Time has sped by the last 10 days…with PST over and all my M27 friends departed to site, I thought I was going to have an easy, quiet time in the TDY apartment in Chișinău while I received daily treatment for my knee. Not so. It was probably the most busy (and entertained) that I have been since arriving in Moldova.
Let’s begin with the diva knee. So, I am sent to this NICE apartment right next door to the Peace Corps office with all my bags (suddenly I have even more stuff than I came to Moldova with) after the swearing in ceremony. There are three bedrooms there, all empty, and a great big kitchen with a microwave, even. So I’m excited. I trot off to the market and buy some groceries and cook my very first meal since leaving home. Then I spend some time reading and I take a bath and I make up a bed and settle in and soon am fast asleep. RRIIIIINNGGGGG….ring…it’s the telephone. 9:30pm the PC doctor is calling, not to check up on me but to announce the impending arrival of another volunteer. (I guess she didn’t want me to freak out when the front door opened.)
Well, this volunteer’s arrival marked the start of the week of the revolving door. In seven days there were eight other people in and out of the apartment for various reasons. They all stayed for at least a day or two and somewhere in there I heard every single one of their stories, all of which fleshed out for me a more complete picture of Peace Corps Moldova. It’s complicated. Just like most other things in life, I guess. It made me appreciate how unique each person’s service ends up being: even though we‘re all in the same country, we are not having the experience. Which means that it is impossible to judge anyone else’s outcome or decisions – whether they ET (early terminate) or extend for an extra year or do their proscribed two years and flee back home. There are a million different reasons for walking many different roads here. I suppose that’s true of all the PCVs around the world. But here is a video of my new friends Maria and Katie playing on the teeter totter outside our apartment:
This is the one of the main reasons PCVs say that they love their experience. We know how to make fun happen with whatever comes along…
Back to the knee: every day I would walk over to PC offices and my own driver would whisk me off to a state-of-the-art medical center (called MedPark – looks exactly like Kaiser in the US) where a lovely aide would spend half an hour giving me various treatments involving magnets, electricity , and sonar. Another volunteer was getting the same treatments, so we had a chance to chat everyday for an hour or two as we rode there and back and underwent our treatments. She related a lot of useful info about her year’s worth of time here and she was very funny and entertaining. My knee felt better and better every day. Life was lovely. (Then I screwed up my knee again my first day at site – more on that experience later…)
I was also invited by a group of the M26s for an evening at an American couple’s house in the outer limits of Chisinau. He works as an IT specialist for the American Embassy and his wife loves to cook but has no one to eat it all. So every Thursday they host a buffet meal in a varying theme for any American ex-pat who wants to attend. The best part of all was their pets – a BIG Sharr Mountain Shepard (never heard of it before that night) and a cat that both craved attention. And all of us animal-starved people were ready to slather it on. I felt like I had received a mental health intervention just petting and cooing at them. Man, I miss my dog.
On my last day in Chișinău my lovely friends Elsa and Carl, who are stationed in the city, took Darnell and I out for a day long excursion through the parks and museums and fashionable districts. We had a lot of fun and I got to see a side of Chișinău that I hadn’t seen before. There are stores – like Abercrombie and Salamander – that one would see in the US. There are multi-storied, densely packed buildings that house a warren of vendors selling an eclectic variety of products: one floor will be shoes, one floor fabric, another bed linens and bath accessories, one all toys, etc. It’s like having a whole mall, but packed into one building. Very efficient. There are lovely parks with giant chessboards where people stand around watching a game like it’s a tennis match or something. There seem to be hundreds of couples getting married. They speed by in cars decorated with masking tape and colored plastic bags and honk horns and scream madly to passersby. More pictures of Chișinău: