If there’s something Ukrainians born in the U.S.S.R. pride themselves on more than their mosaics, it’s their cosmonauts. So I wasn’t so shocked during a visit to Konstantinovka to find the sides of bloc apartments along aptly named Cosmonaut Blvd. adorned with mosaic images of Soviet cosmonauts, including the renowned Yury Gagarin – the first human in space.
The buildings, built sometime during the 1960s, have seen better days. Many of the tiles surrounding the mosaic images have fallen off, leaving the building with a sort of scarred look. But the mosaics themselves remain mostly intact, if a bit faded.
After nearly two years here, I’m afraid a lot of the novelty I felt upon my arrival has worn off. Few things surprise me anymore. I’ve slipped into a life of routine similar to the life I had back in Portland. I think this would happen if you stayed anywhere long enough. But when I come across things like these images, remnants of a strange past – in this case, a Soviet past – that sleeping part of my mind that was once awed by everything around him is awakened.
“I live in the former Soviet Union,” I thought to myself when I saw the mosaics. “Wild.”