BBQ, Moldovan-style

Last week, my site mate and I were invited to a going away party for a Moldovan college student.

I met him, Doru, this past spring when I had the pleasure of observing a few of my fellow volunteers teaching a university course on leadership and ethics in the capital.  He was in the course, but actually lives in my village.  He works at the local culture house running sound for events, so we run into him around town.  He’s enrolled in a university program where students take half their classes in Romanian, and the other half in English, so his English is phenomenal.  This year, he applied for the opportunity to study abroad in Lithuania, and was one of two students selected from his university to go.  (Congrats are in order, eh?)

But before leaving, he wanted to have one last hoo-rah with his friends, and he invited Luma and I to join them for a BBQ in the fields.  We asked if we could bring a couple of friends (other volunteers) who would be in town, and he told us it would be no problem.

Unfortunately I was sick that weekend, but I was determined to power through so I could help Doru celebrate.  So we met up with Doru and all drove out to the outskirts of the village, down a long dirt road to a group of trees, threw down a few blankets, and began the festivities.

We brought food, beer and wine, and the students started a fire out of ears of corn that they had removed all the corn from to use as animal feed (no idea what that is called…any ideas from the audience?).  Side note: the current drought has also affected Moldova in major ways, including the corn crop.  Some families will now actually have to kill a larger number of their animals early and freeze the meat because they simply don’t have enough feed to keep them alive.

So we started grilling.  I have no idea what they marinated that meat in, but it was DELICIOUS.  We had a great time, played some games with them, and just hung out with these college students in the fields.  So glad Doru invited us!  We wished him all the success in the world when he goes to study abroad.

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Turned 26 this month, and it was a great birthday.  I have my awesome fellow Peace Corps volunteers to thank for that.  Aside from the fact that I was a little under the weather, I had a great evening and was treated to a delectable steak/seafood dinner and delicious chocolate cake.  The night also included a rendition of the happy birthday song in Romanian and English.  What more could a girl ask for?  Thanks, friends.  Made my night.

I guess Peace Corps life isn’t always rough, eh?

Summer travels

I got to take two great trips with other Peace Corps volunteers this summer – one to Odessa, Ukraine to do some lounging by the Black Sea, and the other to Helsinki, Finland where a few friends of mine were running their first marathon.

A group of us went to Odessa in July.  It was beautiful, relaxing, fun, and filled with lots of sushi-eating.  Our hostel situation got a little tricky when they only reserved six beds instead of the nine we requested, but luckily we’re Peace Corps volunteers and flexibility is in our blood.  Six of us ended up sharing the bottom bunks of the three bunk beds they set aside for us.  Quite the experience.  We swam in the Black Sea, soaked in the beautiful beachside pools, enjoyed some tropical drinks, and went out dancing.  Granted, everything was in Russian, and there wasn’t a whole lot of English around, so that certainly challenged our charades skills, but somehow we managed.  I didn’t take many pictures, but I threw a few together that will hopefully give a vague idea of how we spent our weekend.

Then there was Helsinki this month.  The weather was amazing, in the 60s.  We took a boat tour, ate great food, I wandered around the city while my colleagues were exhausting their leg muscles for 26 miles, went out to celebrate their impressive physical feat, went to an aquarium, an amusement park, and stayed in at hostel right next to the Olympic stadium from the 80s.  It was a fantastic trip.  Fantastic.

This roller coaster was built in the 1950s!

My next trip, in September,will take me to Istanbul, Turkey, where I’ll meet up with a friend of mine from back in the States!  Absolutely looking forward to that!

An American Independence Day Celebration

So I’m catching up on a whole lot of summer that I haven’t blogged yet (how did two months fly by so quickly?).  That said, let’s begin…

So we have this annual 4th of July party that is put on by the American Chamber of Commerce here in the capital of Moldova.  This is one of those events in Moldova that is sort of epic for Peace Corps volunteers.  It brings together all the expatriates in Moldova, along with a bunch of Moldovans that have some connection to the States (work for an American organization, lived/worked/studied there).

I don’t know why, as volunteers, we get so darn excited about a bunch of Americans, hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, and a Moldovan band playing songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Wonderwall,” but we do.  We get really excited.  Some of us dress up.  And yell “America!” and other patriotic absurdities.  And we sweat it out in the peak heat of the summer, in the middle of the afternoon, just to be a part of these festivities.

I think it probably has something to do with the fact that we’re all off in different parts of the country, surrounded by locals most of the time, and this is really one of the major holidays volunteers and other Americans gather in one place for.

So, just in case you were worried we weren’t celebrating the birth of our great nation, I can now allay your fears.  We definitely celebrate.  We might even celebrate a little too much…

I didn’t take any photos during the event, but a few other volunteers did, and I thought I’d share.

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A few photos

No posts in July!  Things have been busy…and continue to be.  Today I’ve just got a few photos I wanted to post.

So there’s this neighborhood cat that likes to take its afternoon naps on our porch. It reminds me of my dog Toby who likes to sun bathe at home, so I don’t have the heart to kick the guy to the curb. He comes and goes through our burglar bars there.

Today I came into work after a bit of a rough morning…and what do I find? Mystery flowers! Along with the note below…

The note says “Dear Jennifer! Children love you, may you always be young, beautiful and full of life. We wish you lots and lots of health, and a bright future.”
I don’t even know who sent them to me! But I’ll keep asking around…