Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mărțișor



So this is my last March here in Moldova and I thought I would share with you the beautiful tradition that we have here about spring.

It's called the Mărțișor. It is an old Romanian celebration at the beginning of spring. On March 1st you are to wear a little red and white amulet on your lapel called the "mărțișor," pronounces mur-tsi-shor. The name Mărțișor is the diminutive of marț, the old folk name for March. (March in Romanian is Martie).




Some people say you are supposed to wear for the first 9-12 days of March. At school on March 1st, students give their teachers these beautiful red and white amulets to wear. Well, usually my partner just puts them on her desk, so I decided to wear all the ones that my students gave me, which got a few looks from people. I was told by someone that I looked like a general with all of the adornments on my jacket. I just wanted my students to see that I appreciated their gifts. ;)


I also wanted to share with you the legend of Mărțișor. Poftim! (Enjoy!)

There was a time when the Sun used to take the shape of a young man and descend on Earth to dance among folk people. Now a dragon found out about this and followed the Sun on Earth, captured him and confined him in a dungeon in his castle. Suddenly the birds stopped singing and the children could not laugh anymore but no one dared to confront the dragon.

One day a brave young man set out to find the dungeon and free the Sun. Many people joined in and gave him strength and courage to challenge the mighty dragon. The journey lasted three seasons: summer, autumn and winter. At the end of the third season the brave young man could finally reach the castle of the dragon where the Sun was imprisoned. The fight lasted several days until the dragon was defeated. Weakened by his wounds the brave young man however managed to set the Sun free to the joy of those who believed in him.

Nature was alive again, people got back their smile but the brave young man could not make it through spring. His warm blood was draining from his wounds in the snow. With the snow melting, white flowers, called snowdrops, harbingers of spring, sprouted from the thawing soil. When the last drop of the brave young man's blood fell on the pure white snow he died with pride that his life served a noble purpose.

Since then people braid two tassels: one white and one red. Every March 1 men offer this amulet called Martisor to the women they love. The red color symbolizes love for all that is beautiful and also the blood of the brave young man, while white represents purity, good health and the snowdrop, the first flower of spring.

http://www.e-scoala.ro/martie/martisoren.html

Friday, February 17, 2012

My COS date and some very awesome news!!

I found out that my "close of service" date will be July 18th! It feels kind of weird having an actual date now. Before, when people would ask me when I would be leaving Moldova and coming back home,I would say sometime in the summer....but now I actually have a date. How exciting is that?! Well if that wasn't exciting enough, my parents will be visiting Moldova on July 18th too!

Yes, tickets are bought. They leave California on July17th and will arrive in Chisinau, Moldova's capital, on July 18th....which happens to be my dad's birthday as well! I can't wait to show my parents my village and introduce them to my host family. I know it will be a little hard since they don't speak the language, but I will just have to interpret everything for them. I want them to stay in my village for a few days, then hopefully we will be able to see the capital for a day or two and then we will fly off to Spain!! That is the plan thus far, we already have tickets from Barcelona back to California....so what we do in between is still in the works.

This seems like a dream come true to me...I know that some people didn't think my parents would ever come to Moldova, but they are. It will be the first time for the both of them to experience Europe and we are going to have a blast! Watch out Moldova, the Mexicans are coming!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

October-January.

So I guess I have been hibernating since winter is in full force over here in Moldova. Let me recap the past 4 months:

October:

We held a Halloween dance at school. The priest got upset because he believes Halloween is of the Devil. He showed up to the dance but did not witness any sacrifices or pagan worship.

November:

It really started getting cold in November, and when my partner teacher Sveta invited me for a BBQ in the woods, I almost said no. I didn't want to spend the day in the cold woods when I could stay at home, in bed with my Turkish boyfriend, aka, my electric bed warmer from Turkey. Well, I decided to go and I am glad that I did. It was one of the best days I have had here in Moldova. I met a lot of fun people, ate some great food and drank some hot wine.

December:

I spent Christmas Eve in my friend's village since it is her birthday too. She made handmade decorations for us which were super cute. We then took a vacation to Romania. We went to Bucharest for a few days, and then headed to Brasov then Bran. Brasov was a super cute town, we spent New Years Eve there and then headed to Bran the next day to see Bran Castle, also known as Dracula's Castle. Romania was great. It was nice being able to know the language and they have movies in English there, which was a nice treat. (In Moldova, all the movies are in Russian w/Romanian subtitles).

January:

It was hard going back to school after winter break, as I am sure it was for the students as well. It didn't start snowing until January here in Moldova, which was nice. Last year it started to snow in the beginning of December. I have been using my Yak Traks everyday to try to avoid falling but somehow have managed to fall three times already. I really dislike ice, and January was full of it. There wasn't a ton of snow, it would snow one day, then melt a little bit, then freeze and continue to be freezing cold for a week. The wind was really bad and made for a horrible walk to school.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Help my school and I build a park!!



The school that I teach English at is Liceul Teoretic "Alexandru cel Bun." There currently is no place for our students to hang out and relax outside of class. Since we have a lot of space around the school, we would love to build a park.

Our goal is to plant 100 Oak trees and put in park benches and trash cans around the area so our students will have a place to sit down and relax when not in class. This park will also serve the members of the community, since there are no parks in our small village as of now. If you want to go to a park, you have to walk 30 minutes away to the next village over.

Please help me if you can by donating so my village will have a beautiful Peace Park for years to come.

-Anita

Monday, August 22, 2011

If I had a leu for every time I apologized for not keeping up with my blog….I would be able to buy an ice cream cone. (And not one of those cheap 3 lei ones either).


So now that summer is almost over, let me recap my vacation home. Now people said that I would get bored since I took such an extensive vacation home (three weeks) and that I would regret going home for so long, but that is not true at all. I was so eager to get home and see my family that I didn’t really mind the 10 hour bus ride to the Bucharest airport. Lucky for me, there was another volunteer who was taking a bus to Bucharest later than me and when he heard that I was leaving that night too, he switched his ticket to go at the same time I was. He had been to the airport before and was familiar with the trip, so that was comforting to me.

When I bought the ticket, I asked if the bus goes to the airport because I didn’t want to hassle with getting dropped off at the bus station and trying to find my way to the airport with my luggage. They said yes, so I bought the ticket. Now, I wouldn’t have ever imagined that the bus would have dropped us off on a freeway overpass and I would be scrambling across lanes of traffic, with said luggage, down the street from the airport…but Raymond, the other volunteer with this knowledge, was able to assist me with my bags and knew the routine, so I am ever grateful to him.

I landed at S.F.O. around 4pm and picked up my luggage and waited outside by the curb. Brooke was picking me up and bringing along Bebe, so I waited patiently. I didn’t have a cell phone that worked in the states, so it was not like I could call her. She knew what time I got in but she had bought a new car since I had been gone and I wasn’t sure what to look out for. Well she surprised me for sure because she had parked the car and came into the airport to get me. There I was, expecting her to pull up curbside, and instead she sneak attacked me from behind. Before I even knew she was there, I felt a little cold wet nose on the back of my leg and was wondering, “what the heck was that?” After we embraced and I picked up Bebe, we got on the freeway and headed home. Brooke asked if I wanted to stop and get something to eat, since I had been missing good old fashioned American cuisine but I said no, I was sure my mom had cooked something fabulous and I didn’t want to spoil my appetite. (Talk about willpower!) We did stop off at a gas station, where I bought a Dr. Pepper and some chips (road food) and the funniest thing happened. Upon seeing an African American man ask for change and a crazy looking Asian lady rummage through the trash, I told Brooke that I missed America and my people. She said something funny to the fact that I related to the homeless people and the deranged as my people and I explained to her that it had been weird, living in a country for a year where there is little diversity. I stick out like a sore thumb back in Moldova, but here at home, I fit in. It was a nice feeling that I had as I sipped on my Dr. Pepper, holding my little rat in my lap as we drove along the freeway towards home.

I was right of course, when I got home, my mom had made her famous Spanish rice, beans and chicken. I devoured my plate like I hadn’t tasted this beautiful combination in over a year….it was heavenly. I unpacked my bags and gave my mom and dad the house wine that my host family in Moldova had given me and the rest of the souvenirs that I had acquired. It was so nice to be home, to see my parents, to sleep in my own bed and everything felt as it should.

Now three weeks flew by quickly and there were some things that I did not get a chance to do but many things that I had wanted to do and did accomplish. Instead of writing tons of paragraphs about them, I will 
just write a list and then show you some pictures. 

Things I accomplished:

Get a slurpee (Got two)
Get a pedicure
Go to a movie (Went four times!)
Go to Taco Bell (Not sure why, but I miss this a lot)
Go to a grocery store







Eat my dad's bbq
Hang out with my family/friends

Eat my mommas rice and flautas (By far the best accomplishment)
Go shopping at Wal-Mart and Target
Go swimming (Thanks Renee!)
Get pizza (Did this twice)
Drive my car
Eat a regular breakfast with bacon and eggs

Go to Chipotle
Go to La Bou (did this twice!)
Spend the Fourth of July with family (including Bebe)

Things I didn't get around to:

Get a turkey sandwich from Subway or Togos
See everyone (Sorry Dana, Forrest and Jen, Stacy's parents, Anne and anyone else who wanted to see me).
Get sushi at Wasabis.
Take Bebe to the dog park (We did take her to Tahoe though)






Tuesday, June 14, 2011

End of school year/Summer vacation!

Moldovan flag outside of school
So the end of the school year came and left already.....and here I am, trying to play catch up. The last day of school was May 31st and it wasn't really a school day, just a celebration known as Last Bell (Ultimul Sunet). Everyone showed up to school at 9am, nicely dressed and all of the students gathered outside in their classes. The celebration started by the 12th graders exiting the school for the last time and parading around the courtyard. They wore red sashes across their chests and looked very regal. Students then were handed out awards for contests they participated in throughout the year and received cash prizes. Some teachers even received cash prizes as well! The local priest was there, gave a speech and blessed us all. The mayor came out and gave a speech too. There were even doves that were released! The festivities wound down with the 12th graders singing a song and reciting a poem and then they paraded around the courtyard again, this time holding some of the students from second grade on their shoulders while they rang the last bell of the school year.


Students lined up, holding their flowers

Having worked at schools back in America, this celebration was vastly different than the end of the school year festivities I was used to. Moldova just has a way of doing things right. Everything is beautiful (frumos) and cordial....whether it be a celebration for remembering someone who has passed away some years back or the last day of school. All the students came to school carrying flowers to give to their favorite teachers and I came home with a nice bouquet of lovely smelling flowers.

For the rest of the week I kind of just sat at home and relaxed. I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't a little bored the second day when I didn't have to be at school at 8am. I started going through my school papers and cleaned and organized them. I read some books and downloaded some movies to watch. I picked some fresh strawberries from our garden, which were divine by the way. I took a long walk in the village and wondered if my students thought it was funny to see me at the local magazin (store), buying a popsicle in basketball shorts and a t-shirt, wearing flip flops and my sunglasses. Summer is definitely here. Or was here. It was nice and hot for the week after school got out....but now it is rainy and cool.

12th formers making their last round at school
After having a week off, I headed to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, for week. The new trainees arrived in Moldova on June 8th and since I am a mentor to a few of the trainees, I had some work to do before their arrival. We were all very excited to meet the trainees or newbies as some of us were calling them. It was an interesting experience because I can remember getting off that plane and not knowing so much about this new land that I was going to call my home for the next 27 months. It was nice to be able to answer questions for them and have a year's worth of experience under our belts. We got them acquainted with the city (or tried to at least) and hosted a luncheon for them. We also had a picnic in their perspective villages where they will be staying for the first three months.

12th formers holding second form girls, ringing last bell
I came back to my village after being gone for a week to meet my host sister's mother and step-father who live in Italy. It was nice to meet them finally since my host sister Skypes with them almost every night and I have been accustomed to hearing their voices. My host sister and her parents then left our village the next day to visit another village where the parents of my host sister's step-father live.It has been very quiet around here after they left.

So now my bags are packed and I am getting ready to go back home for a long, much anticipated visit. Tomorrow I will catch a rutiera to Chisinau at 6am and hang out all day in the capital, waiting for my bus ride to Romania. My flight home is from Bucharest, Romania, so I will have a long overnight bus trip and then fly out on Thursday morning. If I had flown from Moldova home, it would have cost around $700 more....so I can endure the long bus ride. I will be home from June 17th-July 7th. People keep asking me what I want to do, where I want to go and what I want to eat when I get home. I know I want to hang out with my family and friends, spend quality time with Bebe, go to a movie, eat some of my dad's bbq....get a slurpee, drive my car. You know, all the stuff I have missed for the past year. I can't believe a year has gone by already....and now I only have 14 months left here in Moldova. What an adventure it has been!
The last bell has been rung....see ya' in September!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Easter in Moldova

video

My first Easter spent here in Moldova has come and gone and I have experienced many new traditions and got a much deserved vacation from teaching. On Friday, I got home from school at 9am since I only teach first period on Fridays, and the house was filled with the smell of delicious bread. My host mom had been up since 4am making the different types of bread that are tradition here for Easter. I got a sample plate of the breads at lunch time and it was very delectable. You can’t beat the taste of freshly baked bread!

bread table
On Saturday, I spent the day dyeing eggs in the garden with my host sister and my host aunt who was visiting from Italy. It was the first day in months that I can truly say was a sunny day. I took breaks from dyeing and just close my eyes and felt the warm rays on my face, like a lizard perched on a rock, taking in the sun…..or Bebe, my dog, when she lies in the sun by the sliding glass door. It felt so nice.

dyeing eggs with my host sister, Valeria

When I asked what our plans were for Easter, I was told that we would head to church at 11:30pm and return after 4am. Apparently at 4am, after the church services are over, the priest will bless your basket of bread, eggs and food that you bring with you and once it is blessed, you are free to go home and this blessed food will be eaten on Easter morning. I took a little nap after dinner and tried to get some rest since I knew that I would have a long night ahead of me. My host parents didn’t go to church; it was just my host sister and my host aunt and I who went.

There werent a lot of people at the church when we arrived, and the service started at midnight. The service began with candle lighting that spread throughout the church and everyone helped light their neighbor’s candles. (My host dad had told me earlier in the week that a lit candle was flown from Jerusalem to Moldova and that all the churches had lit a candle from this candle, which I thought, was pretty cool). After all the candles had been lit, we all went outside and walked around the church building, in the brisk night air for four times, then we returned inside the church for the rest of the service. There was a lot of praying and a choir of women who sang throughout the night. At first I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it, standing in the church for four hours….yeah, that’s right, STANDING. They don’t have pews in the churches here so everyone stands but there are a few chairs for the elderly and man did I start to envy the babas (elderly women) in the chairs around 1:30am. My back started hurting and it began to get increasingly warm in the church as more and more people arrived, so we decided to go outside to get some fresh air. My host aunt asked if I wanted to go home, and I told her no. I was determined to get through this….and plus, if we left, we wouldn’t have any blessed food to eat on Easter and I didn’t want to be the one to blame for that.

lined up and waiting for blessing
The closer it got to four in the morning, the more people started arriving. I wish I had a head count because it seemed like the whole village was there in this tiny little church. I saw a lot of my students from school and talked to them and then before we knew it, it was time. The church bells rang and it was four o’clock in the morning and everyone grabbed their baskets of food and rushed outside on the lawn of the church. My host aunt found a spot to stand and everyone had formed a circle outside the church. They then carefully placed their baskets of food out on the lawn on towels and arranged the food as they pleased and put the candles next to it and waited for the priest to come out and bless the food. When the priest came out of the church, there was a procession with a large cross and the women singing followed. First there was a large basket that two men carried around to everyone and people placed money in the basket. After this, the priest used tree branches which looked like a small broom and dipped them into holy water and then blessed the food and the people with the water. I didn’t expect to get doused with holy water but it was fun and my host sister seemed to take the brunt of the dousing. After everyone had been blessed, another large basket came around and everyone put some bread and/or food into the basket and this would be donated to those who cannot make it to church for whatever reason, whether they be poor or elderly, so everyone in the village could eat the blessed bread/food on Easter. This really touched me. My host aunt had a plastic bag filled with bread/food that my family donated and the family standing next to me cut a huge chunk out of one of their large circle loaves of bread to donate. I liked seeing how each family had a different basket of bread, decorated how they felt and there weren’t two that looked alike.

walking home from church at 4am, cold but happy

We arrived home around 4:45am, very tired and immediately went to bed. I woke up at 7am because I had to catch a bus at 8am (I decided to go to the LDS church in Chisinau for Easter services since my host family would be visiting their family in another village). I was still kind of groggy after my 2 hours of sleep. I first washed my face with two eggs, which is an Easter custom here in Moldova. One egg is a plain egg and one is dyed red and there was also some coins in the bowl of water that the eggs were in. This is a symbol of abundance, health and luck for the year to come. After this, I ate breakfast with my host mom and dad since my host sister and aunt were still asleep. I expected to have a big Easter dinner, like back in the states, but here we had a big Easter breakfast. I first drank a shot of holy water that was from a monastery nearby and then we ate the bread that was blessed at the church, along with hard boiled eggs, chicken, lamb, salads, cheese and veggies. The greeting here in Moldova on Easter is “Hristos a Inviat!” (Christ has risen!) and the response is “Adeverat a Inviat!” (He truly has risen!). My host father greeted me this way when I sat down to breakfast and when I responded correctly, he smiled and it felt like I had passed the test.

eggs to wash face with

bottle of holy water

hard boiled eggs

dyed eggs, candy and blessed bread