Today we toured another industrial town on the Dnieper...there was not too much to see, just a small city museum. However, we have now seen what life is like for the majority of Ukrainians...not very good. The recession has hit this country hard. There is a tiny rich elite, and a very small middle class, but the overwhelming majority here are living, as one of our guides put it, from day to day. Most live in Stalin inpired apartment complexes that look like blocks of concrete. The average salary is perhaps 300 dollars a month. Pensioners get 100 a month. Very few have medical insurance and must rely on state owned hospitals for basic care. In many ways, even though the contry is now supposedly a democracy, it still has the feel of an old Soviet style satellite republic. Part of the reason is that the people who are the leaders are the same ones who were in power before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Corruption is rampant. More than half of the economy is underground. In spite of their living conditions, the people here are honest and sweet, and they are hopeful for a better future. I am hopeful for them as well.
Tomorrow we arive at our final destination on this trip, the city of Kiev...prounced here KEEV. We will have a full afternoon touring, then dinnier and to bed. Our flight back to the States begin at 5 AM Sunday morning. It has been a most interesting trip and experience. We have much to tell.