There's Something about Mary

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


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Chateau Vartely

Back in September my parents came to visit me in Moldova.   Along with visting my host families and seeing where I live and work, we visited 2 wineries.  The first was Cricova, one of the largest wine cellars in the world, and the second was Chateau Vartely.  Chateau Vartely is about an hour north of Chisinau in a town called Orhei.  I had seen signs for it, and heard wonderful things about their tastings.  So on our last morning in Moldova my host parents offered to drive us to Orhei since they were driving past the town for their work day.  We got out at the sign and started walking.  We realized later that it wasn’t the most effective way to walk and after 2 hours we finally made it to the winery.  They gave us a great tour right away and then we tasted 6 of their wines.  And one of the best parts about the tasting is that you get to keep the bottle after it is opened for your tasting.  So we had 6 bottles that we walked away with.  After our wine tasting we had lunch in their restaurant and drank 2 of the white wines we had just tried.  We then made our way to the bus station so we could catch a ride to Chisinau and then catch our train to Bucharest.  I highly recommend Chateau Vartely, their wine is delicious and the service great too

O zi buna!


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Where have I been?

So, it’s been a while since I updated and posted a blog.  I’ll admit it, I have been slacking a bit. Here is an awesome Rihanna video, where she asks “Where Have you Been?” 

I have been in Moldova.  First I spent New Years Eve in Chisinau with a group of volunteers and then the first week of January I took a nice vacation from my site and traveled down south to a town called Cahul to visit another volunteer.  Cahul is the 3rd largest city in Moldova, and looks a lot like the other towns.  It was nice to be able to see it though.  My next stop after Cahul was Ciorescu for my host moms birthday and Orthodox Christmas.  The other volunteer that they hosted this last summer came for the occasion too.  We all went to the sauna, like last year, and then on January 7th (Orthodox/Old Christmas) we got up and had lunch with the family.  For about the next 12 hours we didn’t leave the table, we all just sat around, talked, drank and ate.

When I got back to Riscani on January 8th, I set a goal for myself to stay at my site for the rest of the month, for a couple of reasons 1) to save money, and 2) to study for the GRE that I registered to take in February.  I was successful in completing my goal, and last weekend left my site for the first time since the 8th because I had meeting, COS (Close of Service) draft selection and I wanted to watch the Super Bowl with my friends.

So for the month of January I did a lot of studying, and it wasn’t much fun.  It has been about 4 years since I was in college and getting back into studying was hard, but now I am happy to say that the GRE is over!  I took it Saturday and I will see in a few weeks how I did.

Other exciting news was that I got my COS date last weekend.  COS or Close of Service is your last day as a volunteer.  Only 5 volunteers are able to leave on 1 day so we had a drawing to see who got which day.  I got Tuesday, July 9th, the first day!!

Here is a photo of some of the M26’s after we got our COS dates:

531851_4515972582140_653172718_nO zi buna!

 


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Christmas of the North

Merry belated Christmas to all my friends and family back home!

This year, like last, I spent my Christmas in Moldova.  A couple of other volunteers who live about 40 minutes away in the 2nd largest city in Moldova hosted.  They call their apartment “The Lodge” which is a very fitting name, there are some deer antlers when you walk in, as well as a lot of dark wood and wall paper.  It is also a great place for hosting people, and even has 2 ovens!

I decided to come down on Christmas Eve.  The day before I spent my evening making red velvet whoopie pies to share with everyone, and then when I got to Balti I was asked to also make some molasses cookies for a pie crust, chocolate chip cookies and also cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning breakfast.  So I got started baking right away.  We drank some mulled wine, apple cider and ate some salami and cheese.  And around 7:30 a few of us left to go to the catholic church for Christmas Mass.  It was mostly in Russian so I didn’t understand much.  After church we stopped and went sledding down the big hill in town and then made our way back to my friends place.

On Christmas morning we got up had some mimosas, cinnamon rolls and an egg and sausage casserole.  It was all delicious.  Later in the afternoon we did a Yankee swap gift exchange.  There wasn’t a lot of stealing of gifts, but I ended up with 3 boxes of Jello pudding…yum!  For dinner we had pulled pork sandwiches, scalloped potatoes, baked beans and coleslaw.  Throughout the day all the volunteers would disappear at one point or another to go Skype with their families.

It was a great day spent with some great people, and next year I get to be home in Washington for Christmas!!

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O zi buna!


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Thanksgiving

Last year my Thanksgiving was spent in Chisinau with about 80 other volunteers.  I was on a cooking team and we prepared all the mashed potatoes and stuffing for everyone.  Due to some budget cuts earlier this year the space we had previously used was not available and the country-wide Thanksgiving that a group in Peace Corps Moldova put on was not able to happen.  Instead volunteers put on regional events.

I was invited to the one in Balti (a city about 40 minutes from where I live).  I offered to help cook, and went down Friday afternoon (we celebrated on Saturday so teaching volunteers could come) to start prepping things.  We started off taking a trip to the grocery store to buy supplies then we started baking.  We made several desserts and finally went to bed around 4 AM.  The next morning more volunteers started to arrive and we got up and began more cooking.  Most all the classic foods from Thanksgiving were present including turkey (very fresh, killed and plucked 2 days prior), stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and pecan pie.  Other foods included corn casserole, sausage balls, mac and cheese, stewed tomatoes and deviled eggs.  In total there was about 25 people at the Thanksgiving dinner, and we had plenty of food leftover for the next day.

The next day I went back to Riscani to celebrate my host mom’s birthday.   Per usual their was lots of delicious food and drinks.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Last year I wrote about different ways I have celebrated Thanksgiving in the past, so this year I thought why not tell everyone what I am thankful for.

  • First off, I am thankful for my parents.  My parents are incredible supportive and are always there to help me when I need them.  They even came to visit me and see how I live everyday.  It was awesome to share that with them.
  • My sister, even though while growing up we didn’t get along super well, she is always there when I need someone to talk to and I am blessed to have her in my life.
  • My friends, I have a great group of friends that always know how to cheer me up if I am having a bad day and even though we all lead busy lives we still find time to connect even though we are 10 hours apart.
  • Skype….It has made this experience much easier.  I can only image it would have been much more difficult serving in the Peace Corps when internet was not as readily available.
  • Other Peace Corps volunteers.  There is an awesome group of people in Moldova, they are very welcoming and I have made some amazing friendships to take back with me.
  • The great Moldovans I have met, including both my host families. I have gotten to know some great people in Moldova, that even with the little they have always make sure I am taken care of.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.  Eat some delicious food.  I am so excited for next year to be home and have my Dad’s stuffing….I miss it 🙂