First Steps in Hîncești

Cow in field next to piața

So I thought I would share some random notes on my first days living in Hîncești.  This is a great place to be stationed, actually.  I am close enough to Chișinău to make it accessible (it’s roughly a 60-75 minute bus ride to get to the PC Office, 26 lei roundtrip.)  But I also have the advantages of being in a more rural atmosphere – hence the cow grazing in the field right up the street from my apartment building.  And crossing the street with this on our right on our way back from language lessons:

Yet, we have at least three good pizza places, one of them overlooking the lake.  There is a public pool that costs 90 lei to enter for the entire day; I hear tell it is as good as being at a resort (by Moldovan standards) as they play contemporary music, have lounge chairs and umbrellas, and serve beer and pizza for a small price.  I think I’m going to go hunt it down today as the temperature is climbing back into the 90’s this week.

Speaking of the lake, these are the stairs I have to climb to get there – 172 of them to be exact.  Note the large monument on top:

Stairway to Heaven

Once you make it to the top, here is the view:

View from Heaven (location, Hîncești)

And here is the backside of the monument.  I haven’t quite figured out what the statues represent, though a fellow volunteer told me they were “Haiducii,” which is a Moldovan term for a sort of Robin Hood figure.  These were groups of bandits that at one particularly savage point in their history were pillaging the landowners’ estates in order to pass on food and goods to the poor.

Haiducci?

And then of course there is the lake itself.  If you happened to miss my (rapturous) posting about the lake right behind my apartment building, here are a couple of pictures:

View from my bench
View behind my bench

Hîncești, being a bigger town, is falling victim to that mindless, artless form of corporate sposored entertainment known (pretty much all over the world now, I guess) as the  “autorile.”  Ana made a big deal of this event, encouraging me to attend on Sunday, saying that it was “foarte frumos” and “interesant.”  Well, you tell me.  This is what the cars did for about an hour. No discernible rules, time strictures or game strategy.  Just round and round and round and round.  At a very high decible.  In whichever direction you want. After about 15 minutes, I retreated home:

And then of course, there’s my life at home with my new Nina.  (Remember I lived with another Nina in Stauceni.  I’m beginning to think Nina’s are my destiny.)  Things are beginning to evolve into a very comfortable situation.  Nina (Stauceni) was much more mindful of my comings and goings and seemed to take more ownership of my health and well-being.  This was really great when I first came to Moldovan, as it was rather like having a very solicitious and gracious inn-keeper making sure your meals were hot and satisfying and that she knew where you were at all times in case you got hit by a rutiera and didn’t make it home.

Nina (Hîncești) is much more like living with a room mate.  I come and go as I please and am free to cook or not as the mood strikes me.  If she makes food, she offers to share it with me and vice versa, but neither one of us is obligated.  She was gone all last weekend – as she is normally, I gather, during planting and harvest seasons – working at her farm in Basarabeasca where she keeps her husband stashed (you can’t imagine how amusing I find this – she is the working woman with an apartment in the city while he is the country gent who stays tucked out of sight.)  She has invited me to come, but I don’t know how down I am quite yet with the idea of working hard in the sun for two days with (most likely) no running water or toilets.  I might be a city girl, after all.

Anyway, when she came back on Monday morning she was laden with tubs of meat from the pig and cow they had slaughtered, as well as boxes of tomatoes, onions, and potatos that are now stashed under the benches in the kitchen.  Here are Nina and her friend making gevir from the pork meat.  The white substance that they are wrapping the meat in is (I think) ropes of fat or stomach lining.  I couldn’t quite translate the words.  You will note me doing what I perenially do when trying to converse in Romanian – laughing a lot and saying “dah, dah, dah.”

I will not be working steadily until September 1, when the center where I am assigned – Pasarea Albasta – reopens after the summer break.  But I did go in today to meet with the English Ambassador’s wife, who is a member of an organization called The International Women’s Foundation of Moldova.  Kate is a simply lovely woman possessed of a British accent, of course, which is perhaps why it took me about 5 minutes to recognize that she was speaking English, not Romanian. Anyway, the IWF provided some funds for Pasarea Albastra to replace a broken washing machine so we went to the local electronics store to make the purchase.  While the transaction was processed I got to spend some time speaking English with someone NOT connected to the Peace Corps, which was in itself delightful.  If I had it to do all over (rhiannon are you reading this???) I would really consider a life in the diplomatic service.  She and her husband were previously posted in Lithuania and they have been here in Moldova for three years now.  Who knows where after that.  What a great life.  She has the benefits of a first world standard of living in a second world economy. Plus, she is making a difference and not just sitting on her butt and enjoying ex-the pat (priviledged) life.  I really like her.

And I did start language lessons up again. I am working with the director of one of the high schools, along with Matt and Lindsey.  It is rather interesting as the woman speaks only a bare minimum of English so it becomes quite the challenge to place our queries in context for her.  One of the hardest things in learning a new language is understanding the idiomatic language – for example, when Americans say “go ahead,” Moldovans say “more farther” or when we say “stop!” or “enough” when someone pours us a drink, they say “arrived!”  It is things like that which cause the most stumbling errors for me and it’s the main reason why one cannot rely solely on Google translate to get by.

After we complete our language lessons, I have a bar literally steps from my apartment where we are cultivating a nice relationship with the Romanian chelneriță.  This represents one of our more earnest efforts at integration…Plus, there is a very nice view.

View from our table

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2 thoughts on “First Steps in Hîncești

  1. oh the irony that YOU care about pizza places. And then go on to mention pizza and beer again. If only I had known that Moldova would awaken your slumbering love of cheese on disks I would have joined the PC.

    Like

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