Sunday, March 05, 2006

First Days in Moldova

We have arrived and are doing well in Moldova. We arrived Saturday, with fresh snow (almost a foot) on the ground, and Peter meeting us at the airport (with many long hugs). If you're reading this without all of the context, Peter is in the Peace Corps in Moldova, teaching English in middle school in a small village called Mereseni. We met a woman who was bringing in a Canadian diplomat skilled in conflict resolution to help work on the Transnsitria issue (a small sliver of land Moldova bounded on the west side by the Dneister river and the east by the Ukraine. While officially part of Moldova (and the home to most of the industry that Moldova could claim) it is currently occupied by the Soviet Army. She has been working on this issue for 16 years (which, for you modern history buffs, is slightly longer than the lifetime of Moldova as a country).

We packed our bags into a taxi (we had suitcases of gifts and items for Peter) and squeezed all three of us in the backseat of the taxi. We dodged potholes on the way into Chisinau, and got to our hotel. Peter luxuriated in plumbing, fresh towels, and our shower, and then we went out for a walk and dinner (and it's been a long time since I have trudged through slush on the sidewalk). I was admonished for not being a good father and teaching my son to shave in high school (there wasn't much to shave back then), but he did forgive me. We did get a picture of the event.

We did go out for dinner with Peter, at which time he explained a few fundamental survival tips. The most notable were "don't drink the regular water: just drink bottled water" and "don't speak English near the police." The first made good sense. The latter was never explained except for the short phrase "they are corrupt." He also taught us a few words, such as "puftim," (American phonetic spelling) which, if my memory serves me well, is "thank you." It was quite impressive to hear Peter speaking Romanian fluently.

Saturday evening brought us a stomach flu that had been communicable at the meetings we attended in France (in some groups, 20% of people were impacted on any given day). Not to get too gross on the details, Ann and I threw up multiple times that evening, and were thankful that we were still in a place with indoor plumbing. We spent all day Sunday in bed, drifting in and out of sleep. But I learned to enjoy 7-up, ginger ale, and their local flatbread. Peter had classes on Sunday, so we did not meet up with him then.

Sunday evening we met Peter's host brother, Sergiu, who is a lawyer in Chisinau and Hincesti. I had put together a Dell 266Mhz 144MB Windows 2000 Pentium II laptop for him (purchased on ebay in the states), and presented this to him Sunday night. Peter did all of the talking in Romanian.

We did venture out a bit on Monday, but that's the next day.

There is a photo journal of the trip. that contains everything, but I will link to specific pictures.


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