Where to begin. It is Friday, and already the weekend. Last weekend happened to be a five-day weekend due to a couple of Moldovan holiday celebrations. One being the “Ziua de Independencia” and the other the “Ziua de Limba Noastra.” For those of you not living in a Romanian speaking country those holidays would be Moldova's Independence Day, and their 20 year celebration of switching from Cyrillic text, and the official language of Moldova being Romanian. For me this celebration of language included a huge concert in the heart of the capital near the monument of “Stefan cel Mare,” Steven the Great. This concert was awesome because I got to see and enjoy all of the Moldovan/Romanian Pop artists in person, this is awesome because ever since I have got here I have heard their songs blaring wherever I go. Also last weekend my youngest host sister started university in Chisinau. This leaves me with one host sister who is 22, who will be going to get her Masters degree in October. So this will leave me with a host mom. But actually, next week I will be finally meeting my host dad. He works in Moscow most of the time, and next week he is going to be coming home for a month. The funny thing is next week when he comes I will be gone for a seminar with my host partner – silly how that works out.
The equivalent of a boy band in Moldova and Romania.
After last weekend I got the chance to get back in the saddle of a regular week. This week went well in general. My host family and I are finally understanding each other, and we get along quite well. They are starting to understand my sarcastic sense of humor, which is good, because sarcasm is not so common in Moldovan culture. In the past I felt like a lot of situations were awkward, but now I think we have made a lot of progress because we don't have problems confronting one another, or asking questions. So you know, the Peace Corps gives me a salary to pay my host parents for living and for food. If I want to keep a certain amount to make your own meals everyday you can. I have opted for the “you make everything host mom” plan. This plan is pretty good, because I have found myself not too picky with the food Moldovan food. My host mom is pretty responsive to preferences I have, so I try to express myself when I like a certain meal. It is just a reality that culturally these people eat a lot of carbohydrates, and there is no getting around it. The only thing I don't really like is hard boiled eggs in the morning. Christopher's stomach is not in agreement. The only other real request I have made is that I would like some bananas, they sell them at almost any piata (market).
The summer here has been hot, and in the village I now live in I have to walk up and down a hill twice a day. It is not bad, but in the heat it will get you sweating. One of the things I really wish I would have bought and brought from America is the travel hammock I saw. It was awesome, packed small, and was affordable. This would have made the summer almost too cool though, because I could see myself reading and sleeping in one a lot. It would of made my host family think I was a joke of a human, that is, if they don't already. Summer is great though because I wear sandals everyday. Sandals are great because they don't create sock laundry, and you don't get as hot as you would in shoes. Well what comes with wearing sandals everyday is this criss-crossed tan line brought to you in part by Chaco sandals. Which, by the way volunteers in PC get 50% off their sandals, how fitting and stereotypical is that?
It is September 4th now, and I am starting to think about the winter. To be honest I'm kind of dreading it. I have never experienced a tough winter, and when I talk to other volunteers they tell me, “but you're from Washington, it gets cold there.” Then I have to explain to them how mild our winters are there, and that actually they are not that bad. Here people talk about how it gets well below zero, and we're talking about Celsius people, that's absolute zero if you have forgotten from you science text books, absolute. People tell me that I need some warm boots and I didn't bring any. I hear you can get some in the city that come fur lined, and for that reason alone I just may have to buy some. I also wish that I would have packed my sleeping bag. Next week we're going to go and buy wood for my soba. A soba is a fireplace built in the wall. I guess this fireplace heats up the wall well. The wall has tiles on it so they hold heat. I guess they do a good job of heating, or so I hear, so I think when the winter comes I will be okay indoors.
At work I have been networking as much as I can with other leaders in the community. Yesterday I met with a young guy, about two years older than myself, who is going to be a new PE teacher at the Leceul (high school). Turns out he teaches Tae-Kwon-Do to the primary school, and competes himself. He is hoping that we in our village can get a club together. He has also asked me if I want to go practice with him. I told him of course, and I look forward to it, as long as I don't get kicked in the jaw, or thrown down too hard. I have also met a lot of other figures in the community over the last month. Leaders of schools, hospitals, the mayor's office, and those who are just general community leaders without an institution.
In the office at work I have been helping with general computer problems. They usually consist of simple problems in excel. When I solve these simple tasks I usually get rewarded with a smile from my gold-toothed director, followed by “Bravo Christopher!” Two days ago I found out that all of our computers operate on a wireless network, which means I can bring my personal laptop to use there. I have a feeling that they forgot that, because a couple people I work with didn't understand how I was on the Internet. Other things I occupy my time with at work is researching community projects, brainstorming ideas for our community, and searching for small grants we can use for a couple of ideas we have in the works. It is tough right now because my partner and the director are really busy with finishing the auditing paperwork for the last three years. I have to hang tight they say, and after this we can get the ball rolling on other projects. Until then I just try to utilize my time at work as best I can.
I am pretty excited for this weekend. My host dad from my training village is turning 70 and there is going to be a masa at the house. A masa is a huge feast with accompanied wine and cognac. I really love my host family from training so am excited to spend a night there and rekindle good times. Tomorrow I'm headed to Chisinau and while I'm there I have to find him a gift. I have no idea what to get him, or how much to spend. Either way, I am sure they will be happy to see me. After this night I am probably going to meet up with some friends on Sunday in the Chisinau on the way back. It should be an awesome weekend accompanied by a lot of rutieras (tiny buses packed full of people). But for now anyway, things are developing well.
Towards the end of training we were shown a graph with vulnerability and adjustment over time, and told how in the beginning six months of PC service are a bit of a roller coaster. Right now I feel like I am on the up side, so for now I'm going to enjoy it. My future here, of course, will hold challenges where I will feel venerable, but recognizing that ahead of time will soften any falls that may occur.