It has been raining and raining these last few days, and I’m not really appreciating this much. Current volunteers were not kidding when they said the dirt roads turn to mud. The last minute purchase of the hiking boots were probably the best purchase I’ve made- besides the convertible pants (3 lengths!) from Northface. My feet are dry, and I don’t have a problem getting them dirty because they clean really easily and they’re meant to get dirty. However, something interesting to point out is how immaculate the shoes are of the locals here. They could have walked 10 miles through only the muddy streets and they would still have shiny shoes. I think they walk on water- that has to be it!
Today we had a cultural day in Ialovin, though. It was great because we were able to reunite with all of the other M25’s, and we learned about the cultural history in Moldova, and the people that comprise it. The primary heritages in Moldova are Russia, Romania, Roma (once referred to as “gypsy” but that is not longer a politically correct term!), Bulgaria, and Ukraine. They danced, sang, got us involved in the dance, told us all about the history, and then provided incredible traditional food. The rice wrapped in grape leaves is probably my favorite dish I have yet to eat here. So simple, yet SO delicious!
Yesterday was culture day where we discussed the differences in the cultures regarding the interaction and roles of men and women, and alcohol use. It was fascinating to find out that when you go to a store and buy, for example, a bottle of Chisinau Blond (beer), it may not actually be that brand of beer. A local could have put their own beer in those bottles then sold it to the stores. So, you never really know if it’s real or not, nor exactly what percentage of alcohol you are drinking. So, Peace Corps highly recommends we do not drink alcohol (because it also leads to bad decisions). Good recommendation. Really, I’m not being sarcastic here.
The roles of men and women are so different from that of the US. At home, you see women in workplace, and men at home with the children. Everyone cooks, everyone cleans, it’s a join affair. But in Moldova, the tendency is for men to do all of the work outside the home and for women to do all of the work inside the home. That even means if there is a party… men let the women do all of the work (cooking, cleaning, setting everything up, etc), and then they help when it comes time to pour the drinks. My family seems to be different in the fact that everyone is always helping everyone, and both my MG and TG (tata gazda) work outside of the home.
Speaking of my host family, I really couldn’t be happier. My host mom refers to me as her 4th daughter, and she is so wonderful. I feel so comfortable here, she is a great cook, and I really am treated like family. A few other people had made an observation about Moldovan culture (and my dad pointed out it is also common in America!) that Moldovan husbands and wives really do not show any affection (although the kids are not afraid to show it in public.. but that’s another story). My MG and TG are so cute together when they are together, they’re always communicating, and I really feel like they are still in love (after 30 years of marriage). It’s a beautiful thing, and I can see why they whole family is really close. The parents have worked hard to keep it that way. Having so much happiness in the home really does make a difference. I hope to make the right decision the first time around when I get married 😉 (NOTE: ONE DAY!!! lol)
Another note about something I learned at the culture day yesterday- it’s possible for me to work in an orphanage. I met another volunteer who was an EE and is now a COD (community development) and her focus is working with the children in orphanages. She lives just outside of Chisinau. I would give up having children in the family of my permanent host site if I can live in a city that gives me the opportunity to work with children in an orphanage. The best I can do at this point is request it, but boy-oh-boy would that be an incredible opportunity to get involved with children and the community, and have a project outside of the classroom….
Ok, off to get work done.
I love my life (but would appreciate more sun!!!)