After I graduated from school, I went to study at the Geological College in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
It was the summer I passed the entrance exam to the Geological College. I had no place to go before classes were to start in September, so I got a job as a cook on the small service ship that was navigating up and down the river Dnepr, delivering various services to big river vessels.
The Dnepr (Dnieper-Ukrainian) is one of the European rivers flowing in the territory of three countries at once—Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. It starts in the Valdai Hills in the district of the Smolensk region and ends its long journey flowing into the Black Sea. Dnepr is the fourth-longest river in Europe, after the Volga, Danube, and Ural.
My responsibilities were to prepare food three times a day for the team of ten men who worked on our small ship. Approximately 40% of the crew was overwhelmingly young, while the rest were between 30 and 50 years of age. At that time, my cooking skills were less than subpar, but the man who was cooking for them before me did not mind teaching me. I loved the two months I spent on the little ship. In my free time, I lay on the deck and smiled, watching the passing green banks. Blue Dnepr, blue sky, burning sun, immense space of blooming, boundless, green steppe... The evenings at the end of the long and hot summer days were especially refreshing with a cool breeze from the river. Most of the crew were gathering on the deck. Some smoked, some told anecdotes, and some silently enjoyed the majestic peace of the passing day. At night, I slept in my little cabin. Everyone treated me very well, with courtesy. My cooking skills improved rather quickly. When the time came for me to start classes, the crew of ten men did not want me to go. They invited me to work for them the following summer. However, when one year passed and summer came again, a brand-new adventure was waiting for me.
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