Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thanks to Russia

Praise the lord, Hallelujah... Russia has turned back on our gas!  Ok, it wasn't really that bad, but we did have to buy a hot plate.  While we were in Austria apparently Russia and a Ukrainian gas company (?) had a disagreement and in a truly Neopolinic revelation Putin shut us down.  We haven't had school for the week because there is no way to heat the building.  Which explains why I'm finally writing my blog...

For winter break I met my parents in Innsbruck and then we met some other volunteers in Vienna.  While in Innsbruck my mom thought she would finally get rid of her only daughter by throwing her off the side of a glacier.  There would be a picture of my awesome snowboarding feats inserted here except dad forgot to whip out the camera at any of th few critical times.  That's right we had a family ski trip, which was extremely painful for me since I'm the only Fesenmaier that has not grown up near a mountainous region.  But I survived and that's what counts... though the next day every muscle in my body hurt and I was covered head to toe in my mom's healing tiger balm!

Just in time for the new year, I met the girls- Megan, Kim and Lory- in Vienna.  Each night was a different ethnic food and that flash when every waitress thought, "stupid Americans why come all the way to Austria and eat- insert nation of choice- food?!" Though, Charlie took us to a really great Austrian place where we dinned with the former Prime Minister.  Ok, he was at the furthest possible table and left 10 minutes after we got there, but nonetheless exciting!

The true adventure, however, was getting home... We had a 6am, with us leaving the hostel at 4am, flight from Vienna to Bucharest.  Lory decided that we would stay awake all night and hit Viennese club scene, regardless of the weekday status.  We had a later start because I insisted on watching Paris Hilton's My new BFF, which actually ended in December.  Megan stayed home because she's an actual responsible adult and she was dying with the flu.  We made up the fallen teammate with a nice Alaskan kid, Greg, who refused to wear a coat and got us lost coming home!  So after being up all night and the natural exhaustion that comes from entering an airport we arrived in Bucharest, where we promptly got lost.  Eventually and a $20 bus fine later we found the right bus station and were told that the next bus wasn't until 8pm.  So instead we followed a drunk man who lead us to a small and clearly illegal bus that would take us to Iasi, a town on the Romanian boarder.  In Iasi it was supposed to be just a hot, skip and a jump into Moldova. Not so much.  Instead we got stuck at the boarder, after using all of our Romanian money. The next bus would be a 2 am and until then we were stuck so close but so far away (and trust me the irony that we were begging to be let INTO Moldova was not lost on us!).  There was a bar near by and the owner let us stay there since we had no money, he actually gave us some tea and coffee for free.  But eventually he too had to go to bed and we had to wait outside, maybe for an hour, until the boarder police took pity on us and let us stay in their cafeteria.  Eventually the bus came and we scurried on and passed out from exhaustion, but not without the constant fear of frost-bite, or for my part trench foot (I'd been watching Band of Brothers)!

Throughout all of it I think that we kept a rather optimistic and sunny outlook, as evidence by the videos posted somewhere around here.  We go a little grim when making out our will's but otherwise very very sunny.  Maybe it's because we got to watch Kangaroo Jack in English... twice!  

Anyways I'm back home safe and sound and now with gas!  Thanks Russia, or Ukraine, who ever finally caved... you did the right thing!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I've just had my first very Moldovan Thanksgiving... 

This saturday I went to Chisinau to spend my first real American holdiday away from home!  One poor girl organized the whole thing for around 70 volunteers.  We had all the necessities: Turkey (free range, of course), homemade stuffing, gravy, potatoes, greenbeans and cranberry sauce.  Though i must say that, seeing as this was literally poured out of a can, mom's is way better.  The night before I made some curried meat because i got a little homesick for our wacky trans-continental Thanksgiving... Normally Is brings the susi and Phil the peking duck, but this year everything was way too American, except for plachinte (fried dough with vegetables inside) via Zio's host mother.  We sat around for hours eating and watching Indiana Jones.  

Eventually we the party dispersed and we headed to the town.  And in the American sprit we headed to an Irish pub.  The poor people working there, at around 9 o'clock 25 Americans bombarded their club singing ballads, courtesy of VH1.  My routiera is coming soon so i have to dash, more details about my holiday shinannigans soon! miss everyone

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's been a long time coming..

No worries, faithfull readers, I am in fact alive and well, if not a little bit frost bitten! The weather has taken a dive and it feels more like an end-of-the-season football game than September. Val, one of the closest volunteers to me, told me to get me some baba (grandmother) pants- apparently very ridiculous looking, but very very warm. I also just asked Alex (a member of Team Bardar, graduated from UVA with a degree in costuming and is our resident fix-it woman) to make me a fleece jumpsuit, with built-in booties of course, but I don’t think she took me seriously. By the end of December I’m going to look just like Maggie Simpson. I could complain about the cold for the rest of the entry, but I won’t because that would be aggravating for all of us! *Freshman year I was so cold that whenever dad would call that’s all I would whine about, until eventually he just stopped calling.

School is going great, knock on wood. This week we’re teaching about the heart and the director of the school, who was formerly the biology teacher, wants to ‘assist’ which means she’s sitting in on a few to evaluate us! I don’t really mind, because honestly what are they gonna do?! The director swings by the office once a day to check in with Rodica, who is also the school nurse, and see if I’ve lost any of my belly yet! The second day at school she sat me down and said that I was just a bit to chubby for a health teacher. Initially I was shocked and just a little bit horrified that someone, let alone my director, would have the gall to say that to me. But she prefaced it with how beautiful I was –flatery is always good option with me- and now every time we pass in the hallway she calls me ‘pretty margareta’. Really she’s trying to be friendly and I can laugh with her now. Especially because, despite my belly, the school’s cleaning lady has deemed me good enough to marry her son, yay! She proposed him to me last Friday and I fully expect me to jump at the offer. Unfortunately this little daisy- that’s what Margaret means in Romanian- is still single.

Yesterday I went into my Rayon to get money. However, the bus I take home decided not to go, because it was a little too wet and cold!?!? So me and a few others from Tripoli had to hitch a ride home. And let me tell you as fun as it is, it’s not so pleasant when you have to stand for a bazillion hours (maybe an exaggeration) in the wet and cold. I made friends with a woman at the station and she took me under her wing. Her and her friends are living here, in Tripoli, collection potatoes. So once the harvest is over she’ll move back home. They were really nice and eventually we caught a van back, I’m not sure what I was sitting on, but it resembled concrete toilet paper roles. I got home, ran to my bed and stayed there until this morning.

Sorry for the break, btw did you know that if you write three –‘s it turns into that lovely line you see above?!?! I’ve just come back from my ‘excursie’ with Loriona. I’m not actually sure if that’s her name, but I’m gonna run with it… most times people think that it’s my accent anyways. Her entire family lives in Estonia and is only here to help bring in the crops. Lorina is the only one who speaks Romanian, so when they’re all together it’s a jumble of Estonian, Romanian, Russian, and tonight they threw in some English just for me. It struck me as funny, and I know I shouldn’t have laughed, but as I’m finally feeling a wee bit comfortable with my Romanian, I walked into a household of people speaking Estonian. They did however like my futskalita joke (because Hungarian and Estonian are similar), or more likely they were just being polite. Also, they fed me lamb for the first time! Poor little guy.

Babi called me today and filled me in on what’s going on with the election! I can’t believe how awful the Mcain campaign machine has been run. I’m not supposed to talk politics so I’m going to leave it at that, except to say… Going into the general election Mcain was loved by the liberal press- he was on the Daily Show more than any other guest. Instead of doing what he really believes with Iraq, abortion, the economy and almost every other issue he decided to appease the evangelical right and will ultimately piss everyone off!

Also, in the back of last week’s newsweek was an interview with Butho’s (don’t know how to spell) husband who will become the president of Pakistan. It’s pretty amazing how much faith he has put in the healing powers of democracy. He really believes that Pakistan can change, though it may take awhile. It was a great article to read because instead of selling himself as an instant fix or spouting get rich quick scams, he honestly told voters and the people of Pakistan that it was going to be a long, hard road and that it would be many years until there was any significant difference. But I think that by the time David graduates college, maybe even high school, there will be a different Pakistan. A reasonable, profitable, powerful Pakistan. Meanwhile Iraq will have be cratered by our nuclear arsenal.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm at a b-day party w/ 25 Moldovans and 2 Frenchies....

I’m starting a one woman smiling revolution, baby! Moldovans are some of the kindest, funniest people I’ve ever met and yet they would rather cut off a finger than flash those pearly whites in front of a camera. Along with a mandatory head nod and the appropriate greeting I’m gonna grin in every direction possible. It doesn’t’ matter if they’re a babalush, grandmother or trendy teen (I’m only going to reserve my special gift from old-married men, because a slap to the back of the head would not be an appropriate association with the cause). Eventually something will wear off, they’ll start to think, ‘maybe this yank has a point, it just feels so good’! My students will become my army of smilers and eventually we will conquer this town. Until that happens though, this is a one woman show and she’s gonna be in town for the next 2 years.

Still no internet, but I’m feeling surprisingly ok without out it… sorry babi. Dad would’ve had a severe brain aneurism by now and been rushed to the hospital. I’ve just gotten done with another ginormous lunch from Doamna Raier (spelling still in question). And my pooch (stomach, for those non-sorority girls) was just starting to go down. I’d rather die fat and happy than skinny and dying for a snickers bar?!?! After reassuring her many many times that I do in fact eat meat, I still can’t bring myself to actually eat it. There was a bowl of dead chickens sitting on the kitchen table yesterday, that sort of killed my carnivorous side for at least a week. Today she asked me if I’m not eating mean because of a religious holiday… I desperately wanted to lie and say “yes, and it’ll last two years” but I couldn’t.

Life is surprisingly boring for being the adventure of my life. Or maybe I’m just not telling the story well, my friend Sarah could make the stupidest story seem like the greatest tale of love and peril. Just going to the gym was a saga. I wake up, eat, read and make a few lesson plans. My crush on Geoff grows bigger everyday… he was the volunteer here before me and has now returned safely to Allentown (both PA residents, coincidence?!!?). He is probably my best friend in Moldova, even if he doesn’t actually know who I am. That’s a little sad, but the truth sometimes is. Doamna Raier has told me so much about him that I know everything… literally. I could probably make a profit by not telling his future girlfriend some of these stories. Her other volunteer, John, is probably my 2nd-best friend, but he didn’t leave me anything so I’m not quite as smitten. Geoff left me a variety spices, magazines, decorations and perhaps most importantly LESSON PLANS! Those lesson plans have made my life so much easier. Neither me nor my teaching partner are actually teachers, so we were both immensely frightened by teaching, and for me at least, in another language!

Rodica, my teaching partner, is amazing. She’s patient and laughs at everything I say. She also loves to recant my little language mishaps to all the other teachers. It’s actually a really good thing, it makes it easier for my to converse with the rest of the school, that way no one is worried about appearance when talking with the silly American! How can you be self-conscious when talking to someone charading a duck?! We have a great time making our plans and she’s pretty good about being efficient, which is one of my biggest pet peeves. I don’t really know how to describe her except to say that she looks just like her dog, a small blond wiener dog. And I love that no matter what culture you’re in, the owner always resembles their dogs or vise versa. It’s sad, but Bella and I really do have the same habits, I almost cried when my mom discovered my longing to be scratched behind my ears.

Tomorrow Rodica is taking me to her mother’s 80th birthday party. They said it’s because the uncle has internet, but really I think they just like having me around. And I lover her family. Her daughters, twins who dress the same everyday, have showed me a little bit of New Dehli and took me to the market. I met most of their family then, at least I hope it was most because I met so many people I lost count! Everyone I did meet was very friendly and soo patient, which isn’t necessarily a given. I’ll fill you in after...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Some time after my dinner of fried salami and before plucking my eyebrows in a bathtub (right next to a fly that walked in circles for my entire visit) I went to the viseu, pronounced vi-sh-a-u or for those non-Romanians (outhouse) in the audience. A simple decision changed my outlook on Moldova, my partner teacher and host family!

As I opened the door a dash of black scurried across the concrete floor. I held the door open to let some flies out, really they’re not bad in there I just don’t like the idea of them watching me do my business… and there was another dash of black. Sitting right in front of me was a huge, nay, GINORMOUS, spider. And we’re not talking the cute kind, like Charlotte. No this sucker was the kind that bites you and mutates your genes until you’re climbing up walls and shooting white gunk from your hands. Naturally I let out a yelp and started clapping at it to move (because I had some serious business to do- fair enough, I did warn you it was TMI) and yelling, “Merge a casa” or “Go Home” because I don’t know any harsher language yet. After a good 2/3 min of my clapping, yelling and stomping I turned around because Mr. Blood-Sucker wasn’t moving. And grandma Vera was staring at me from the garden and Valentina was barreling towards me, Ion upside down in one hand and a raised broom in the other. Poor Valentina looked like she was going to war with a grizzly bear to defend her duckling and there I was terrified of a stupid spider. That’s when it hit me for this woman spiders in the viseu are nothing, she’s got way bigger fish to fry- like the wolves that come down and actually eat chickens—no that’s not a myth, they actually do that!

I have been so crabby these past couple weeks and yet she stuck by me. She gives me apples to give to my teachers so they like me, helps with my homework, tells me to change my clothes and put on more make-up and forces more food on my plate despite my objections. I thought it was because Peace Corps was paying her a ridiculous amount of money. But that woman didn’t need to come trudging down to me and swat at a spider, she could’ve done what dad always does and tell me to grow up! Valentina already runs the household, has a 1 and 11 year old, a grandmother to take care of and then she gets me- someone who talks and occasionally acts like a 5th grader, but then demands to be treated like an adult. I’m the worst of all ages combined: the languate of a 5 yr old and the appetite to match, I am emotional because I’m getting used to peeing in a hole, constipated- that’s what happens when you eat carbs for every meal and of course I’m trying to look good doing it. So while I won’t be going to the bathroom for a while, I do owe the spider in the viseu gratitude, because he showed me how childish, selfish and American I was being about my life here. Besides, I kinda like macaroni with butter!

On a lighter note… We’re finishing practice school, which is 2 weeks of pretty much hell (if I’m allowed to say that). PST is like taxes, I understand why I’m doing it and in the end it really helps me, however parting with that extra sleep time is killing me. It’s just hard to work with our partner teachers, while doing all the other stuff we need to do, like play soccer with the kids down the street! Clearly my priorities need some fixing, it’s just a little rough. But from everything I hear this is the last painful week, then it’s cake. Or as cakey as the Peace Corps can get.

On Saturday we had a birthday party for James. Actually he had a birthday party for us. In Moldova when it’s your birthday you pay! That totally sucks, right?! It was tons of fun and his host mother was an amazing cook. Zio could eat most of it because during the summer most food is vegitarian since they just have to pick the veggies out of the tree. We watched the new Batman movie and it was super sad, because Heath (that’s right we’re on a first name basis) was so good. I never appreciated him while he was here and now I wanna see everything. But that is why my motto is ‘try everything once’. Ironic, Frank Sinatra’s I did it my way, just came on! It’s getting late and I have to be bright and sunny for practice school!

Suz I downloaded the last episode of Greek and I need to know when it’s coming back on?!?!

Mom, call me the very second you hear about McCain/Obama announcing. Babi and I speculated, but I don’t think we’re going to be right…