There's Something about Mary

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


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Afara este frig!

This past week it has gotten very cold in Moldova.  We had a few days of snow, not anything to get excited about, at most it was 2 inches.  But now it is just cold.  The highs have not been over 20 degrees, and there is also a nice wind to go along with it.  On the bright side though, my host mom is keeping my house nice and warm, so as long as I am indoors everything is fine.

Here are a few pictures of our snowy garden, and the family dog Gosha, sadly, he has to stay outside 😦

 

 


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Orthodox Christmas and the sauna

In December after I got back from my trip to Belgium I stayed the night with my host family from training.  They invited me back for my host moms birthday on January 6, which is the day before the Russian Orthodox Christmas.  And since I had spent “American”(this is how most of the PC volunteers in Moldova label it) Christmas with my host family in Riscani, I decided to spend the Orthodox Christmas with my host family in Ciorescu.

I headed down on Friday afternoon and when I arrived I was surprised that there was not a huge meal being prepared.  Instead it was rather small and my host family’s good friends came over for dinner also.  They kept talking about the sauna that they were going to on Sunday, I was invited and changed my plans around so that I could attend. It took me a while, but I realized the birthday celebration was being put on hold for a few days.

 

The next morning was the Orthodox Christmas, my host moms brother and his family were there.  We had some mammaliga (very traditional Moldovan dish made from corn meal and served with meat, cheese and sour cream) and toasted to Christmas with champagne.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing until around 6 when we went to different house and celebrated with more family.

 

On Sunday morning I got up and started helping my host mom prepare the masa (meal) for her birthday celebration.  At around 1:30 they started loading all the food and drinks into the car, and my host sister left to set everything up.  Right before 3 we all left for the sauna, in total there were about 15 people, including one other volunteer who lived in Ciorescu over the summer.  The sauna was complete with a pool table, dining room area, shower and small pool filled with very cold water.  My family had rented the sauna for 5 hours, and people switched back and fourth between being in the sauna and eating and drinking.   In February I was invited back to Ciorescu to celebrate a birthday and visit another sauna in town.

O zi buna!


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Christmas and New Years in Moldova

Christmas was almost 2 weeks ago, and it was the first time in 24 years that I was not with my family.  And I have heard several other volunteers say this too, but it didn’t even really feel like Christmas.  Part of it for me was the absence of snow, the Christmas cookies that I always prepare too many of, but mostly it was the absence of my family.  I did have a fun filled 3 days though, which helped distract me from the fact that I was away from the people I love most.

My Christmas celebration began on Friday, December 23rd.  The volunteers were invited to the Ambassadors house for a holiday reception, there was a table full of food, beer, wine and my personal favorite, Dr Pepper.  The Ambassadors house was decorated beautifully for the season, including a large Christmas tree.

        

The next day I traveled to Balți with 3 other volunteers to celebrate another volunteers birthday.  We started off dropping our bags off at the local store that keeps lockers out front to store your stuff when you are shopping, and afterwards we stopped for lunch and made our way through town, stopping at several bars for drinks.  When I realized that I was not going to make it back to my bus on time, we stopped at one more place and then made our way back to Liz’s village where her host mom had food waiting for us.

Sunday, Christmas morning, I got up at 7 AM to make one of the first buses back to my site.  When I realized that it was around 9 PM in Washington, I called my dads cell phone to wish my family a Merry Christmas.  When  I got back to Riscani, I took a short nap then got ready for the huge meal that I was knew was coming.  Most people in Moldova celebrate the Orthodox Christmas on January 7.  But December 25 is also my host dads birthday.  (He turned 75).  At 4 o’clock the masa (meal) started, several hours, and many shots later people started to make their way home.  I went with my host mom and her 2 daughters to the Catholic church that is down the street from my house, (turns out they are Catholic).  There was no service, but it was just built, so it was the first time they had seen inside.  After I went home and slept well from all the wine and food.

       


Monday, I took the day to relax and later Skyped with my family who was celebrating Chrismas at my sisters house.

On Thursday I traveled to Iași, Romania to see a friend from college who is an education volunteer in the country and was traveling around the country for her vacation.  We didn’t take any pictures in Iași, but we did get lost several times.  And the next day we took a bus to Moldova so she could see my host country.  We were originally going to go to Riscani, but the timing for the buses didn’t work out, so instead we stayed in the capital and celebrated there.  On New Years Eve we spent most of the day just walking around the city and that night we met up with another volunteer and listened to the concert by the park until midnight.

          

Overall it was a very enjoyable time.  Hope everyone had a safe and happy New Years!