Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Holidays

So today is the day. I had my bath. This includes me dancing over a puddle of water in Kama Sutra-like poses while laughing at myself. Yes I've been here for about seven months and this still makes me laugh. Out loud. But I guess on worse days it makes me cuss out loud. I could bathe everyday if I really wanted to, but the hassle plus my laziness equals out to about once a week plus wet wipes. I'm cool with that. Immediately after my bath feeling “so fresh and so clean” makes me more aware of my actions as not to make any quick movements to ignite the sweat process. I have to be careful for at least a day before I get crazy like that.

The winter here has been cold, but nothing too crazy. We had a good snow mid December, and it's still lingering around, causing me to walk with attention. But not too much attention. It's kind of like when you leave something in your room, and you're walking back there to get it, and then you're thinking “what is it I was looking for again?” and then you remember, “Oh yeah, not to slip and fall on my face.” That's what it's like for me anyway.

The winter in my village does have some beautiful days. The snow is still in the hills and at certain times when the sun is going down I catch a view of them blanketed with orange sunlight. My village has some interesting geography with houses in the hills and its village center cramped in the bottom of intersecting valleys. Due to the intersecting valleys there are many hills and different views into valleys. I had a hint of this before, but it became more apparent to me after some youth and I were delivering clothes on foot in our village from a clothing drive I helped organize.

This clothing exchange took some planning ahead of time, and even after the planning it did not
run perfectly. Not to chop this tree to the ground before I explain what happened though. It's success impressed myself, and I feel comfortable believing it impressed others in the village as well. By the way that's saying something because I'm a tough critic on things I've accomplished. Basically we set it up like a clothing drive goes in America, with as a contest between classes in the high school. We also put a box for money that went for candy. The final week we sang carols (I didn't, I don't know them in Romanian) to collect money. We collected a ton of clothes, a good sufficient amount of money, and toys. That was the easier part. With a list of vulnerable families we used from the mayor's office we had to match clothes we had with children of that age and size. Then package them and package the candies and toys together.

The planning and logistics I could elaborate on more, but aren't as fun. What was fantastic is the mode in which we delivered them the first day. We used a hose drawn sleigh and dressed up as Santa (“Mos Craciun” is the Moldovan version). I was really excited as we flew down the street pulled by two horses with other youth volunteers and our organization's Director. What I was not quite prepared for was the situations in houses that I would be visiting. I am all for helping out poorer children, but it was rough at times. What was amazing was to see how happy these kids were to see us with packages for them. Younger children were yelling in anticipation of our gifts as we approached their doorstep. In tradition many of them recited Christmas poems. The experience can not be put into words. We delivered over 65 packages with clothing, toys, and assorted candy. It is awesome to know that our youth volunteers and myself put something together that brightened children's day with our surprise gifts. Feel free to look at the pictures of the whole experience.

Switching gears, next on the list, another topic, is this holiday season in Moldova. First of all they don't celebrate Christmas on the 25th. No they're not insane, but they did live under the USSR, and because of this they have always celebrated on the 7th of January. So I can't say much of that yet, but I'm sure it will be a blastface. I did have the chance to visit the village where I trained, and where my heart is, the wonderful village of Vasieni. It is here I spent the 25th with my original host family all together. I also got to meet my host mom Tamara's granddaughter who lives in Beligum. She is the same age and she speaks English so it was awesome. The food was also great. The next day I spent there getting my butt kicked in dominoes for about fiver hours by Vasile and his friend. I'm still not sure if I understand all the rules. Over all it was a relaxing weekend.

The New Year holiday was celebrated largely with my current host family. To put it simply we had a 'masa' (which means table) but really means a table full of food, too much food! We danced until 7:30am, which was crazy.

Signing off, Christopher