Kiev Commonwealth of Naturists

"H&E Naturist" October 2002

NAKED ADVENTURES BY THE AZOV SEA

by Peter H. Dietrich

Peter Dietrich visits an old Soviet resort attempting to transform itself into a Ukrainian Agde

"H&E Naturist" October 2002

   After two interesting and successful visits to the Crimea, I wondered what would be the outcome of a third visit, professionally and on a more personal level. Weren't Fox Bay and its summer naturists somewhat overdone now with five films on the market portraying this little piece of paradise? Well, to fire my enthusiasm, Andrii told me that the Crimea was not only Fox Bay, indeed, nor was it only the Black Sea. If we were to follow the northern coastline, we'd be able to taste the joys of another sea, situated on the north-eastern extremity of the Crimean peninsula: the little-known Azov Sea.

   To make the idea more appealing, a group of Moscow naturists, led by Misha Arbuzov, was to visit the first official naturist campsite in the Ukraine, near a small community known as Kazantip. They invited us to join them and to film them. We accepted the opportunity with gusto. We organized our group and attended to our secondhand minibus.

   Twelve of us left Kiev in the early morning heat: Andrii and his wife Natasha; Volodia and his 18-year-old daughter Lesia; Andrii's two goddaughters Lida and Sonia; Diana, who was to join her mother in Kazantip; Dima and Lena, who were with us last year; Victor, a friend who was to leave us in Fyodosia where he was working for the summer; Pavlik, our resident Mowgli, now 12 years old and travelling without his mother this year, who sadly was working and couldn't get a break, and myself. Twelve friends, all expectant of a new adventure down in the Crimea.

   Well, before we even left Kiev the adventure was under way: Andrii's roof rack for the luggage, so successful last year on his old car, decided to move and loosen itself at every braking, and we had to undertake some emergency repairs - better than getting stuck later on in the middle of nowhere. Roof rack fixed we set off to travel the long road south.
We stopped in cornfields, sunflower plantations, by small rivers, and alongside the Crimean canal. Filming was quickly under way. Had it really been a whole year since we last passed this way?

   Camping on the beach near Fyodosia, my early morning ablutions were interrupted by the arrival of an unexpected visitor, and I stopped washing and quickly got out my camera. A graceful white swan came slowly gliding through the gentle waves as the sun rose, and seemed to wish me welcome to this magical land. It hung around for quite some time and everyone marvelled at our symbolic visitor. Pavlik fed it bread and it eventually sailed away into the distance.

   At Kazantip, we found the campsite under a blazing afternoon sun. Lavanda, as it is called, is one of the old-style Soviet pioneer resorts, where families used to send their children for the summer to live a Spartan form of indoctrination that today would probably be heralded as inhuman.

"H&E Naturist" October 2002


"H&E Naturist" October 2002

   Some bright investor had had the idea of transforming the camp into the first official naturist site in the Ukraine. A website attracted the first clients -the Moscow group. Sadly, the initial group hope for 85 visitors turned out to be 25, and our group of 11 hardly boosted the numbers to the expectations of the entrepreneurs. Small beginnings...

   But, as always, it's the general reception that matters and we were heartily greeted by Misha and his wife Olga, and after a refreshing swim we were soon seated in the open-air restaurant overlooking the beach and the blue Azov Sea. Ahmed, the Tartar cook, fussed around in his 'kitchen' - a converted single-decker coach — and soon served us sparkling cold Crimean wines and delicious tartar soup known as lagman. The second course, a superb tartar plate known as dolma and consisting of meat and rice spicily cooked and rolled in me leaves, followed on - two ours later! The promised third course remained a promise, but |I'm certain it would have been as delicious as the other two! This as our introduction to the laid-back style that reigns here.

   The rest of the resort retained their Soviet ambience. The bungalows were Spartan and bare, with beds the only furniture, no running water, no toilets, exactly as Soviet children had lived their 'holidays'. The hot showers worked only at certain times of the day; the restaurant didn't have enough tableware for all of us to eat at the •same time, so we ate in shifts. The toilets were very basic and rather dirty land organised activities non-existent.

   A fairly bleak and dismal outlook for those accustomed to naturist resorts in other places. Much work needs to be one for such a place to achieve even minimum success - at least with foreign visitors. But this is not a complaint list. I think it a brave and reassuring step forward in a country that still balances dangerously on the brink of economic ruin. I believe naturists worldwide should raise their symbolic hats in support and admiration. Lessons can be learned on both sides, and I sincerely hope they will be.

   We had a great time anyway, and visited many new and interesting sites at this far end of the Crimean peninsula. Old Turkish forts, remote and rocky bays, and a wonderful nature reserve in which we discovered a fabulous salt lake, where the underlying deep black mud soon became body decorations and a tribe of jet-black bodies stood out in striking contrast to the harsh white salt crust.

   We enjoyed our week-long stay at Kazantip, and my film took shape. My fears of the Crimea being overdone were quickly assuaged. Our last evening was spent dancing around a bonfire as the whole camp celebrated Ivan Kupala night, the centuries-old pagan festival during which the body and soul are cleansed by leaping through and over the flames. When I crawled away to sleep in the early hours of the morning others were still going at it in earnest — until the sun rises, as the legend goes!

"H&E Naturist" October 2002

   Well, when the sun rose, we moved on to new adventures. Kazantip was over for now. But I felt very privileged to have been one of the first visitors, along with my friends from Kiev and Moscow. I sincerely hope that it will grow and develop as other well-known naturist places. Who can remember Cap d'Agde as only a beach and a camping field? Great rivers grow from little streams, and I feel certain that this tiny outlet will grow, and the Azov Sea, so warm and inviting, will eventually become a name common to all those who enjoy discovering new and different places.

The video films from this Kiev Commonwealth of Naturists trip will shortly be available in the UK through Tower Productions.
 

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