There's Something about Mary

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


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Close of Service

Today I officially became a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV).  To commemorate closing your service, PCVs in Moldova ring the bell outside the building, and today was finally my turn.  The last 2 years have gone by incredibly fast, but I am excited to see where my life will take me now.  I have met some amazing people, both other PCVs and locals in the community.  The locals will always hold a special place in my heart and as I told my host mom the other day as I was leaving Riscani, she will always be my 2nd mom.  I am a part of their family now, and that means the world to me.

Good luck to all my fellow COSing volunteers and also to the volunteers who are continuing their service.  It has been a pleasure getting to know each and everyone of you and working along side you.

To my family and friends in the US, I am thrilled to be able to catch up with you all again soon.  Next stop Bangkok!

O zi buna!  It has real Moldova!

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Visiting Friends in Romania :)

I got back from my last vacation before COS (Close of Service) about a week ago.  My vacation started in Romania where I visited my friends from college, who are serving as PCVs in Romania.  They came and saw Moldova and where I live last June, so I figured now it was my turn. 😉  I took the night bus from Chisinau to Bucharest and arrived in Bucharest around 6 in the morning, I waited a few hours and then took a train to their site which is about 2 hours away.  There town has a population of 8,000, and even though that is half of what Riscani has, it seemed much more developed.  My friend told me I would know her town by the large cement factory that I would pass on the train.  She was correct.  My friends who excellent hosts, we played Settlers of Catan and ate some delicious home-cooked food.

On the Saturday of my arrival we met up with their Italian friend who lived in the next town over and went to visit Sinaia and Peleș Castle about an hour away.  Peleș Castle is in the Carpathian Mountains and was built in the late 19th century.  We paid for a tour of all 3 levels and I was rather impressed with the interior.  The exterior reminded me of the castle in Beauty and the Beast.  After our tour we walked around Sinaia before catching the bus back to town.  Sunday we had some delicious fajitas and walked around the town.  And on Monday afternoon I caught a bus back to Bucharest so I could catch a night train to Serbia.  (which I found out doesn’t actually exist anymore, that is another story).

To check out more photos, look on Facebook.  O zi buna!


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Making Sarmale

Back in September before my parents were coming to visit I helped my host mom in Ciorescu prepare sarmale.  Sarmale is a tradional Moldovan dish of rice, vegetables and sometimes meat, wrapped in either cabbage or grape leaves.  They are very popular throughout central and eastern Europe, and like many other Moldovan dishes, every family has their own recipe.  I did find out that they are harder to wrap then they look, and I was much slower at it than my host mom.

Also, here is a link to a recipe for sarmale from one of my favorite food blogs: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/02/alexs-moms-stuffed-cabbage/

O zi buna!


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My Best Friend in the Winter

One question that I get asked a lot by people in the US, is how I stay warm in Moldova.  To answer the question of how I stay warm I always answer “my soba” and then I get blank stares or silence because not many people know what a soba is.  It is a stove that  is in almost every Moldovan house.   Some use gas, but most are run on wood and/or coal.  They are built with bricks and some also use ceramic tile.  The heat is radiated from the bricks and it is able to heat the surrounding rooms in a house.  My host mom takes care of the soba for me, she starts it around 4 pm and then keeps adding coal throughout the evening so it is nice and warm throughout most of the night.  So the soba is my best friend all winter because it keeps me nice and warm on the cold winter nights.

Hopefully the soba won’t need to be used much more as tomorrow is the first day of Spring in Moldova!

O zi buna


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Ha

I saw this lovely site on my walk home from work yesterday:

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These 2 men were walking their pig, and the pig did not seem super happy about it.  It was one of those moments where I thought, “Only in Moldova.”

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!