Welcome to Summer in Moldova – A Recap from June & July

It’s summertime here and it is HOT. When it gets in the high 90’s and you need to take public transportation to get to your destination 2-3 hours away, it can be the biggest challenge to your day this time of year. You see, most Moldovan’s have a strong aversion to the current, which means that most if not all of the windows in public transportation stay closed, and if they are open they won’t stay open for long. If you’re lucky, maybe one will remain partially open and you’ll be situated in the perfect spot to receive the little breeze that comes your way. A few weeks ago it had to be way over 100 degrees in the rutiera (think big over-sized van) full of people and I’m surprised that I or anyone else didn’t pass out from the 2-3 hour ride. It was like riding in a smelly steamy sauna. Last week I got to experience a mini-bus ride in the village with 50+ people on it in 90+ degree heat. I think that my definition of personal space by the end of my service will look very different.

It was so hot that they had 2 upper windows open here and the doors open as we started to drive away. But... it didn't last very long, the doors closed not long after we moved further down the road and the other overhead window was also forced closed. Too much current.
On this mini-bus it was so hot that they had 2 windows and the doors open. But it didn’t last long… the doors were asked to be closed and one of the windows wouldn’t stay open. Too much current. I liked how one of the windows was being kept open with a full water bottle though. Creative!

This summer has kept me pretty busy over the past two months. In June I traveled to Switzerland and France to visit a friend. I shared photos and some stories from my travels in previous posts.

The view from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.
The view from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

In June, 68 new Peace Corps Moldova volunteers arrived and they have been going through pre-service training, which has brought back all kinds of memories for me from a year ago. (How is it a year ago already?!) I helped with some training sessions for 4 weeks which had me traveling back and forth from site a lot and left me exhausted by the 4th week. Lots of hot 2-hour rutiera rides in those weeks.

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I’m doing a presentation for the trainees and their partners about creating a SWOT analysis for their organizations. (photo by: Cat Richardson)

In Balti, we said goodbye to 3 of our site mates who we spent the last year with. It feels different with them not being here and they are missed.

Now Returned Peace Corps Moldova Volunteers, Paden, Barbara, & Leah from the M28 group!
Now Returned Peace Corps Moldova Volunteers, Paden, Barbara, & Leah from the M28 group!

The kids in our apartment complex area put on a concert for us, especially for Leah and Paden who at that time were leaving and going back to the US in a few days. It was incredibly touching and so sweet. The evening consisted of dance performances, singing songs, reciting poems and skits in a mix of Russian, Romanian, and English.

All of us together after the concert the kids put on for us.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to play games outside with them in the evenings. We’ve played dominoes and UNO in a mashup between Russian, Romanian, and English. It’s been a lot of fun to get to know these kids and also challenging as we try to communicate between 3 different languages.

Thanks for leaving the dominoes behind, Leah! They’ve come in handy!

At the end of June, I traveled to a friend’s village to celebrate her birthday with her host family along with a few other volunteer friends. Moldovan’s celebrate well, check out this incredible spread of food!

So much food was prepared for Eliz’s birthday! I’m so glad I was able to celebrate with her and meet her host family! (photo by: Katie Bennett)

In July, we celebrated America’s Independence Day in Balti with a BBQ at another PCVs apartment complex outdoor area and invited our host families. You can read more about that experience HERE. Of course, I brought bubbles for the kids that would be there and it was a big hit for some of the neighborhood kids, especially this little guy pictured below.

This adorable neighborhood kid loved the bubbles.

A few days later in July, my primary organization I work with celebrated their 10 year anniversary. We had a big celebration with some of their partners and beneficiaries with a lunch at a really fancy banquet hall complete with speeches, certificates, gifts, and an abundance of delicious food.

My coworkers about to cut the cake in celebration of ProCoRe’s 10 year anniversary.

We have a children’s park in our city with old soviet style amusement park rides. One Saturday in July a friend and I decided to go for a ride on the ferris wheel as we were passing through on the way home… because, why not?

Fun fact: the ferris wheel doesn’t stop and you have to literally hop on and off to ride it (it does go really slow though). It was a beautiful day to see the view of the city from the top!

I met up with some the girls from my Technovation Challenge team to see one of them sing in a choral concert. I enjoyed the concert and spending time with them afterward hearing about what they have been up to this summer.

Lots of laughs with the girls after the concert trying to take photos.

Later in July, we had a fun get-together/meeting at another volunteers site. He just moved into a new apartment and we made pizza cake and ate amazing food all day because he’s quite the talented cook. I thought they were joking when they said we were going to make a pizza cake for dinner… no joke, it happened. Best meeting ever!

Pizza cake?! I have to admit, this is something I thought only lived on pinterest and couldn't be replicated... I have been proven wrong.
Pizza cake?! I have to admit, this is something I thought only lived on Pinterest and couldn’t be replicated well, especially in Moldova… I have been proven wrong.

A few times between June & July, I went to my host family’s village house and enjoyed learning more about their honey bees, helped collect the fruit from the trees and potatoes from the ground, assisted my host mom on some home decorating, and saw a bit of the process that goes to making homemade rachiu with fruit (more on all that another time).

We collected potatoes from the field one Saturday morning. My host dad was sad because there hasn’t been much rain and didn’t allow them to grow bigger than expected or produce a large amount. When we work in the garden, I’m not allowed to help without wearing a hat or proper work slippers. My mother would approve.

August is going to be a busy month with a friend’s visit from the US, beginning the work for a grant project for two communities in the North of Moldova, and helping out with a summer camp focusing on IT skills for young girls. I’m really looking forward to the next month ahead! PLUS… I recently received fun news that my blog has been selected as one of the finalists in the Peace Corps Third Goal “Blog It Home” contest! Voting on Facebook will happen August 3-10. I will share more details soon as I receive them. Stay tuned!

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