Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Celebrating Birthdays Before it Gets Too Cold.

So it's actually hit – the cold. Yesterday marked two things relating to cold: morning frost and long underwear. It is not really really cold yet, but the earliness points to the apparent beginning of a Moldovan winter. According to a fellow volunteer's awesome/fancy pants digital watch whom I met up with: sunrise is 7:00 AM and sunset is 4:40 PM – ouch. It's colder when it's dark out.

I think a lot of other volunteers will have more of a problem with this because they are from warmer climates where the sun stays out longer. For us in the northwest it can get cold, maybe not as cold as Eastern Europe, but I get the picture (or right now I would like to think so, I'll get back to this I'm sure later in the winter). But the dark I think I am cool with. I mean it gets dark around 5:30 PM in Seattle in the winter, and we just read books and drink coffee and so on. I'm pretty sure I can get used to that. Maybe on the weekends I will feel like I have to get out of the house, and that is what other volunteers are for. More importantly than other volunteers, though, is friends within the village. I've got a little group of village friends in my simple Nokia cell phone that because it is not really cool and does not play music I'm sure Moldovans don't think it is 'frumos,' (refer to Matt's blogpost).
A couple of weeks ago I had a lot of ideas of what I can do in my village. Really what I'm concerned with is finding something I am directly responsible for on a regular basis to keep me occupied. I believe that this will eventually be what I have mentioned in earlier blog posts being some kind photography group. I had a meeting with a fellow volunteer named Kay where we decided to collaborate some to make a couple of interactive presentations to inflame interest. From this group we believe we can get together a passionate group. The problem is that not all kids have cameras. We know that there are probably grants out there, but right now I am thinking it will be better to get some kind of group together, get some curriculum together, and see what we can do with what we have. At the same time I am worried that I will be excluding kids that don't have cameras. I am hoping that we can get youth to share. One thing I know is that organizing something like this may sound simple, but doing so is taking a lot of time. It is one thing to discuss with another volunteer, then think of how we are going to explain this in Romanian, then actually getting a grip on these kids is going to be hard around the holiday season. I think we have to try though. We will see.

I find my situation here a little different than other Peace Corps Volunteers in other PC serving countries. Many think of PC and think of somebody in the green lush grass with Mount Kilamanjaro in the background and little supplies. Here I do live under some challenging conditions, but the one thing I do have is really fast internet at work. The funny thing to me about this is these two extremes existing in the same environment. Here I can skype somebody, but there is a guy on a horse drawn cart out my window. I think that I find this very amusing and so have noticed, or take interest in identifying such extremes existing in the same home or community.

I have been stressing myself out about how much or what we are doing within work. Recently I am realizing that we, in America, work at a faster pace. I realize that things here within where I work are going forward, which is great, but slowly. I have been making serious efforts to chill out when I'm at home. I have been reading a lot lately which is nice. I feel like I don't like to read really long books though – maybe I'm scared of commitment? Haha. Well it just feels so much more productive to read a bunch of smaller books to me. When I get really bored I just read out loud to the mice I hear under my floor boards. No I don't really read out loud, but I do hear them under there. Looks like they are heading indoors for winter too. I don't have a problem with them, as long as they don't take cover under my sheets.

Last weekend was quite interesting. I had a fellow volunteer over and he stayed for Friday and Saturday night. Sunday was my birthday. On Saturday we went for a walk and ran into some of my host parents relatives. She led us in and we met up with her husband who quickly chauffeured us to the beci (cellar) where we tried both of his homemade wines. The beci is the man's area. It is where they hang out and shoot the breeze. There he was quite the host. All Moldovans are really. We were eating all sorts of foods down there. Fish in tomato sauce, home made cheese which is really salty (brinza), pickles (which I had been missing), some type of pork that is basically the back fat (I didn't want to try it), walnuts that he broke us with a hammer and so on. I asked our host which of his wines he preferred the most and I almost laughed out my goodies when he pointed to a jar of homemade vodka. It is really common for men to make
homemade vodka. Turns out we spent some time in the beci eating and drinking some of his vodka celebrating my birthday early. After awhile we took a walk to the villages soccer field and before I knew it me, my friend, and this 56 year old man were having somewhat of a pull-up contest on a bar. I had a great time and it was great to ask and receive opinions from somebody about Moldova.

On a more frumos side I just got myself some shoe polish. It comes with it's own little sponge which is wonderful. Keeping clean and polished shoes is one of the many ways to a Moldovan's heart. Or that's what I hear anyway.