Boots blessed by a babushka

felt boots by babushka Tonya in Suzdal RussiaNot far from Moscow, there is a charming country town where you can see traditional Russian wooden architecture, taste the best honey mead in the country, enjoy a true banya experience and meet fascinating local people. In this wonderful town of Suzdal, Intrepid’s Oxana Derzhavina enjoys getting to know a special lady who has left a lasting impression on so many…

“Suzdal is remarkable and memorable for me. I love its traditional wooden houses, visiting the monasteries and churches and eating in little local cafes, but my fondest moments are when our Intrepid groups meet with babushka Tonya. In Russia babushka is what we call senior women and what is unusual about this nonagenarian is that she’s is a very outstanding person! A former scientific researcher, for over 50 years Tonya Makarova has helped local orphanages by making handicrafts, felt boots that we call valenki. They are small ones, just as a souvenir that you can take away with you.

You might think that there is nothing special about doing handicrafts, but the difference and wonderful thing is Tonya prays while she is making felt boots. Many believe that the felt boots that she makes are a miracle, because they cure people somehow!

There are special felt boots that you can buy for yourself and some you can take only as a present. The difference is in the prayers Tonya is uttering while making them. And all the money that she earns, she gives to 6 orphanages to buy basic necessities, such as books and warm clothing. It is so wonderful that all the kids from there love her and maybe that is why God gave her such a long life to help them, to be an worthy example!

When I talked with her I caught myself on the thought that Tonya is a saint. If you meet her and talk to her, she will take your hand for a while and will say something personal to you, give advice or just say kind words to you while holding your hand. The light of happiness will start burning in your heart and you will want to do something for other people, just as babushka Tonya does.

For a very long time she has been devoted to helping people, helping kids to grow kind and becaome worthy people. You will be moved to tears when listening to her, even though you do not understand a word in Russian!

Even now, when I am feeling ill or blue, I take out my felt boots from babushka Tonya, and put them on my fingers and remember her and after a while I start to feel better. Whether it’s a miracle or not, this wonderful women is a reminder of how doing a little can mean a lot to others and it’s an honour to meet the very special babushka Tonya.”

Have you ever meet someone like Tonya who left such a lasting impression?

Photo: Tonya’s felt boots

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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