Waking up at 5:30 is never fun. Waking up at 5:30 and still being late is even worse.
Yesterday I left the comfort (read: familiarity) of Truseni and Chisinau to finally explore the "real" Moldova. (Also this post was mostly written for my own future recollection and as such goes into a lot of unnecessary details. Scuzați!)
On Friday night all of the EE volunteers met with their school director (or representative) and discussed as best we could what our qualifications were, what we hope to do while we are in their town, and what the town we were going to be living in was like. I was surprised when my director waved at me as she came in the room (How in the world did she know I was her volunteer? Apparently our pictures were posted on the map down the hall.) We each came up and talked about where we were from and pointing it out on a map of the US. (Some of us even choose to do it in Romanian, including moi.) Our director did the same for the village they were from with a map of Moldova. The most fun, however, was the first opportunity they gave us to discuss openly with our directors who spoke only Romanian (and Russian of course). Needless to say the room was fairly quiet with short bursts of conversations erupting every little while. My director surprised me by asking if I wanted to go to Scumpia tonight instead of tomorrow morning, even though I did not bring anything at all to the conference other than the clothes I was wearing. That didn't seem to be an issue from her perspective but I convinced her (with some Romanian translation help) to wait until tomorrow like we had planned. That's when she informed me I should be at the school in Chisinau at 7 in the morning tomorrow, which seems reasonable but count in the unreliable rutieras, and the fact that before I could leave I needed to eat. Before I could eat, someone needed to prepare the food. Before they can prepare the food they have to be awake, and unfortunately my wake up time was lost in translation. When I finally made it out of the house I had to wait more than ten minutes for a minibus and the minibus decided to take every street through Truseni picking up people before heading to Chisinau. Luckily however I only ended up being 15 minutes late but I hate being late for anything. (It was 15 minutes only because I had given myself a lot of extra time…not enough though…)
The director and I walked from the school to the North bus station and after buying tickets had to wait for almost a full hour before leaving for the Raion center. The bus was an actual full sized greyhound type bus and since everyone bought a ticket before hand everyone mostly had their own seat. (Though occasionally someone would flag the bus down and stand for a while before on a jumping off after a few minutes.) Since it was already getting hot all of the blinds were down and I couldn't see much but I did get a few glimpses of fields and fields of sunflowers. Entire hillsides colored bright yellow by them. It was pretty impressive. (Moldova has some of the best soil, if not the best, in the world. They can grow everything here and grow it abundantly.)
Public transportation in Moldova can best be summarized by me so far as cheap (only about 6 dollars from Truseni to Scumpia ) but with a lot of waiting. When we finally made it to the Raion center we again had to wait for almost an hour before another bus left to take us to Scumpia. When I finally made it to the Directors house it was about 12:00. A ridiculous amount of time for a distance of only 150 KM (100 miles).
The directors house was very nice but it was interesting to me because it was in pieces. There was one building with a living and dining room, another building with a bedroom and table area, another building for the bathroom, and another building I didn't go in. The director also found a way to make my trip super awkward by offering that I could stay at her house instead of my host families house if I want. This was awkward because in the past that is how Peace Corps decided on the host family. The town would offer three choices, the volunteer would visit all three, and after less than a day make a decision that would effect their next two years. So I was happy to find out that Peace Corps had already made the decision for me, or at least so I thought. With the directors offer my trip became super awkward and when she dropped me off at my host families house she asked me again if I wanted to stay there or go back to her house. I simply said I would spend the night with the host family as Peace Corps expected and make a decision later. Even though Im really hoping they will fight it out amongst themselves and I will be able to avoid making a decision. (I hate confrontations)
The host family's house was like the director's, in separate buildings. (I can already imagine amazingly fun situations when it comes time for winter, putting on my shoes outside, sprinting from one building to another, avoid slipping on the ice [Peace Corps in Moldova holds the Peace Corps record for injuries while walking], and taking my shoes off again when I get to the other building.) The house also has amazing amounts of animals, chickens, geese, a dog, and a pig and the kitchen wasn't quite in the condition I would prefer, but the room that would be mine in a month was nice and I would have no issues with it.
I was the most impressed with the school though. It was very nice, had a large room that served as the cafeteria with sinks and running water, and three floors of classrooms. All of the desks had been painted and looked very cared for. Also inside the school was a room that served as the community museum holding community mementos and traditional relics. Altogether it is visually appealing (although like all schools it has a very Soviet feel to it) and very clean (which is likely to change come September…) OH and in order to get to the school from the city center you need to climb an army of stairs. They are amazing. (I cringe at the thought of ice…or snow…) Which brings me back to my pro-con list. The directors house is near the city center and would require me to walk up hill both ways (always wanted to say that…) to and from school (a good ten minute walk) but the host families house is right beside the school (less than a 5 minute walk) and I don't have to climb any stairs.
Gosh I feel like I am rewriting War and Peace…but to finish this off Ill simply mention that the ride home went much quicker. Not much waiting for buses…(completely based on luck) and the bus was able to some how or another make the trip in only 2 hours. So on one day it took about 6 hours of traveling, on another a little less than 4. (An extra hour just to get to Truseni, so from Scumpia to Chisinau we will say it is about a 3-5 hour trip.) In the future I think I will stick to simply traveling to the Raion center and saving trips to Chisinau only when expressly necessary.
(I think parentheses are my favorite part about writing blogs.)