Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Beauty = Blisters on the Ankles

It's been almost 10 months now that I've been in Moldova; April 10th will mark the date officially.
Before joining the Peace Corps, I had what I think of as very stereotypical visions of what I would be doing in my mind. I imagined I would be living in a grass hut somewhere sleeping on a dirt floor and walking 3 miles to the nearest well to bucket bathe everyday. Wow was that incorrect.
In talking to other volunteers in that are here in Moldova and even to my sitemates here in Edinet, I have learned that I have life pretty easy in comparison with others. I live in one of the nicer houses in my town. Also, I live in a town, straight up. I really admire my fellow volunteers who live in villages and have adapted to that lifestyle more easily than I think I could have. They really do have to go to the well to fetch water in order to take bucket baths. Whereas myself, I never have to worry about that because I know that my house will always have warm running water. My bedroom is nicer than the room I had in my little apartment back in America. One of my biggest worries is that I'm not allowed to go #2 in the inside bathroom, so I have to go outside to the outhouse. (I guess that's not really a worry, but more of an annoyance.)
I'm in the middle of a book Dear Exile: The True Story of Two Friends Separated (For a Year) By an Ocean , in which is written a series of letters from one girl in the Peace Corps to her friend in New York. Some of her stories are just incredible. This is another girl I admire.
I was talking to one of my good friends who is a volunteer in the next village over. She said she was talking to her mom back home in America and was describing our host families. She said my mom is "posh" (in a good way!) and that I dress nicer here than I did back home. Holy man that is so true. I didn't really realize it until she said it. Moldova has really changed me in regards to appearance. At home, I would more often than not leave the house wearing sweatpants and no make-up. Oh man if I even try to leave the house like that here! At first, I didn't care much, but now there's no way I would want to. Even if I'm running out to meet my sitemates for a drink or running to the piata on a Saturday afternoon, I put on some make-up and my dangly earrings. In America where I was strictly a flat shoe girl, not anymore! I was on a mission last weekend searching every store in my town for a pair of black high heels. (Didn't find any except for a pair that was 700 Lei = $65ish, too expensive indeed!!) (While writing this, I am suffering from blisters on both ankles from a new pair of purple heels. All for beauty, yes?) It's interesting because in the schools, most of the students dress nicer than the teachers! So it's my everyday mission to be stylish and fashionable, yet respectable looking like a teacher. (Teachers find it necessary to comment on my clothes everyday, and I have been told I look more "European." That's good, yes?) Moldovans really put a big effort on looking good and being "frumos." Frumos is a word all volunteers have become familiar with. Literally it translates to beautiful, although it can be used in any situation. (I have found myself uttering it when talking to mom on the phone in America, and then attempting to explain.)
Everyone in Moldova is married. There are so many good looking guys, and they are all married! I met a family the other day who had a very attractive son. I was digging him, so I casually asked how old he was. 22. Nice! Having just turned 23 myself this was a good answer. Then I was told that he doesn't live at home but lives in an apartment nearby with his wife whom he married when he was 19. Bummer. This turns out to be the situation quite often. Bummer again.
People constantly ask me, "Do you like Moldova?" I always reply that Moldova is interesting. And that's the truth. I don't like Moldova, but I don't not like Moldova. I don't want to find a barbat (man) and live here for the rest of my life, as many have suggested I do so, but at the same time, I don't want to go home tomorrow. Life here really shows me how easy I had it in the States. Moldovans are tough, maybe because they've had tough lives, or maybe that's just the way they are. Either way, I do know that I wanna be rocking it like the 70 year old babas (old ladies) that live here. They are super strong and amazing. My 67 year old neighbor has been raising her granddaughter single handed since the girl was 8 months old, and now she's 11. She takes the cow to pasture everyday and brings us milk every night. She rocks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jogging in the Sunflower Field

For those of you who know me, I'm sure you were skeptical upon reading the title of this post. But yes, I have taken up jogging in Moldova. I jogged several times last fall but then it was snowy, and I stopped. Since the whether is amazing again, I decided today would be a good day to start up once again. I put on some jogging gear, created a mix on my ipod, and set out.

"Sunflower Field Mix" (Original name for the mix, yes, I know)
1. Friends - Band of Skulls
2. I Gotta Feelin - The Black Eyed Peas
3. Be Gentle With Me - The Boy Least Likely To
4. If You Seek Amy - Britney Spears
5. 3 - Britney Spears
6. Bruises - Chairlift
7. Coconut Skins - Damien Rice
8. This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race - Fall Out Boy
9. Mushaboom (Remix) - Feist
10. Sea Lion Woman - Feist
11. Rehab - Cast from tv show Glee
12. B*****s from the Milky Way - Heatbox (awesome song; check it out!!)
13. Don't Stop Believing - Journey
14. Bang! Bang! - The Knux
15. Sabes - Korekt featuring Rafaga
16. Bad Romance - Lady GaGa
17. F**k You - LIly Allen
18. Mama Do - Pixie Lott
19. Another One Bites the Dust - Queen
20. Pot Kettle Black - Tilly & the Wall

Jogging went well. Didn't die, so that's a good sign. Hopefully I'll be motivated enough to jog on Thursday...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Woo Birthday!

Birthdays in Moldova are pretty swell. 
I woke up in the morning on March 12th, rather tired as I had stayed up all night watching movies, and started putting on make up in the bathroom. Host mama comes in and presents me with a cadou (present) and begins the Moldovan speech. Now, some people may say the Moldovan speech is a bit over the top. I agree, but I think it rocks! It goes something like this:
"Iti doresc multi ani inainte, multa fericire, sanatate, rabdare, un barbat adeverat, si o casa plin de copii!"
(Thank you Dan for my birthday speech!)
Translated, this means:
"I wish you many years ahead, much happyness, health, patience, a good man, and  a house full of children!"
This is just a short speech in comparison to the regular Moldovan Speech. 
So Mama gives me my cadou of a necklace and earrings, and I'm off to school. 
My first class of the day discovers it's my birthday, and decides to somewhat behave as I teach a lesson on telling time, followed by a discussion of how cell phones make life easier. 
Next is my 7th form class. Two girls grab me and won't let me go into the classroom for a few minutes, then finally they let me in. This is what I see:
The kids all join in a chorus of "Happy Birthday" while one girl brings me a piece of cake complete with 3 lit candles. I was so excited! We then had a 10 minute photo session in which every girl wanted to take a picture alone with me. 

After school, I joined Roy and Adriana at our favorite bar/hang out, "Arby's." 
(We don't really know what the real name of this place is, but the lady who owns and runs it is Russain and speaks only Russian, so we originally called it the "Russian Bar." That was eventually shortened to the "RB," then Roy changed it to "Arby's.")
We hung out there for a while when Roy had to leave but Amanda joined! We then moved to Vlados, a restaurant nearby. We stayed there for an hour, then moved to another favorite place, the Greek Restaurant. This restaurant is owned by a Moldovan lady and her Greek husband. They are absolutely wonderful people, and their food is amazing! My friend Roma joined us at the Greek Restaurant and we stayed there for a few hours. We were served a delicious jello type cake with cookies in it. My cake had a rose on top!

After the Greek Restaurant, we moved back to Arby's and stayed there for the rest of the night.

The next day, my family and I had a supper where Mama made two of my favorite salads and a special birthday cake. I got several more Moldovan toasts followed by shots of vodka and house wine. 

Not a bad birthday in Moldova!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Love, Wine, and a Lil' Karaoke


Dragobete is a Romanian holiday similar to Valentine's Day. It is celebrated on February 24th. The older kids at my school put on a Dragobete Concert. The show began with a skit preformed by some of the kids in traditional Moldovan dress. After was a competition between several "couples" from grades 11, 10, and 9. The competition was basically which couple was the cutest and most romantic. They had different competitions such as dancing, poetry, and confessions of love. The 11th grade boy above took his "love" on stage and confessed his undieing love for her with 1st grade angels in the back holding candles. 


The Milestii Mici Winery is really a site to be seen when in Moldova. I went last week during Spring Vacation along with 10 other volunteers. We toured the cellar, which holds the Guinness World Record for largest wine cellar in the world. It is 55 kilometers long and holds millions of dollars of bottles of wine. While there we saw the cellar's most expensive wine which was made in 1975 and costs $3,000 a bottle. After the tour, we had a wine tasting in which we sampled 5 different wines, 2 white and 3 red. Then we chose our favorite wine and had unlimited refills while we ate a meal of chicken, potatoes, and salad. It was very tasty. We also received 2 bottles of wine to take home. 


Today is "8 Martie" which literally means the 8th of March. It is National Woman's Day in Moldova, and it is a huge deal. It is similar to Mother's Day in America, however nobody works and there is no school. The men give all the ladies flowers, and everybody calls everybody to wish them happiness and love. When I woke up I had a flower next to my bed from a neighbor girl, and then I also received a bouquet of flowers from my host dad. 
Not only is it 8 Martie, but today is also my host mother's birthday. So it was double the holiday. As I have previously written about birthdays, you know what I am talking about. We were up late last night preparing different types of foods and up early this morning continuing to prepare. Originally the meal was set to start at noon, but then it changed to 1:30/2:00. Because this is Moldova, people didn't show up until about 2:00, so we ate at 3:00. My host mother prepared a fish which is apparently very complicated to make. She cut open the fish, took everything out, cooked the meat in the fish, took out the meat and separated it from the bones, grinded the fish meat with onions and other condiments, put the meat back in the fish, boiled the fish, and then baked it for several hours. As I said, this was a very complicated process, and everyone was really impressed when they saw the fish on our table. 
All in all we had about 25 people over, and as of right now at 11:18 at night, there are still people over drinking their vodka shots and kids running around the house.


Last week was Spring Vacation, and it was super fun. The first three days of vacation, the English Education volunteers had a seminar about Project Development in Chisinau. It was pretty interesting. After that, I stayed in Chisinau at an apartment with several Health Volunteers. We had lots of fun, and it was a good break. 
(That's right, we did karaoke to Backstreet Boys! The Moldovans loved it!)
It was really beautiful and turning into spring with no snow on the ground. Then late last week, it started snowing again. At first it was little flakes, then they turned big and did not melt away. Now, there is once again snow and ice on the ground. 
Ferecita 8 Martie! Multe dragoste si sucess!