Wine Fest and the 31 Lei Dublu Cheeseburger

Hello there. I’m home again. I just finished 2 weeks of staying in Chisinau (capital) for training phase 3. I wrote this in the early morning (Sunday) surrounded by left over crumbs of funfetti and half a bowl of icing. Everyone else is asleep and its 7:43 AM. I’ve been having trouble sleeping (not a bad thing once in a while). This post will be my attempt to write down what happened a series of events that led to the 31 lei mcdouble.

During PST3 we had non-training / language events(open space/ free idea generation conference and organization informational), but the biggest one that everyone looks forward to is wine fest. The ability to taste great wine (39 vineyards) from all over the country and celebrate it with your closes friends is a chance that I did not want to miss out on. Some people got a group together for 3 apartments in the city (nicknamed o suta *100) to attend the conference and also to stay one more night for wine fest.

Morning sunrise from the apartment balcony

The first night (Thursday) we had 10+ people in one bed room apartment. We made some great burritos and stayed up pretty late into the night. There was good music (like the one above), loud conversations, and a small discoteca formed in the kitchen. David taught us how to dance the Kazakh version of the hora that night. We didn’t go to sleep until 2 am(?), but I woke up at around 7:09 the next morning.

Made some cookies for the apartment.

The actual day of conference was interesting (Friday). We had many good topics from the M28/27 about their secondary projects, but it seemed a little bit more like a lecture or presentation rather than the free flowing conversations we had at civic fest (similar conference but about civil society). There was only two open discussion groups that I saw from the title and I felt we made good progress on understand the topics. There is a diverse group of people that are going to work closely together in the future. This is a challenge in itself haha. I’m going to have to stumble through this change.

The night was pretty relaxing and everyone just stayed in, listened to music, and talked about random things. A series of conversations happened and sleep escaped me again, waking myself up too early to remember.

Special dance and drum line that happened to be at the festival.

The day of wine fest, everybody else woke up at 11 am or early and we decided to make a piaţa run to the market for scramble eggs with mushrooms, peppers, and fried potatoes. The combination of Cholula paired with the combination was amazing to say the least. The meal is actually the best breakfast I’ve had in Moldova, so far. After, everyone slowly got up and walked to the center of town at 2pm. We saw the entire width of the park and block of the center totally shut down. There were a lot of expats, volunteers, and local Moldovan enjoying the nice sunny day. I walked around with Daniel to sample and decide which vineyard I should bring back to my mom and dad (39 vineyards attended) . There was a list compiled with good and decent wines that I can refer back to later. We walked around and sampled for a good hour and then met fellow volunteers for to discuss and try out some different varieties of things that were not up for sampling. (Note: follow S. Ham’s and bring snacks next year from Unimart).

Night soon fell and the temperature did too. I was able to meet some German professors, expats of the neighborhood, but I soon became hungry. I got back to the table with the group from the apartment and found someone to go with. I had a decent pork kabob, mamaliga (polenta) with a special “hot” sauce [need to remember names! 😦 ] , and some veggies. Sitting on the church steps, I don’t remember why, but I randomly expressed Aggie spirit by whopping with Chad, had a confusing conversation about shoes and why someone without talking could stand out as an American; the last one seemed to bother her a lot. Soon after, the groups split up, people went various ways and I was getting tired again. At 10 pm we danced the hora to what seemed like a dozen times to this folk rock band. They sounded like a Moldovan Of Mice and Men that mixed beats that you can dance the hora in. I was beginning to feel my lack of sleep catching up, most people were being separated off, and the kick of nicotine was wearing off too. Someone mentioned McDonald’s.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t eat McDonald’s in Moldova but the series of feelings got to me and I ordered a double cheeseburger. The most expensive dollar menu, “two dollar and fifty cent”, I ever purchased, but it was good; the little mini burger reminded me of America; and it gave me a taste of everything I left back home. After finishing the meal and walking back with Miki and Chad, while Chad was singing old school Dr. Dre and Eminem songs, I realized these moments (wine fest, people moving apart, and meeting the most diverse group of people I will probably get to know) was priceless and I am kind of glad that I have these unique experiences. I now know coming to Moldova is the right decision and no other Peace Corps site could of fulfilled the series of events, the new relationships in Moldova.