Sunday, June 28, 2009

So, I rocked out to some Moldovan jazz last night.

The usual Saturday night consists of rounding up the seven Russian Peace Corps volunteers and getting as much of their families to come out and socialize with us as possible. We usually take up a number of seats at the local "ьар" which may be pronounced just like the English word bar although I assure you it is not the same thing.

Needless to say it was a very fun night at the end of the night we were accosted by a group of 20-somethings musicians, the leader of which jokingly claimed to be the best guitarist in all of Ialoveni, the small town I reside in, I believed him. They took our group back to the Ialoveni cultural center, unlocked the side door and proceeded through the narrow halls to their music loft. The saxophone player and the bass guitarist/pianist turned out to be brothers and as soon as they started playing music their groggy-looking father came out of nowhere and took his seat at the drum set. Apparently they live at the cultural center--a pretty cool place to live I must say. They played us an ensemble of what I would only know to describe as Moldovan jazz. Being quite late in the evening we watched them for an hour and decided to call it a night.

I feel like we were pretty lucky with the experience, a lot of other volunteers we had talked to were going to masas (big feasts usually for birthday parties) or to high school graduation parties. A night with Moldovan jazz sufficed as a perfect alternative to those.

Oh yeah and a side note for Mclean and Lara Johnson—You two would be right at home here, everyone loves Nickelback…WTF!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bluetooth Technology--Good for the World?

I feel as though this blog could be purely devoted to the process of learning Russian but I will spare you that for the day, although the subject of today will be related to my ignorance of the languages that surround me. So, I was walking home from school in my usual fashion for learning Russian. My style is to say "hi" or "good afternoon" to everyone I see in a heavily-accented Russian dialect. It is a gamble because usually 15 of those 20 do not acknowledge you in any way, 4 will give you a confused look in return and maybe 1 will give a mutual greeting. Yesterday I was returning from school getting shutdown like normal by passerby's when I said "good evening" to a gentleman that I saw sitting on the steet--a member of the imfamous 15. I thought nothing of it and continued my trek home. Shortly after passing him he began yelling very loudly. I, being the Senior Russian Intrepreter in my village had no idea what he was talking about. I decided that the best approach was flight. You may think that that means running like a fool, contrary to what you might think I didn't run, although my fists were definitely clenched and I picked my pace up to a brisk power-walk speed. You would think that my power walk, being a sizable dude, would be enough to create some distance, but this man walked like a gazelle. I felt his presence getting closer and closer until it was only audbile in my left ear. The gentleman passed inches from me. I glanced upward only to notice a small piece of plastic glowing bright blue and dangling from his right ear. My fists immediately unclenched and I was brought back to those moments in America standing in-line to purchase something when a fellow customer behind you says "hello" and you respond with a "hello" and you continue this topical conversation until that utterly pathetic moment when you realize you are definitely not a leading role this conversation. You are actually an audience member that decided that they knew some of the lines. You turn toward the sales associate, purchase your item and leave the store in utter despair.

It hurts but atleast you grew an extra layer of skin, right? That is what everyday is like here.

Until next time,


Monday, June 22, 2009

Learning Russian is like not being able to eat all your food

Wow, five hours of Russian class is tough. Every day is rife with new words and words that I learned the day before that for some reason I can’t remember learning. There are usually three stages to my four to five-hour Russian lessons: Tired enthusiasm which segues after about an hour and a half into bitter hopelessness and then finally into a last call type of mentality where I gather the last few words from the day and then close the doors to the ol’ bar of a brain. I probably shouldn’t be using alcohol metaphors it doesn’t do me any justice. This type of brain-overindulgence is very similar to the meals that my host mother prepares for me. She serves me up ungodly, colossal-sized piles of whatever it is she cooked (delicious by the way), amounts that I can’t seem to finish--ever. Notice the parallel. I get a full meal but a healthy amount seems to be left behind for me to come back to tomorrow. I guess that is a lesson for life: regardless of the things you leave behind, good or bad, you still have deal with them at some point down the road… In my case the next day in Russian class.

"Crazy Cat Lady"

Hello world,

The first thing I would like to say is that I apologize for not posting over the last week, I type my blogs in a Word document and then walk around like a crazy american trying to find a signal so the blog will post. Second point, I have discovered that the “crazy cat lady” transcends borders, ethnicities and nationalities. She is not the American cultural icon I once assumed. I took a tour of Chisinau today and decided to rest my feet and have a beer at McDonalds (Don’t judge, it was just a beer and it was a Chisinau blonde which I’m pretty sure is still supporting local). McDonalds just happens to be a prime people-watching real estate for downtown Chisinau afternoons. For a considerable amount of time I found myself enthralled by a woman slanging cats out of a basket. While holding a basket of cats in one hand she presented another lucky feline on what appeared to be a trash can lid platter to passersby’s just as a server would try to sell a dessert after a fancy dinner. It struck me as odd but then I realized I have seen this lady before—we all have. We have either seen her in a movie or in real life. She is the slightly aged and unkempt woman that has big puffy hair and an anti-twinkle in her left eye that confirms that she is not in fact Santa Claus. One could assume she is going or went through a midlife crisis. During which she decided that giving away the litter of new born kittens was a bad idea. A few years time and the woman becomes crazy cat lady, proud owner of 113 cats.

As cool as a picture would be I broke my camera the other day. I intend to get it fixed sooner rather than later. In the meantime you can enjoy this video of traditional song and dance in Moldova. Apparently Moldova kicked butt at the last Eurovision contest. The PC put on a much needed bbq and we got to watch a whole bunch of traditional song and dance. I danced too hard and broke the camera.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

So I don't have the time nor the patience to fix the pictures in my blog right now. I'm using a laptop and am paying by the minute. So: The cat is named Timache. Those are my host families chickens--just had some eggs this morning. The picture with the backpack and flowers is me struggling to figure out how to say hi in Russian right before I got to my host families' house. The picture with the grocery carts is from Istanbul's airport with my travel buddy. Also, there are pictures of my kitchen and room.

Well I haven’t been shot as some fortunately predicted wrong, but I have met some incredibly kind people and a few hilarious Peace Corps volunteers (pretty sure you develop a good sense of humor being here). The initial few days were amazing albeit tiring. I finally caught up on sleep last night. Each night since I arrived in Philly I have gotten 5 hours of sleep max. This lack is the result from a combination of hectic agendas, jet lag, and acclimatingJ. Last night I believe it was 11 hours—I feel good.

To get to the hotel in Chisanau from Philly it took a total of 31 hours I believe. The sleep I got was about 5 songs worth on my 10.5 hour flight to Istanbul. I am really bad at sleeping on airplanes. I slept another hour in the Istanbul airport only to wake up in a panic to the Peace Corps volunteers I was with being around the corner getting food. I was sure that I had missed my plane but it was not the case.

So the biggest surprise so far is that I now have to learn Russian rather than Romanian, well to be more accurate I’m learning Russian primarily but learning supplemental Romanian in addition. Russian is very difficult, but I have very good teachers so I’m picking it up slowly but surely. Essentially everyone in the country knows a good deal of both languages. There are only a few areas or people that know exclusively one or the other. So I would type some Russian into this post but it takes a lot longer to do it on my computer rather than the internet café computers that have both symbols on their keyboards. I’m happy to be learning Russian because of the long terms benefits from it but the short term is definitely hard (learning the Cyrillic alphabet adds a whole new dimension to language learning), especially when I have been practicing Romanian for the last 2 months.

Last night I ventured to my first house in Ialoveni (Yell-o-ven). I live with Vladimir, Ekaterina (Katya) and Eurena. They are incredibly sweet and giving people who I am very happy to live with. Eurena is the daughter and she speaks a pretty impressive amount of English in addition to Romanian, Russian, and a little bit of Spanish and French. Last night I got to have dinner with my new family and got to sample my first Vin de Casa, homemade wine that most Moldovans grow and love. You can see the grape vines on the path up to the front door in the picture going up to the house. Last night Katya and Eulena helped me practice a whole bunch of Russian for which I am very grateful. I will live here for the next 8 weeks and then be forced on to the next area where my job will be. While at this house I will only be doing training comprised of language lessons, cultural classes and technical trainings.

Well that is all for now.



Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Salut everyone,

I am 7 hours into 28 hours of travel/layovers (considering no delays) sitting at Gate number 12 at JFK airport in New York. We took the bus from Philly at about 7:00 this morning. Right now I am waiting for a plane to Istanbul where I will have 6 hours to imagine what Turkey smells like outside of the airport. I have to say it is kind of a tease, Turkey is very high on the list of places to visit.

Well. Philly was a pretty cool place for the few moments I was there. The first night I walked around a bunch by myself because I flew in before a lot of people got here. My adventure amounted to walking 20 blocks and getting food. I was tempted to get the hot dog platter (highly recommended) which was a large hot dog stuffed with cheddar cheese and wrapped in bacon. I opted for the Philly steak wit cheeze whiz and onions. It was amazing.

Philly itself was very interesting. I only got to walk around for a little bit, but it was entertaining for the limited time I had. They had tons of building high murals and of course a plethora of historic buildings that the Northwest lacks. When I got back to the hotel I finally noticed in small print that the Liberty Bell was a mile away from where I was. Little bitter I didn't see that, but I suppose another trip to Philly wouldn't be so bad.

The next day was pretty much one big orientation chalk full of the normal fireworks that are orientations. I met the 63ish people that are traveling with to Moldova. I have not met a soul I didn't think was one of the more genuine people I have met in my life. 90% of the anxiety and stress of traveling was gone after meeting so many people in identical situations. Little do these people know how much of a curmudgeon I will be after 28 hours of travel--classic Jekyll I suppose.

Alright well I suppose that will have to be enough for this post. I'm tired and need to call some lucky souls before I leave the Motherland.

Drum Bun!

Aaron Eisenbarth

Monday, June 8, 2009

As Promised...

I said I would start writing on this thing when I got to DC and that is exactly what I am doing, except that since the last post I realized I had to go to Philly instead of DC. So as I type I am looking at what I'm assuming is some sort of coal or oil plant (big stack with fire spouting out the top) and U of PENN--kind of a funny contrast. I haven't had too many interactions with people, except of course for the people sleeping next to me on the plane and the taxicab driver who was half-yelling at someone on the phone the entire 20-minute car ride to the hotel.

I have nothing to do but go try to meet people for tonight, but tomorrow I have orientation most of the day. The following day I get to ride a bus to JFK airport and fly to Ishtanbul and then to Moldova. I'm assuming I may be a little grumpy at the end of that trip.

Well I'm off to explore some of Philly and talk to some Peace Corps folk hopefully they will be a little more talkative.

Cheers everyone,