Kiev Commonwealth of Naturists

"Health & Efficiency" October 2000

CAMPING OUT IN THE CRIMEA

Peter H. Dietrich

The Crimean republic is a large peninsula in the far south of the Ukraine and was restored as an independent state within the Ukraine bach in 1991. My friend Andrii Utovchenko, President of the Kiev Commonwealth of Naturists, suggested a visit and I jumped at the opportunity. It was an ideal moment for me to continue the film I had begun in 1999 about Ukrainian naturism: Crimean Odyssey...

"Health & Efficiency" October 2000

I made my way to Kiev and set up with Andrii and the group made up of Anna, Olga, Gala and her 10-year-old son Pavlik. Andrii spent several days and nights in his garage preparing our transport- his 15-year-old Opel estate car. I'd already had the dubious pleasure of push-starting it at a very busy Kiev junction! Andrii was optimistic and assured me it was a beautiful car and very reliable. I didn't share his optimism and while he worked on the car we purchased food and camping gear for the trip.

We set off early on a Sunday morning all excited and tired after not much sleep. The three girls were on the back seat and Pavlik stashed with the cameras in the luggage hold. We had christened the restored car 'Antelope' after the car in the famous Russian novel The Golden Calf.

The Ukraine is a vast country some three times the size of the British Isles. In a packed and overloaded car it appeared even vaster as bad roads slowed us down. Though we averaged 60 km per hour driving across what was once known as the 'breadbasket of the Soviet Union' only the crops stretching endlessly into the distance gave a true impression of its size.

Our first stopover by a lake established Pavlik as a sort of Mowgli. Within five minutes he'd captured frogs, eels and a few strange insects. His mother, Gala, told me he was a budding naturalist. This, along with his naturist upbringing, guaranteed him a starring role in my film.

The route was crowded with people of all ages sitting at the roadside selling fruit, vegetables, milk, wine and honey. The economic pressures oblige everyone to be inventive in order to survive so we ate fruit and drank good wine all the way. On our first night stopover in a field the agile Pavlik bounded across a cornfield after a rabbit. The rabbit lost.

The following morning was my 50th birthday but we were up at dawn eager to reach our destination. We stopped for a while in a sunflower field for some filming amongst the giant flowers. Next we reached the bridge that links the Crimean peninsula to the mainland and we crossed into the

"Health & Efficiency" October 2000

"Health & Efficiency" October 2000

Crimean Republic. It was midday, we were tired and happy. I was now convinced of the Antelope's reliability - much to Andrii'sjoy. We had a refreshing swim in the Crimean northern canal before heading on for our final destination, Lysya Bukta, for Fox Bay, where naturists have been gathering every summer for many years.

It is not possible in this short article to note every adventure 1 had in this marvellous land. But I intend to write a book to accompany the film of my trip. I can say, though, that this was my first taste of real back to nature naturism in over 30 years of travelling the world. Here in the Crimea there was no organised holiday centre, no 'modern comforts' such as running water and toilets. There was just the sea, the Black Sea, the volcanic mountains, and the constant chant of millions of Cicadas. Water had to be fetched and carried from a natural source an hour's walk into the mountains. The Black Sea became our bathroom with the toilets discreetly hidden behind some rocks. Our meals were cooked on a wooden stove, our tables and chairs were built from flat stones. The crockery, like our bodies, was washed in the Black Sea. Primitive -certainly - but somehow so invigorating after living for so long in the 'civilised' world and the world of 'normal' naturism.

We watched the sun rise behind the Karadak mountain range at the end of the bay and the moon rising over the sea. We climbed the Karadak mountains naked with our National Park guide Yevgeni who didn't bat an eyelid as he explained the landscape and the flora. We visited Sudak castle naked, much to the surprise and delight of quite a few tourists who snapped the smiling ladies in our group. There was no scandal as here body acceptance seems to be the norm wherever you go. This was borne out by our long nude treks from the beach to the nearest shop, or when buying home cooked food from the women and children who themselves trek miles to sell food and wine to the summer gathering of naturists in this part of the world.

We enjoyed mud baths, diving and swimming and clambering down rocks to the caves at Cap Meganome. We visited such well known towns as Yalta and Sebastopol, and we saw Gorbachev's dacha.

Meanwhile, Pavlik and his friends were filmed catching crabs which they cooked in their own stone igloo. We met up with Katia from Moscow whose five children were all born in the sea and all of who were great swimmers. A family of Tartars, not naturist on arriving but who were slowly converted, joined in with the filming once the ice had been broken.

There were moments when a freshwater shower would have felt good, as would a chair and a soft bed. But being deprived of such comforts added to the feeling of being truly at one and in harmony with the natural landscape. It gave me a true sense of belonging, smallness and greatness combined. It was brought home to me that here was the core of all naturism, far from the clubs and federations where we pretend to feel what here can be really felt. I would not have missed it for anything - regardless of the many hardships this odyssey had entailed.

Two weeks of this idyll and my film was completed. On our last day we dived at Semeis for some final underwater shots and then began the long journey back to Kiev. We were happy but a little melancholic as all we had experienced as a group was about to end. But when Andrii spoke about next summer's return to Fox Bay, for longer this time and perhaps including some American or English families who wished to experience this style of naturism, our spirits lifted. I wanted to return as much as Andrii did; so did Pavlik who said it had been his best holiday in his short 10-year life!

Peter H. Dietrich

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