Friday, May 31, 2013

49: Last Bell

Today was the last day of school in Moldova. Unlike America, Moldova has a set day for the start and end of school for the whole country, September 1 and May 31 respectively.

Instead of classes the school gathers in the front yard and holds and assembly just as they do for the very first day of school.

And the front entrence becomes a stage. 

After the assembly is over everyone takes lots of pictures...

Director of the school

Some of the graduating 12th graders 
My partner teacher

But most importantly everyone also gives out lots of gifts, mostly flowers but today I was surprised to find that I received quite a lot of love in the from of many thank you cards. One from each class I taught this year.

The director of the school also gave me a certificate of appreciation and some souvenirs for me to take home to America. 

Did I mention that I also gave a speech?  Completely in Romanian and in front of the whole school. Then a little while after I slow danced with a 12th grader...once again in front of the whole school. Let's hope that both of those were once in a lifetime events.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

50: Hora Din Moldova

I am going to start counting down the last 50 days until I leave Moldova and as I count down the days I am going to share some of the things that I have come to love the most about Moldova.

For today, the piece of Moldova I want to share is the hora, Moldova's national dance. This video was released as Moldova's submission for Eurovision 2009 and while it is not the typical song that is used to dance the hora it is quite catchy and has a great music video that really showcases Moldovan culture, and of course there is even a few examples of the hora as well. Poftim!

Friday, May 17, 2013


As far as personal important events in a person's life goes weddings always come first in most peoples' mind, which stands true for Moldova as well as for America. However in Moldova there is another event that takes a close second and that is a cumatria.

I don't have very much experience with cumatrias since I haven't been to one but I do know that it is an event held in honor of a child usually before they are old enough to attend kindergarten. My host mother and her family had a cumatria for her 4-year-old grandson last summer while I was at the summer camp in Ukraine so I was unable to attend. Since it is May and my days in Moldova are steadily dwindling my chances of attending a cumatria have also been dwindling...that is until a car pulled up one day last week with two younger people inside who introduced themselves and offered my host mother and me a glass of wine in honor of their daughter and invited us to a cumatria. They left as quick as they came,  off to invite the next set of people with a personally delivered wine invitation.

I asked my  host mother after they left what happens at a cumatria and she explained that it is very similar to a wedding. Everyone wears their nicest clothes and a banquet hall is rented out with lots of food and wine. It is also customary for the guests to give a rather large financial gift just as guests are expected to do for a wedding. Though my host mother was quick to tell me that they aren't nearly as long as weddings. Instead of it starting at 6 in the evening and ending at 6 in the morning like a Moldovan wedding, it starts at 6 in the evening and ends at 4 in the morning, much more manageable.

My host mother has also informed me that she has named our new bunny rabbit Musia, and just like the dog's name, Lyalya, I have no ability to pronounce it correctly.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Easter of the Dead

My host mother popped the question yesterday as to whether I wanted to get up early and head out with her to visit her family in the neighboring village for Paște Blajinilor, or Memorial Easter, and since I had nothing else to do I jumped at the chance to get out of my village.

We got up at 6:00 drank some coffee and left the house by 6:30, making our way through our back garden and across the hillside to meet up at about the halfway point with her brother-in-law who gave us a ride to his house in a horse drawn cart. I was very glad I made the decision to make the trip simply based on the beautiful weather and beautiful scenery, but the caruta ride was the cherry on top.

Like last year we went to the cemetery and paid our respects to those who had passed by passing out gifts in their memory and having the priest bless their graves. Since everyone in the village comes to the cemetery to celebrate it is an opportunity for everyone to meet up with people they might not have seen all year so there were a lot of people making their rounds greeting people and usually offering a gift they had placed on top of the grave of a love one or a glass of wine in their memory.

After the cemetery we ate a big lunch together with her family and eventually caught a ride with one of her relatives that were heading in our direction and they dropped us off at the intersection of the road to our village and we hitch hiked the rest of the way.

I am also happy to inform you that we now have a new member of the household, a big white fluffy bunny rabbit. My host mother is retiring this year and said she used to have loads of rabbits but she got rid of them when she started to have too much work to do and not enough time for more house work. So now that she is looking forward to having more time on her hands she wants to start another rabbit farm. Although she only has one rabbit at the moment and I'm pretty sure she will need at least two...but I guess that will resolve itself soon enough.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Date with Myself

As my weeklong vacation is slowly coming to a close I finally got around to taking a trip to the capital and turning in some paper work and printing out a few things. I tried putting it off since I was afraid of the crowds of people I would encounter on all forms of public transportation since last Sunday was Orthodox Easter and this Sunday is the Easter of the dead. Though I was delightfully surprised yesterday when I made it down to the bus in the early morning and encountered a normal sized crowd to Falesti and was even more surprised to be the first person to get on the bus waiting to head to Chisinau. As usual I planned out a host of things I needed to accomplish and because the train from Chisinau no longer stops at my village I figured I would just end up catching up with the other volunteers in town and spending the night and heading back by bus in the morning...except there weren't any other volunteers when I got to the Peace Corps office. Which is unusual in and of itself but even more so considering it was midday on a Saturday. I am going to assume that everyone thought like I did that the crowds would be too much to handle or perhaps they planned on staying in the village for the Easter of the dead celebrations. Either way I was left with the prospects of having to find something to do on my own to occupy myself for the entire day and pay money to spend the night a hostel, which didn't excite me too much. So just on a hunch I checked the train schedule and realized I could take the modern train to the town of Ungheni and then wait 2 hours to take the old train which still stops at my village. I normally wouldn't be too excited with waiting around for 2 hours but since I haven't been to Ungheni before I might as well undergo the trip simply to say I had been there.

I had to wait about 4 hours until the modern train left Chisinau and even trying to fill that amount of time was pretty hard, I think I take for granted how much less things there are to do when there is no one else to do it with. I ended up getting lunch at a restaurant since fast food options are limited in Chisinau and I had more then enough time to kill, though that meant I would be at my own table by myself which I hate doing but it's a lot more bearable in warmer weather when you can sit outside and read a book while you wait on your food. I also managed to finally take a leisurely stroll through the open air market instead of my normally very quick run through to grab what I need and get out. I hate buying things in a hurry and if I go anywhere looking to buy something and the clock is ticking I will never leave with anything other then what I went in looking for, no matter what catches my eye along the way. So it was nice to finally pick up quite a few things that I never really 'needed' but had always wanted to buy.

I made it to the train station about an hour before the train was scheduled to leave and walked up to the convenient little booth that sits outside of the actual train station that makes it easy to just walk up to the booth pass in your money and get a ticket. However, this time according the sign on the booth (and according to the very loud woman who yelled at a man when he tried to purchase a ticket) I had to go inside to buy the ticket which I thought was odd, since normally you only need to go inside to buy international tickets. But then I remembered that the new train came with a new ticket  with a printed seat number and so it requires a fancy printer and the only printers are inside.

There were three windows that I could use to buy tickets with three people assigned to work them, so naturally there was only one person doing any work while the other two were literally chatting by the water cooler and I would assume merely switched places throughout the day. As I waited in line it got even more frustrating as the woman working the window kept stopping any transactions to answer her cell phone and just walk off. When I finally got to the window and got my ticket having waited at least 10 minutes for something that normally took me less then 30 seconds I walked away wondering if the hassle of having to go through all of that is worth having a new train, especially one that doesn't even stop at my village. *deep breaths* I guess that's the price of progress.

I found it a lot harder to complain though once I made it to Ungheni an hour quicker than it would normally take. Since I had been reading and we traveled there so quickly I nearly missed my stop and when I got off in a hurry I was slightly turned around since normally the old train always stops at the domestic train station (which is on the left) but for some unknown reason the new train stops at the international station (which is on the right) and since I didn't recognize it I wasn't quite sure if I was even at the right town until I found a sign.

I had two hours to stroll through Ungheni and see all the sights and the only thing I had to do in the mean time was find the other train station on my way. I ended up in a park about 10 minutes later after having seen all of Ungheni, finding the train station, and buying food from a super market. I wasn't walking particularly fast either, Ungheni just wasn't quite the metropolis I had been expecting. There was also something about it though that reminded me so much of being back in the US. I can't even really explain why but walking down the street just gave the impression of walking down any street in small town America to me. While I was enjoying the deja vu I was feeling walking down the street I found a park with a working water fountain and a bouncy castle (the presence of bouncy castles being the chief measure I use to judge all parks) I sat down on a bench and tried reading some more of my book but couldn't help but people watch. There were so many people in the park enjoying the sunshine; parents with strollers, kids with skates and skate boards, huddles of teenagers snickering amongst themselves. It was so quiet and peaceful that I felt bad when I finally had to get up and make my way to catch my train.

I finally made it back at around 10 o'clock and ate a second dinner before falling straight to sleep. I still feel so tired from yesterday that I am having a hard time deciding if I want to get up early tomorrow morning and walk to another village with my host mother to celebrate Easter of the dead with her family.