Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I was honored to be invited to my first Moldovan wedding. Natalia the daughter of Rodica’s sister Liuba was to marry Andrei Pisica on the 22nd of September and I was told we were to leave at 11:30 am. I expected to celebrate into the wee hours of morning as is the tradition of the Moldovan weddings so I was glad to be somewhat rested. Greeted by Stefan at the bus stop, he grabbed my bag and escorted me home with encouragement to quickly change into the most frumos outfit I could find. I donned my newly purchased shoes which caused a bit of trouble as I navigated the rocky streets of Milestii Mici and rushed off to the home of the bride’s parents to witness the first round of events.

There I found Natalia in her wedding dress posing seductively for the photographer who would follow her every move until 5 am. She twirled about for the photographer as if she was a runway model. Soon the first guests arrived, mostly close family and friends of the bride, bringing small sums of money to drop into a basket which was strategically placed on the table full of flowers, candles, food and drink. Guests who were currently single were given small corsages. Pink for the girls and blue for the boys.

My seven “sisters” laughed when they saw that I too was wearing one!

Soon it was time to assemble outside to wait for the family of the groom who just finished having the same reception at their own house. We heard the music from a distance and watched as the grooms family walked together up the narrow street. Pails of water were thrown upon their path to signify richness in their life together.

They stopped at the gate while the mother of the bride served each of them specially prepared jello with a spoon. They were then invited in to the house. At the doorway the groom was met with two brightly decorated rings of bread. They were held up at the doorway nearly covering the bride on the other side of the threshold. Natalia held a bouquet of dried basil which she dipped in holy water, placed her hand through the bread ring and sprinkled the grooms entourage many times with the water. He then placed his hand through the other ring and sent a red cloth sailing towards her. She laughed to find that he’d played a little joke on her. It seems the package is to contain her ring along with some candy to assure a sweet life together… he’d kept the ring and only sent the sweets!!!

At this he was asked inside where the entire group ate, received more guests, drank champagne and began to dance the hora around the table. Rice was thrown over the couple and they began to dance out of the doorway. Suddenly, as they reached the threshold, the brother of the bride stepped in between them, forcing the groom outside and the bride inside. He took a knife – placed its point into the door frame and began to ask the groom for money which he placed under the tip of the knife. They continued to negotiate until the brother was satisfied with the amount of the gift. He then allowed the groom to take his sister.

Outside another table of food had been prepared where everyone ate and drank once again. Another hora this time with the mothers and fathers offering sweets and drinks to the wedding party as they danced in the traditional circle. The bride stood on a chair breaking pieces of bread and throwing them over her shoulder for her guests to catch. The groom helped her down and we were off to a tour of the local wine factory with the wedding party. As we rode out of the village headed for the winery, the villagers stood at their gates many of them with buckets of water to pour on the street in front of the car carrying the bride and groom.

Now this was the most interesting wedding chase I’d ever seen. It was similar to ours in many ways… the bride and groom being chauffered in a jet black SUV, with tin cans strung on the back and streamers across the front. A large gold crown was affixed to the top of the car and several cars followed them honking their horns all the way.. the interesting and frightening part was the drivers were playing “chicken” passing on steep hills and sharp curves to get ahead of the other cars. Made me wonder if anyone has lost their life in the pursuit of this foolish tradition.

We arrived, did a walking and driving tour of the winery and stopped in the reception room for the official ceremony. The couple made it official with their signatures and the first of several uncomfortable kisses and they were off to place the flowers at the foot of a monument in the capital city of Chisinau. I opted out of this part as I knew it was just a lot of pictures, and tossing of bouquets. Instead I took a little nap anticipating the LONG night ahead.

The bride’s family all walked together to the reception waiting at the gate for the bride and groom to come out and receive us along with the family of the groom. Sweets were offered and we were escorted into the hall to wait in a long line while each guest was receieved by the bride and groom dropping more money and flowers on the table. The music began and after a dance or two we assembled in the dining room which held long tables filled will traditional food, champagne, cognac, vodka and water. One table held all of the flowers up in an arch as the groom carried the bride the entire length of the hall to the head table.

We were entertained with vocalists during dinner often standing and dancing at our chairs. Soon we went back into dance at one point being entertained by some scantily clad dancers with glitter and fur dancing to songs such as Cher’s “Strong enough to live with out you”. Seems the bride pays for this little extravaganza to give her groom the last opportunity to look with lust upon another. After much dancing we went back into the dining hall to have a second course of hot food and more drinks of course. The time was now 2:30 am.

At this each guest was given the microphone to offer their wishes to the couple and announce the amount of their cash gift, which was placed in a large basket carried by the wedding party. It continued until everyone announced their gift and the dancing began once again until 5 am! Such are the weddings in Moldova!

Monday, September 03, 2007

all's well and Happy Labor Day!!!

Been awhile since I last posted and currently still are short on time to do so.. I will be powering up my brand new Macbook soon and hope to have Internet access at my new place!!! It will be a whole new world! Been in the dark long enough! So..... I've had a few dear friends who have asked about my health and just want to say.. for now it's fine. Not much can be done but wait for it to get better and I continue my service here!!!! Hope all's well with all of you and I'll let you know when I get some new pictures and words up about my adventures! I'm off to Bulgaria tomorrow!~

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

June starts out with a bang

Well... one day June 4th to be exact as I sat on my bed quietly reading my latest greatest novel, I kept trying to shoo a fly away from my shoulder.. after a time or two I couldn't imagine why this fly continued to land on the same place and I decided to find out what he was after! So, moments later, when he showed up again I realized it was not a fly - in fact it was not an insect at all, but rather it must be some dirt on my glasses... I took them off.. dusted them off returned them to my nose and it still continued to appear.. Oh silly me.. it must be some fuzz on my eyelash... I try to brush it off and now begin to realize this vision is not on the outside of my eye at all, but somewhere INSIDE my eye that I am seeing this black thing.

It started so suddenly and I really wasn't sure what to think, so I called the doc in Chisinau who immediately sent a driver out to my house to pick me up and get me to the capital and the comfortable medical facility. Once again.. doctor visit after doctor visit - cat scans, ultrasounds and dilated eyeballs, all of the most serious comliplications were ruled out and it was determined that possibily a recent head injury may have been the reason why it came on so suddenly although it is a normal complication with years of nearsightedness. There is a metal bar strung across the sidewalk at my residence and I don't always remember that it is there and had whacked the side of my head pretty hard with it..

It is interesting, because the way medicine is practiced here is to rule out the most serious indications first. So.. you have a headache??? Well.. let's make sure with this cat scan($48.00) that you don't have a tumor or aneurism... and now an ultrasound ($12.00) to measure the blood flow into your brain... so we can rule out a possible stroke... you get the idea... So.. the medicine prescribed was not available in Moldova, so straight from Romania, my medicine was picked up and brought to me.... Vitamin E and myrtle pills and boric acid drops for 60 days to increase the vascular fitness of my eye. Can't say they're not thorough!!!

So... I left the medical facility cleared for a planned vacation to Barcelona to see Linda Gail Erickson.. my high school partner in crime and fellow majorette... although we've been in touch throughout the years, we'd not seen each other for 22 years!!! More about Barcelona in my next post!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

IWCM Night of Art

On a Friday night in May I walked with Marisa to the International Women's Club Night of Art to sell the greeting cards that I'd made from the kids artwork at the Art school in which I work. I was surprised to see the grounds of the Moldexpo - a sort of convention center. We didn't feel like we were in Moldova!!! Here I am posing with the sign since we are the same age... a picture of the entrance, the grounds a monument and the set up of the NIGHT OF ART 25 percent of the proceeds from the artwork sold went to the Moldovan Society for the Blind.

It was a successful night for me as I sold all of the cards I'd made, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting many other Americans working here in Moldova.

The food and drink
went on throughout the evening and was free to those volunteers working the show... we took advantage of it of course!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mother's Day

I was at the Buddhist Meditation Retreat with 10 other volunteers on Mother's Day and was treated like royalty!!! I think they even were letting me win at cards!!! ha!!! Their favorite phrase was "it's your day!!!" I didn't even have to wash dishes!!! Here is a picture of the group with me holding my card that the "kids" signed and wrote in - they picked me a bouquet of flowers and Ryan even treated me to a massage and facial!!! complete with cucumbers for my eyes!!!! How sweet they are!!! We passed around a few favorite "mom" stories and enjoyed our last meal together. It was wonderful and memorable and added to the joy I'd received from many other friends for Mother's Day wishes!!! Thank you!!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


It all began Saturday morning May 12th after I'd accepted an invitation to join a Buddhist meditation treat just hoping for a few days of rest and learning. I got that and much more as I soon learned we'd be going to the woods and staying in cabins while listening to lectures about the teachings of Buddha and meditating. Here is the picture of the River Nistru which is the locale of the retreat. and next is a picture of our teacher, Petya who shared his knowledge and his personality with us. He was taken into the police station on Friday night with the rest of the "campers" for failure to register a religious gathering... I missed all of that commotion darn it.. as I was at the Internation Women's Club Night of Art. Anyway...
There were about 15 of us staying in 6 little cabins with a couple of decks and a couple of hot showers and a nice view of the River and woods. The weather was beautiful making it easy to enjoy the beautiful outdoors!!!
We took long walks in the woods,
hung out at the "beach" played alot of cards and other games, ate together, learned together, meditated together, played together and generally got to know each other much better by the time the weekend was through!

Here's Ryan with a dandelion - she worked hard to make sure everyone was happy and comfortable. And we were!!!

Here Petya cooks our frigarui for our last great feast and Angela and I pose with the vegetarian version...
and the group responsible for all the great food and organization of it... especially Masha lower left... also Rok, Adam Andy Petya and Angela

Sunday morning as we went for an excursion to the beach, we (me, Nina, Jake and Jessica) got a few good laughs when we saw the babas on the beach... one one liner after another ensued.

After packing it all up we headed back to Chisinau where we stayed one more night at Adam's Apartment and had our final meditation.. what better way to end it all than with a strawberry hookah!!!

Monday, May 07, 2007


Our Host and Hostess for the much anticipated Cinco De Mayo party posing at the top of their wooden staircase located on every floor of their mansion seen here from just the right view.
Holy!!! Spoiled rich kids!!!
Drew and Sarah especially Sarah has been planning this party since last June I hear... so what a thrill for me to be invited and make the seven hour bus trip to Glodeni to see them, stay in their mansion break bread with their family and see the other volunteers in Glodeni which are in my group 19!!! Here is a shot of the field of rape oilseed which I viewed nearly the entire trip... it was actually neon!!!

started out the night by breaking in his brand new party apartment with a fresh pitcher of Sangria...Kelli made mojitos and of course true to form, I drank coca cola!!! The food was OUTSTANDING!!! Guacamole, Salsa, Tacos, Potato Skins, Bean Salad all the favorites and just like you'd get back home!!!
We ate and ate and then even broke a pinata before turning on the dance tunes and partying in the apartment for the rest of the nite.

Drew and Jake get it on late in the night...

Here are the three Group 19's representing.. Charlie, Me and Joe.. Charlie and Joe live in Glodeni.

Here are the 18's mostly teachers.. with whom I've had the pleasure of gettin to know through my association with Drew and Sarah..
Nina, Jessica, Drew, Sarah,Abigail, Sophia, Jake and Kelli.

It being Abigail's
birthday she brought a cake and ice cream so we enjoyed some dessert late into the night and gave her a rousing round of Happy Birthday in many languages !!

On the bus trip home I was delayed nearly an hour and a half as a tractor/trailer had somehow gotten stuck across the entire road making it impassable for our bus... There were police cars allowing vehicles around, but no room for our bus!!!
I watched as they borrowed a shovel from the villagers and started digging and digging and digging... thankfully someone called another truck in and finally they pulled it out with cables and we were on our way.Caused quite a stir!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Churches here are beautiful and well kept and inspirational as was the midnight Easter luminaria service which we attended. As it is the custom for women to cover their heads when entering the church we had to scrounge around the house for a head cloth... here is the result... hmmmm.....
The midnight luminaria service was held both inside the church out out. The flame from Jerusalem was brought into the front of the church and people nearly ran to the altar with such excitement to light their own candles off of that flame... beautiful chants and songs were sung... we walked around the church perimeter serveral times and somehow I got separated from Vanny and Drea, but I stood alone amidst the sea of Romanian and thoroughly enjoyed the service. It is traditional to stand for the entire service which can go on for up to 3 or 4 hours I understand...

The next morning we ate with Drea's Granny. Granny brought out the red eggs - dyed red because Mary Magdalene brought eggs to the base of the cross and the blood from Jesus' feet dripped onto the white eggs..
You are to rub one red egg and one white egg on each cheek... for beauty of spirit or something, and then it is traditional to do this "egg crack" game with the first meal of the day on Easter.I really liked this tradition - fun for all You just start tapping the ends of your eggs with others in the room and when both of your ends are broken you're out! Vanny was the eventual winner as you see the two of us here tapping our eggs.

The next Sunday and Monday is another holiday which is the time when everyone goes to the cemetery with food and wine and they eat and drink in memory of those who have died. It seemed a little creepy to me at first, but everyone in town is theredoing the same thing... people are happy and talk about their mutual friends that have gone before them...and it is a great time to get together and remember loved ones. Here is a picture of a typical cemetery.

Here is an example of the tulips in bloom along the public sidewalk in Stefan Voda.. it's beautiful with gardens everywhere!!!