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.