Monday, July 9, 2007

quick update

Hello everyone!

I know that it has been a while since I have posted a blog and I apologize for that. I generally pre-write my blogs and many emails before I get online so that I don't waste my money typing while online. Well, I hooked my laptop up to the wonderfully slow village dial-up to load up my blog and my computer crashed on me and I haven't been able to get it working yet.
In my regional center there is an internet cafe (which I am currently at) however most of the websites (including this one) are in Russian and I can not reset the language preference and have been unable (until today) to get access to this website.

I hope to write a much better blog soon. Don't dispair... I'm not dead, just quite disconnected from the real world.

I will write much more soon.

Miss you all!


Monday, June 18, 2007

first blog from Moldova

Hello all. So, I've finally made it. I am in Peace Corps Moldova. I left on Sunday June 3 for Philly for 'staging'. There I met the other 35 PCV (Peace Corps Volunteers) who will be going through the process at the same time as myself. Its crazy to think that so many people from diverse backgrounds will be doing the same thing (well, 1/2 of us are TEFL - teaching English as a foreign language, and the other half are teaching health educ). As you might expect, the majority of us 20s (we are the 20th group to be trained to serve in Moldova, so we are known as 20s - note, not all other groups do the same thing. Also, PC has only been in Moldova since 1993) are in our 20s, however there is an age range that is amazing. There are 3 retirees, the oldest of whom is 75 - yeah 75 - and he was in Korea & Vietnam. There are all different races represented, but the vast majority are white. A surprise to many was that the majority of the people were from the midwest. Yeah, I know, we are never represented in force, however, according to our staging trainer, the midwest always sends the most volunteers per capita. Everyone seems pretty cool and unique. During our staging in Philly, we got along fabulously as a group.

We landed in Moldova at the only airport in the country in the capital, Chisinau (sounds like Key-she-now). My immediate reaction was that it reminded me of Nebraska because of the rolling hills (ok, eastern Nebraska) and very green landscape. The city reminds me a bit of Adana, Turkey, but there are huge differences. In the city, most people live in apartments, but most are no taller than 8 or 10 stories. It is very dusty, but that is normal in this part of the world.

We stayed in the capital for 2 days. We were greeted by our mentors, the 18 group, at the airport and at our hotel. I must say, this was the best welcoming party I had ever seen (and yes, that is a challenge...hint, When we meet the 18s, my first though was 'wow, these guys really LOOK like PCV, and we (the 20s) do not." They looked like you would imagine...a lot of kacki, dingy t-shirts, long flowing prairry skirts, hippy bags, you know, like you see in their posters. We looked like we were going to work at, well, AMTD (where I just finished working - YEAH).
Oh, my gosh! Talk about information overload. We were talked to by so many different people about things I can't even remember. To all of you concerned for my well being (and bullocks to those of you in the betting pool) they take our health, safety and security very seriously. Everyone who has been here, and former volunteers (RPCV - the R is for returned) have stated that they had the best health care of their lives while in PC. Odd - since it is a government agency, many would have thought it to be on the low par with TRI-CARE.

So, as you all know, I'm a total clutz and I get hurt on almost every trip I take. So, the very first night in country, before we received our medical kits (which are awesome and have nearly everything you can imagine) I got hurt. I walked out onto our balcony at the hotel (still in the capital ) and I stubbed my toe. Now, before you call me a whiner, let me tell you that in this part of the world, they make their entryways submarine quality...they all have ledges in the doorway. Why, I have no idea, but we don't have this in the USA. So, I didn't notice the ledge in the frame of the door. It stuck up 3 inches from the ground and was metal. I thought I had only stubbed my toe and was being my normal clutz self. Then I noticed that my toe was a bit bloody, so I went to the medical team's room in the hotel. Let me tell ya, 1/3 of my big toe-nail was ripped off!!! Oh, it was so gross!!!! Everything is ok now. They took care of it, and I saw the doc in the morning (forced by the med staff who saw me the night before) and everything was kosher.
Now, on with the story...

They separated our group of 35 into 5 groups, each of us in a different village so we can get more intense practice. We meet 2 times a week as an entire group for training too. I am in a village with 6 other 'trainees'. I am staying with an awesome host family.
- Mama Elana
- Tata Stefan
- Viola (20-year-old girl who is getting married 2 weeks after I leave this village. I hope I get invited to the wedding b/c that would be awesome)
- Vacili (16-year-old boy)
- Andrei (13-year-old boy)

The kids all know very limited English, which is good b/c it forces me to learn faster (I'm hoping). The kids are all amazing and friendly. They are very interested in everything about me and help me with translations all the time. Mama Elana is wonderfully helpful too, just as you would imagine. Tata Stefan is very nice, however I dont spend a lot of time with him. He is an oven-maker (there is beautiful brickwork throughout our house) and works in the garden.
I have a section of the house to myself. I have 2 rooms, a bedroom and attached large closet-type room (although there is nothing more than an entryway type piece of furniture). There is also another room that is attached to my bedroom that is not used but I must pass through to get to my room. I have my own entrance which is right next to the main entrance, but I try not to use it too much b/c the reason for being with host families is so we can communicate and learn culture 'stuff'.

There are several rooms in the house with no specific purpose. They have 2 TVs (which is a bit shocking) and running water in the kitchen, but none in the bathroom. Oh yes, you read that correctly. There is a bathtub and a drain and that is it. So, I have to take bucket baths. Let me tell ya, that is a lot more confusing when you have to do it than it sounds. For instance, how do you wash your hair? How do you get hot water? How can you get clean with such little water? Well, it is difficult. The hot water issue is easy. You heat water on the stove and then put it in the bucket. Washing hair is challenging, but I succeed. It's pretty much a process of dunks, splashes and scrubs.

Oh yes, did you notice that when I said the bathroom has a tub and drain, I did not mention a toilet??? Well, that is because we have an outhouse. Yes, an outhouse. Literally a box with a hole inside of it. There are a lot of flies, and going #1 is not all that bad, but with #2, you really got to watch your aim. I am not looking forward to being sick. I will say that my bodies resistance to going to the outhouse is amazing. I still drink a lot of water, however, I only go 1-3 times a day as opposed to many many times a day at home. BTW - to those of you grossed out by my talk of bodily functions, you must not know me that well, b/c I talk about poop all the time. lol.

This is a village, so my host family has about 1/2 an acre of land (maybe less, I don't really know). There is a dog, a cow, a pig, tons of chickens and roosters, and baby chicks which are right in the stairs to the main entrance to the house. There is also a nice veggie garden.

So, in my village, there are 7 of us volunteers. Most live within a 5 minute walk from our school. I however live very takes me 30 minutes to walk to school. Yeah, that is an hour each day, 2 if I were to come home for lunch as is normal. I did that once, but am going to ask Mama Elana if I can take a sack lunch everyday so I don't have to literally eat-and-run (we are given 1 - 1 1/2 hours for lunch).

Well, better be going. I have limited time online, but I hope I will be able to share more with you soon!!!
DISCLAIMER: This is the blog of a Peace Corps volunteer. The opinions and ideas expressed here do not represent the Peace Corps, US government or anyone else involved or associated with Peace Corps.