Kiev Commonwealth of Naturists

"Naturally"   # 37 (Winter 2000/01)

CRIMEAN ODYSSEY 2000

by Peter H. Dietrich

The Crimean Republic is a large peninsula in the far south of Ukraine, and it was restored as an independent state within Ukraine in February 1991. It has a population of over 2.5 million, and large numbers of Crimean Tartars have returned since independence from the USSR, so 1 in 12 residents is a member of this nation.
When my friend, Andrii Litovchenko, president of the Kiev Commonwealth of Naturists, suggested a visit to this region, I jumped at the opportunity, knowing that the late Robbert Broekstra had enjoyed his visit so much three years ago. My plan was to continue the film I had begun last summer about Ukrainian naturism, and also to work on a project for a photo album/diary of this "Odyssey." I had seen many videos and photos of Andrii's past trips, and felt pretty inspired by them.

"Naturally"   # 37 (Winter 2000/01)

Our group — Anna, Olga, Gala and her 10-year-old son Pavlik, Andrii and I — was set up in Kiev. Andrii then spent several days and nights in his garage preparing our future means of transport, his 15-year-old Opel estate car, which I already had the dubious pleasure of pushing at a very busy Kiev junction! But Andrii was optimistic and assured me that it was a "beeootiful" car and very reliable. I have to confess, I didn't really share his optimism. We went ahead with our preparations, buying food, camping gear, and all we needed for our trip to come.
We set off early on Sunday morning, excited, and pretty tired after not much sleep. The three girls on the back seat, Pavlik (stashed with camera bags and luggage) in the luggage hold, Andrii and I in the front seats. So we said goodbye to Kiev, and our long trek began in our newly regulated old car now christened "Antelope," after the car in the famous Russian novel The Golden Calf.
Ukraine is a pretty vast country, three times the size of the British Isles, and in a packed and overloaded old car it appeared even more vast as the bad roads slowed us down, although we averaged a good 60 km per hour, which wasn't bad, all things considered. Once known as the "breadbasket" of the Soviet Union, driving across this country you can see why. Vast plains and fields of different crops stretch endlessly as far as you can see, with miles of sunflower plantations like golden fields that are immeasurable.

Our first lunch stopover by a lake quickly established Pavlik as our little "Mowgli," who had within the first five minutes captured frogs, eels, and a few strange insects. His mother Gala explained that he was a keen and budding naturalist; added to his naturist upbringing, he soon became the impromptu star of my new film.
Our route was crowded with roadside vendors selling fruit, vegetables, milk, wine, honey, and anything else they produced; economic pressure obliges everyone to be inventive it order to survive. So we ate the convenient fruit and drank good wine almost all the way to our destination. Our first night stopover, in a field just off the road, was a pretty fun-filled timeout; Pavlik bounded across the cornfield after a poor little rabbit that seemed to have met its match in agility!
The following morning — my 50th birthday — up at dawn, we quickly hit the road again, anxious now to reach our destination. We did stop in one of the vast sunflower fields, however, where I filmed some extraordinary footage. We arrived at the bridge that links the Crimean peninsula to the mainland around midday; and so we crossed over into the Crimean Republic, tired but happy; and by now I was convinced of our "Antelope's" reliability, much to Andrii's joy.

"Naturally"   # 37 (Winter 2000/01)

"Naturally"   # 37 (Winter 2000/01)

A refreshing swim in the Crimean northern canal revived our bodies and spirits, and we pushed on toward the south coast and our final destination, Lysya Bukta (Fox Bay), where naturists have been gathering each summer for many years.
I have to say that this was truly my first taste of real back-to-nature naturism in over 30 years of naturist travel. Here was no organized holiday center, no modem conveniences — like running water and toilets — only the Black Sea, the volcanic mountains, and the constant chant of the millions of cicadas that were the absolute delight of little Pavlik as soon as we left the car.
Water had to be fetched and carried down from a natural source high in the mountains, an hour's walk from our camp. The Black Sea was our bathroom with makeshift toilets discreetly hidden behind some small rocks. Our meals were cooked on a rigged-up wood stove, so wood had to be fetched, cut and collected daily. Our table and chairs were built from flat stones. Crockery was washed in the sea, too, like bodies. It was certainly primitive, but somehow invigorating.
We witnessed sunrise behind the Karadak mountain range, and the full moon rising over the calm sea. We climbed the Karadak nude, with our national park guide.

Yevgeni knowledgeably described the landscape and its flora. At Sudak castle — the very summit — our naked photo and video shoot was witnessed by several tourists who also enjoyed snapping our ladies with smiles. No scandals here, as body acceptance seems to be the norm everywhere you go. I literally followed in Robbert's footsteps, walking along the beach to the nearest village to shop, then back again laden with bags and filled with supplies and a sense of accomplishment. Home-cooked food is brought by women and children who trek miles, each day, to sell their wares and wine to this naked society.
I’ll never forget the mud baths, games, diving, swimming, sunbathing, clambering down rocks into caves at Cap Meganome, visiting the towns of Yalta and Sebastopol, seeing Gorbachev's dacha, watching and filming Pavlik and his little friends catch crabs, and meeting many charming young families from Moscow. A family of Tartars, not naturist when we met, later all joined in with great enthusiasm.
All the many wonderful moments, colors, sounds, experiences, and smiles are captured in the video, available soon from Events Unlimited/Naturally, See us in the raw when a freshwater shower would have felt good, and a soft bed and comfortable chair were but a distant memory. See the hardship become appreciation and harmony with this savage nature that has remained unchanged for millions of years. You get a sense of true belonging, a sense of smallness and greatness all at once, and suddenly understand the essence of naturism itself. I felt like a child again in the heart of the wild.

"Naturally"   # 37 (Winter 2000/01)

Our last day, after two weeks, was at Semeis for some underwater diving and final filming above and below water. Then we began our long trek back to Kiev, filled with joy, and a little melancholy as all we had experienced as a group began to sink in. And when Andrii spoke about returning next summer, for a longer time, and maybe including some American or English families who would like to try this kind of naturism, I knew that I wanted to be included again ... Pavlik, too, who told us it had been the best holiday he ever had in his long (10-year-old) life!
Plans are now underway for next summer's odyssey, returning to the Crimean Republic, the rocky land of sun and sea, adventure and beauty, and a naturalist paradise for naturists.

Anyone interested in joining this summer's Crimean trip may contact the autor c/o this magazine, or write to: Andrii Litovchenko, PO Box 74, Kiev 213, Ukraine. - e-mail: kcn@i.kiev.ua 

Peter H. Dietrich

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