It’s amazing what a year does

One year ago Pavel, the love of Maria’s life, died.
One year ago, his funeral was difficult to attend because his death was unexpected and it was so apparent in Maria’s face just how much pain she was going through.

One year later, Maria is smiling:
One year ago, the Priest was greeted with tears as guests waited outside in the unexpected cold weather (and snow flurries):
One year later, the Priest entered the home and was greeted with smiles and laughter and warm weather, with guests waiting outside because it was warmer to be outside than inside, where we would be commemorating his death/life/soul:

One year ago, this room was empty except for a casket where Pavel was resting inside, a small table for food and wine, and a grieving friend.
One year later, it was filled with food, friends, and a loving ceremony blessing in which everyone present said prayers and blessed his soul.
…Once the ceremony was finished, it was time to eat (and drink, because what is a Moldovan masa without wine!?)

One year ago, the road was cold, dark, and it seemed so lonely:
One year later, sometimes it may seem like there is no one on the road with you, but even if you are the only one on the road, you’re still on the road… so keep on moving. At least the sun is shining!
Even though I no longer am greeted by HELLO AMERICA! as I enter Maria’s house, I am now greeted with a smile and a, OH, HELLO CATE! from Maria. I still love this couple, even if the couple is technically a single now.
So much can change in just ONE YEAR. Let it change. Let it happen. Because it will, no matter what.


Bună seara! (Good evening!)

The food here in Moldova is quite different from anything I’ve eaten before, but I really can’t complain about it at all! When we all met up together for a Welcome Ceremony at the school, all of the host moms were talking about who can and can’t eat what. It was pretty funny. They totally don’t understand why I can’t eat dairy, and vegetarians just confuse them to pieces!
My first introduction to Moldovan food was placinta, a common Moldovan fast food itemwhich is basically a form of fried bread with various things inside, such as cabbage, cheese, or potatoes. From my understanding, there can be a lot of different things there, too, such as meats and other veggies. Then I came to my host family and was introduced to more things! While they didn’t have an actual meal prepared for me, they had plenty of what I assume were leftovers. There was egg salad (with corn! yum!), and potato salad, some sort of soup (with anchovies- my first time ever eating them!), a cucumber salad, and I think that was about it. What’s interesting is they eat HOT soup any day of the year, no matter what the temperature. We then sat down as a family (me, the mom, the dad- who just received a haircut, 2 daughters, grandson, and in-laws). We drank wine, they talked, the daughter translated, and then the men went to the store to get more things. One of which was something like beef jerky- only fish, raw salmon from a package, and bbq potato chips. I tried the fish jerky but steered away from the others. It was, fishy. 🙂 The best part, though, was the tangy sweetness of the lemons+sugar! They cut very thin slices of lemons (peel and all) and then covered them in sugar. Wowza, I was in heaven!
Then this morning it was time for more food. Bread, leftover egg salad, and compote, which is a stewed hot fruit drink. Delicious! I’m in love with it! This morning it was made with cherries, and tonight it was cherries and apples. I can’t wait to learn how to make it.

Dinner consisted of these incredible grilled castravetelui (cucumbers), fresh tomatoes, fresh zucchini, and then a cabbage soup…with more compote!
She also brought out a 2 liter bottle of what I thought was beer, but it turned out to be their homemade vinul rosu (red wine). It was pretty strong, but definitely something to write home about.
That’s all of the food for now…

Outhouses and my new house

Buna seara! (Good evening!) Check out the toilet- for which I have an awesome story.
When I first arrived, my host sister, Nadea, was giving me a tour of the house. She speaks English incredibly well, so it has made my adjustment that much better. I had been told time and time again that the chances of having an outhouse were pretty high. In fact, it would be odd if the home where I was staying did not have one. So, I’d like to say I was mentally prepared when she said, “the toilet is outside”. Unfortunately, though, I did not have to use the restroom until it was dark outside, so when I went to try to remember which gate lead to the outhouse, I forgot. Along comes Nadea with a flashlight (thank goodness!) to show me the way. She helps me open the gate, then shines the flashlight in the direction of the toilet (a hole between 2 boards. literally). My thought was she was then going to walk out and wait for me, but no, she says, “Don’t worry, I won’t look” as she is shining the flashlight on me. Ok, that’s great, I don’t want to fall in. As we were leaving she says, “You have great legs!”
Welcome to Moldova- where privacy doesn’t exist.
… now that’s a story for the storybooks.