Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Moldova

Hello All,

This will be will a shorty... I am just about to head out on my vacation in Egypt, Israel and Jordan.  The benefits of not seeing the family for the holidays.   My camera didn't make it in time, but I will steal my fellow volunteers cameras from time to time to take in the surroundings for you all back home. 

It is probably going to be a little while until I post again.  Although I am pretty positive you all can take it, because I think I have done it to you a few times before... Anyhow i hope all is well.

Peace out,

P.S.  Merry Christmas


Monday, December 21, 2009

Short posts have been deemed OK by me now.

December 21, 2009—Short posts have been deemed OK by me now.

I have decided that I can leave short posts on the blog now.  Stories too long for Facebook, but shorter than what I normally considered a post on the ol’ blog.

Today I couldn’t help but laugh a little while at my favorite gym in the world.  Yes some days Клуб Здорове is the highlight of the day, which runs contrary to everything I have ever said about health clubs back in the states. Who knows, I might even gain a little bit of muscle in Moldova, which would be just be weird  and the last thing I thought I would do here. 

Anyhow, I couldn’t help have a shit-eating grin on my face while watching some Moldovans and I workout to such rock anthems as “Jingle Bell Rock”, “The Wind Beneath my Wings”, an R. Kelly song that I don’t know the name of and quite a few other songs that I can’t seem to remember now.  The comedy gold is in the same ironic vein as the anachronistic t-shirts sporting “witty” English phrases from yesteryear. 

Sometimes it is the little things that make you smile.



Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20, 2009—My Icy Kingdom.

December 20, 2009—My Icy Kingdom.

Snow came.  Village shut down partially.  I shoveled some snow. I stayed warm in my room.  I sledded with my 4th grade class.  I thought a lot about throwing snowballs at my annoying dog.  I watched more than my fair share of movies.  I came very close to throwing snowballs at my annoying dog.  I dreamed about my upcoming vacation. I was very cold when it was -20 degrees Celsius at night (apparently, so says the baba and partner).  I got a minor case of cabin fever.  I realized it was an acute case of laziness rather than cabin fever.   I played lots of Ping-Pong at the gym I like.  I felt better.  I did laundry.  My clothes froze.  I thawed them.  I have clean clothes now.  Life is funny.  Life is good.  Russian is hard.  Baby steps.  I am writing on my blog finally—right now.

I blame my camera being broken (a causality of war) for no blog contact over the past few weeks, at least I wish that counted as an excuse. It doesn’t, but I WILL attribute it as the very reason why there isn’t a single picture of my village covered in two feet of snow on this post.  I will do my best to describe life without accompanying charts and graphics. J

Apparently it has been 3 years since the last time it has snowed as much as it has in the last few days here.  If remember from my prior posts, the majority of the people that I talk to here are above the age of 60 or around the age of 10.   So the things that I commonly hear from the older folk around here, in Russian mind you is “ three years ago there was a storm about this size, BUT when I was a kid the snow would be over our heads and we would have to shovel tunnels through the snow to get to various places”—a rough translation, but fairly familiar isn’t it?  Much like childhood stories where our parents experienced every life experience that we have only ten-fold.  At what age do you normally realize that uphill both ways is not possible?  What should I glean from my baba’s story:  1) global warming is real? or 2) parents are liars? I am thinking both.   White liars and an overactive sense of gullibility—damn my childhood.

I really wanted some pictures of the winter wonderland here.  It is quite beautiful.  Roads mysteriously become level-looking, still have to keep the lazy eye on the road regardless of the appearance.  Luckily the open manholes don’t become completely hidden in the heavy snow, otherwise I would end up on Russian television as the scared American in the bottom of the well. 

The walls of the shoveled pathways through the courtyard of house stand just below my waist.  I can see dogs if I go out of my way to see past their personal ice castles.  The pregnant cat has been calling the outside attic home.  Practically every time I leave the house via the exit under that part of the house, I hear Даша (Dasha the cat) say a few words and then pull a Cliffhanger move to descend down the gas piping to ladder a few feet below.  The first few times it kind freaked me out, but now I just want a camera so I can film her.  If I am leaving the house in this fashion it probably means that I am going to admire my cold, cold kingdom from the vantage point of my icy, icy throne.   Oh the little big things. 

On that note I have said too much and need to go to bed. 

Love you all,


Thursday, December 10, 2009

6-month review

December 10, 2009--  6-month review

Apparently I have already been here for 6 months.  I think that calls for a moments of brief reflection.  Maybe I will do this every three-six months—absolutely no promises.

Where am I?

I am still living in a country by the name of Moldova.  It hasn’t changed much sense I have been here, although my local internet provider promises me that faster internet is right around the corner.  I have talked about the possible changing of the political regime in earlier posts.  The latest news on that subject is there is no change—again.  Moldova currently has a interim president who will be there at least until next year.  The rather large communist party declined to offer a candidate for the presidency and boycotted the vote in general, leaving the reformist parties 8 votes shy of the 61 votes that are requisite for a presidential hopeful.  Interesting, yes. Prolonged politics just like the US, yes.   I’ll keep you informed.

What am I doing?

Currently I am exploring possible projects with my partner.  I would really like to do a project growing mushrooms with local farmers, but I have yet to have found a suitable partner for that.  I am also trying to put together a presentation that is based purely on cheap alternatives to expensive store-brought products for farmers.  We will see how that one goes. It is a rather difficult thing to do. 

Other projects involve trying to figure how I can help preschools here in my village.   There are a total of 4, all of which need help in their own sort of way.  One in particular is in considerably more need than the others although getting on the same page as to what is needed has proven to be a challenge. 

The one project that I have complete faith in right now, takes places at the health club that I mentioned earlier in my blogging adventures.  The club I have realized provides a great alternative for teenagers to do something productive, other than drinking.  I, for example, can speak from experience on the things the things you teenagers resort to, when they feel there is nothing to do in town.  This particular club, despite the endless character it possesses is in desperate of some essential repairs:  a roof that is the prime culprit for the growth of mold; a floor that has been the victim of 25 years domestic abuse from the dropping of weights; and a general scrub and paint job that would spruce the place up.   I would like to organize some sort of artistic contest where a local student(s) would be able to paint or add a piece of art to the décor of the gym when the place has been completed.  A forewarning to you all, my partner in this project and I have decided that the best funding source available for this particular project would be a grant in which I request funding from various sources in the states—including you kind folks.  I will keep you updated.  This may very well be the death of this blog.    

Can I talk to people in Russian, yes or no? Answer:  kind of, sometimes, maybe, all of which are suitable answers.  It is funny how fast a normal conversation can dive into the realm of Aaron-has-no-idea-what-you-are-talking-about.  I feel like I have gotten to a level where I can in general understand what is happening in conversation around me.  With adequate time, I can contribute a decent answer that mostly likely won’t be grammatically correct, but at least it is a try.  I am excited to see what an additional six months will do for me. 

How do I occupy myself?

Occupied is not the best word for it, merely the first word that comes to mind.  Pace in general is a lot slower here, I usually spend the first half of my work day exploring possibilities for projects and having small conversations with people at work.   I usually get distracted by a decent modicum of news via about 5 different sites.  Today, for example, I explored the how to use Google Wave and how I might be able help my partners here with it, if of course they have computers.  I usually spend a good chunk of my day exploring something like that. 

After a large Bulgarian/Moldovan lunch I will study a little bit with one of my two tutors.  I usually go to tutor classes for 2 hours at a time and twice a week.  A typical class consists of trying to talk without the help of books or dictionaries. We usually simply talk about the things I have done since the last time I have seen my tutor, after my new material has run out we descend into the Russian textbooks which I was given at the start of the Peace Corps which still, not surprisingly, contain a lot of material I don’t yet know. 

After the lesson, I either play games in English with a 4th grade class or I make my way to the gym.  Hopefully I have worked up at least a couple drops of sweat from the workout, otherwise the super-sized meal that is waiting at home will add two kilograms rather than one.  I have made a promise to myself to regain my health when I return to the states, it will have to wait two years though.   

Food in general—how is it?

I already mentioned I plan to give an epic fight to regain my health when I get back to the states, that having been said I haven’t become accustomed to nearly all of the food here.  From the overly-buttered and -oiled everything, to the sheer mass amount of food consistently in front of you , to the soup appropriately described as the “fat soup” amongst volunteers.  Yes I eat it all and it is pretty good, although if I was to name a top ten of things that I miss it food items would probably make up 8 of those slots.  I have found it is really easy to miss good food.
That is all I have for the moment, I am a little tired.  How have the last 6 months treated you?  Any big news that I don’t know about?

Cheers folks,