There's Something about Mary

Stories and thoughts about my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova


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Drinking in Moldova

In Moldova, drinking is very much a part of their society.  Thoughout training we learned that it is common to have your partners and coworkers offer you shot, in the morning, middle of the day, whenever.  It doesn’t matter if you are at shool or in an office, they are hospitable people and love to share.  A lot of families make their own wine and vodka (the vodka has a name, but I can’t remember it right now), they also love to share and show off what they have made.

My alcohol consumption has gone down since training.  When I was in Ciorescu, I was surrounded by other  Americans and it was very easy, cheap and fun to go to the bar nd have a beer.  Now that I am in my village alone, it is not the same, and I am not one to drink alone.

I have been working for 3 weeks now, and not had any alcohol even offered to me at work, I have heard of other volunteers having some, so I was beginning to think it wasn’t going to happen for me.  Today while I was diligently trying to look busy, my partner came over to me and said it was time for pauza (break).  This is usually my time for a cup to tea, yogurt, a banana, maybe a tomato.  Today was different, there were 2 other ladies joining us, they had brought a roasted chicken and some placenta (delicous) and some olives.  We all sat down, my partner locked the door, and she opened the cabinet and brought out a bottle of vodka and also Cricova champagne.  Now I am not very good at refusing alcohol (something I should probably work on), so I asked for puţin (little).  Somehow I still ended up drinking 2 glasses.

Oddly enough, today was the first day that I actually felt like I did something at work.  Tomorrow my partner is giving a seminar, and I helped her put together the packets for the participants, making the copies, stapling and hole-punching all included.  I kind of felt like I was pack at the hospital puting together Senior Circle stuff for Joey ;). We’ll see what tomorrow is like, (I am planning on bringin my camera, since I have been bad about taking pictures) also this weekend is Moldovan Independance Day!

Until next time 🙂

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Vin

I am getting excited for wine season to show up.  Hopefully I can help my host father make wine.  We have all sorts of grapes at my house.  These ones line the front of my casa mica.

O zi buna


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Sometimes….

Sometimes I am not so smart.  When all of trainees first arrived 2 months ago we were given several things to help keep us safe and healthy.  These things included a Brita water filter, medical kit full of anything that I might need, (The bug cream and ibuprofen have really come in handy), fire extinguisher and a smoke/carbon monoxide detector.  Luckily the smoke detector has not gone off, if it detects carbon monoxide it will speak to you according to our Safety and Security officer.

The thing I did realize, just last week though is that there is a small light on the detector and it blinks every couple of minutes, not really a big deal during the day time, but at night I have found it to be slightly obnoxious.  It also looks a bit like there is lightening in the distance, which is what I thought was the case for my first 2 months in Moldova.  When I was living in Ciorescu, my smoke detector was on top of my dulap de haine (dresser) and out of sight so I forgot about it, but I do remember seeing small flashes and thinking there was a lot of lightening.  And then I moved to Riscani, and I have yet to find a good place to put it, so it sits on a table at the end of my bed, this is how I eventually figured it out. And now telling everyone this makes me feel kind of silly.  Like they say, you learn something new everyday.  This is especially  true for me right now in Moldova.

O zi buna!


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Fried Green Tomatoes

So, work for me has been a bit slow the past two weeks and honestly I have been spending way too much of my time on Facebook or just checking out new websites and blogs.  The blogs are killing me, I love reading food blogs, and I get fun ideas and see great pictures of all sorts of recipes that I want to try.  My parents can vouch, they tried many of my recipes and heard me say more than once, “I found it on a blog, I want to try it.”  During training my blog reading was non-existent, I used my host sisters computer and had other things to look at in the short windows of time I was on her computer.  But, now that I am at site, I can’t stop.

Earlier this week I came across this blog, which got me exploring and onto this blog.  As I was scrolling through her recipes, I saw a picture and a link for Fried Green Tomatoes, and all I could think about was all the lovely tomatoes in my host family’s garden.  I even told my host mom how I wanted to make them “Eu vreau sa fac rosii verzi prajite,” (probably not correct grammar, but I didn’t care).  She told me she understood, and then we didn’t talk about it.  Tonight I had plans to be away from my house during dinner and last minute they changed, but I never told my host mom, she had not planned on making me dinner.  So during the afternoon I thought about what I could make myself on my first cooking experience in Moldova! My brain came back to the tomatoes, I went to the recipe, wrote out the stuff I needed, translated in Romanian of course ;).  And surprisingly, I found every ingredient I was looking for!

When I arrived at home, she was surprised to see me, and I told her that I would prepare my own dinner, and I asked if I could take some green tomatoes from the garden.  I relaxed for a bit then made myself dinner, and my first attempt at fried green tomatoes worked out, my host mom even tried them and said they were “gustos!”

Not quit as pretty as the picture on the blog, but she is a professional, I am still learning.

Noapte Buna!


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Success!

Yesterday when I got to the office, my partner was had not arrived yet, and there was someone already waiting to talk to her, or the other lady in the office who is currently on vacation.  Since I was not sure where she was, I called her, she was at the college, where she also does some teaching.  She told me she would be back in about an hour. I relayed this message to the now 3 people waiting to talk to her.  They left and I just hung out.  When she arrived she told  me that she would be spending the mornings at the college, and afternoons in the office.

Today I arrived around 10:30, let myself in (no problem since I remembered my key), and turned on the computers.  About 5 minutes after I came in a lady came in wanting a copy made, she first asked where my office mates were, but then must have decided that I could help her. I successfully had a short conversation with her and got the copy machine (that all the buttons are in Russian) to do what I wanted it to do! She left and I was feeling good, ten minutes later a guy came in, asking again, where my office mates were.  He also wanted some copies, He asked me where I was from, if I was married, all the usual questions.  I made his copies, and when he went to leave he shook my hand and kissed my cheek.  Twice today I felt like a success!


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My first week in Rîșcani

My host mom was very nice and let me sleep in on Saturday morning, when I woke around 10, she made me breakfast then asked if I wanted to help her in the garden.  Cultural integration is important, so I said yes.  We headed out to the tomatoes and started picking, each time we would fill a bucket, she would go empty it in a crate by the house and come back.  The tomatoes we picked she is preserving for winter.  I asked if she wanted help with that process, but she told me to go relax and rest.

We also picked some green beans for dinner later that night, they are more yellow then green, but still tasty 🙂

I unpacked all my clothes and made my room look frumos (beautiful), I felt very accomplished for the day, I also went for a nice walk around the town, found a different way to get to work, it involved going over a really old and rickety bridge…. fun times.

My new room

Sunday my host mom woke me up around 9 and we drove to the piata (outdoor market) they have everything you could think of, clothes, hardware, bedding, towels, fresh fruit and veggies, etc.  I bought some bananas and a power strip.  Once I got home though, my power strip wouldn’t fit in my outlet without a special adapter, that luckily mama gazda had.  Old Moldovan outlets are slightly smaller then the EU standard ones.

Monday mama gazda and I went to the Orange store together to get me some internet, she had talked with her son-in-law and their first instinct was to get DSL through the phone line, but then I couldn’t use it in my room, so we ended up going with the slightly more expensive Orange stick, which I can use anywhere that has Orange coverage.  I also was lucky and got a good deal on it since the contract was through her name, not mine!  I then went to the office for my first day, not much happened except me surfing the Internet trying to look busy.  The rest of my week at work followed in about the same manner, I have no direct task as to what my partner wants me to do, so really I have not done much.  I did get my own set of keys though, which I forgot the one-day I arrived before my partner ;).

Noapte buna.


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Swearing In (Time for a little catch up)

On Friday, August 5, me and 25 other trainees swore in and officially became volunteers.  The two programs were Community and Organizational Development (COD) and my program, ARBD.  We had completed 8 weeks of training; I think I heard one person say 140 hours of language training in total plus other technical trainings.  We will have 2 more weeks of training at the end of September.  The other 27 volunteers in the English Education and Health Education programs will swear in this coming Wednesday.

Friday was a long day, it began at 8:30, when a private rutiea came and picked up each member of our village from their host family with all their luggage.  I was the second stop; I sadly had accumulated a whole new bag of stuff just in my 2 months of training.  Most of it was paperwork and random things Peace Corps gave to each volunteer (i.e. Medical kit, fire extinguisher, smoke detector and Brita filter).  Our village arrived in Chișinău and got all our luggage unloaded by 9:45, we then had till 11:15 to hang out before the ceremony started.  After the ceremony that lasted about 1 ½ there was a reception with all sorts of wonderful pastries and fruit.  My new host family was there, talked to them a bit and realized they know the director (principal in the US) at the school we had done our training at.  Small world.  We then had a two-hour host family conference where medical, admin and safety talked to our families about some important stuff they needed to know.  After we were done everyone started to leave with his or her respected family.  I heard and saw pictures about other volunteers getting flat tires or other car issues along the way, I was luckily not included in that group.  We stopped in Bălți (the second largest city in Moldova) and picked up some groceries then went to my new home.  We arrived at around 8:30, had a small dinner and then went to bed.

Everyone still getting situated with our new pins

I didn’t manage to take any of my own photos, so whoever I took these from on Facebook, thank you!  Congrats M26 Volunteers!