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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dacha at Lake Ilmen

I just returned from a two week visit to Russia.  Without any question the highlight of this trip was my visit to the dacha on lake Ilmen (eelmen) of the Gavrilov family, Andre, Katya, and their sons Boya and Vanya, whom I had met two years ago (  My sister Janet, her husband Doug, and I had been invited by the family and we arrived mid-morning on the Saturday of our visit. 
We brought a few gifts for our hosts.  Vanya (Ivan) and Boya (Boris) are wearing the caps we brought and they wore them the entire day (these were suggested by their English teacher and our tour organizer Sean who wears this kind of cap).  Boya is a naturalist and used the fish chart to show us the kinds caught in that area.  They had caught a Bream that became part of our fish soup.
The dacha is on a plot of land enclosed by a fence.  Typically the entire plot is planted in garden but the Gavrilovs have planted only enough garden to have fresh vegetables and fruit when they are at the dacha on weekends, and the rest is yard like we are familiar with here in the US.  The fence you can see in the background is unusual, being a wire fence covered in Virginia Creeper so that even the gates in the fence are invisible. 
Katya and the boys showing us the garden.  They dug potatoes for the meal. 

Andre's multipurpose cooking area has it all: oven with cooktop, a heating stove, and a grill with a roof.  Andre is cleaning something in the background on the far right at the well. 

Vanya is coming through the invisible gate as we head out to the village museum.  It's open once a year on village day, and other times by picking up the key from the overseer. 

The museum is very well-kept and informative, being established sometime in the 1940s or 50s I believe I was told.  Lots of information about the fishing village life, costume, tools, building decorations, etc.

After the museum, we walked to Lake Ilmen for a swim. 
This is in a backwater bay with an island between here and the open lake.  There's another village on the island.  I asked if the roads were kept open in the winter time and Boya said the hunters and ice fishermen coming and going keeps it open.
The noon meal is the main meal in Russia.  There is always soup and today it was the fresh fish they had caught.  Then the barbeque Andre had cooked and a desert the grandmother had sent that is best described as fish upside-down cake.  We had it after lunch and later at tea before we left.  It all went down very well with Andre's vodka. 
After the meal and the vodka it seemed a perfect time for a rifle match in the back yard.  The gun is a nice high powered pellet gun with LED sights.  All Russian young men do one year in the military at the age of 19, and Andre was a good shot.  I had been on the rifle team in college, so was able to hold my own.  I edged him out in the first round at about 50 ft, but things got muddled after that.  I think the vodka helped me focus and relax but maybe I would have done better if Andre hadn't brought out a couple more toasts.  Our friend/translator Yuri is up in the photo. 
Getting our goodbye photos.  Many, many thanks to the Gavrilovs for their hospitality.