon at our destination, though, we saw signs of nuptials all around again. Was this just a really big wedding?
Turns out, it was just a really big day for multiple weddings. All around town, (very) young couples posed by all the local sights. There were statues and sculptures scattered around and a fountain which you could stand under without getting wet. We thought it was a little strange that the bride was the one doing the pushing in this photo op, but we assume it was because she didn't want to get her dress dirty on a wrought iron swing. Or the dress didn't fit. It was quite a dress.Instead of dragging cans in back of the new couple's car, they dragged a whole other car! That's not actually true, but I wanted to find some way to include this fine example of something we've seen in each former Soviet country we've visited. In big cities, small towns, major highways, everywhere we go there are cars towing other cars with a rope. This great moment took place on a pedestrian walkway and, yes, the car being pulled is much larger than the one pulling. Merlin thinks it would be an excellent business opportunity to start a tow truck company in this part of Europe. Because, really, this is just so dangerous.
The center of town would have looked festive no matter what. There were carts selling toys, women making balloon animals and men renting out plastic cars for children to drive around. This miniature horse and cart was a big hit, much to the chagrin of the man leading it. All day long, we saw him walk back and forth with one kid or two or three. Between this and the princess-brides all around, these little girls must have been in heaven.
And the wistfully bookish girl had her little corner of the world, too...
Women dressed to the nines, possibly bridesmaids, walked around a big car-free space. It was most likely the first day of 2011 that the weather was suitable for seeing and being seen. The hats, scarves and mittens were mostly off. There was no ice or snow. It was a beautiful day for a wedding or three.
Then, there were the people just going along with their business as usual. The town was bustling with so many different types of energy, we felt like we'd landed in a carnival themed "Main Street Ukraine."

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