Friday, July 29, 2011

The Dacha

Whenever Ukrainians ask me how to translate the word “dacha” into English, I can never do the concept of it justice in English. “Country house,” “summer house,” “cabin,” even “garden house” have been what I’ve come up with; however, I've come to the conclusion that the dacha should just be called "the dacha."

It’s very common for families here who live in towns or cities – where their apartment is and their place of work is – to have a piece of land in a nearby village where they grow their own produce. There’s usually also a house on that piece of land, where the family stays for a few days at a time. When I lived in a village during training, the person I lived with had her dacha right in her back yard. But since I now live in a relatively large town, I’ve heard more and more about people “going to the dacha” for the weekend. In Minnesota it’s like “going up north.”

This week I got invited to go to the dacha of a family I am friends with. I’ve known Yana and Yulia since they came to my English club a year and a half ago; their family is amazing and has made my time in Ukraine really enjoyable. I had been to their dacha before, but the last time I was there was on Easter. Now that it’s July, it’s an entirely different world there – there is so much growing there in the summer. In the spring there are cherries and apricots. In late summer there are grapes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, aiva, herbs, cucumbers, peaches, watermelons, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, and summer squash, just to name a few items. :)

Hanging out with Ukrainians usually means that you are going to eat really good food all day. We did some gardening and took a lot of breaks. :) We had blackberry milkshakes, peach milkshakes, eggplant towers, a really good soup called shurpa (it’s Georgian and Armenian), and of course a lot of fruit. Not only did we eat all day, I was sent home with a bucket of peaches, a bag full of mint, and a bag full of apples, eggplant, and squash.

Toward the end of the night, I got to see the “lunik” (which means something like “moon flower”) open – it opens so quickly.

Also, there are a lot of hedgehogs around the dacha and I got really excited when they told me. So, we found one in the evening, and Yana caught it and we got to hold it for a few minutes before letting it go. I’ve wanted a hedgehog since I was 11 or 12, so this was pretty exciting. :) Though now that I’ve seen one happily walking around in the wild, I’m not sure I should have a domesticated one.

Needless to say, time at the dacha is one of the things that I will miss about Ukraine.


  1. alia,
    I like your perspective as a peace corp member, and a volunteer in these blogs. 17 grivnas for all those veggies is cheap by any standards!

  2. Thanks! :) I love the vegetables here.
    And I love dachas.
    And I pretty much just love Ukraine.