zebras, bison, and peacocks, oh my

So, I should be in bed, so that I can wake up at 5 a.m. and potentially go hot air ballooning, but more about that in a moment.

We spent a large part of today at Askania Nova, a large nature preserve about a two hours' drive west of Kherson. The giant biosphere is in Kherson oblast (state) and is situated in the dry Tavriya steppe. The park is beautifully preserved with lush green grasses for the larger animals to graze on, and a beautiful arboretum and largely open zoo for the many species of birds to flock around. There were hundreds of peacocks, a small flock of zebras, a herd of American bison, African antelopes and many other fascinating creatures roaming as though you were on safari. Pictures will come late Friday, as tomorrow is our last day at work in Kherson.

In the morning, the US partners and my Ukrainian colleague are planning on flying in hot air balloons just outside Kherson. I've agreed to join them at least to watch and (if I'm feeling brave enough and don't see the balloon pilots taking side swigs of vodka) go up myself. Mostly, however, I didn't want to sleep in as tomorrow night we'll be taking another overnight train back to Kyiv and I'd really like to be able to sleep most of the way there. Though hopefully Nyquil will also help with that.

Pictures and more to come over the weekend.

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