After two weeks of school and getting back into the mix of having a routine it's always a good idea to throw the routine out the window as much as possible and add a little spice to life. This weekend I was lucky enough to head into the capital to meet up with some friends and actually spend the night so that I didn't have to worry about being able to get back to my village and just took the train home the next morning. While getting home was easy, getting to the capital was a real hassle. Instead of just walking the 15 minutes to the train station and taking the four hour train ride, because I left after school and it was later in the day I had to take the bus...which means I had to catch a bus to the nearby town, Fălești, which is about 30 minutes away and then wait around at the bus station until I happened to find a bus that was heading to Chisinau and actually had an available seat. I ended up waiting about an hour for a bus and then another 15 minutes before the bus actually left the bus station. However, while there is a lot of hassle and uncertainty involved in bus travel it makes up for it in swiftness. The bus ride itself only took two hours and even after factoring in all of the waiting and the bus ride to Fălești it was still quicker than a train ride. Albeit more expensive. 4.5 dollars instead of the normal 1.50 train ticket.
One thing about going into Chisinau is that it is like playing a game of chance. You never know who or even how many other volunteers will decide to head into the capital that day. Since we all live at different sites and all live varying differences from the capital we all come in a different time for different reasons. So there are many volunteers that I have not seen in months while there might be some volunteers that I see every time I go to the capital. Or even just meeting some of the new volunteers for the first time. Because even though they have been here three months I don't feel like I've even met half of them yet. I never really would have reason to since there is never anytime when all of the volunteers in Moldova come together at one time...except maybe Peace Corps Thanksgiving.
The highlight of the weekend, in addition to the social aspect, was food. Food as I have mentioned has taken on a new meaning to me in Moldova. I feel like I love and cherish food a lot more then I ever did in America and every trip I take to a restaurant or any dish I eat that resembles anything familiar or American is a cause for celebration. Which is why this weekend stands out from a food aspect because I went to a couple restaurants and each one was better then the next. The first was an Italian restaurant at which I shared a pizza with another volunteer and while pizza is readily accessible at more then a few restaurants they are usually very different from the pizzas we eat in America. And I had forgotten just how different until this weekend. Though the crust was still a little on the thin side which tends to be the norm for European pizzas. There was another restaurant we went to that was notable because of it's use of an English menu with hilarious and creatively named dishes and drinks in addition to an eclectic decore that also happened to play 80's music along with the original music video on flat screens. Nice restaurants definitely exist in the capital in fact I can say that I am always amazed by how nice the restaurants always are and how I never seem to run out of places to go. Though this one had the originality and quirkiness that I enjoy the most about places. And lastly, and most importantly I finally got around to visiting what has been the new talk of the town recently, or at least the talk among volunteers. A new fast food restaurant that specializes in mexican food. The menu was completely in English and essentially was composed of only 6 options. I ordered a steak quesadilla and after I did the cashier asked if I wanted steak, chicken, or cheese. Given the option I changed my mind and said chicken. What was funny was that though I had ordered in Romanian she had stated out my meat options in English, and after I told her I wanted chicken she clarified for me that "chicken" is "carne de pui." Having a Moldovan translating the menu from English to Romanian for me really made my day and eating the chicken quesadilla with a smile only made it taste that much better.
Oh. I nearly forgot to mention. I made the single most important discovery ever in the history of coming to Moldova. I found Dr. Pepper for sale in a store close to the Peace Corps Office. Now granted it was imported from Belgium and was priced as such, however, I am most decidedly willing to think of Dr. Pepper as a luxury item. And in fact I bought 6 cans of it and look forward to buying more the next time I am in Chisinau.
The key I think to making this last year go by a little quicker then last year is to keep busy and get out of my village more often. Which looks like I am on track to make happen as I already plan on meeting friends next weekend in Bălți and I need to go to Chisinau at least two more times within the next few weeks to do my mid-service medical review.