(Curt)

June 13 through August 10: Mileșstii Mici

**Disclaimer #1 – The photos in this post were not taken by Susan and thus may not be of the quality that you are used to.

As ya’ll can see we finally got access to the internet.com here at our house. I am just going to give you one big post to re-cap the summer (8 weeks of training) here in the Dova. Basically I am lazier than Susan – whatev though. Yes, we have been here much longer than 8 weeks. However, I spent the first 8 weeks in training. It will be useful to note that Susan and I lived in different villages during the training period – 8 weeks for me and 10 weeks for her. This was required because we are in different programs. She is in the Health Education Program, and I am in the Agribusiness and Rural Business Development Program (ARBD).

My training was held in a little village of about 5,000 people named Mileștii Mici. The village is about 20 kilometers south of Chișinau, which is Moldova’s capital. Mileștii Mici’s claim to fame is that is has the largest under-ground wine storage facility in the world. They even have a little award on the wall to tell you about it. I won’t bore everyone with the details, but if you are interested you can go to their website at http://www.milestii-mici.md/eng/about.  A group of volunteers, including me visited the winery.

Curt in the underground wine storage facility next to two large oak casks.

They claim the mold, fungus, cobwebs, ect. add character and value to the old wines.  I’m skeptical…

In true Russian fasion there was even a secret room in the winery where some of the most valuable wines were hidden during Gorbachev’s prohibition campaign from 1985 to 1987.  Most of the wine being stored here were destroyed during that time. In the bottom right corner of the photo you can see a wheel and a track that rolled a false wall in front of the path and concealed a secret room.

 

I loved the geography of the village because it was situated in a little „box canyon. ” (**Disclaimer #2 – I am going to call it a canyon for lack of a better term. If this „canyon” were in Southern Utah we would call it a wash at best.) Once you climbed the hills that surrounded the village on three sides you were on top of a relatively flat plateau that contained nothing but farm land and dirt roads.  One of my favorite things to do in this village was run. I could take off in any direction and be on a dirt road in less than 8.7 minutes. I loved to go on long epic runs where I would make a big circle around the village by way of the dirt roads on top of my „canyon”. There are so many roads connecting the different fields and villages that you could easily run for 50 miles and only spend 5% of your time on a paved road. In the 8 weeks I was in Milestii Mici I only ran into two issues with the running. First, because soil in Moldova is so rich, rain makes sloppy mess out of everything that is not rock. There were several times when I thought the roads were dry enough to run on, but quickly found out that they were not. Normally because I had already started my run, I of course could not turn around. The second problem that I ran into was one particular dog. Most dogs in this fair land are one-foot-tall door bells / garbage disposals. They exist to eat table scraps and bark at strange Americans. Generally they are really harmless. However there was one waist-high man-eater that caught me alone on a dirt road one time. I had a lead on him, and the road was slightly down-hill, so I thought I might be able to out run him. After running 20 seconds at about 90%, I came to the conclusion the he was faster than me, and that I needed a new plan. So… I did the manly thing and climbed a tree. (The fact that I am publishing this makes it even worse, but oh well.) Although mean looking, I don’t think my friend was very smart. He never figured out exactly where I went, and after about 10 minutes he trotted away triumphantly. I forgot a third minor problem with running; sometimes the combination of questionable food, questionable water and all the bouncing was more than my large intestines could take.  I have included some photos of the land surrounding the village below.

I also actually learned a few things while I was in PST (Pre-Service Training) as they call it here. Nearly everyday, except for Sunday, we had language class from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Then the afternoons were left to additional cultural training, technical training or „self-directed activities.” The self-directed activities were intended to be spent on projects we were working on, language study or some other useful pursuit. Sometimes I may have directed myself to a run or a nap, but I am not really sure. We attended language classes at the local school and there were four Romanian teachers for the 14 ARBD volunteers in the village. I was in a class with four other volunteers. We had a good time and learned a little Romanian as well. I really enjoyed the other volunteers that are in my program. We got along well and had fun for the most part. We were in training during the World Cup, and it was fun to go to one of the local bars where they were showing the games on a big screen. I am not really a soccer fan, but it is such a big deal here that the atmosphere made it enjoyable.

All volunteers are required to live with a host family for the first 6 months that they are in Moldova. My host family in Mileștii Mici consisted of a young couple (Silvia – 27 and Andrei – 28) and their 3 year old son. We lived in a small two bedroom house where I had one room and the three of them shared the other room. It was a comfortable place to live and they treated me very well. I am certainly not used to living with a 3 year old, and that was a different experience to say the least. One great thing about Moldova is the gardens. Every morning I would go out into the garden and pick fresh tomatoes, cucumbers or carrots. There is nothing better than a tomato straight from the garden. The parents of both adults in my host family also lived in the village, so I got to know them over they 8 weeks. They were very kind generous people. One time we stopped by Andrei’s parent’s house at 10PM and she insisted on feeding us a meal.

As the weeks went on it became more and more difficult to live away from Susan. I told her that the 10 weeks was a trial separation, but she didn’t think that was very funny. Anyway, I hated the trial separation. On some Thursday’s we had joint training with all new volunteers, but other than that we would only see each other from Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. Additionally, despite the fact that our villages were only about 20k apart it usually took at least an hour and a half to get from one to the other, owing to the fact that we had to take two different buses which came and went as they pleased.  Now that you have endured all of my words, I will leave you with some random photos and captions when applicable.

The main drag in town.  We actually had paved roads, which is not normal for a village.

This one’s for Kyle (not Frank).  It turns out rabbits are a major source of meat in Moldova.  The meat is okay, but I am not a fan of their livers.

This was a little dinner party that my host family had my last night in the village.

Me with Silvia and Stephan (the 3 year old).

One of the many shrines that have been built all over every village in Moldova.

One of the village watering holes.

Dinner: bread, beans and goat cheese

 

As ya’ll can see we finally got access to the internet.com here at our house. I am just going to give you one big post to re-cap the summer (8 weeks of training) here in the Dova. Basically I am lazier than Susan – whatev though. Yes, we have been here much longer than 8 weeks. However, I spent the first 8 weeks in training. It will be useful to note that Susan and I lived in different villages during the training period – 8 weeks for me and 10 weeks for her. This was required because we are in different programs. She is in the Health Education Program, and I am in the Agribusiness and Rural Business Development Program (ARBD).

My training was held in a little village of about 5,000 people named Milesti Mici. The village is about 20 kilometers south of Chisinau, which is Moldova’s capital. Milesti Mici’s claim to fame is that is has the largest under-ground wine storage facility in the world. They even have a little plack on the wall to tell you about it. I won’t bore everyone with the details, but if you are interested you can go to their website at http://www.milestii-mici.md/eng/about. I loved the geography of the village because it was situated in a little „box canyon. ” (**Disclaimer – I am going to call it a canyon for lack of a better term. If this „canyon” were in Southern Utah we would call it a wash at best.) Once you climbed the hills tat surrounded the village on three sides you were on top of a relatively flat plateu that contained nothing but farm land and dirt roads.

One of my favorite things to do in this village was run. I could take off in any direction and be on a dirt road in less than 8.7 minutes. I loved to go on long epic runs where I would make a big circle aroud the village by way of the dirt roads on top of my „canyon”. There are so many roads connecting the differet fields and villages that you could easily run for 50 miles and only spend 5% of your time on a paved road. In the 8 weeks I was in Milesti Mici I only ran into two issues with the running. First, because soil in Moldova is so rich, rain makes sloppy mess out of everything that is not rock. There were several times when I thought the roads were dry enough to run but quickly found out that they were not. But because I had already started my run I of course could not turn around. The second problem that I ran into was one particular dog. Most dogs in this fair land are one-foot-tall door bells / garbage disposals. They exist to eat table scraps and bark at strange Americans. Generally they are really harmless. However there was one waiste-high man-eater that caught me alone on a dirt road one time. I had a lead on him, and the road was slightly down-hill, so I thought I might be able to out run him. After running 20 seconds at about 90%, I came to the conclusion the he was faster than me, and that I needed a new plan. So… I did the manly thing and climbed a tree. (The fact that I am publishing this makes it even worse, but whatever.) Although mean looking, I don’t think my friend was very smart. He never figured out exactly where I went, and after about 10 minutes he trotted away triumphantly. I forgot a third minor problem with running; sometimes the combination of questionable food, questionable water and all the bouncing was more than my large intestine could take.

I also actually learned a few things while I was in PST (Pre-Service Training) as they call it here. Nearly everyday but Sunday we had language class from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Then the afternoons were left to additional cultural training, technical training or „self-directed activities.” The self-directed activities were intended to be spent on projects we were working on, language study or some other useful persuit. Sometimes I may have directed myself to a run or a nap, but I am not really sure. We attended language classes at the local school and there were four Romanian teachers for the 14 ARBD volunteers in the village. I was in a class with four other volunteers. We had a good time and learned a little Romanian as well. I really enjoyed the other volunteers that are in my program. We got along well and had a lot of fun for the most part. We were in training during the World Cup, and it was fun to go to one of the local bars where they were showing the games on a big screen. I am not really a soccer fan, but it is such a big deal here that the atmosphere made it enjoyable.

All volunteers are required to live with a hist family for the first 6 months that they are in Moldova. My host family in Milesti Mici consisted of a mother, a father and their 3 year old son. The couple is 27 and 28 years old which made things very nice for me. Because we are the same age they treated me like a peer as opposed to other volunteers that were treated like children. One of the most challenging things about my training in Peace Corps was the fact that as „trainees” we were very often trated like children and told exactly what to do and how to do it. Ultimately I did survive the experience though. Anyway, back to my host family. We lived in a small two bedroom house where I had one room and the three of them shared the other room. It was a comfortable place to live and they treated me very well. I am certainly not used to living with a 3 year old and that was a differet experience to say the least. One great thing about Moldova and my host family is the gardens. Every morning I would go out into the garden and pick fresh tomatoes, cucumbers or carrots. There is nothing better than a tomatoe straight from the garden. The parents of both adults in my host family also lived in the village so I got to know them over they 8 weeks. They were very kind generous people. One time we stopped by my „host father’s” parent’s house at 10PM and she insisted on making and feeding us a meal.

As the weeks went on it became more and more difficult to live away from Susan. I told her that the 10 weeks was a trial separation, but she didn’t think that was very funny. Anyway, I hated the trial separation. On some Thursday’s we had joint training with all new volunteers, but other than that we would only see each other from Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. Additionally, despite the fact that our villages were only about 20k appart it usually took at least an hour and a half to get from one to the other, owing to the fact that we had to take two different busses which came and went as they pleased.

 

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