Though I’ve been posting pictures, and you’ve been seeing my whereabouts, I’m feeling the need for some good old Moldovan stories. To start off with a quick and funny one—we had a language training weekend a few weeks ago, and there I was sitting with my Moldovan teacher, Adrian. He’s a smart man, that Adrian, and much more educated than most Moldovans. He speaks English fluently, and takes pride in keeping up with American culture…
There was a talking prompt about American TV. A girl in class was going on and on about how much she loves Sarah Jessica Parker. After about ten minutes of her preoccupied monologue, we realized we were being insensitive to Adrian, talking about something he’d have no idea about. So we stopped, and I apologized to Adrian for getting caught up in our own conversation. He was offended. He knew what we were talking about, he protested. And then with a hmph!, he spouted it: I’m aware. I’ve seen “Sex in the Village.”
Note the goat pictures below. The mother goat, shown, Mitzah Capritzah, gave birth last week. Scott and I were sitting on my bed, playing chess, when in walked Nina, my new host mother, holding a baby goat. Her cheeks were lollipop red from her abrupt entrance—she’s one Moldovan who understands privacy. “I just realized you both hadn’t seen the babies,” she cried, “I wanted to bring one in.” Two days later I asked her their names. The mother has a name, but the babies are identity-less. Will you help me find names for my baby goats? Post comments, with name suggestions. Winning names will be announced, with proper credit awarded, in two weeks.
And then, of course, there’s basketball. After a three month season, my team finally went to the peace corps tournament, to play other Moldovan teams. My team was furiously excited, being the first time for most out of the regional center, and the first for everyone in the town of Orhei. We were to meet in front of the school at 7am. At 6am, I was woken up by the ringing of my phone. “We’re all here, where are you?” my team wanted to know.
The first week was great. We had a big win against Scott’s team, and a big loss against a city team, Singerei. Spirits were high. My team, who try to refuse to run at every practice, and never want to do any drills, showed up to practice everyday the subsequent week, at 1:30, and stayed till 5. The running drills that in January they wouldn’t do once, they were doing 5 times. They were talking and drawing out strategies. Obviously, I was a happy little volunteer.
Week 2, once again, they arrive at school an hour earlier than planned. It’s Sergio’s birthday, the tall kid who moved my wood in his horse and carriage. Everyone is pumped. The first game goes terribly, with our four points coming from 2 successful foul shots and one basket, thanks to Ana. There were two games before our next, so my kids went to the market to get “some lunch.”
They come back, a half hour before the game, visibly excited. Being my naïve self, I assumed this was evidence of their high spirits; to me, they were more pumped than ever. The game starts, against Scott’s team once again, and it’s the sloppiest basketball I’ve ever seen in my life. And let me tell you, I know sloppy since I’ve lived in this country. They aren’t passing to anyone, aren’t staying in their zones, even worse, throwing the ball over their heads backwards to shoot. (Sorry Dad, but don’t think I’m pretending I’m not guilty of the same folly in my youth.) I got angry. Time outs were called. Why were they acting like this? It was a sign of disrespect, in my opinion at that moment, that they thought they could act like fools and still beat Scott’s team. They ended up winning by a basket, when the week earlier they had beat this very team by over 20 points. When they lined up to shake the other teams hands, I could smell their little secret on their breaths. They were all, save from the two girls on the team, horribly intoxicated.
Needless to say I wasn’t happy. My body in fact, still, feels pinched with anger at them. But it has waned slightly, after realizing that it wasn’t in fact done out of disrespect for me, but rather represents an untidy part of their culture, that is supported by their parents, and echoed through every hallway of their daily lives. It was a sad day for me.
But then Shaun came to town! I had my first visitor, who can be seen below! We went to the big city, bought a grill the size of floppy paper plate, and had a bbq to end all bbqs. I suppose what I mean by that is that it made us tremendously happy. Scott and Shaun bought meat at the market in Soroca, after almost buying what they thought was a lamb, and later decided was a skinned dog. They bought pork instead. We grilled tons of veggies and sat on the porch of my new house until the sun went down. It was such a serene night for me here in Moldova, because it was calming and reminiscent of home, but also because it promised night after night of the same easily attained happiness here. We’ve vowed to grill every night of the summer.
I have some crazy school stories, but I think I’ll save them for later, and let the tranquility of our bbq induced happiness marinate a while with you all. Besides, who wants to hear about a an 11th grade boy beating the pulp out of his petite and shy, female colleague? And why would I go into detail about breaking up the fight, and then having the principal laugh at me for caring about the incident, for treating it like it was something that needed to be addressed on a community level. Surely I wouldn’t tell you that he told me, sincerely, that I should have smashed both of their faces in, as a penalty. And there was no shock by him when I wanted to do a violence lesson with the class, and the community. None at all.