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.
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!