It’s summer in Moldova, which also means SUNFLOWER SEASON! I had the opportunity recently to visit my host family’s home in the village where the sunflowers fields are plentiful.
Sunflowers are a major crop in Moldova and are grown for their seeds and the oil they produce. My host family grows sunflowers so they can have sunflower oil to use for cooking.
This year since there hasn’t been much rain, the sunflowers are not as tall as they were last year. My host dad told me that usually when there is more rain the flowers can grow taller than most people. This year, with the little amount of rain we’ve had in Moldova they are averaging around shoulder height.
Enjoy the photos and the video below to give you an idea of the vast amounts and beauty that surrounds Moldova when the sunflowers are in bloom. If you love sunflowers, this is the best time of year to visit Moldova.
I did a 360 turn in the field for you to get an idea of the magnitude of the sunflowers that surround my host family village home. This also gives you an idea of what it is like as you travel through Moldova in the summer when the sunflowers are in bloom… incredible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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).
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!
A few weekends ago I was able to join my host family at their village house (which they call the villa) for some much needed rest. They told me I needed a break from the computer and the meetings and projects that have filled up my time over the past year. So before I knew it, I was whisked off to the villa with a few books and a few clothes I could wear in the garden.
The water pump for the entire village had been broken so there was no running water and the house was still getting reorganized from the winter… it felt like camping and I loved it!
When we got there my host dad immediately could tell something was amiss with the cherry trees he had left guarded by stick-replicas of my host mom and host sister – who were supposed to guard and scare away the birds who liked to dine on the sweet cherries. I followed him out to assess the damage of the trees and he told me it was a tragedy… they ate about 90% of all the cherries. Next thing I know he was doing this…
He then declared “war with the birds”… please know that no birds were harmed or will be harmed, he did this to scare them away from the fruit trees.
As we ate dinner my host mom and dad were joking that my job the next day would be to guard the tree and keep the birds away. I happily agreed, as it seemed anything I tried to help with took extra patience for all of us and I seemed to do things at a slower pace than expected. I learned some new vocabulary that’s for sure.
The next morning after I ate breakfast and offered to help with things in the garden, they told me to relax and read my books. I found a nice sunny spot in the front of the villa near the cherry trees and started reading… and sure enough, those pesky birds were out in the tree again. I tried to scare them away by waving my arms and yelling in Romanian, but they didn’t move. Next, I tried yelling in English… and the traditional “SHOO-SHOO!” which seemed to kinda work.
My host mom heard all the commotion in the front of the house and then hands me an old tin can and a big stick. She shows me how to bang on the can properly to scare the birds. So there I was on a sunny Saturday afternoon reading a book and banging on an old rusted tin can with a large awkward stick to scare away the birds when they perched themselves in the cherry tree. Memories in the making.
My host family found it incredibly entertaining that I agreed to do this and we are all still laughing about it all. So who knows what my next task will be next time I make a visit to the villa house.