Archive for September, 2010

Back in the USSR!

September 16, 2010

I think it will always be a bit of a struggle to make blog articles interesting.  So I am half debating whether to make stuff up…but for now, I will try to spin another compelling true story on par with the ‘Rooster’!  (I was notified by the Pulitzer committee that I am in the running!)

I realized a few days ago that I am, for the first time in my life, in former USSR territory.  Out of all the random places I have been, I am in Moldova.  And I honestly believe that I will be the only friend or family member who ever comes here.  Therefore, I have a few lessons in store for everyone.

First, I will answer everyone’s number 1 question.  Where the #*@(*# is Moldova?

That’s an easy one….BAM!!

So what else have I learned besides that Moldova is not (NOT!) in Africa?  A bunch!  In fact, here are 9 (yes 9!) random things I have learned about Moldova

9. The people here are really nice to me.  This is one of the nicest countries I have come across when they realize I speak English.  For instance, I met two Moldovan girls who toured me around the city last week.  They then told me to go check out a movie which was supposed to have English subtitles (unfortunately it didn’t).  I got lost on the way, though, but I eventually found it thanks to another two great girls who spoke English and put me on the right bus.  I couldn’t read the movie titles when I arrived at the cinema, so I asked a young girl who luckily spoke English.  She invited me to sit with her and her friends throughout the movie, so I didn’t look like one of those weird dudes who goes to movies by themselves.  Talk about hospitality!

8.  Almost all young girls here speak English.  It is fantastic!

7.  The girls here are quite pretty 🙂

6.   On a sad note, almost everyone wants to leave Moldova.  So many conversations that I have with people are around emigrating to another country.  Most of the borrowers are living abroad right now in Russia/Ukraine/Italy or other Western European countries.  (Things have to be bad when you want to emigrate to Russia)  Even my translator told me this week that he may not be able to work with me in two weeks because he is expecting his Canadian Visa this week and will not be returning.  Some random stats on this matter:

  • A recent poll indicated that 50% of Moldovans want to move abroad (50%?!?!?!)
  • As of 2008, roughly 36% of Moldova’s GDP was from remittances by Moldovans abroad.  This puts them in the top 10 of remittance countries worldwide.
  • Roughly 25% of the approximately 4 million Moldovans have left Moldova.
  • Western Union is dominating this town like Dunkin Donuts in Milwaukee

5.  They have knock off Tigger outfits…..This guy is actually really funny.  He was walking around the park trying to get little kids to take a picture with him.  This one very little girl did and was all happy to have him.  Then the dad paid the man.  Unfortunately, Tigger did not have change, so he took off his head, and screamed over to his Tigger Pimp for change.  I think he destroyed the little girls world 😦

4.  Living in a hostel is actually a bit depressing.  As many of you know, I did seriously want to make a go at running one.  I ultimately decided against it for money reasons, but I think I can safely say I would not do it for sanity reasons now.  It is cool at first to meet a lot of random people from all over, but then, it becomes a bit like Ground Hog day.  Its like f**ing Ned Ryerson is trying to sell me life insurance every day.  I have almost the exact same conversations each night with a new person.   I am just becoming slightly jaded and have started acting more like a smart ass with my answers.  (“What are you in Moldova for?  “Arms dealing of course…”…and walk away)

3. They have an Arc de Triomphe here too.  I was actually in Paris before coming on over to Moldova.  The Paris one is obviously bigger, but can you rent a ride on a pony in front of it! (look closely on the left)  The French are too snooty for ponies.

2. The people in this country do not have one, single common language.  A vast majority of people speak both Russian and Romanian.  Many families are actually split.  For instance, the dad will speak Russian, and the mom will speak both Romanian and Russian.  The child will have to speak both to communicate with each parent.  Then the kids have different groups of friends.  With one group, they will speak just Russian (even if they know both), and another group they will speak Romanian.  Imagine growing up with this from an early age.  This is why Europeans know more languages than Americans.

1.  They are simply hilarious sometimes…This is the new, sleek shopping mall in Mol-dova.  How can’t you like that name?

Chisinau…my first blog!

September 5, 2010

Hmm…I suppose I shall start my first blog.  This concept seems a little weird to me, but I will try to stick with it.

Things have been going ok so far.  Though being abroad is strange, things quickly become routine in a way.  I have my grocery store…my work, my places I walk to, the books I read.  Really, I am doing very similar things that I did in the States every day.  Heck, I even have similar feelings about Chisinau as I did in my last project in Detroit.

But then there are the little things that remind you that you somehow landed on the edge of Europe.  One of those things is my new friend/enemy I call ‘Harold’.  I wake up every morning to this new friend and hate him so much.  As I go along my day, though, the hilarity that is ‘Harold’ builds to the point that I am actually excited to have the little SOB wake me up in the morning.  You see, Harold, is a rooster that can “Cock a doodle doo” probably better than 99% of roosters on Earth.   Harold is also an eager ‘go getter’ type who starts to croon even before the first hints of daylight.  He will wake me up at 4:15, and it really is hard to go back to bed.  Oh yes, I am mad at him in the morning, but then the afternoon kicks in and I start to laugh about it.  Really, how does a rooster in a ‘capital city’ of Europe wake me up each day?  Welcome to Chisinau, Kevin!

Things like Harold make the day entertaining and will be one of my vivid memories when I look back on the randomness of living in Moldova for a month.  I have attached a small video of Harold.  At the end, you will hear me, clearly getting panicky, about the “stray dogs” coming to bark at me.  There are things I miss about America, and somewhere in that Top 5 after peanut butter is: Animal Control.  The strays are fine, but just don’t infringe on their territory, or try to take footage of Harold without getting a Kiva Media waiver signed.