13/01 (finished and posted on 16/04)
I have recently been ill, and yesterday succumbed to a timeless (and infamous among PCVs) Ukrainian medicinal remedy- the vodka rubdown. I had somewhat of a persistent and nasty cough, and was starting to get a little worried due to the abundance of diseases that are fairly common to Ukraine in wintertime: pneumonia, bronchitis, black lung, black death, etc. My own remedies (coughing, waiting) had proven useless, and I was ready to get some new material for the blog. I knew the experience wouldn’t let me down. I started by sitting on the couch and raising the shirt off my back, while my host mother fetched the magic liquid. This is quite literally a pickle jar filled with dandelion leaves and other oddities, and topped off with, well, filled with vodka. She proceeded to slab this all over my back, to the point that it was running down and soaking the blanket that I was sitting on, and was soon to be wrapped in. No matter though, it’s all part of the treatment. She continued to massage the faintly wild-smelling spirits onto my back in an attempt to coax the ‘bad vapours’ out of my lungs. I’m assuming the evaporation of the alcohol has some part to play in this process, but my understanding of the treatment is still rather dim. I began to smell like a loaf of baking bread. It was much more pleasant than I’d expected. In fact, I thought the whole process would be so nauseating that when I started throwing up I would coax the bad vapours right out of my lungs along with breakfast. I did not. With the application stage complete, my reeking body was wrapped in a large beach towel and promptly tucked into bed. The scent of warm dough continued to waft out from under the covers and lulled me to sleep.
I was disappointed with the distinct lack of trauma that was supposed to accompany such treatment, according to the tales of previous PCVs in