Hearty breakfast at the hotel (eggs and pancakes).
Today our driver is Dimitri, an engineer who has one of the biggest dealers of Bombardier in Russia (mainly for snowmobiles). His wife Eugenia is joining as a guide. We soon realize that we won’t all fit (with the luggage) in their car. We go back to their place to take their second car. They propose to show us their apartment. Nice opportunity to see a local accommodation. But I doubt it’s a “standard” local apartment; it’s way too roomy!
Nice road to Belaya Gora (White Mountain) Monastery (100 km). This monastery is mentioned in none of our guide books. Located on a hill, the church is quite impressive, with golden bulb domes. From the elevation, we have a 360-degree view over the typical vast forest landscape of the Urals.
Lunch in the monastery cafeteria. We tried the fermented bread drink (kvass) and the purée pizza I was making fun at yesterday… Not great. Kids and Isabelle helped local women to prepare pelmeni.
Short trip to Kungur. Quick stop for a walk around the center, to see the old merchants houses.
Then drive to Maly Turysh, where we will spend the night. It’s the road to Ekaterinburg. Very green. Along the road there are many “stalls” selling mushrooms (on top of the hood of their Lada actually).
We arrive in Maly Turysh around 6:30pm, welcomed by our host family and by Tatiana, our guide-interpreter, a young and nice girl from Ekaterinburg who speaks excellent French.
Why did we decide to come in Maly Turysh, a place not even mentioned on Google Maps?
It’s the place of the nice story of a young entrepreneur (Guzel Sanzhapova) developing the family’s apiary into a business to rescue her dying Ural village, Maly Turysh. It is a very little village. There were 50 houses in the Soviet period; right now there are only 16. The population of Maly Turysh is well under a hundred citizens, and there have been no new work opportunities for years. It is a typical scenario for Russia (and elsewhere) when villages die because of urbanization. Old people of these villages do have a pension but it is too small. They can buy only the necessary things to survive.
Guzel saw the employment problem in the village and decided to solve it. The company (Cocco Bello) hires mostly old people. Their website is www.cocco-bello.com. Cocco Bello makes whipped honey with berries and nuts and honey mousse with berries and spices. The berries and nuts are gathered by local residents, most of them elderly women.
She relies on online crowdfunding to support her entrepreneurial ideas (to purchase the required equipment, e.g.). In each crowdfunding appeal, Guzel made a point of explaining how many new jobs will be created for villagers, and how local natural resources will be used in the production process. It was surely the reason for success.
All in all, Guzel and her family revive the village of Maly Turysh. Their actions prevent typical villages’ fate.
She even recently started to develop eco-tourism there. We were the second family to enjoy the great place they’ve just built to accommodate visitors (on top of their “factory”).
Tatiana joined Isabelle and I for a short walk around the village before dinner. Villages usually have a church, a school and a shop. Maly Turysh has none of them…
After a great dinner shared with Ravil (Guzel’s father) and his daughter (chicken and pasta), they prepared their banya for us. The banya is a Russian type of sauna, a kind of steam bath. The steam and high heat make the bathers perspire. Their banya, as often, is a small wooden “house” in their garden. We all loved our first experience with a Russian banya (especially Jules I think)! We are looking forward to the next one… And we felt so relaxed afterwards.
No alarm clock this morning. Nice breakfast with thin pancakes prepared by Tatiana. We were spoiled for choice for the toppings: 8 different kinds of honey and nice fresh jam of wild strawberries. We also got a huge watermelon.
Visit of the factory. Ravil explained to us the different steps of the production, while babouchkas were preparing lollipops with berries and herbs, which we could taste. Delicious!
Walk in the fields around the village in search of wild strawberries (not much luck), the well and the river.
For lunch, we had the shchi (cabbage soup).
Then we went with Ravil to see his beehives. He opened some of them and we could observe (and learn) the bees’ work very closely. A nice experience. Unfortunately Isabelle got stung by a bee near the eye.
We leave Maly Turysh with regret. We are very happy about this experience. It’s great to have the opportunity to interact with locals so closely. They pampered us so much! Tatania greatly helped us to understand their daily life. She could translate all the questions and answers during these 24 hours.
We have been impressed by the hospitality of Ravil’s family and inspired by the impact of their social business into the village’s life. The surprising comfort of our accommodation (a fully furnished apartment, with kitchen) also played a role in the success of our stay in Maly Turysh. I hope their initiative will meet a (well-deserved) success.
I’d like to thank ExploRussia to have proposed such a sustainable experience, which perfectly matches the intent of our trip, and to have organized it so well. Our kids certainly learnt much during this short stay. I encourage Olga and her team to find more of similar experiences to propose to travelers. ExploRussia: www.explorussia.com.
We left (with Tatiana) to Yekaterinburg by car around 6pm. We arrived in our hotel in Yekaterinburg at 9:30pm. We are in Asia! A quick burger and quickly to bed.