Category Archives: Dating Advice for Men

get out of Ukraine


I’m Andrew from the USA. I have an apartment in Odesa and lived there prior to June 28, 2022. I taught English and subcontracted for the US embassy. My partner Katya was newly pregnant and very sick. As you know many female doctors left Ukraine and the technology in public hospitals is poor. Instead, we traveled from her mother’s in Poltava down to Odesa again. We went to her parents after Feb 24, 2022. She caught COVID and was stressed. We lost our unborn son on March 5, 2022. The tests showed he had six chambers of the heart, not four, and other issues with his neurological health, and one side of his body was 40% larger than the other. God was telling us it was okay to let him go inside her womb. He was not healthy and would have suffered. That was the hardest, easy decision I have ever been involved with. Katya and I agreed that we didn’t want any child to suffer, especially our unborn son. We traveled to Odesa and got that 3D ultrasound that showed all the bad things wrong, fled up to Moldova, and then down to Romania. In Poland they have abortion laws, even if medically necessary, that need to be brought to court for a three-judge panel to decide. I found that horrible for Katya to have to relive all of that. I called ahead to Regina Maria Hospital in Romania and it was a private, modern hospital up to EU standards. There we repeated the ultrasound twice by two different teams. Both teams found the same things wrong and had the same medical opinion… an “emergency intervention” was really an emergency abortion to preserve her health. It was hard because it was a life, a life that we created with God’s hands. However, I believe God gave us the wisdom, and the doctors the same wisdom to make the right decision, both morally and spiritually, as well as health-wise. On March 5th, 2022, at 9:53 pm the baby ascended to heaven to watch over us. I believe this and I will tell you why!

  • The first miracle was getting cash from the bank. A limit was placed on withdrawals but she had a brother that worked at something like the Ukrainian version of our US Postal service, but also with some UPS or FEDEX characteristics. There the guy let her use my card to charge the card at his point of sale, charging us just $5 (I gave him 20 in Ukrainian hryvnias) so we could get her to a higher level of care. He didn’t have to do that and likely later needed the cash. That was in her tiny hometown of Gadyich, Ukraine.
  • The next miracle happened when we got to the Poltava at the train station. Air raid sirens came on, we went into a Soviet Era bunker complete with 2 ft thick blast doors. A missile was shot down about 4 blocks away while we were in the shelter. This blind family sat across from me on these old wooden benches and their son, maybe 10 years old just looked scared. He didn’t hear anything but his eyes said it all. I just started teaching him how to play rock-paper-scissors. We played for about 10 minutes after the air raid stopped. It was after midnight when the train arrived. We had tickets to Odesa for an 8.5-hour trip that turned into an 11-hour trip because the train was running pitch black for safety and we had to stop many times because of air raids and artillery.
  • The next miracle… all of the airports had been bombed and the rental car companies ALL shut down. I called the company and the emergency number was for the manager. Clearly, the message on the voice-mail was made before the war started. I called the guy and he told me all of the cars were moved to Moldova. I told him to be safe with his family and began to hang up. As soon as I hung up, within 30 seconds, he called back to tell us that he did have an SUV for $300 for a day. I said HECK YEAH! And he said to pay him when we arrived…? Yes, it’s Ukraine as they say in Ukraine about the roads or other stuff that seems to happen only in Ukraine. Hell… I started saying it! His assistant brought us a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe. Imagine every call I made that day before was to every car rental company in Ukraine. Nothing… absolutely nothing. Some even called me back to ask if I knew there was a war going on.

We left at 6 a.m. and sat in traffic at the border that was 20 hours and 16 kilometers of gridlock! Because of how long we sat originally I said it was longer, but my Google Maps showed me it was shorter than I thought. We arrived in Moldova after dark because every single affordable hotel or Airbnb were booked, and the Moldovan people were gouging the hell out of the latecomers to the capital. I jumped a curb at an upscale market parking lot that was closed – was locked for the night and it had the gate down. The guard did come over after five minutes and I explained in 50/50 Ukrainian and Russian that she was pregnant, sick, and super tired. He was so kind and told us where the emergency room was if we needed it, and asked us to leave the lot by 9 a.m. to avoid causing him trouble with his boss.

We left for the first peaceful breakfast in 12 days. That was the morning of March 4th. I took her to a good breakfast at a place that served a French-style menu. We had crepes and fruit salad. The day went on as we walked around, sat awhile, and had Italian food. She had never eaten semi-genuine Italian food but it was good. When night fell we took bird baths in the car with baby wipes, wipes I had packed in my suitcase to take to Ukraine. There was a gender reveal kit, some maternity clothes, and some other nice stuff for her and the baby. Sometimes I wonder if I somehow put some bad mojo on her and the baby for bringing all that stuff. It’s a passing thought but still… it hurts.
We dropped the car off with the guy that was CLEARLY fleecing me. I knew it was not a real rental with Budget Corporate because the contract was handwritten, the fee was $300, and I was taking it to another country, which is a no-no usually. The banks there would only charge about $100 of Ukrainian hryvnias… just once, for all Ukrainians and the banks didn’t allow anyone that was not Ukrainian to do the currency exchange. Strange but either way we couldn’t access my bank card for the $300 cash. It’s a common thing when you exit one country for another and don’t notify the bank. We had been so busy and had so much going on that I forgot to call. He accepted $75 cash and the remaining Ukrainian hryvnias that we had. I sent him the rest a month later even though he said it was okay. Yeah, he was trying to pull a fast one, but he did something no one was doing… renting a car. He told me later the company told him to move his fleet to Moldova, so why not make some extra money while helping us? I don’t think he was gouging us, because any company would have charged me that much given the situation. He was cool about it. That by itself probably saved us from some really horrific stuff.

I booked an Airbnb with a guy named Adrian in Bucharest, Romania. We took a 10 p.m. bus to Bucharest and arrived at around 7 a.m. The guy we rented from had helped a small family of three people and told us that they had a medical emergency and went to a good hospital. When they got back they told him that Regina Maria’s health care system was giving free care to all people fleeing the war, no matter their nationality! I called and was transferred to the Ukraine coordinator for the hospitals and she asked me to message her in WhatsApp. She told us where to go, and how to do it, and always checked in with us. Uber was giving free rides to any hospital or clinic in their healthcare system (I assume Regina Maria paid a discounted rate).
Katya slept for about two hours, I arranged an Uber and away we went. We know the rest that was written at the beginning of this… they covered the cost of the 3D ultrasound tests, and the exam along with the hospitalization, the surgery, and a private room along with any and all follow-ups. Truly remarkable and so kind of them! I stood in the rain the next morning for about two hours because they weren’t supposed to allow any visitors because of COVID still. That was hard for Katya because she had never been admitted to a hospital but had seen her mom in rooms like the one I had in Kharkiv, Ukraine with six or seven people in one hospital room. Crazy I know but I have the pictures. She took pics of the room, her dinner, and her breakfast. She was shocked and surprised that the room was private and FREE. Again I arranged an Uber and again it was FREE… $20 or so in Romanian Lei.
Katya was sad and in pain and we really wanted a totally private apartment. We Googled “Ukrainian housing assistance” and found a site there in Romania that listed FREE houses of different sorts. Again more great luck… we both had been messaging for a few hours. I found a nice apartment but the gentleman said another Ukrainian couple was coming to stay in a day. Maybe two hours later I got a message that they were delayed and we were welcome to the apartment. I have pics of that place too! It was new, maybe 3 years old, and fully furnished, 1 bedroom, 1 large bathroom with a tub, a washer for our laundry, a full kitchen with two decks attached, giant TV, internet, and even a desktop PC to use. WOWOW. We couldn’t have done any better. The apartment was big enough for easily 6 people because of a large closet that had a pullout bed inside. It was 8′ by 10′ with plenty of room.

I often wonder if all of these really unique streaks of luck were because we had a God and a little angel on our side, helping us along in the hardest times I have ever experienced, without question the toughest! We stayed in that apartment, just the two of us for quite a while and it was FREE, but on top of that, he was giving 100 euros to every person that stayed in his extra apartment. Again WOW. I have those screenshots as well. So many bad things have happened but that experience could have been so much worse… a nightmare really. Now I’m sure we have an angel watching over us. I’m sure all of this pain and suffering will pass, but for now, I feel a deep sense of loss and regret.
I have gone over every scenario from the day I was back in Ukraine after my 5 weeks from December 7 to January for passport purposes… I had overstayed and needed to leave for a while. Usually, a person must be out of the country 90 out of any 180 periods but I sort of paid a legal team in Kyiv to hire me on with an NGO, so I could get a different type of visa to go right back. Ukraine is visa-free unless it’s NGO work or abnormal situations. All I had to do was pay 5,000 hryvnias to the state border service. That is about $170 US. NOT BAD! I sent the cash to Katya and she went and paid it, sent me the receipt, and I attached it to the application I got for the NGO. It was accepted and a D visa was slapped into my passport. Even that was amazing and abnormal because the way had not started. After all of those blessings, I feel extremely lucky to have gotten out safely. From cruise missiles going over our apartment in Odesa to the checkpoints, the medical care, the free apartment, and so on.

I’m going back soon I hope, but only after they do surgery on my lower back to insert a Spinal cord stimulator. That’s a 4 to 6-week recovery time and it pushes my goal to get back to Ukraine before the end of March.

I can’t leave this story as is without thanking some very special church members. American missionaries in Bucharest helped me so much. It was super. I made some solid friends there and of course, my older friend Mr Cori Lupan of Bucharest. He helped me out spiritually as well as a really cool Mish from England, well, born in Ireland I think (I always get these two mixed up, sorry. I know my geography but I don’t remember for sure if he was Scottish or Irish. Sorry brother!

I hope to add to my life story in Ukraine and I hope that it will heal some old wounds. Right now I’m looking for a unit to help, and I’m working on medic training here in the US and I hope in Ukraine with a private Western group training soldiers and medics for combat medicine. I bought two sets of body armor vests with extra light armor. A friend has given me his old Army helmet and all the accessories plus other stuff he has laying around. I am available to help and I’m excited to go. If you know someone that needs a volunteer, I’m that guy!

Slava Ukraini!
Glory to the Heroes!

Ukrainian ladies in EU

As I sit here thinking about the last few days, I can’t help but think about what I was doing this time in 2021. So much has changed with so much human tragedy. I will name these events in descending order from newest to oldest with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the evacuation.

Kherson has been liberated with Russia retreating to finally preserve the lives of their troops… but don’t worry, there is time for them to screw it up! Ukrainian troops pushed deep into Kherson Oblast after their success in the late summer offensive. Who would have guessed that drones would change the face of warfare? Towed artillery like the American triple 7 Howitzer and the GPS-guided Excalibur round have leveled the battlefield, both literally and figuratively. Simple stuff that is used every day is now some special event. With power grid issues, burst water pipes, and natural gas (maybe propane) service interruptions, life as we know it has become more of a challenge.

Little stuff like me being able to cook and enjoy a family get-together is a luxury that I had in 2021. My apartment in Odesa was a 5-minute walk to the Black Sea. My partner Katya had never experienced a Thanksgiving, and my pal Kiwi Mike (clearly a New Zealander) and his date had also never enjoyed this American tradition… and that ended Thanksgiving day, 2021. Our Thanksgiving is always the last Thursday of every November. It was challenging to find the ingredients I needed to cook but COSMO near Arcadia, Odessa had almost everything I needed.

We found a turkey breast because there were no whole birds in any of the markets. In the USA this is a HUGE deal and turkey is a staple of this holiday. Next, I made Macaroni and Cheese pie. It had a couple of eggs, plus heavy cream, lots of cheese, cooked pasta, and BOOM… oven-cooked Macaroni Pie that your guests will want to take home. A fruit salad is a must. Just fruit and cherries with cherry juice. Katya really liked the turkey along with the Mac and Cheese. I also managed to make my family recipe “turkey cornbread stuffing” which was absolutely a hit. The meal was prepared so well that the vegan in the bunch wanted to take some turkey with Mac and cheese. When I think back to that time I have a mix of emotions. I loved being there with my partner in that apartment. Every part of my time there was beautiful. Skipping ahead now 365 days later I just feel empty.

In previous blog posts, I explained how my 2022 has gone so far. We lost an unborn little boy, a war is raging, Katya had to move to another country to be safe, and it is safe to say that things have been really screwed up. My health has been crazy, and Katya has gone through so much in the last year. Losing a child has changed my life. I’m more reserved and careful and I constantly think about family life. I can’t even begin to imagine what my partner was feeling. With me it is all mental… depression and anxiety… but with Katya, she had to carry the baby for 16 weeks and she also had to deal with all of the mental health stuff.

I failed at that part! Keeping her thoughts away from all the loss was totally lost. Pain and worry consumed me and I dropped the ball. There is no way to say it other than that. I could have and should have just sat there with my mouth shut waiting to help my sick partner. I just can’t forgive myself for all of this. It appears my health is paying me back for my lack of focus. In my experience, when we screw up so badly, all that is left is a slow and steady route to partial redemption. About 50% of me says I will never have her in life again, but still, some part of me says that I MUST FIX THIS.

My stay in Odessa had ended. Katya was so disappointed in me for having to leave but truly I had already overstayed by 93 days so it was time to leave. Our love was just starting when I had to fly home. I had all that I wanted and needed but still had to fly home. She stayed behind, discovered we were pregnant, visited the doctor, began to eat better, and here I was… sitting in the USA while the love of my life visited the doctor all alone. Every part of me hated not being there!!! My girl was truly a lady with me opening doors or taking care of the things men do… carry luggage and pay the bills.

I had surgery when I arrived back in the USA and Katya tried to make contact from what I was told. All of this metal in my body has finally begun to need to be replaced. In Bucharest, I was there when she had the emergency surgery (emergency abortion to save her life and womb) although they didn’t let me go into her room. March 5th was the date of our tragedy and I was told that on March 8th the mask mandate was expiring. I’m sure this was her first time in such a hospital. Private room, great healthcare, but not the best communication. That was in early March. I finally flew back home to the USA on June 28th and hated it the entire way.

To be clear I am 100% a patriot. I love my country! The USA is the best of all worlds but that doesn’t mean that I can’t travel and see the world. The absolute most beautiful women in the world are Ukrainian. Everything they do is very much ladylike. My Katya had a way of casually reminding me that I needed to pay extra attention. Stuff like taking her coat in the restaurant, opening doors, guiding her by the arm on a cobblestone street, and the ever so slight way she leaned into me to keep a warm touch.
Flash forward to 365 days later and my girl is in Romania, I’ve had surgery twice, and most of all, Ukraine now fights the plague of Russians invading territory and trying to erase the Ukrainian way of life.

In my experience in Gadyich, they had everything they needed. The pharmacies were low on inventory, and the market had some challenges. My Katya was ready to leave there. I felt bad for her being the only daughter. She had to clean EVERYTHING. I should have been better, more understanding, and more patient. With the war in Ukraine and many complications with our baby, there was just too much. Lives have been torn apart, people have died, and yet love can still find a way.

I think by reading this blog you can tell that I have deep pride and regret over the last year. Thanksgiving 2021 was the best I have ever had. I was with a beautiful person that loved me, and we had friends over to celebrate. I can still see the mandarin orange with Seagrams cognac from that day. At some point in this wonderful time our son was conceived. I suppose I talk about this because I miss it. I suppose I wish I could go back in time to fix all of this. Ukraine has been changed forever and the future, and I will continue my future there. I have personal experience with a dacha and all that goes along with it. In the west, we think BIG MONEY for 15 acres with mature fruit trees but it’s super cheap to buy a nice “fixer-upper.”

My overall point is to shed some light on how hard life has become for typical Ukrainians. My own story weaves in and out of the events of 2021. For the most part, 2021 was a challenge, but a beautiful ending was waiting for me. My prize for opening my life to a new woman is a deep insight into nature, better health, and at the time, the promise of a new love…one for the ages. She’s gone but Ukrainians still need your help! Be brave and donate or volunteer your time. I am certain that IF YOU OPEN YOUR EYES (and heart) you will meet a hard-working, kind, focused, beautiful women that can give you all you need to sustain a life full of exactly what you want. Every fiber in my soul says that THIS trip is one you should take. It’s okay to check the site to find any Ukrainian ladies that currently live somewhere in the EU. I wish you great success and I will see you next time.

Slava Ukraini!


ukrainian refuges in eu

In the west, we really enjoy the benefits of freedom, safety, and ingenuity. The internet continues to bring Western men seemingly endless possibilities for finding a loving partner. In my escape from the war in Ukraine, I had the chance to experience the way other nationalities in the region live. In Moldova, in those early days of March, the people didn’t seem very happy to have all of the Ukrainian refugees there. In Romania, people were very welcoming, and this was carried to another level in Denmark and Germany.

In early March we managed to escape through Moldova en route to Romania. We spent easily 27 hours waiting in a line of cars escaping the war in Ukraine. Tempers flared and the worst of some people came to a head with all the stress from such terrifying conditions. Airbnb rates jumped easily 10 times the usual price and hotels followed suit with unbelievable prices. In the USA there are laws that protect consumers against price gouging when there are national emergencies from disasters. This makes it impossible for prices to be marked up so high, but in Moldova, the business owners knew that people fleeing Ukraine had no real choice except to pay the high prices. Instead of helping, the prices remained high on everything. I personally saw very, very nice luxury sports cars in the line to leave Ukraine. Those car owners just stayed in Moldova whereas most Ukrainians would not be able to afford those high rates. On that note, I am from the USA and even I would not pay such prices. In Moldova, a nice Airbnb room was a maximum of $60 a night. At $60 a night in Odessa, you can rent just about the nicest room they have listed. Now after so many refugees fled Ukraine the prices in Moldova have skyrocketed. It was totally the opposite when we arrived in Romania though.

Romania was a late-night journey from the capital of Moldova. The bus station in Chișinău was pretty big, and not very centralized. It was a mix of fruit and vegetable vendors, bakers, a small food court, and souvenir shops but there was one main ticketing counter for all of the buses leaving from there. Buses are left at all hours of the day and night as well. Our bus was scheduled to leave at 10 p.m. on the night of the 4th. You may wonder why I remember this date so well, but that’s only because I remember the terrible events of March 5th. I will always remember that day. My then-partner and I lost our unborn son that day. Anyway, our bus was not super new and it was loaded with women and foreign men. There were 3 Ukrainian men that got questioned at the Moldova, Romania border. I guess they either had health issues, or disabilities of some sort, or maybe they even bribed their way out of Ukraine. I will get to that part later in this blog post. At the Romania border, we had to pass our passports forward to the border guard. It was a rather disorganized affair but then again I can’t imagine that they ever thought they would see so many people crossing the border in such a short period of time! The 2 younger Ukrainian men had just turned 18 and spoke pretty good English but the older man guessed to be age 35, was questioned for about 30 minutes, then placed back on the bus, and then taken back off the bus. I can only guess that maybe he was of military age or maybe he had a criminal record… who knows? My partner slept for most of the trip to Romania. I didn’t sleep well because of the poor seats. They were very uncomfortable! She fell asleep on my shoulder while I browsed the internet. Now I know there are 2 big bus stations in Bucharest but our bus arrived in an area pretty far away from our Airbnb. Rates in Bucharest were amazing and started at $19 a night.

Compared to how run down Moldova was, and the prices, Bucharest was a great deal. The situation being what it was, $19 to $40 was reasonable. There was no price gouging in Bucharest that I saw. We arrive on the morning of March 5th, took an Uber to our room, and rested for about 2 hours. Even with my partners’ health issues, we tried to stay in the state of mind that life would improve and that it was not in our hands, but in God’s hands instead. Soon after she woke up we went to the maternity hospital for emergency surgery. Our lives would never be the same and it’s a shame that I will always remember that date and the city in this way, this sad part of our journey. I left a large part of my heart and soul at that maternity hospital even though the people were for the most part very good to us. The Regina Maria health system had free services for all people fleeing Ukraine so Katya’s care was all free. Even with free services, the people there left such a great impression on me. When I go back I know that I have new friends waiting for me.

The decision was made that I would travel to Denmark for a while. After losing our unborn son in Bucharest I decided to travel ahead to Denmark. We had friends that had fled and they told us about the social benefits for my partner Katya. I went ahead and flew from Bucharest to Istanbul and then on to Copenhagen. Copenhagen had a BIG sign for Ukrainian refugees and for people like me. Those that had to flee Ukraine but were not native Ukrainians. I have a residence card, so I was eligible under Denmark law. I arrived at the airport, went to the help desk, and then hopped in the back of a police van with an end destination of Sandholm Red Cross refugee center. It was late at night but I was greeted with a fresh meal and a key to my new room. This refugee center was pretty nice although I have never been to ANY refugee center. I mean that it didn’t have tents blowing in the dusty wind. There were no barbed wire fences and it was a wide open area with the ability to come and go as we pleased. Most people there didn’t have the ability to leave because of their financial situation but still, we could leave if we wanted to. The room had a bunk bed, a large restroom with a shower, a table, an electric kettle, a mini-fridge, a closet for our clothes, and a microwave oven for reheating food. There was a big door at the back of the little apartment that connected to another apartment just like mine. The refugee center was not full and 2 people could live in each room. There was a doctor at the center, a large cafeteria, a library, and a computer room, and they even had bicycles and toys for the children there. I did see larger apartments for families with children. The Jehovahs Witnesses’ were everywhere we traveled!

They were at the Moldova, Romania border with hot soup and tea or coffee. When I was offering to teach at the camp one of my students was a Ukrainian man, age 68, and even in the camp he still tried to get me to download the Jehovah’s Witness app. Apologies ahead of time if this offends anyone but wow… even in a refugee situation some people still try to preach! The employees from the state Border guard were super helpful although they were a little shocked that an American would choose to be there. On the 3rd day there I was able to get a ride to a local market for some goodies. In total, I was at Sandholm for 5 days. There were lots of Arab men as well. Some had been at Sandholm for 14 months or more. I can see how someone could get comfortable in a nice place like Sandholm but it’s not meant to be a permanent solution. Danes were super nice, outgoing, and very generous. I was lucky enough to find an American that lived in Aarhus, Denmark. Melissa happens to be trained in crisis control and intervention. She’s been to Iraq and Syria and now happens to be married to a very sensible Dane. She finds homes or roommate situations for those in need in Aarhus. I left Sandholm at 6 in the morning for Copenhagen. The two places are maybe 20 minutes apart with a 3-hour train ride to Aarhus. Aarhus was a cool city with great infrastructure.

I was placed with a family that is 100% vegan and proud of it (like most vegans are). It seems like they are extra proud to tell us they are strong vegans. 🙂 Admittedly, Michael, the host I stayed with, offered to cook me anything I wanted, but I chose to eat as they did. That home was so nice and refreshing. It was 15 minutes from Aarhus in a little village called Melling. In all of my travels, I have to admit that this place had maybe the best energy of all. Even after the tragedy of losing our unborn son, something about that area gave off such incredible positive energy. The people in Melling were so nice. Everything in Denmark is made to work on your mobile phone. Your insurance, and any social benefits, as well as information about your health care, are digital and accessible by your mobile device. Germany was pretty close to the level of convenience that Denmark has. I will list social benefits for Ukrainians just in case anyone is reading this and wanted to know. The areas I traveled to all had different benefits for refugees, and here they are. This is open-source material and it’s effective as of October 1st, 2022 adults receive on average 55 kroner a day. That’s something close to $8 per day, plus food and housing benefits. There is also language integration for those interested. Payment is made in advance at the local community center or town hall. When I spoke to someone he very plainly said that he wanted to help, but that things were improving too fast to keep up. That’s a good thing for a Ukrainian citizen. Things were getting better. I was in Denmark as a special refugee #2, because my partner is Ukrainian, whereas a Ukrainian is #1 on the special rules.

Germany was different. It was busier than in Denmark. In both Denmark and in Germany officials really just wanted to give any person fleeing Ukraine essentials to sleep and eat. They seemed to pass the refugee on to another worker that then looks for a place to use the benefits the Ukrainian just received. After Denmark, I arrived in a 700-year-old villa outside Naumburg, Germany… near Leipzig. It looked and smelled old, yet beautiful. In Naumburg, the 35,000 residents still somehow made room for Ukrainians. There was an entire 10-story apartment building that housed nothing but refugees from the middle east. I don’t know if they were allowed to work or not but I saw hundreds of middle eastern men at all hours of the day. It seems like such a waste of manpower to not let people work. On the other hand, my Ukrainian friends all seemed to get placed in a home or hotel very fast. Personally, I spent 5 days in the hospital in Naumburg, so when they let me out of the hospital I was ready to go back to Romania. Ukrainians in Germany got free healthcare, free bus and train, and a bank account where their increased social benefits are deposited. That amount increases for 2023 by 50 euros to 502 euros. The increase is good for all people registered in Germany whether they are refugees or if they were receiving social services before the war in Ukraine. Disability payments and pensions also get a 50 euro increase. Overall it looks like prospects for employment in Germany are much higher than they were in Denmark. I found Denmark to be super expensive. Germany was not as bad but still expensive. The 7-hour train ride back to Bucharest.

In Romania, there were a lot more Ukrainians. It could be the cost of living or proximity to Ukraine. Transportation all over Europe was free when I used a Ukrainian D visa. All along the way, I was lucky enough to encounter people that just wanted to help. I did stay about 2 hours outside Bucharest near an old monastery for a week. It was a bed and breakfast and the owners opened a room to me. Eventually, I made it back to Bucharest where I stayed for another 3 weeks before flying home to the USA. Orange mobile was donating SIM cards and a limited amount of data or phone service to those fleeing Ukraine.

I left a lot of my heart in Bucharest and I have mixed feelings about that trip in particular. Losing an unborn child changed the way I live. I did see some beautiful sites in Bucharest but city life just made me miss Odessa really. When I look back on the events of 2022, so far things have not been the best even though I traveled from America, across northern Europe, and into central Europe. Love, travel, pregnancy, stress, war…

Love, travel, pregnancy, stress, and war. It seems like something from a bad dream, but it is really happening. The events of the past 8 months will never leave my memory. With that in mind, I’m sure that my former partner is having a hard time also. For me it was losing a child, but for her… it was carrying a living being… only to be told that you must end that life because it’s the humane thing to do. I have never said this and meant it but I genuinely would like to go back to this time period and do things in a different way. I would not change the part about the baby but I would do a better job at listening and understanding. I can only pray now that I will meet that soul one day, but for now I just hope to get right with the universe.



When I consider the long friendship, brotherhood really, and these latest developments, I am quite sure I will never be able to visit Russia again. I’m also very confident that my Russian friends, both of them, will never be able to visit the USA again either.
They came as most do with the Work and Travel program, and in their older adult lives have no real reason to come to the USA except for leisure. With the new world climate and moods toward Russia, before my friend blocked me we talked about where we could meet. It’s sad to know that Russians can’t travel to Europe anymore. In our 2nd to last conversation, we talked about the possibilities of exactly where to meet. My Godson is Russian and I’ve never met him.
There’s Mexico, Cuba, Turkey, North Korea, Vietnam (a good possibility, I have a job offer to teach there), Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and a couple of African countries where we would have to meet. Europe was basically open before, and he and I talked about his family coming to Kyiv to visit a famous church (in May I think) for a few days but that will NEVER happen now. It’s funny to me that any Slavic person should know that Ukraine was indeed settled first and that Russia came after that, and if you think about it, many Russians make this pilgrimage to Kyiv to visit… so they must know a little history otherwise they would not recognize this religious holiday at all. He still stands by the Russian version that Russia came first in history.
When my former partner and I were together she corrected him a few times but it didn’t really matter. I have found that talking to SOME Slavic people is often like talking to a brick wall. I have friendships with a couple of ex-girlfriends. They are married and we don’t live anywhere near each other it’s polite and mature to wish them a Happy Birthday on social media. But my former partner can’t manage this. It’s all or none. Now it’s this way with my best friends.
I thought this bond would never be severed but this war has strained relations. Perhaps in the future things will go back to the way they were. On a side note, why is it so seemingly difficult for a Slavic person to maintain an average friendship after the intimacy is gone? Is this something that is taught? Anyone that knows please comment. What about simply disagreement with solid evidence? It’s like they can’t accept not being right, so it’s easier to not talk at all.
Many bridges have been burned and can never be crossed again. For tens of millions of Russians that have never been to the USA or Europe, they will never know what they are missing, but for those that have been lucky enough to come to the USA… they may not say this out loud but the systems in place across Europe and the USA are something they know is better but will never admit is better. With all of these new laws on the books in Russia I am sure if they can’t call a war a war, they sure as hell would never admit that their system is flawed. I think just about every system is flawed, leaving many behind in the wake of progress, but in my opinion in most western countries if you work hard and save money just about anyone can make it BIG. I don’t see this possibility in Russia and many of the former Soviet states. It appears the old way is the way Putin wants it to be, but if we look at Moldova or Georgia, and yes, Ukraine, the old way led to no real way up and out. It has kept generations of people poor or barely able to survive. If this is what Putin really wants then maybe it’s time for me to wash my hands of the friendships I have had for 2 decades.
Either way, this situation has gotten out of hand, and people are dying. I pray for peace and pray for the victims of this war.

russian propaganda

I live on an island in the USA but we do see lots of tourists from all over the world. We have just over 30,000 residents here, but in the summer months, we see about a half million tourists every week all summer long. It feels like we are a tiny chihuahua dog with a half million fleas crawling all over!

To supplement our workforce the Work and Travel program here is robust and diverse. In the early 2000’s we saw mostly students from Russia and Ukraine but also from Georgia, Lithuania, Armenia, and a couple of other former Soviet states. We all got along pretty well with the exception for some reason of the Lithuanians. They did not like the Russians here at all. We hire an average of 5,000 students every summer to make hotel beds, work in our restaurants, flip hamburgers, and help at the grocery store. In March of 2002, I moved back to North Carolina from the west coast. When I returned I immediately noticed, even in winter, that we already had quite a few Russian and Belarusian people that stayed on from the summer. If you live on a small island where you know everyone and have known them since you were a child, well, eventually you begin to see the bigger picture. The dating scene here is horrible, so I dated someone from Belarus… my now ex-wife.

She is super smart and attractive, and yet her cold side emerged more and more. Having met her mother when I invited her to the USA when my son was born, I can see where she gets the cold from! My roommate then were 2 Siberian guys from Novokuznetsk, Russia. We became close, close like brothers in fact. They were at my wedding. They were the first to the hospital the night my son was born, and they lived in the USA for 6 years after that. One of my friends had to move back to Russia because of his mother’s health and his own mental health. My friend we can call Brad (not a Russian name for sure) invited me to Siberia many times after he moved back. In the winter of 2012-13, I decided to take him up on his offer. The flight from New York to Moscow then Moscow to Novosibirsk, and the train north for 12 hours to Novokuznetsk was long and taxing. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, but when I got to my friend’s apartment, I took a shower, ate a nice meal, and got drunk until I fell asleep. Brad loved the USA and yet is also a patriot. He’s a bit of a conspiracy quack, so when Crimea was taken by Russia he embraced it but stayed somewhat neutral. Fast forward to last year in Odessa… he was supposed to come to visit but could not take time away from work. He’s married now with a stepdaughter and his own son. He’s big into crypto and lives a good life there.
He was the first person I told about the pregnancy and then the loss of the pregnancy. He spoke to my then-partner about all of this pre-invasion hype, and then quickly covered his tracks with the standard line, “Ukraine is full of Nazis” and “look at what the USA did in Iraq and Syria!”. My answer was that I didn’t believe in the Iraq war but supported anti-terrorism efforts all over the world wherever and whoever carries them out. We tried not to talk about politics, but he would slip in that he needed some car parts or wanted some western goods sent to Turkey. My answer was sure, no problem, but then I would remind him that it was his government’s fault. He fully believes that Russia has never bombed or shot civilians, ever. He fully supports their president no matter how many times I point out that the opposition often ends up dead or in prison, or in exile.
This opinion of mine may upset some that read it, but I do think this angle has been forgotten. When spring of 2014 rolled around and the Maidan had started I was, of course, behind the people of Ukraine and understand their plight. In the USA we have the impeachment process to remove a political leader. The same system exists in Ukraine as well. It is the right of the nation’s citizens to choose their leaders. There are so many strong leaders in Ukraine, even with the corruption, that I thought and still believe in the impeachment process.
This makes me wonder if that process was ever explored to remove the Ukrainian president in 2014. It would have been less bloody, Crimea may have stayed Ukrainian, and the Donbas may have not been tossed into the war. This doesn’t mean I think what is happening now is right. The president in 2014 fled under the cover of darkness and his vast corruption was exposed. New leaders have been chosen and that is no justification for an invasion and all of this killing.
Back to my Russian friends. About 1 month ago, this brother of mine, my best friend really, sent me some links to YouTube channels that were pro-Russian. They came through easily and were not blocked. But when I sent him images or interrogation videos of Russians saying they thought they were going on a training mission or that they had to steal food to eat, the videos were BLOCKED. The easy answer is that his government is blocking the truth. After all, he can send me videos or links that I can access, but he can’t see mine. A month ago we had a fiery exchange where I told him that his captured soldiers were saying they had no food when they got sent into Ukraine or that they were dying by the thousands. He sent back a few voice messages saying it was not true and telling me it was the USA controlling NATO and Ukraine. He told me NATO was to blame and that people in the Donbas were being bombed every day and that was why Putin invaded Ukraine. When I told him Zelensky is Jewish, his answer, was that he’s a drug addict. He is certain that the USA is blocking all the news, not Russia.

What can I say? He is a grown man that, as we say, “is drinking the Kool-aid!” He absolutely believes in his president. He dismisses the rest as fake. He says that the opposition leaders that died or are in prison were… AGENTS OF THE USA! So he didn’t mind living here for years to make $100,000 to take back to Russia, but now he thinks we are all just blind sheep? He was getting kinda upset with me when I finally said “ok, but what about Crimea?” And, “if you’re so sure you won’t get in trouble if you call this war what it is… a war, and not a Special operation” he just got angrier. We had tried to stay off politics and the war and focus on the small things. Things like taking a vacation and who would allow a Russian visa? War crept in and the lies that his government, like all governments, kept coming back up. We all say “stand in the light of truth” but in reality, there are just some places where the truth is so bright and so loud that it makes the viewer blind and deaf. I get the impression that many Russians are just opportunists now. Take what you can, and settle for a boot on the neck rather than a bullet to the head.

That doesn’t mean the USA is free from flaws and huge mistakes. Iraq was a giant mistake that killed thousands of people from all walks of life. Afghanistan, until we left, was a mission I believed in. Terrorism should not be left to spread like a wildfire. Rich, arrogant men took us to war in Iraq and I just don’t know if it was the right thing to do. We can’t say that about this unjust invasion of Ukraine, or the militarization of the nuclear power station that is currently occupied by Russian troops now. The whole world, with the exception of Iran, North Korea, and some of China thinks that we need to all stay away from nuclear power plants. Russia is now firmly seemingly a military terrorist state. Its citizens, my friends, and millions of people in its republics live under a sad illusion. A new cold war has begun and I fear I will NEVER see my Russian brothers again. I fear it will take decades to undo all of this damage.
Ukraine, stand strong in your defiance and God be with you.


Meet Ukrainian Woman in the EU

After evacuating Ukraine I headed to Moldova then on to Bucharest. It’s a sensible choice that is an established EU country. Overall, it is not super expensive, and the people are friendly. Yes, it’s true you can get scammed there pretty well but then that also happens in every major city in the USA and across the world. Romania is an EU country but its currency is still native and the Lei conversion is about 4.6 to 1 US Dollar. An apartment on Airbnb ranges from $22 to $35. I had a coupon on Airbnb and stayed a whole month for $460 with a monthly discount and some negotiating. Don’t pay more than you need to and remember that an apartment in Bucharest is no more than $500 a month for most residents.

Meet Ukrainian Woman in the EUMeet Ukrainian Woman in the EU
With Ukrainian women leaving because of the Russian invasion, countries like Romania have become the new horizon for dating a single Ukrainian woman. Germany, Poland, and really all of the EU have opened their doors. With no other reason to stay in Bucharest, I flew to Copenhagen, Denmark. The airport was small but modern and the people are super friendly. Denmark is not quite an EU country but the standard of living is good there and the people are ranked among the happiest in the whole world. The municipalities in Denmark have really stepped up for refugees and offer excellent services for those in need. In my experience, Denmark was rather expensive, and unless you really plan on meeting a Ukrainian in Denmark, perhaps just stay for a day or 2, if the dating scene is not the best. I will write about COVID rules in the EU from my point of view in my next blog but let’s stick to dating.
I did fiddle with the idea of a dating agency for Ukrainian women that had become refugees in Europe but I just had too much going on at the time. On Slavic Girls, we are starting to see the EU blue logo on some of the female member pages. Guys, now is your chance to date a wonderful Ukrainian woman and also expose her to western standards on most things. English is widely spoken and if she is new to the EU and has not traveled outside of Ukraine a lot she will be rather impressed with how things are in the EU. From Denmark, I took a train to Naumburg, Germany where I stayed in a 700-year-old villa. My hosts made a habit of remodeling old homes and flipping them for a huge profit. I have some pictures to accompany this blog. I felt like I stepped back in time. The room was amazing and the backyard was like a scene from Lord of the Rings, Bilbo’s home to be precise! The prices in Germany were less than in Denmark but they were still very high.
Even in a small city like Naumburg, there were still easily 4,000 Ukrainian refugees there.
There were a few men but mostly there were women with children or their families, including their daughters or aunts or nieces. Guys, there are plenty of chances to work with Slavic Girl administrators to find a good woman in the EU. They can set up all you need and don’t worry, the EU is pretty easy to travel to. Most flights in and out of the EU are not super strict as far as COVID travel goes. I would avoid Lufthansa and Austrian airlines for now. They have huge staffing issues right now. My student and friend Kate are in Italy with her daughter. She tells me there are many Ukrainian women there, and this time of year is great in Italy. I am willing to bet that the agency has a database of women that are EU based now for you to chat with, write to and eventually go and meet. Men, get off your rear end and get motivated. Sure, it is great to get to know a woman online but at some point, you just have to pull the trigger and fly to meet her! I have been to Ukraine and Russia over 14 times, some trips for work, and others for leisure… and yes, for love. I would not change a thing when it comes to the money I spent traveling. It’s far better than endless letters to less-than-reputation dating agencies. If you get a chance, get off your bottom and take a trip to the EU. I do not work for the agency and being that I am a male member myself, I can tell you that nothing is better than meeting face to face the woman at the other end of months of chatting and letter writing. You will wish you had listened to me when winter comes around and you are sitting in your house or apartment all alone. Instead, you could have spent a week or two in the EU with a beautiful woman. You could have explored Europe with a really smart woman with the same goals you have. The EU is open to Ukrainian women to travel across all borders. Simply put, men, there is no excuse now to meet a Ukrainian woman that is waiting to start a home life, a future with endless possibilities waits for you. And men if you get scared or need advice, reach out to the administrator here and they will help you get in touch with me. I don’t have all of the answers but I do know the early warning signs of trouble, and I can show you the things to watch out for! How can I do this?

Dating a Ukrainian Woman

In all of my travels, I can’t ever remember such a combination of stress, anger, worry, joy, and disappointment. The unprovoked war in Ukraine dislodged me from my life in Odesa. It created unnecessary stress, unnecessary travel, and unexpected trials and tribulations. Of course, a pregnancy was totally unplanned and unexpected, but as so
many profiles on say, a man of action — not just words are what they want, so, that is who I am! Regret does not come to mind in my decision to travel from the safety of the USA back to Ukraine. It needed to be done, and in some strange way, it was a test of who I am. At my age, I feel like I have evolved enough to know what to do instinctively. It did not take days and days of deep thought.

Katya was pregnant and the baby was mine. Katya was in pain when we woke, so I gave her some of my own medication. My neck is titanium and I take strong medication for neuropathy and seizures. If someone taking this medication doesn’t have a seizure disorder, it is still strong enough to relieve pain and cause sedation. It felt so weird to not wear our masks anymore. We wore masks, so Katya and the baby would remain healthy, but now she was not pregnant and it felt like wearing the mask was a sad reminder of what we had lost — a baby boy, a soul that would never grow into its full potential. By this point of the trip, I had carried our heavy luggage up and down many flights of stairs. I had loaded and unloaded it many times. We had sat in a car for what seemed like days, and I had to help carry Katya up 3 levels of stairs after the emergency abortion.

My lower back was wrecked. My neck is titanium and strong but the strain and stress of all that weight began to wear me down. I now had my own health issues to deal with. After breakfast, I went to Regina Maria hospital to see a neurologist. I left Katya in the apartment to rest and recover. The doctor ordered an MRI of my neck and lower back. The results came back with a crazy cancer scare. So, I began taking heavy pain medication and medication for stress management. Stress can increase the likelihood of an epileptic episode. I found all of the medication I was supposed to take at a pharmacy near the apartment we had been given to stay in. Together I think Katya and I could have opened our own pharmacy! The first evening after the emergency abortion Katya began to notice that I was not acting like myself. Now I realize that she could tell that one of the medications was not agreeing with my body. I just blew it off like nothing was wrong. She smiled through and we both tried to sleep.

My Raiffeisen bank card had stopped working and I quickly discovered that the Raiffeisen bank in Ukraine was nothing like the Raiffeisen bank branch in Bucharest. In the mall, they had a location where I could open a new account. I found the food court and got some middle eastern food to take back to Katya. I also ordered a Swarovski ring to go with the 4 pieces of Swarovski I had bought Kate in the past. She loved Swarovski and I did too. I took the food back to the apartment. We talked and ate and cried some more. I credit losing weight and eating the right kinds of food for Katya’s lifestyle. She is a dietician, a nutritionist, and a massage therapist. We always ate a good variety of food and she liked that I can cook a wide variety of foods.

Maybe the medication I was taking began to show its true side effects or maybe it was the stress but didn’t even realize that my patience was growing shorter. When my neck was repaired with titanium, I took the same medications and I was fine, so I think it was the stress and the loss. The stress of it all finally showed in both of us. It’s really hard to say what it was, but either way, soon it would not matter.

I am writing this next part because I think it is important to start any relationship in an honest way. Starting this blog for Slavic Girl agency seems no different. Those of you reading this deserve honesty, so I will try to be as honest as possible. I woke up on the 8th of March and took a bath. Katya cooked some breakfast for us. We sat at a small table in the kitchen and ate while the snow fell outside. She was in a lot of pain and taking medication. My lower back hurt a lot and I was taking something for pain. We were both under stress and have different versions of what happened that morning. In my defense, I can say with 100% certainty that I never wake up in a bad mood. I look at each day with an open mind and a clean slate. Katya tells me that I looked at our breakfast and said “you must be trying to make me angry!” I am very sure I looked at the large pot of food and said “you must be very hungry” because she had cooked such a large amount of food for breakfast.

We sat and ate and watched the snow, we smiled and laughed at some of the crazy things that had happened on our trip… the water bottle filled with, well… the result of me not being able to get out of the car to use the restroom while we evacuated Ukraine! A female Moldovan guard had looked through the car door and picked it up. We both cracked up laughing because the guard didn’t seem to notice what was in the bottle! We washed our dishes and laid back down in bed. Our ritual was to watch Netflix so we turned on a movie. This part of the mid-morning is a blur to me. Katya was in pain and somehow, we had gotten on the topic of why we had lost the baby. Was it COVID? She had paid a doctor to register her on the DIA as having been vaccinated but in reality, she is against vaccinations. Was this why she had gotten COVID? I had the Johnson and Johnson Vaccine and had not been sick at all, ever, since the COVID outbreak had started. Did her vegan diet before we met cause some abnormalities in her egg, our baby?

She had started to eat fish and chicken and turkey shortly before we met and I didn’t really think that would be the cause of such a complicated pregnancy. Maybe it was because this was her first pregnancy… after all, 20% of all first pregnancies end in miscarriage. There were so many variables. My son is a healthy, strong, talented, and intelligent 18-year-old. I was sure it was not my contribution to getting pregnant that had caused the abnormalities in the womb. Katya tells me that I was upset about all of these issues and that when she got up to leave, at first, I told her to sit down, but then she says that I told her if she wanted to leave that her suitcase was right there. In my heart and in my memory I know this is simply not true. I remember she got up and was very emotional, borderline irrational! She screamed and walked toward the door and I clearly remember walking to the door gently but with authority putting my hands on her shoulders and telling her to “stop it, just stop!” In the past when she was upset she had slapped me. She had a way of swinging her hands to hit me and we had talked about it before. She apologized and said she didn’t remember doing that. On the morning of the 8th, it was like a perfect storm of stress, pain, anxiety, and anger. I moved her away from the door and we both sat on the bed. Literally, 1 second had passed when she sprung up, grabbed her suitcase, and left towards the door.
She screamed really loud for no reason at all. She had not been struck by me, and this seemed to be a bit melodramatic. It’s true I told her to leave if she was going to leave but to keep her hands to herself. I had given her to option to do whatever she wanted to do at that point. I also told her if she left to not come back. Maybe I was wrong to say this but again at this point, I was totally spent, mentally and physically exhausted, and pushed to my absolute limit. I remember this as clear as a bell. I was wrong for not being more understanding and for not de-escalating the situation but I did my best by saying “stop” and guiding her to the bed to calm down. She was wrong for screaming and yelling and for raising her arms to hit me. We were both stressed and upset, and emotionally exhausted.

One thing is certain, I never ever would abandon someone in a time of crisis. Yes, I do think an argument is better than just up and leaving. When times get tough either people stay and work it out, calm things down and move on or they freak out and do and say things they will later regret. Don’t misunderstand me… I have done really dumb things in the past, but I have never abandoned someone that has helped me through hard times. In times of crisis, I have found that trying to be calm is best. When things are moving fast, it’s been too slow down to resolve any situation.

Bad things happen in hast! In going back to the door, and then going downstairs to see the apartment owner, it seemed she had already made up her mind. Leaving had never crossed my mind, even if it had been easier, cost less money, and of course, it would have been safer. Rockets and missiles had flown over our heads in Odessa, we had been through a dozen checkpoints with armed men, and we had just gone through a surgical experience where we lost a baby, where SHE lost a bay, and NOW I was feeling the stress. I was exhausted. I was tired and sore and just wanted peace and quiet. I would never minimize what Katya had gone through, or somehow compare my pain and exhaustion with her emergency abortion…
surgery is hard on the body, and losing a baby is even more difficult, I am sure. Still, leaving never crossed my mind. When things become difficult, I try not to include others in the insane drama of it all, but that is exactly what Katya had done by screaming and then running downstairs for some kind of help. Later the man that had let us live in the apartment asked me why she had knocked on his door, but she never told me why she did that. I can only assume that she simply needed more from me. Perhaps I could have done more, given more, or been more understanding, but it all happened too fast, and looking back her first reaction was to lash out and leave. For me, this seemed excessive and unnecessary. Again, maybe to those reading this, I am 100% wrong, but I say again that I had begun to need rest. I needed to de-stress, unwind and not think about this incredibly stressful journey. One day would have been enough for me, or really, just half of the day would have worked. Instead, I was not allowed this time to mourn and unwind, to rest and gather myself. Maybe I was being selfish, but to me, it seemed that she was being selfish in not allowing me time to gather myself into one whole person again. I was shattered just like she was. It would have been great if she recognized this. I felt her pain, truly I did! I sympathized with every bit of pain and agony and stress. The loss was spread equally between us. Keep in mind that my neck is titanium and I carry a few serious scars from years of overextending my body. I did not complain about carrying our heavy luggage up and down, and up and down again. In my experience, Ukrainian women want a strong man that doesn’t complain. Gender roles seem very defined in Ukraine. I didn’t argue or fuss, but rather overextended my body to the point that it was broken. Leaving never crossed my mind. Her leaving never crossed my mind. I expected that she would calm down, lay down, sleep and we could talk when she woke up. Now I was agitated watching her pack the suitcase. I had tossed her jacket into the suitcase when she got up screaming. I was tired and just wanted no screaming or drama. It would have been great if she recognized that I had some needs that really “needed” attention. I told her to leave if she was going to leave but it was not what I wanted to happen or thought would happen. She was usually so calm and rational but this time she was the opposite, irrational, and nothing I did seemed to calm her down. The unnecessary, unprovoked screaming was it for me.

The owner of the apartment helped her carry her suitcase downstairs. It was the one I had brought from the USA and given to her. It was full of clothes and new shoes, baby stuff, and the coolest blanket I had ever seen. She left so fast that I didn’t really understand it all. It felt like she had planned this out. It felt like she had a backup plan in place the whole time. This was upsetting to me! My backup plan was for us to see a priest about the baby, to follow up with her doctor appointments, and adjust to our new life in our temporary home. I admit that I do not react well to this sort of thing. I tried to call but she didn’t answer. I sent text messages but all I got back were emotional outbursts and anger. She had every right to be overly emotional, but I was still totally caught off guard by this behavior. In my experience, Ukrainian women do not freak out like that. These ladies seem to be as cool as a cucumber when it comes to stress. I tried for days to talk to her but nothing worked. I realized then that I had only been a vessel for her to get to safety. We had lost the baby and maybe she felt like a failure. In reality, there were a dozen reasons for such a complicated pregnancy but her mother and family did blame it on her previous vegan diet, her age, and her lifestyle. I am sure it was COVID, and this was her first pregnancy. Along with the stress of war and me being in the USA waiting for a return visa to Ukraine, it was just too much stress on her and the baby. So, she was gone. I waited and called and sent messages and she at least answered a few times. This is where cultural things were different, and I think age and experience come into the picture.

I have learned that calm patience and sincere apologies mean a lot to the same people. I also learned sadly among a lot of Slavic people that the ability to stop and look back, admit their mistakes, and embrace a humble apology are absent in their mentality a lot of the time. Kinda “the bull in a China shop” mentality, head down, onward, don’t look back.

We only get a finite number of real opportunities in our lifetime, so, please stop and realize when someone that loves you is on their knees in front of you, humble, as you should also be, ready to evaluate the process and fix the problems in the relationship. I have never been someone that slept around, so the 3 women I have dated from the former Soviet states have all been exceptional in many ways, and yet this same issue rises to the surface. The inability to slow down, forgive, or be forgiven has always been present. No, I have not just dated Slavic women. Being an American I hate dating Americans of course.
Being a military brat (a child that was in a military family) we traveled and lived all over the world. I have never discriminated against a person’s skin tone or nationality. I will say this and I do mean it. Slavic culture just focuses more on family and family life. The women want to make their men happy and they also are strong, educated, and beautiful. Asian culture is hard workers and tends to be a little more subservient. Americans are all about the green, money, and the “what have you done for me lately” mentality.
My next teaching opportunity appears to be in Vietnam. I do have offers in Ukraine, Prague, Warsaw, and Germany, but for now, I may focus on somewhere in Asia. Be good and be good to each other. Feel free to ask me any questions and do be sure to look at the visual references attached to this long blog. They are all accurate, real, and true to the best of my recollection.

Lastly, war is hell. In Europe, in this century it is just unfortunate and unnecessary. Please donate blood, get your news from more than one source and stand for freedom!

The story started in the previous posts:
Staying in Ukraine Before the War Started
Beginning of the Invasion of Ukraine February 24, 2022
My Fleeing from the War in Ukraine

Katya and I arrived just after 7 in the morning in Bucharest, Romania. The day before I made reservations at an Airbnb apartment for a bedroom and bathroom rental. The owner of the apartment Andre told me that the top private hospital in Bucharest was giving free or discounted medical care to Ukrainians fleeing the war. Katya was officially now a refugee. We took an Uber to the center of Bucharest, unpacked a little, and decided to take a short nap before heading to Regina Maria Maternity Hospital. She slept and I talked to Andre. I called ahead and talked to the refugee assistance secretary about our medical situation. Boston Children’s Hospital had already given us their best advice and unless the ultrasound were about to have revealed something new, we were about to follow through with a decision I pray no one ever has to go through with. Katya slept for Mayne an hour before waking up, very upset and anxious. We talked, cried, and talked some more before calling an Uber to the hospital. There were still COVID restrictions in place but they did let me into the hospital and examination room with Katya. The first 3 doctors came in along with a technician. Then 3 more doctors came in and they started the final ultrasound of Katya’s womb and of the baby. Two machines did the same tests on her womb and on the baby. They didn’t go into a lot of detail but they did show the 6 chambers of the baby’s heart along with the high heart rate, and in color, the way the blood flow circulated through the baby’s heart. It was bad, all so, so bad. The doctors were all surprised our unborn son was still fighting for life, but they also told us the reality of our situation and the cold reality of what was to come. We asked for just 1 hour to walk and to find a Ukrainian Orthodox priest.

The hospital didn’t have a clergyman on staff. We told them to give us just an hour to digest all of what had happened over the previous few days. We had passed an Italian restaurant in the Uber and as crazy as it may sound, she was hungry and wanted “real Italian food” she said. I still remember what we ordered for lunch. We ate and talked and cried a few tears before walking hand in hand back to the hospital. It was a fast 5-minute walk, the saddest 5 minutes of my life so far. We walked inside and checked in, and met the nurse for blood tests. I was not allowed to go to the back where Katya was going. I was upset but the nurse told me she would be back in 30 minutes. I kissed her on the cheek and instinctively kissed her belly, our unborn son goodbye. I had kissed her belly since February 1st when I arrived in Ukraine. It was like breathing to me… just part of my normal everyday life. It felt great to be a father AGAIN. Of course, I was excited. My son Evan is now 18. I am ready and was ready to be a father to any healthy child, although another boy would have been amazing. I still remember my partner Katya telling me “Andy, it’s a boy!” I still have the video I made during the ultrasound. Katya vanished through a doorway for what seemed like an eternity.

After an hour my phone rang and she called me to tell me that I was not allowed to see her until after the surgery for health and sanitary reasons. It was shocking to me to hear this. This was her first time in a hospital, her first surgery, and sadly, her first child. 20% of first pregnancies end in miscarriage, and this one had gone terribly wrong. I admit I was angry at the nurse that had told me I could see Katya again. Maybe she forgot or was trying to make it easier on us but I was angry, angry that I didn’t say the things I needed to say to our baby, and angry that I was not able to comfort Katya before the emergency surgery. This emergency abortion would save her life and preserve her womb for the future, and it would remove the unhealthy life that we had created, that COVID had so horribly affected, and there was nothing I could do to save Katya or our unborn son. Maybe I was angry about the whole messed-up situation! The war, leaving her family, the missiles raining down on Ukraine, the senseless death of young men, the innocent people of Ukraine dying every day, and yes, about COVID and the life that we would not ever be able to live again! I was made to wait outside. I waited as long as I could in the cold weather until about 6 p.m. in the evening. I was cold and wet so I ordered an Uber to come to take me back to the apartment. It was nearly 6:45 when I made it back to the apartment when my phone rang. It was Katya telling me she had not been into surgery yet. She had waited all day and at this point, things had begun to unravel in her head. She was upset and tired, and now hungry. I called the refugee secretary to see what the hold-up was. The doctor had 3 surgeries to do before Katya. Around 9 p.m. she called me to tell me she was going into surgery. She was understandably scared. Guys, I am sure you can understand this. I don’t need to control everything, but I do very much feel the need to comfort those I love and care for. I was literally sick with worry. I did not eat. In fact, I vomited many times that night.

We had to make the most difficult decision of our lives. Katya called me just before 11 p.m. She was out of surgery and awake. She was drowsy and sore but awake and talking. We didn’t talk for long because she needed to call her mother. We said our goodbyes and I went to sleep. I didn’t sleep well that night and woke up in a bad mood.

I woke in a bad mood after the previous 72 hours of what felt like hell on earth. We had traveled from Poltava to Odesa only to get horrible news about our unborn child, fled Odesa under missiles being fired into the city, waited for nearly 24 hours in a tinted line of cars leaving Ukraine, and I had been in some pretty intense altercations with cowards that didn’t feel like it was their job to defend their homeland. Arriving in Bucharest after an overnight bus, we had to make a decision that would alter our lives forever… end the life of our unborn son because his little heart was just not going to survive outside his mother’s womb and for sure not the full 9 months of Katya’s pregnancy. His tiny body was 40% too small on the left side with both arms and legs very short compared to the right side. Neurological issues would have meant IF our unborn son had made it into this world that he would never walk, never crawl or be able to feed himself, and that would be IF he had a healthy heart, which he did not have.

All of this added to the stress of the journey. Katya came out of surgery and was resting when I woke up the next morning. She called to tell me her phone was nearly dead, so I called an Uber and took a portable battery bank with me to give to her so she could call me when they discharged her from the women’s hospital. I arrived and the front desk personnel took her to the power bank. She called to thank me and said it may be an hour or more. As I write this, I can think back to that morning like it was just yesterday. I remember her voice and the pain in her goodbye. I looked for a place for us to eat breakfast when she got discharged but the security guard told me I had to leave. So, Uber took me to a place for breakfast when Katya called me out of the blue to say she was ready. THAT WAS FAST! I added where I had just come from to the Uber trip. We turned around and I went back to the women’s hospital. She was ready when I got there. She looked pale and so, so fragile. She had a list of medications to pick up for the pain and bleeding. While she was in the hospital I searched online for places for us to stay more permanently. There were housing opportunities all over Bucharest for people fleeing Ukraine. I had called one man that had a nice apartment but he called me back at the last minute to tell me that other refugees had called first and that they would need the apartment more than we did.

They had children. Even now writing “they had children” hurts me to my core. We got back to the Airbnb and went to breakfast. We had just sat down when the same man that told us the apartment was occupied called to tell me that the other refugees had gotten stuck at the border and that we could have the apartment. This was such good news. For the first time in a few days, there was at least some hope, some light at the end of this dark journey. We ate a quick breakfast, thanked Andre for letting us stay, and called a taxi to take us to our new apartment. The owner of the apartment met us and helped me carry our 3 very big bags up the stairs. The apartment was close to a few markets and restaurants. It was new and had a full kitchen, a full bathroom with a bathtub, a big screen TV, extra bedding for a rollaway bed, and a queen-size bed for us to sleep in. The apartment must have been no more than 3 or 4 years old. We unpacked and settled in for a few minutes before asking the owner, our host, to take us to the pharmacy for Katya’s medication.

The day before she, or rather WE had been pregnant, but today here we were in line at the pharmacy buying medicine for bleeding pads for the bleeding, and pain medication for Katya to soothe the spasms from her womb after the emergency abortion. This moment is so vivid in my memory. Standing there buying medications for pain and bleeding after all we had been through to get out of Ukraine was such a hard pill to swallow (a figure of speech, pardon the pun). One of the reasons for me to do all I had done, was the D visa, the days and days in Gadyich with her family, the trip to Odessa, the waiting and waiting in the car to escape the war, and it was gone now. Yes, it’s true I would have gone back anyway to get my partner out of the war zone, but losing the baby, even if the baby was unplanned and a total surprise, still hurt like a son of a $@tch!

We got back to the apartment and I walked to the market for food and water. I bought food Katya liked for me to cook, stuff for salad, chicken and rice, and a few sweets. When I got back Katya was in pain and had stomach cramps. She said her breasts were on fire, and leaking milk. Again, reminding us that the baby was gone and that her body didn’t know what to feel or how to handle the strain. She is such a strong person and I am sure she will feel the pain of this loss for the entirety of her life. She took some medication and slept for a while. When she woke I cooked dinner and we watched our usual after-dinner Netflix. We went to bed kinda early. The apartment was well-equipped and we were so lucky to have this nice place in a nice area. It was totally free. We woke to snow outside. I remember this beautiful scene because I made a video of the snow and gave a small speech on the video to celebrate International Women’s Day. Each time some milestone happened in our journey snow usually fell. This day was no different. Snow fell and I hoped secretly that it would purify and wash away the stress of the long trip to Bucharest and the horrible but necessary choices we had to make there.

The story continues in the next post “My Thoughts on Relationship with Ukrainian Woman”

The story started in the previous posts:
Staying in Ukraine Before the War Started
Beginning of the Invasion of Ukraine February 24, 2022

We made it to Poltava after paying 3500 UAH to the taxi driver. This poor guy… in retrospect, I put him in an awkward position. My partner was pregnant, and the main road to Poltava was heavily guarded with all the accessories or war set along the way for the Russian troops. I am a veteran and so for “operational security” I won’t get into all of the ways the main road to Poltava was rigged or the locations and how we made it on the back roads to Poltava from Gadyich. It’s safe to say that no one would have made it up that road and out the other side alive. I booked a hotel room for 1 night. It was more like just 8 hours, from 4 pm to midnight because we had a train to catch from Poltava to Odesa just after midnight.

In Poltava, the ATM machines worked normally. The stores had almost all of their normal inventory and the pharmacies had essential medications. We stopped to pick up some more prenatal vitamins just in case the situation in Odesa was different, and in case our route out of Ukraine was long or the stores were empty. We shopped for snacks for the night train and had a chance to call Boston Children’s Hospital while we waited. Boston Children’s Hospital is the best hospital in the world for newborn babies and for complicated pregnancies. We were at around 15 weeks pregnant now. The fluid surrounding our baby was still increasing but the baby had a strong heartbeat. We needed to get to Odrex in Odessa quickly for their advanced technology to properly diagnose what was going on in Katya’s womb. Wow, I have not written that word, womb, since early March. I haven’t had that word cross my lips until just now. Maybe I have been blocking it put? That word, womb, brings up a flood of emotions. Maybe later in another blog, I will get into all that. The joy and hope of the future, and the crushing sadness that you will read about in this blog later. Of course, we didn’t really have a good live video of the ultrasound so all we could send Boston were the pictures and an 18-second long video that was from 12 weeks pregnant. In my mind, my job was to arrive in Ukraine, make sure my partner was safe and healthy, and then make sure the baby was safe and healthy. Katya was healthy, but we had a growing fear that the baby was not okay. We ate a good meal, made love like the world was ending, and then we went to sleep for a few hours. Surely, I can’t be the only person that has a rush of emotional energy after a torrent of tears that seemed to have fallen from nowhere! The time had come for us to make our way to the train station.

I took my partner’s advice and booked a hotel room about 300 meters from the train station. There was a curfew but we had tickets and luggage, and yes, my D visa gave me the confidence I needed to walk in the dark towards the heavily armed men at the train station. One of them spoke broken English so I basically showed him my passport and D visa while Katya explained the purpose of our travel. We bought some extra drinks and candy bars for this purpose! I admire soldiers that stand for the cause of patriotism! They accepted the food and drinks and helped us towards the train station. With only 1 window open the place was still packed with older Ukrainians, women, and children.

The air rate siren came on loudly and the soldiers came in and turned off the lights. We were all shown the way to a Soviet Era fallout shelter. My guess is that there were 200 of us in that shelter. It was hot and many people prayed and cried. I firmly believe that God and the universe send us the right things just at the right time. Angels can come along, and I think they can take the form of just about anything. As we sat there one of those little angels appeared. The angel appeared in the form of a little deaf boy with his dead family. This is 100% true. I have a video of the train station and my Google maps have every movement from that night and all of the time before and after that night. The boy had blond hair, almost white really. He had no expression but I could tell he was scared. He just stared at the floor while he tried to avoid the very large dog next to us. The dog had a muzzle on!!! I watched this boy and his parents talk, or rather sign to each other. In the saddest moments in the past couple of years, things like this have been happening to me. This boy with no facial expression was being so brave. He was maybe 8 years old and didn’t cry at all, NOT ONCE. Surely, he knew that a war had been started by Russia. There is no way that his family heard the air raid siren but the mother in this family had the coolest little radio with a LED screen attached. She was reading what was happening in Poltava while we were all listening to it. Something compelled me to just start playing ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS with this brave boy. At first, he didn’t want to play but I think he felt safe, after all, I was between him and the large dog! We played for another 5 minutes before the soldiers came and walked us up and out to the waiting train.

Katya and I finally boarded the midnight train at nearly 1 a.m. The lights were not turned on except for emergency lighting. Katya was scared. The reality of visiting a large city set in. We reserved 2 top bunks but when we got into our cabin there were 5 men already in our beds. She got a little upset and snapped at all 5 of them. They didn’t speak Ukrainian very well, and although Katya knows Russian, she is a proud Ukraine and speaks Ukrainian 99% of the time. In Gadyich, Poltava Oblast, they all spoke Ukrainian all the time. There is such national pride there. The soil is ripe for planting and is as black as night. There’s such great culture and respect for Ukrainian society there. On the train, I asked the 5 kinda short men why they were in our cabin. One of them answered that they were construction workers from Azerbaijan. They were fleeing the missile attacks in Kharkiv. Our train started in Kharkiv then ventured north and west to Poltava, then down to Odesa. You can imagine how an upset woman, worried about pregnancy and worried about her family, could really not be happy with 5 men that didn’t pay for the whole cabin occupying where we were going to sleep. We both believe in Karma, mother earth, and God, so I calmed her down and told her that these men were just trying to escape with their lives. However, that did not save the train conductor that these 5 men clearly had bribed into being on the train in the first place. I would not want to be that guy. She vented her feelings and I helped her hop onto the top bunk. The train stopped maybe every 45 minutes for security reasons. There were troops on our train walking from cabin to cabin looking for suspicious people. About 6 hours into our 9-hour trip south to Odessa one of the men offered me a hotdog… that didn’t go well for them… Katya doesn’t eat pork or beef AND still got very nauseous easily. I tried to warn them but I was not fast enough She lit into those guys so fast! I kinda snickered under my breath at what I knew was going to happen…she was Verbally tearing someone’s head off, and even though things were high stress, it was kinda sexy and funny to see her take charge like that. Those poor guys didn’t have a chance.

We arrived in Odessa to some snow. In December I made a video of a little snow falling outside our apartment in there but it felt like this snow was greeting us, both beautiful and also a chilling sign of what was to come in the following days.
Katya and I checked into our Airbnb apartment and quickly took a taxi to Odrex Medical Center. We made an appointment with their best doctor because she used to newest ultrasound machine from Germany. It was in 3D and color and would tell us all we needed to know about the baby. This was almost 15 weeks from the day of her pregnancy. I made a video of this ultrasound to keep as a memory of our baby that was safe in her belly. I mentioned out loud that maybe it was too soon to tell if our baby was a boy or a girl. The doctor had a difficult time locating the hands and feet at first but then my partner said in a very happy voice “Andy, it’s a boy!” I was about 3 seconds away from making that video live for my mother and sister to see but I wanted the moment to be special between only us. The doctor spoke pretty good English and told us that we needed to have a serious conversation. Katya and I both looked at each other because we knew this was not going to be good news. The doctor told us that the baby had 6 chambers of the heart not 4 like you and I. Our unborn son had serious neurological issues, with his little hands and feet all contracted into little fists. The esophagus was not formed properly and the heartbeat while strong, was too fast. I had my arm cradling Katya. Her body went limp and weak in my arm. I had to quickly wrap my arms around her to support her weight so she would not fall down. She wept like a child, then I wept like a child, and we both sat down arm in arm, totally stunned. I think I can speak for both of us and say we were in total disbelief. In total there were 9 really serious things wrong with our unborn son. The doctor told us we needed to call the Genetics hospital and some other specialists, but no one answered the telephone. I tried to keep her calm by calling some doctors in the USA that I worked with. I sent the ultrasound to Boston Children’s Hospital and the Mayo Clinic, both are world-class. I have gone through a lot in my life. I have seen death up close, and lost family members, friends, and other loved ones but nothing compared to this feeling of hopelessness. Ladies reading this… a good man is just taught and/or born with the ability to come in and fix just about anything that is wrong. When we can’t fix things that are horribly wrong it is one of the worst feelings. I didn’t want to lie to her and we both had talked about, read, and researched every possible outcome of the pregnancy. Not one scenario included our unborn son living a healthy, productive life. Back in the apartment, I called a dozen or so doctors and specialists. I called the US embassy staff to inquire about a medical evacuation for my partner. If she was my wife we could have gotten help but we both were so caught off guard with the pregnancy that we had only touched on the topic of marriage and a wedding. When we did talk about it I remember her mother being angry at me that I talked about a wedding after Easter and before April the 8th (I believe these dates are right). These dates it seems are holy days in Ukrainian culture and the church. I had to respect their beliefs, but looking back again, I wish I had gone ahead and at least filled out the paperwork for immigration with Katya as my fiance’. Did I love her? Yes! Did the baby come along to speed things up? Yes! If things had not gone horribly south (I will get to all of that near the end of this blog) I would have done my best to marry her. It’s hard to explain this situation other than to say I am a man of action, not words, and that I left that safety of the USA to return to Ukraine to take my pregnant, sick partner to safety through all means necessary! I did that and it’s done now. I am not in love now and I struggle sometimes with the reality that August 21st is approaching without a little boy on the way. In our apartment, there was a strange vibe. The best way to describe it is the word surreal. I made a video during the day and one at night of the air raid sirens sounding off in the distance. During the day I set my phone in the window and opened it a little. The sound of an incoming missile attack is heard very clearly. A few seconds later the sound of an explosion can be heard. At night we could hear church bells and the air raid siren. It felt like a scene from the Walking Dead like the apocalypse was upon us! As Katya’s protector and at the time, finally knowing how sick my partner was, along with our unborn son, I just didn’t have time to break down or be scared. I was as steady as I have ever been in my whole life. I can say it rather matter of fact because all of the western men I knew had all left Odessa, leaving behind the people and places we all had grown to love.

Katya and I waited for news from America, from the specialists that would help us make the best-educated decision for the future, and for our son. Part of me wishes I could go back and replace the horrible news that we got about our unborn son with some better, happier memories. I don’t know if anyone reading this will relate, but this is part of what happened. We made love like crazy like it was the last time we would take another breath on this earth. In a way, it felt like the world was ending. Our unborn son would never see the light of day, or take a breath outside of his mother’s miraculous womb. Neither of us knew 100% that we would have to make a life-altering decision or that we would never make love to each other again, or that our blossoming relationship would end, but we soon found out.

We woke to an air raid siren at 6:40 am. I remember this time because it is still on the calendar on my phone. I can say again that God was looking out for us that day. I called car rental agencies all over Ukraine but no one answered. Being the arrogant American that I am, I didn’t give up. I called B**** rental car based at the Odessa International Airport 3 times. On the 3rd call, a man answered. I will not say his name because he did us a huge favor and I’m pretty sure we were also putting money straight into his pocket. He told me that he was in Moldova and that we could rent an SUV for $300 for one day. I knew it was taking more than one day to cross the border so I told him $300 for the distance from Odessa to Moldova. Conservative men reading then, and ladies that believe in a woman’s choice, pay close attention to this part. The kind staff on this website said I should write if it will help someone. Well, this will help someone for sure! The Boston Children’s Hospital had emailed me their best medical advice, and my friends in the USA that are doctors also gave their opinion. We prayed a lot, and cried a lot, made love like teenagers, and cried some more, and in the end, we decided that our son would be better in heaven, on the right shoulder of God than suffering here on earth with many serious health issues. This was Katya’s 1st pregnancy and statistics tell us that 20% of 1st pregnancies end in miscarriage. Our unborn son was holding onto life for now 15 weeks. We talked about where to go to have this very serious surgery done. Poland has turned into a hyper-conservative country when it comes to abortion. In our case, the emergency abortion had to sole purpose of saving Katya’s life and womb and doing the most humane thing possible for our unborn child.

In Poland, abortion is nearly totally illegal. A court has to give their opinion on the necessity of abortion and in truth, we just didn’t have time to explain this entire situation to some strangers that didn’t know a single thing about our lives and future goals. Of course, I knew that the relationship could end, but I am a good enough man and human being to know that with me or without me, Katya would want a family one day and her womb had to be preserved. Our minds were 95% sure of what we needed to do but Poland was out of the picture. We agreed that we did not need ANY government body deciding the fate of our unborn son or Katya, his mother. The issue of abortion is not a black and white one. There is so much gray area that the one size fits all approach just does NOT work! We decided on a route, out of Odessa into Moldova and then on to an EU country. We chose Bucharest, Romania. The car rental guy (I can’t say his name) and I agreed on a price and we set off for the border. I knew this car rental deal was under the table because he wanted me to pay him cash when I arrived, and the contract being handwritten was a dead giveaway. I can’t blame the guy. He had a family to take care of. He was helping us in a huge way and I didn’t mind paying him the $300. We made it smoothly until we got near the Ukraine and Moldova border. I took some pictures and made a video of the chaos that we encountered. I can only describe the state of mind of those that we saw as truly desperate, angry, scared but most of all, nearly out of their minds. It felt like we were in the Twilight Zone, an alternate universe. One-way traffic coming and going, in and out of Ukraine, had turned into 4 lanes of traffic leaving Ukraine, only parting to let the few cars coming back into Ukraine pass through. The line of traffic 4 lanes across reached at least 12 kilometers deep. Women and children were being let out of cars with their luggage to walk to the border checkpoint. Young mothers pushed baby carriages and pulled luggage all at the same time. Little children were forced to walk that great distance with their own luggage, their entire lives now reduced to whatever would fit into their luggage or on their bodies. This was one of the saddest things I have ever witnessed with my own eyes. While the line was mostly women, there were also men, military-age men, making whatever excuse they could to leave and not defend their country like true patriots would. A rich young man, maybe age 26 was right next to us in his Porshe.

Anyone that has visited Ukraine knows that different regions have different car license plates. This rich kid was from Kyiv for sure. At one point I made a video of me raging angry that there were so many men leaving! There was a news crew from Bulgaria right behind us in traffic. I got so mad that I walked right back to the open window and told the female reporter what I was seeing. I told her “the real story is not the war now, it’s the men that are cowardly leaving their country.” She told me that military-age men were not allowed to leave. I sort of laughed at her and told her to open her eyes and turn on her camera. I had a D visa and an American passport. Legally I should have been allowed to pass but we would make a little headway only to see 3 or 4 men blocking the road. After this happened a few times I finally got out of the car! There was about to be a physical confrontation. I don’t get scared easily and I am protective of those I love and care for. These men were standing in the way of advanced medical care for Katya and our unborn son. The camera crew really saved me from having a fight. As soon as the men blocking the road would shout, she was there with a camera in their faces. Those cowardly men didn’t care that I had a sick partner or that I had a version of a diplomatic visa. They were just trying to get out and hide, like fat cockroaches, scattering when the lights come on. I give those men no thought at all now, as to their safety or if they are alive. They remain cowards and have to live with that. If Katya had not been sick, I would have taken her out of Ukraine and gone back to train medics on advanced battlefield medical techniques.

We sat in a very long line at the Ukraine/Moldova border. I took the road that guided us to the left and away from the super long line of women and children along with thousands of cars waiting to enter Moldova. The site of all of those women and children, the Red Cross tents, the fences, and the pure panic of the situation left me with some of the most horrible memories of my life. I would not wish even my worst enemy to see and hear what Katya and I went through on that journey. Altogether we sat in a slow-moving line of cars and people filled with drama for 27 hours. Katya could get out of the car to empty her bladder, but I was not about to leave the 1-year-old rental car with Kate inside to deal with all of the crazy, sometimes aggressive people. The protector in me came to life. I switched to survival mode and while she got out to empty her bladder where the other ladies were doing it, I used a water bottle. Maybe this detail should be left out but we left Odessa fully prepared, with food and water, blankets and pillows, but nothing for me to empty my bladder in. Sorry to be so graphic in my description but it is part of what happened and maybe it will help someone reading this prepare in case they have to evacuate their home. My Google maps will show this border crossing.

Because I have an American passport with a Ukrainian D visa I was able to pass through the border crossing relatively easily. My partner was treated with dignity and respect, and then she was asked if she needed any medical attention. At the Moldova border from what I could see they were equipped with basic first aid, although I did see an ambulance ready to help those in need. We needed help but had decided that Bucharest would be the best option. No offense to Moldova, but it is the poorest region in Europe and that meant we had to keep moving. I was very tired when we crossed the border into Moldova at around 1 a.m. If I had stopped to sleep at that time I would have slept for too long. I vividly remember the snow rushing at the windshield of the rental car. Again, snow greeted us in a new place. This was the 2nd time it happened. The first time was upon our arrival in Odessa, our hometown, and the city where we met. Instead of rest, I decided to drive into the early morning hours to make it to the capital where we could drop off the rental car and buy bus tickets to Bucharest. I made it to the capital but there were no hotel rooms and no Airbnb rooms or apartments available either. I did find 2 or 3 for $300 to $450. This was capitalism at its worst. Instead of taking care of Ukrainians fleeing war, Moldovans had jacked the prices up in what we call in the west, “price gouging.”

The USA has many things wrong with it but our government officials do set rules and guidelines during disasters and disarray like what we were seeing in Moldova. Gouging is illegal and, in my opinion, immoral! I decided to park in a big parking lot of a luxury mall with round-the-clock security and to leave the car running to keep it nice and warm. As of that date in March of 2022, Moldovan government officials had set restrictions on Ukraine hryvnia exchanges and the maximum at that time was 1000 UAH per Ukrainian. I tried to exchange several thousand hryvnias but I don’t hold a Ukrainian passport and was turned away. I treated Katya to a good, nutritional breakfast at a French Cafe known for their big breakfast. I had crepes and she had crepes and a breakfast fruit salad. We had the entire day to waste while we waited for the night bus to Bucharest at 10 p.m. That was March 4th. I remember this date because of what we had to do the next day, March 5th. We agreed to meet the car rental manager that night at 9 p.m. I drove around for a while and then we parked and walked for a little bit. We were surprised to see so many very nice cars and SUVs from Ukraine. I got out of the car while Katya used a pack of baby wipes to take what my mother would call “a bird bath.” This refers to using baby wipes to clean all of the parts of our bodies that need to be cleaned every day without taking a full shower.

We took turns in the car taking our bird bath. She went first and then I cleaned up as well. I remember every detail of those days because of what was happening in our lives. We had pasta for dinner and some fresh bread. Night finally fell on the city and I drove near the buses all parked to pick up and drop off. The car rental manager met us there. I paid him in hryvnias and we walked to our bus. The bus was packed and cold. Few people wore masks but we did. We were 95% sure of what had to be done but there was still a small chance that all of the prenatal checkups were totally wrong. 5% with pregnancy is still enough to be super careful. We wore masks on the bus the entire time. The roads are not the best but we made good time to the Romanian border. All at once, we handed our passports to the front of the bus. We just sat and waited for Romanian border control to check our passports, then to stamp and return them to us. My passport was the only American one on the bus. There was a military-age Russian man sort of hiding among us. He got questioned for easily 30 minutes, delaying our 10-hour bus trip even more. They must have sorted out his story because they gave him his passport back. He was scared and embarrassed. It’s safe to say his journey out of Ukraine had been a scary one with that Russian passport.

The story continues in the next post “Hospital”

The story started in the previous post “Staying in Ukraine Before the War Started”

The news said February 16 was the day of the invasion and the start of the war. That day came and went. We stocked up on cheese and fresh fruit for Katya to build up her immunity again. On the 24th we were woken up to jets flying over the farm followed by helicopters. The pictures on the walls shook and some fell to the floor. I remember her father Sergei asking me what I was going to do if the Russians shoot at me. I answered that I would shoot back at ANYONE that shot at me, and I would not miss! Her family asked me why I came from the safety of the USA to the cold countryside where a war was sure to start. This is an easy answer. I am not a hero, but I sure as hell am not a zero either! Her father respected me for coming all that way. It was the right thing to do, period, and I would do that all over again, minus the sad ending. I have lost a few male friends over this topic of my trip to evacuate Katya from Ukraine.

The US Embassy sent me an email and called me every day for the whole month of February. I had one man assigned to me and he did a good job of checking up on us. He was a good man but some of these “men” that I knew told me to leave her there, send money, or just find another Ukrainian woman. This was sad and shocking, and it angered me. I dropped quite a few so-called men, so-called friends, in February and March. They all talked a big game yet they all still sat on their couches, couch surfing, as we had missiles going over our heads and full-on war took over Ukraine, like an infection slowly taking hold of the proud, strong people I met.

Finally, I talked Katya’s family into agreeing to let me take her out of Ukraine. That was the goal of the trip. We talked a lot and prayed a lot, and consulted with doctors in the USA. It was too soon to tell just how healthy the baby was and at 12 then 14 weeks.
Things would become very serious very fast. On our last night there we got together with her family on the 15-acre farm that her family had just purchased for somewhere around $750. It had a small brick house that needed quite a bit of work, but the gem on this property was all of the mature fruit trees. They had apples, pears, persimmons, and grapes on the vine.

This was March 1st. We had a great meal with lots of Vodka, and my fried chicken was a hit. There might be some pictures attached to the blog with the faces politely blurred out.
The images lend a hand to this entire very long story. In Gadyich all of the ATMs but one were boarded up, and the one that was in operation only dispensed 1000 UAH per transaction. The pharmacies had begun to run out of essential medications. This was happening just like I have seen before in the Middle East. Small towns run out of fuel, and medication, then the supermarket shelves begin to remain empty. This is what Russia wanted. I sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in November of 2013 so now I have an epileptic seizure disorder. It is controlled with medication and I had plenty of my special medications from the USA but Katya was pregnant and needed advanced care. Imagine all of the senior citizens or those that are diabetic. What would they do when the pharmacies ran out of essential medicine?

To back up a little, I sustained the TBI and my neck was also basically crushed from level C3 to C7. In my travel insurance blog, you can read how this injury happened. I didn’t dive into the lasting effects of this TBI and neck injury but the side effects will last forever. With food (other than the food in the cellar) like fruits and milk in short supply and SUPER LONG 4-kilometer lines to get petrol, the time for us to leave Gadyich had arrived.

The story continues in the next post “My Fleeing from the War in Ukraine”