SOCIAL STORY

LIMANCHIK PUTYEVKA

For years an affiliation with the university was the only way to get access to Limanchik. During certain summer weeks only students could get a Limanchik putyevka, a voucher for food and lodging. Other weeks were reserved for faculty, or for staff member s with small children. Still others were set aside for academic purposes–an English-language immersion course, for example.

Toward the end of the summer there were mixed weeks when anyone connected to the university could get a putyevka, first come, firs t served. Economic and political reform have changed the system a little bit. The university has to demand more money. The tariff this summer is 192,000 rubles for a two-week stay, which works out to about $7.07 a day. As a result of such exorbitant expense there are usually some vacancies nowadays at Limanchik.

One can also choose to experience Limanchik as a dikar: the term is derived from the Russian adjective for « wild » or « savage. » The dikari first made their appearance in the wooded hillsides above the resort–and at other resorts–in the 1980s, when discipline was falling apart in every sector of Soviet life.

THE LEVEL PIECE OF GROUND

In Limanchik many of them were graduates of the university who had grown accustomed to vacationing there as students and saw no reason to stop just because alumni had no standing to receive a putyevka. Deep within the soul of every regimented Soviet citizen lived a repressed anarchist, and the dikari let the anarchist out briefly every summer.

A dikar pitches his tent anywhere he can find a level piece of ground. The best sites in the woods, called « pockets, » have room for three or four tents and a common area for a makeshift table and fireplace. Over the years the pockets have been named by t heir regular users, and are called things like Athens and Serpentarium and Reservation. From their pockets the dikari stroll through the resort to the beach, stopping on the way to fill their plastic jugs with drinking water.

Periodically in the past, the Limanchik management did what it could to thwart the dikari. It erected a wrought-iron fence around the property; the dikari sawed through the rods. It sent the militsia up the hillside to destroy the tents; the dikari melted away into the hillside like guerrillas and returned at night to put up new tents. Finally the management gave up, and the dikari are now a grudgingly accepted part of the Limanchik scene.

THE BLACK SEA OFF LIMANCHIK

For everyone in Limanchik, daytime life revolves around the beach and the sea. Putyevka people tend to use the proper beach, where swimsuits are standard. Dikari hike down the beach half a mile, around a corner formed by the protruding edge of the cornic he, to an area they have named Diana, where swimsuits are optional. Nude bathing may be commonplace in Western Europe, but the Soviet Union was a straitlaced society, and there are political connotations to schlepping to Diana and getting naked.

At least looks clean, and both putyevka people and dikari love to frolic in it. In midafternoon the dikari will often swim out and dive for mussels, which they bring back to shore and roast over an open driftwood fire–a lunch they wash down with a potent punch made of vodka and fruit juice. Then they lie on the rocks and take the sun, chatting about whose institute has gotten a contract to do some work for a Western company and earn some dollars, who is sleeping with whom, an d who will be hosting the evening’s entertainments.

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