"What are we waiting for? Let's make children already!"

What happens when, on the third day of knowing each other, the groom brings the bride to a remote village, and a week later, the couple gets married.
It has been many years since the Kravtsov family started living in an empty village with only one street. There are four of them here: Kirill, his wife Irene, and two kids: four-year-old Yaronim and baby Yan.

It has been many years since the Kravtsov family started living in an empty village with only one street. There are four of them here: Kirill, his wife Irene, and two kids: four-year-old Yaronim and baby Yan.

Kirill is 39 years old, once he was a successful photographer in Gomel, opened a studio in the city center, and had a profitable business. However, soon all of that couldn't bring him joy anymore, and the photographer's life changed dramatically. In 2010, Kirill went on a big trip across two American continents. He had to hitchhike and spend the nights at the locals' homes. This experience changed his perception of the world drastically.

– At one point, life in the city started to seem boring to me. I realized that six months into traveling somewhere in Central America. Back then, every day had something new for me, every day – a brain explosion. When I returned home, I could no longer continue living at the same pace as I used to before. I needed a change.
– I had lived in the city for 30 years and didn't know anything about living in the village. I knew nothing about how to live on your own land and what it means to live in your own house, not an apartment, I had no clue.
There is a lot of water around Kastrychnik – a total of five lakes, a huge meadow, which, according to the locals, changes its colors every week, and there is also an endless pine forest nearby. There are small sandy paths with protruding tree roots running through the forest.

– We have this piece of land here. The nearest village is around two kilometers away. These 10 square kilometers are my comfort zone. Here you live as if on an island, I find it quite romantic, – Kirill explains.
There are only six residential buildings in the village, but only two are lived in permanently. I ask Kirill how he gets from civilization to his farm.

– When I just moved here, I didn't have a car, so I walked around for four years, hitchhiked when I had to go somewhere far. Every time I asked somebody to give me a ride to Kastrychnik, we would always get stuck. So we pulled out the bumpers and bent the rapids, trying to get the transport back on track. There was always some kind of adventure. Then I bought myself my first car, the Golf (Volkswagen Golf), and I got stuck all the time. But it's rather light, so if you were driving together with someone, you could always push it out.
Kirill laughs to himself and goes on to explain:
- This is why many city people with money buy huge jeeps – to take them out for a ride once a month, get into the mud and get thrills out of it. For me, it's an everyday occasion, of course, a less thrilling one as well.
It rarely happens that I go somewhere and get there without any incidents, don't get stuck somewhere, or don't have to dig my car out for half a day. When there is no water, you can go to the neighboring village to borrow a tractor. But during a lake flood, you can rely only on yourself. One winter, we got covered with snow and couldn't leave for two days.
- I can get to the city within an hour or an hour and a half. Although sometimes it can take up to 12 hours, that only happens during spring, autumn, or very bad weather when the roads are washed out.
The house where the Kravtsov family lives is a typical Paliessie hut, which the new owner transformed: installed new windows, renovated the stove, and updated the interior. In fact, this is one large living room, with a bedroom with a bed in the far corner, a stove in the middle, a shower behind it, and a minimalistic kitchen behind the shower, on the whole, sheer eclecticism. The toilet is outside – it is a pretty small house with a hole in the floor, painted with national patterns.

While we are talking with Kirill, the hostess, Irene, enters the house. She is 33 years old, a native of Minsk, and has been living in Kastrychnik since 2012.
Свадьба. Фото из архива героев
– I could never imagine that I would actually move to the village, – says Irene. – I thought I'd go for a month for a change of scenery. By that time, we had known each other for two days. On the first day, when Kirill told me about the village, I thought: "Mmm... Cool, I can stay in the village for a while." And on the second day, when he told me his story, I thought, "Mmm, he's a cool dude." (laughs)

On the third day of us knowing each other, we went to visit my mother. We weren't in a relationship or anything even close to it back at that time. Then Kirill said to my mom, "The soon-to-wed have arrived!". I laughed, but as it turned out – we were, indeed, soon to wed. We got married a week later.
When we arrived at Kastrychnik Kirill turned to me and said:
"What are we waiting for? Let's make children already!"
And so we did.

Before moving to the farm, Kirill had his own photo agency, and after settling in the village, he took up pottery. Now the host makes pottery and sells it at fairs. I asked him if he regretted leaving a profitable business.

- I gave up photography for several reasons. Firstly, there was no one to photograph on the farm, only nature, and I did take pictures of it, but for myself. Secondly, while it was possible to continue doing photography, I found many other interesting activities around. For example, I had to build a house all on my own.
I was surprised to find out that construction was sewn into me like an instinct. I really liked building the house and all the related activities.
There are no shops in Kastrychnik, and a shop car doesn't come here either, so the Kravtsovs have to go to the city every two weeks to stock up on food.
- At first, the authorities didn't quite understand who we were and what we were doing here.
The locals called us sect members because they had a stereotype that only sect members would move from town to village.
At the same time, all those born in the village dream of moving to a city as there are more opportunities for them there. What makes us even stranger to the locals is that we don't drink alcohol, we don't eat meat, and we don't own a TV set. And the fact that we live on the outskirts makes it pretty hard for the village council to find out anything about us. But now that seven years have passed, and we keep in touch with authorities, there are fewer problems.
The eldest son Yaronim is already four years old. Except for his one-year-old brother, there are no other children in the village. Irene agrees that they might lack socialization.

- Yes, indeed - Yaronim already wants to meet and communicate with other children. But we often visit families with children. Just like in the city, where people come over to each other's homes, the same is true for the villages – people take great pleasure in inviting and visiting each other.
While we were busy talking, people had already started knocking on the front door. These are the guests of a friendly local festival, and it is time for them to return to the city. There is only one way to take: through the big water through the overflooded lake.
Kirill moors a large aluminum boat to the shore. Guests load their belongings into it, and we sail away. The sunsets into the lake as we sail in the golden light past the trees sticking out of the water in order to reach the mainland in an hour. We say goodbye, and Kirill turns the boat and sails off to his island.
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