There's Something about Mary

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

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Vacation Pt 3

On our second day in Istanbul, my friends and I started the day off at Topaki Palace.  Topaki was the home of Sultans for about 400 years during the time of the Ottoman Empire.  It is right on the water and was huge.  You could also tell it was summer time because it was full of tourist groups.  We spent our morning there walking around and seeing the different exhibits and then exited to find some lunch.  After lunch we decided to make our way over to the Asian side of Istanbul to see what it had to offer and also to try out a restaurant that Theron’s mom had recommended.  And after our delicious dinner we made our way back to the Asian side and back to the hostel.  When we weren’t sure what to do for the evening, Theron suggested a tea place he read about, so we spent the evening there, drinking tea and chatting.

Our last day together was Sunday, and our original plan was to get a Turkish bath and then check out the Grand Bazaar, but we made a mistake and didn’t realize that the Grand Bazaar is not open on Sundays, so we got our Turkish bath (highly recommended!) and then decided to explore the “new” side of Istanbul.  We had dinner at the hostel restaurant and talked about our favorite moments from our trip and also laughed about the Turkish bath, I also made two new friends who sat down next to us, one was a teacher from the US and the other was a Brazilian guy who was traveling the world.  They both had planned to watch the final game of the Euro Cup (Spain vs. Italy) but 30 minutes before it was scheduled to start the power went out in the hostel.  So they rushed off to find some place else.  Theron and I also wanted to watch, so we took off to find a bar to watch the game, and we found our new friends in the middle of a road, we then all went to a bar to watch the game.

The next day my travel companions left, so I took my morning slow, enjoyed some breakfast and decided to try the Grand Bazaar for myself.  It was intimidating, every seller tried to get my attention and wanted me to buy their products, and I also felt like I was in a bit of a maze.  So I spent an hour or two then found an exit.  Later in the afternoon while I was back at the hostel checking something on the computer I met another new friend who happened to be an RPCV in Guatemala.  We took a nice walk, compared services and took some pictures.  After we got back to the hostel, my new friend decided to take a short nap and I had dinner with the two I had met the night before.  It was a great last night in Istanbul.

In the morning I flew from Istanbul to Bucharest, and since I had some time before my train left, I decided to have a relaxing last day of vacation and I went to a movie in English.

It was an awesome vacation!.

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Rich in Heart

A Moldovan man that I met earlier today was asking me how I liked Moldova, a very common question, so I have an answer I use often.  I like it very much, and the people are great (and I am being serious when I answer).  He then told me that “Moldovans are not rich with money, but they are rich in heart.”  I thought that was a very correct assumption, even though most Moldovans don’t have a lot of money they are some of the most hospitable people you will meet.

O zi buna!

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Interesting Conversations

Last week I shared my casa mica with 2 Moldovan men who live in Chisinau but for the week were working in Riscani.  I think I have mentioned before that my host mom is working on starting an agrotourism busines, and last summer my host family remodeled the casa mica to be a penisune (similar to a bed and breakfast).  In the past I have had 2 girls from Germany stay with me for almost 2 months, a group of guys who worked for the Ministry of Finance in Chisinau for a week, an older couple from a different area of Moldova for 2 months and a group of Ukranian teachers for 1 night.
The 2 men who stayed with me last week work for a German company and their task is to travel around Moldova, also Romania and find the remains of German soldiers from World War II.  The one guy that I was talking to told me about how after they find the remains, they take them to a cemetary in the capital, or if the family wants them returned, then the family pays to have the remains returned to Germany.  From what I could understand, most of the time, the remains were buried in a make-shift cemetary that was not very marked, so now they are being built over.  We also talked a lot about the difference in businesses and how people work and think between Moldovans and Americans.  I thought it was all very interesting to find out his perspective.