I arrived at Olya and Oleh’s house in Lutsk late on Saturday night. By now I have come to realize that Ukrainians don’t really live their lives by the clock. We ate dinner at 10 o’clock and then drank champagne until 1am – toasting our birthdays which occurred in a consecutive string of days last week.
I had met these friends several years back while traveling on an Hayman Island in Australia. They are much wealthier people than my family and have a different perspective altogether. They have seen the world, appreciate the finer things and are working towards a more affluent life.
On Sunday we drove to Kiev where we stayed Ihor and Oksana’s house; Ihor is Olya’s brother. They too are successful and very well traveled. It has been my observation that your best chance for success in Ukraine is to have your own business, where you can navigate the system, its politics and the corruption.
Ihor made his money as a concert promoter for rock-n-roll bands. They even showed me video of a Sting concert that Ihor had arranged. Their most recent venture is that of restaurateurs. They opened a steakhouse, 17 kilometers outside of Kiev, just three days ago.
Most Ukrainians are hospitable people, but my friends give new meaning to the word. They pay for everything. I came to Ukraine, with UAH9 in my pocket (less than 1 US Dollar) and left with UAH59, as Oleh gave me money to saran wrap my luggage at the airport. They never let me pay for anything; I offended them in the past by trying, so now I don’t even bother. I just know that when I they come to United States I will have to reciprocate – and I will gladly do so.