When a large and exciting trip or event takes place which is filled with fun, laughter, and new experiences its always difficult to sum it all up into a neat little package…even more so when you attempt this feat 3 weeks after its all over. At times I felt I could write a book about all the weird and wild stuff that took place. Here would be a few of the titles of said books:
-How to smuggle yourself into
-Protecting the Princess-Using your mace on unruly wedding guests
-Today is my “not drinking” day- a comedy
-No, seriously, what are we drinking?
-Men kissing men: appropriate public displays of affection in
-Oh God, I can’t eat anymore-the importance of fasting before a trip to the
-The day the priest threw water in my eye: hours of Orthodox blessings for you and your family
-A day in the life of a vornicel (Moldovan best man)
-“Dear American guy, will you be my son-in-law?” How to avoid repetitive conversations
-Moldovan bus journeys: why never to take them.
-A Catholic in Chisinau.
-Is it sunny outside? The true story of the cave ladies of Milesti Mici: largest wine cellar in the
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Random thoughts and observations:
City Day in Chisinau is enormous we spent only a half hour walking through the jostling crowd. There were thousands of people everywhere pushing and constantly moving, long lines of friends holding hands so as not to be permenantly separated.
I left my apartment at 7:30am on the day of departure and arrived the next day at noon. During the time in between I walked, hitch hiked, took a train, rode two buses, a taxi and had a friend drive me to the border in the middle of the night with aspirations of jumping across the
It’s very interesting to hear the perspectives of neighboring countries about one another. I first encountered this when I traveled through the former
-All Romanians think that Moldavians are Russian
-All Moldavians think that Romanians are gypsies
That pretty much sums up the national stereotypes. Romanians don’t trust Moldovans because they view them as Russian hard line socialists from WWII, and Moldovans think that all Romanians are uncivilized and uncultured people that will try to cheat you out of a handful of sunflower seeds.
It sometimes put me in a tough situation. On the one hand anytime I’m outside of
I woke up at 11 or so and decided to go to the nearest market for some orange juice and a loaf of bread. I stopped in at a crummy bar to order a coffee. When I asked if they had espresso the fat woman behind the counter looked at me as if I had requested to purchase uranium. “Ok, fine, instant,” I said. So she makes the coffee behind the counter and then gives it to me. I tasted it and then asked her “Did you put sugar in this.” And she said “yes.” I then told her I don’t drink my coffee with sugar and that I wanted her to make it again. She said “You should have told me ahead of time if you didn’t want sugar.” I assured her I would pay an additional 10 cents for another coffee and then told her “I’m used to telling people when I want additional things put in my coffee, not when I don’t.” This is when things started to remind me of
Later I’m walking down the street and a man in overalls says something to me in Russian. Most of my Russian is long gone but I still remember basic words and phrases I just can’t carry a conversation. So he asks me to help him start his car. He’s got the hood popped and I’m supposed to sit in the driver’s seat, turn the key and pump the gas. Boom, the car starts and I’m on my way again.
I finally get to the store where I buy my bread and juice. I see a packet of skittles which I haven’t had since I left the
Oh yeah, and the wedding. God, where to begin. It was long, it was fun, it was delicious, it was entertaining, beautiful, sweaty, and long, at least 10 or 12 hours. My official role as the vornicel was to be the right hand man for the groom (including translating during humiliating tests of faith) “Actually Chad he said genunchii which is plural for ‘get on both of your knees.” It was also to make a funny speech, which I did not, and finally to protect the bride from being stolen, which she was. But there are three things I would like to mention about this last point. The first is that what few people know is I saved the bride earlier in the evening with rapid reflexes and stealth like tracking skills. The second is that the people who stole the bride didn’t really play by traditional rules as they A) Were repeat offenders who had tried and failed on a previous occasion and B) incorporated women to kidnap the bride. And the third thing is what
The wedding food was amazingly fantastic. I think saying goodbye to the food was the saddest part of leaving the reception hall that night. Not only is their food delicious (arguably better than Romanian cuisine) but they also go extremely overboard. These people stack so much food on the table that there is no surface left uncovered. The plate you eat off of is the size of a bread plate because that’s how little space is left over after the food comes out. And it keeps on coming.
Dancing is always spectacular. The only thing we had to be careful of was putting two foreigners next to each other while doing the “Hora” so that we wouldn’t kill anyone with our lack of coordination. We hora’d so much that my calve were aching for 4 days afterwards. Next time I’m following my 9th grade gym teacher’s advice and stretching ahead of time. But my favorite dance (even more than the one with the vornicica- Moldovan for “best chica”) is and will probably always be musica ţiganeasca or „gypsy music”. It my favorite because there are no rules and you just get to go nuts on the dance floor clapping, jumping, whisling and hollering.
It’s a fast rythm so the movements are variable and rapid. There is an unlimited potential for improvization and everybody has a good time. But be forwarned that this is the dance where you might need to change your shirt when it’s all over. Forget aerobics, go to a Moldovan wedding!
And how could I forget Mileştii Mici Europe’s largest collection of wine. On my last day in
I took that opportunity of peaceful transition to present them my wedding gift and tell them how much I appreciated being included in the event. My gift to them was made by a friend of mine who works as a traditional wood carver in the citadel where Vlad Dracula was born. We worked together to come up with some specific designs for a wedding spoon that would contain symbolism for a happy and heatlhy marriage. I was truely impressed by the work of art but not the least bit resentful about passing it on. The beauty and metephore of the spoon was embrased by all just before it was converted into an instrument of behavioral correction by the newfound wife. „Thank you Andrew, this is how I’ll keep him in line”
So, was it a good trip full of memories: Yes.
Did you have more fun than you anticipated: Yes.
Are there stray dogs in
Do I recommend it for other travelers? Definitely, but for the experience of meeting the people, not for seeing fancy capital cities, or beautiful countryside (
I really enjoyed my trip and I’d do it again, but at the same time I was glad to be “home” where I could understand “my people.” A acquaintance of mine who lived in
Noroc! And I’m out!