Saturday, March 22, 2008

Things I'll Miss


I have so many things that are happening in life now, and so many little stories that I want to tell, that I end up just being intimidated about posting. I am going to try and warm back up into the process by making short and quick posts rather than the sweeping epics that I always plan out in my head. Hope somebody out there is still reading....
I say "things I'll miss" because it is pretty definite that I will be leaving Moldova this summer. I could stay if I wanted, but the jokes about being the old man here are getting a bit...old, and if I stay another year I may end up being a naturalized citizen. That and one can only survive so long on zero salary. I thus am planning on being back in the states sometime in July, and I hope to start grad school in the fall. More on all that at some other time, for now I want to talk about today.
One of the things that I think I will miss the most is the "piata" (pronounced pee-ahts-uh), which is the Romanian word for market, and is something like the conception of an American farmer's market and an outdoor Wal-mart all mixed into one. Our office is not far from the city's central market, and there is a smaller market just down the road from my house. Actually, just about anywhere in the country you can find a market full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and all sorts of random household necessities.
I feel I am one of the few volunteers that has truly embraced the central piata here in Chisinua, and I know I am one of the very few that actually enjoys going there. Today I was reminded of why it makes me smile rather than stress.
First of all, you can get just about anything you could ever want (well, if it is available in country). It takes a while to get to know where everything is, and even then the place is in constant flux, so each trip is a bit of an adventure. I go so frequently though, and have been here long enough, that I feel I know exactly where to find just about whatever I want. I even have favorite vendors who know me and smile whenever I show up. My "butter lady" for example probably survives off of my baking addiction. She has to be completely baffled by the fact that the skinny, blond, America shows up to buy a kilo of butter on almost a weekly basis. She always greets me with a smile though and a few cordial words. She finally asked today if I was married, to which I explained that I did not have a wife who I kept chained to the stove, but rather I was the one using her homemade butter for banana bread and brownies (two food items that all but don't exist here). This baffled her enough for me to make my escape and finish my errands, but I will be back. Guess I will just have to bring her a sample of my wares.

I realized today how much I will miss her, and all the other folks who bid me health and wellness when I go shopping there...just for the simple fact that I am an American volunteer working in Moldova. I'll also miss the fact that I can buy a kilo of butter, a kilo of cheese, and an additional kilo each of onions, eggplant, tomatoes, yellow and red peppers, and three types of salad greens... all for under $30 (oh and zucchini and lemons too). Maybe that isn't quite the bargain I think it is, but it seemed pretty great to me.

The piata has definitely been my friend over these past three years, so I hope wherever I end up has a great farmer's market, or that I end up in a house with a few hectares behind it. So, fellow volunteers, get to know and love the paitas of Moldova, and you few stalwart Americans who still read this blog...head on down to the local farmer's market this weekend.

2 comments:

fraud snoop said...

The pictures remind me of places far away. Will let you know how things are down under soon. Love from Omaha.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could head to a farmer's market this weekend! sadly, mine doesn't open for another couple weeks. but maria & i are counting down to when we can restart our summer saturday tradition of biking down there for pastry & the week's supply of fruit & veggies!!!

Keep me posted on your return & where you'll be - I miss you & look forward to hopefully seeing you this summer!

love, tami