‘How do you feel?’ a lot people from the Netherlands ask me.
Well, up till now, honest? Great.
This area is beautiful. The landscape. The cities and villages. The language sounds good, although I don’t understand a word of it. The people are nice and friendly. I feel really well.
I stayed as relaxed as I was when I was before leaving. Naïve actually, because there are more than enough soldiers along on the streets to know it is not really safe here. But I keep on thinking: when I see so many people relaxing on the beach, walking on the streets, having a chat, than probably it will not be that bad.
But when I start talking to people, and hear their stories, than I quickly become less naïve. A lot of people moved to another town, because of the safety situation. Or they are moving abroad with scholarships or family money. And last January it was a mess in this town. Even just more than a week ago you could hear the sounds of war in the background while sitting on a terrace on the beach…
But anyway, I simply keep on walking around. Also alone, through areas and neighbourhoods I never was before. Without looking over my shoulder all the time to see if there’s something strange happening. By feel.
And besides that, there is something to do. That needs to be done. It’s hard work, but it does not remind me of work at all. I try to suck the city. The stories. The people. The streets. The oddities. The parks. The buildings.
I know the centre and around. And some of the main access roads. The new information piles up high. In quotes. Notes. Pictures. Drawings. I am organizing all that at the moment. To hopefully get to a relevant advice, a useful design, a perspective for de city. In less than seven weeks. That will be a sweat.
War is a drama for people. But for animals it’s at least as tough.
Since 2010 there is an animal zoo in Sartana, a small village (10000 inhabitants) near Mariupol. First there were ducks and swans, but fairly quickly the tigers, lions, leopards, bears, camels and apes followed. The village is outside the extra secured zone of town, but within that the animals would have been severely damaged by the war sounds. Like the lion that jumped towards our cameraman, growling: the stress is enormous.
Plans to take the zoo to the city and the secured zone are being made. There is an abandoned amusement park that can be used. The finances for transformation are not fixed yet.
And why does the owner not want to sell the animals till better times come? ‘I love my animals too much. And I think the children in Mariupol need places like this, also now.’
Times are changing.
The statue of Lenin on the big square has been taken down. In the historical museum of Mariupol the ‘red room’ is redecorated as well. The picture is being kept behind a new wooden wall though, but will they ever remove them again? Archaeology is not the main quality in this town. Read the Izolyatsia blog ‘Good Bye, Lenin’ about covering up this part of history in the History Museum.