My host niece turns “șapte”

“Șapte” is the word for “seven.”

Last Thursday I stopped by my host family’s house for a visit.  It was my host niece’s 7th (Viviana) birthday.  It had been awhile since I had seen them, and we had many stories to exchange.

As I walked up the dirt road to their gate, my younger host niece (Sorina) spotted me, froze, and then dashed in my direction saying “Jenn-EE-furrrr!”  I kneeled down for a big hug.  Those two girls that I lived with, Viviana and Sorina, have the biggest, most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen.  Adorable.  Their younger cousin, Ionel, has the same big eyes.  He, too, was standing outside waiting for us to begin our feast for Viviana’s birthday.

I stayed and chatted, we ate lots of food, drank champagne and cognac, toasted and gave gifts to Viviana, and ended with a beautiful cake and a happy birthday song.  They had Viviana blow her candles out, and then she sat on a chair as they hoisted her up in the air seven times, one for each year.  It was a good time.

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And then there were three

Just a few weeks ago, we were joined in our village by a third Peace Corps volunteer, Tim.  Now, just to be fair, he’s not the traditional 20-something volunteer you might be picturing.  He actually has his master’s in English language and was an English teacher for some years back in the States (among many, many other accomplishments).  It’s been great to get to know him better, and his unmatched enthusiasm for work here is infectious.

We had the pleasure of celebrating his birthday with him on Friday, along with his Moldovan friends that he has already made in just two weeks of being here (that’s some stellar volunteer work).  We went to a couple of different restaurant/bars in our town, one that has just been renovated and has this great balcony seating area now.  We had a great time communicating in English and Romanian with this group of Moldovans, a really great time.

I guess the one interesting aspect of the night is that I was the only woman in attendance.  This seems to be something that is maybe more typical in Moldova.  Though sometimes I see families out together, it’s less often that I see mixed groups of men and women.  Or maybe it’s that, at my ripe old age, very few people in Moldova are still single.

Over the course of the night, we started talking about age and marriage.  Our new site mate has never been married and does not have children, and this news somewhat shocked the Moldovans at the table.  “You can find a wife here!” they told him.  “Moldovan women are great.”  I started talking about age with one of the single men at the table who is 26.  He was telling me that he wants a wife, he wants to be married, and he wants to have children.  He told me he’s getting old, and that all of his friends are married and are starting families.  I told him not to worry, I’m 26 too, and that in the States, we tend to get married later, it’s more the norm.  People do it.  He warned me that women should really have children before they’re 30, that things during the pregnancy are likely to go wrong after that age.  Naw, I insisted with a smile, there’s still plenty of time after 30!  My mom started to have children at the age of 30.  (Just in case you’re trying to do the math, my mom’s not a day older than 25.)  But it was interesting to hear that perspective, and it’s one that I’m finding is quite common in Moldova.  And it’s funny how different our perspective is in the States, where the trend is now for people to get married later in life and have children later in life.  In the 1950s and 60s, the median age of marriage was 23 for men and 20 for women.  Now it’s 28 for men, and 26 for women (and those numbers are apparently on the rise).  That said, it made for great conversation.  I always enjoy hearing different perspectives.

Here’s to our new site mate, a great birthday, and a great evening with new local friends!

26

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?