Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why I Live In Ukraine

This is a good topic especially since Tanya and I can't go back to Canada this year to see my family. Like, why am I here?
A. I have completely lost my mind.
B. I fell in love with and married the "only" woman in Ukraine who doesn't want to live in Canada (or in the USA).
C. It is a beautiful country filled with warm friendly people and I love it here, even though the politicians are truly criminals and the economy is struggling towards "free market".
D. All of the above.

I first came to Ukraine in 1997 and have been here at least once a year almost every year since, usually related to beef or dairy cattle projects intended to help improve livestock production and createa market for Canadian genetics. Tanya was a participant in a course I taught on beef cattle production in 1999 as part of a CIDA-funded STEP-managed Canada Ukraine Beef Forage Development Project. She came to Canada the following year with a group of the top students from the project. We became friends and stayed in touch over the years, exchanging emails two or three times a year, visiting whenever I was in Ukraine. She was back in an advanced course at the end of Beef Forage project in 2002.

The reason we became friends was that I found out she had done her University degree in Krasnoyarsk, a city of 1 million people in central Siberia. Krasnoyarsk was a city/region I had long wanted to visit, just because it seemed like somewhere no one in their right mind would go. She was delighted that a Canadian not only knew about the city but wanted to visit and she offered to arrange the trip any time.

We finally made the trip in 2006. We visited Krasnoyarsk, then I met her family who live in Abakan, in Khakasia, 400 km south of Krasnoyarsk. I asked her to marry me. She said "Yes, but".

The "but" was that I had to move to Ukraine, not she move to Canada. She has two sons, both with partners, one with a three year old daughter (who is now five). I've got four kids, one married, no grandkids. Costs the same to fly Ukraine-Canada return as vice versa. Either I miss my kids or she misses her kids. No win-win there. And my family could visit me here but her family could never visit us in Canada. (Canadian Immigration are terrified someone might want to stay in Canada).

We could remodel her house in Marianivka and live better on my pension here than in Canada. Here she has friends and she is "somebody". In Canda she would be "just another immigrant woman", too old, she felt to begin a new career and accomplish anything. And I can find consulting work here or anywhere and home is wherever I can get half decent internet.
Done deal!!

So we got married in Canda and I moved to Ukraine (except for most of my stuff which is still in my daughter's custody). We are "almost" done with the house and next year we'll maybe have money to travel. We didn't got to Abakan this year either.

All I can say, Dana Wyzard, is "Life really is GOOD!


  1. I tell you what: I read that with great interest. My life (if I ever cared to post it) would explain why I'm so fascinated by anyone who goes anywhere and makes a new life.

    My years were spent going to hospitals, when other women my age were traveling.

    I still live in the original home my dad built by himself when I was born.

    I was married for 30 years when I decided that there had to be more to life than physical and emotional pain.

    Like you, I remarried late in life, knowing EXACTLY what mattered in my older years, and like you, I say bravo: LIFE IS GOOD.

  2. "I had long wanted to visit, just because it seemed like somewhere no one in their right mind would go."

    Once you visited Krasnoyarsk, did you still consider it a fit destination for crazy people? When I moved to Minnesota from Oregon, many Minnesotans asked me if I was crazy, their sentiment being that no sane person would leave a beautiful place like Oregon for a flat, cold, mosquito-ridden hellhole like Minnesota. I think they were a bit hard on their state.

    "The 'but' was that I had to move to Ukraine, not she move to Canada."

    I can see her point, but it still would have bothered me quite a lot to start a new life with someone on such unequal terms. Of course, there wouldn't have been a scenario in which the risk would have been the same. Would it be fair to say that you're more of a romantic, and she's more of a pragmatist?

    1. Krasnoyarsk is a lovely city of 1 million on the Yenisei River in the middle of Siberia. My niece is going to University there. But if you asked 10,000 people in north America or Europe to name the top three cities they would like to visit you can bet the farm Krasnoyarsk would not be on the list. Those are the cities I want to visit.
      I loved Ukraine from the first time I set foot in it back in January of 1997. It was easy for me to move here. 10 years later. Tanya is more pragmatic. It is easy for my kids to come here and impossible for hers to visit us in Canada. We both have a romantic streak and both love to travel.


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