31 March 2011
29 March 2011
28 March 2011
27 March 2011
If you take out the initial shock value of hearing about the loss of Pavel, yesterday was a great day and definitely one to go in the record books.
I woke up at 6am after a very restless night of sleeping. But that didn't seem to stop me because I got dressed and headed to Peace Corps to get the day started (even though the rest of the city was still sleeping). I hung out at Peace Corps for a bit before I got restless and decided to go for a walk. Just as I was walking out the door I got the phone call. The need for the walk couldn't have come at a better time. I decided to leave my camera behind because I didn't want to be distracted with looking for things to photograph.... I just wanted to go.
I called my friends Nick and Kelsey and they said they would meet me in an hour for some tea/coffee/something. While I was waiting for them I headed to the art piata to relax and enjoy my favorite location in Chisinau. Plus, I knew that due to the beauty of the day there would be many more artists than usual and I was excited to see who had been hibernating in the winter. I found Nadeja who is a woman I had photographed back in the fall. She had told me not to forget her because she said many Americans ask to take her picture and they say they will return but they never do. So, even though I did not have a print for her, I wanted to let her know I hadn't forgotten. And neither had she. She remembered my village and some information about me. After talking for sone time I told her I was hungry and I was going to go to the store and get some food. She ended up leading me to a buffet style restaurant and hollering at me when I went in the wrong direction.... It wasn't the best food I have ever had, but, as she said, it has a bathroom.
After that Kelsey and Nick arrived. We were on a hunt for an outdoor patio to grab (another) bite to eat and some coffee or tea. Nick had an idea in mind but couldn't exactly remember where it was. I the midst of searching we came across some vendors set up on a street selling.... Vintage film cameras. I about fell over backwards because I was so excited. Unfortunately they only spoke Russian so it was hard to communicate, but I found a Kiev4 which was a brand if a camera I had been looking for. They were made in Russia way back when and are no longer produced but, if you get a good one, they take quality photos. There was another one I wanted more but they didn't have it, so I settled for this one for 250 lei to experiment. The other one I wanted was 200 UsD. I will keep looking :) Now I know they are there every Saturday and I can't wait to go back to see what I can find (and purchase film because I forgot that.. minor detail).
We finally found a restaurant with a patio and sat outside to enjoy our meal. Tasty tasty tasty. Then we went back to the art piata and ran in to our friends Nancy and Tony (just as we were talking about them and a painting they had purchased in the past). They then joined us for a walk through the park (where the guys enjoyed a couple of beers they bought from a street vendor and drank in the park because you can do that in Moldova). The cold front that had been predicted started coming in rather quickly so we headed to a photo exhibition I had heard about that was free and included wine, food, and concerts. My favorite things all in one!
When we arrived to the location it looked like nothing more than another abandoned building.... And that's exactly what it was. The photos were kind of impressive, but whatI liked most was the ambiance if it all. Everyone was talking to people whether they knew them or not, smart people brought their cameras and video cameras, and the music was great. There were rooms all over the place, including one that looked like at one time it was a stage and there was tiered seating. Another room has letters from an old printing press, and another had old doors that were hand carved. Paint was peeling off of the walls and the floor was dusty but it didn't matter... Because it was awesome. Then, as you followed the signs to the WC you would cross through a small courtyard where people were gathered, sitting on chairs, enjoying their cigarettes and the discussion. Then there was another short passageway that led to another set of rooms (where empty cages sat that looked like snakes were once in them!), before we finally got to the back.... Which we thought led to the WC. But there was still one more passageway to get there... And a park to cross. But in this park were many cages of beautiful birds: peacocks, different kinds of pigeons and doves, and pheasants. The colors were so beautiful against the gray, chilly, windy weather.
Then, although I wanted to enjoy more music, drinks, and snacks, it was unfortunately time to go. But I so hope to be able to get back to that space and maybe set up my own exhibition and include the photos my students take! Hmm... Ideas!!
"Hello America!" was what Pavel would say every Wednesday morning when I entered his house for my weekly breakfast with Maria. For being married to a woman who speaks English flawlessly and who holds lessons after school at her house every day, it always surprised me that was all he could say in English. Regardless, it was always fun to walk in to the house and have that warm welcome.
However, that is no longer going to happen because Pavel passed away yesterday.
My heart aches for Maria, but I do not want to dwell on the pain of losing a loved one because as much as it hurts, a death should be a time for celebration (in most cases, and in this one in particular)... At least that is what my dad told me when my Mom died. As much as I wouldn't accept that at the time, he was right. Everyone has a life to celebrate no matter how short or long it may have been. And because Pavel's was so long (although not long enough), we have lots to celebrate.
So, when I received the phone call yesterday to tell me he had died, my heart skipped a beat. It skipped a beat because I instantly thought of Maria and what she had told me just last week: if it wasn't for my husband and the after school lessons I do with the children, I would die. But after some tears had been shed I began to think of him and the few stories of moments we shared together... And I found myself laughing and smiling.
She had such a love for her husband (and likewise him for her) that it is impossible to describe it in words. They had been married some 50 plus years, and she still smiled every time he walked in to the room. They would still joke with each other and give each other a kiss as he was leaving the house. He was so dedicated to Maria and was always doing whatever he could to help around the house unless it included cooking.... Because Maria said he didn't even know how to make eggs. I guess it was a good thing he didn't have the job of the housewife or he would have had some problems. :)
I remember one morning when I was visiting Maria was getting me some tea and I was sitting and having a conversation with Pavel. Actually, it wasn't a conversation because I couldn't understand what he was saying because he was speaking in Russian. I kept asking him to speak in Romanian and he would respond, "da" and then continue in Russian. Finally Maria came in to the room and he asked for her assistance to translate what he was saying to me into English. But this is the best part: when he said it to her, he said it in Romanian and I understood everything. All three of us laughed so hard I thought we would never stop. After that he usually remembered to speak in Romanian but every so often Maria would have to remind him that I didn't know Russian.
When we would have conversations (in Romanian) he would always talk about two things. First he would ask me how Ross was feeling (he only met him once but he was sick at the time), and then he would talk about history and politics (which are two things I really do not know much about). But that was his passion. In the Communist times he was actually the mayor of our village for a long time. He was one of those lucky Moldavans that actually got the opportunity to travel and see the world. I can't remember exactly where all he went, but I do know that he went to Cuba... He would talk about it often and how beautiful it was.
There was one morning when I got up super early to catch the 5:45am rutiera. I don't remember where I was going or for what reason, but I remember Pavel getting on the rutiera. He sat next to me and we talked most of the way to his destination which was the hospital in another village for a heart exam. I remember driving past a school and he told me that was where he used to attend school. He had actually lived in another village but there was not a school so he would stay with a host family during the week to attend school and go home on the weekends.
Pavel my no longer be with us in this world but he will never be forgotten by many people. Just like his wife, he touched many lives and made such a positive impact on the people that he met. He was serious yet comical. I will always remember him for how hard working he was and the indescribable love he had for his wife. His heart was so big and his presence on Earth will be missed by many. There is a song (I'm sure you know it) called "Only the Good Die Young". If the good die young then the bad must die old... And if this is the case, then Pavel died young because he was so good.
So, with that being said, I am going to end this post with one last thought. Maria called me this morning and asked me to take some pictures for her. As I asked her how she was, knowing her response would be "sad", I instantly regretted it. I responded with, "that makes two of us... No, about a bazillion". After that I could hear a faint smile in her pain but at least it was something, but it is true. So today I am going to join the entire village in celebrating the life of Pavel... Not just because it is tradition, but because he deserves it. Even on this snowy spring day.
24 March 2011
23 March 2011
22 March 2011
21 March 2011
20 March 2011
Anyways... when talking to a friend of mine today, he asked me if I had a bike so that I could go explore just a little bit further than what I'd been doing thus far in my village. I said no, but he had a good point. While I don't have a bike to take me further I do have two feet to take me on a different route. So, after spending most of the day working on some visual aids for the classroom, practicing Romanian, and researching songs to teach the kids, around 4 I decided it was time to get out of the house and go for a walk. The sky was one of those dark overcasts that really doesn't do well for pictures, but I was up to the challenge. I needed some thinking time, some fresh air, and some new photos. Unfortunately I will not be posting a lot of photos right now because I wasn't joking when I said I needed to be asleep 15 minutes ago... but here is a taste of my 2 hour journey. Stories and thoughts will come tomorrow!
19 March 2011
Now it's so uncomfortably warm I won't be able to fall asleep. But then again it is only a quarter to 8. Next time I should listen to the expert ;)
17 March 2011
15 or 20 minutes into class already beginning, we all returned to our classes. Luckily the kids didn't get too wild and crazy this time as all of the teachers were in the Principal's office for the meeting, leaving all of the kids without supervision for 30+ minutes.
... only behind closed doors.
SO this morning I got up and did it. Before I knew it, I was done and an hour had passed. I feel so much better, relaxed, and high-spirited.... and it's cold, windy, and cloudy outside! Nothing can stop me now!
(My host mom even opened my yoga book this morning and said she wanted to do it with me. I know she was joking especially because she laughed at all of the pictures as she was looking through it. But I think I can convince her one of these days... especially because now that it is spring she is back to work in the fields and at the oil factory. If I were her, I'd greatly dislike spring and fall and I would for sure need yoga to keep my spirits up! hehe)
Here is a photo from one of the silent walks from the yoga retreat.
14 March 2011
... I think I am getting too far ahead of myself.
This morning when I walked to school I stopped to say hello to my two favorite doorbells and I think they missed me as much as I missed them.
Then the highlight of my day was the second I walked into school I had two 2nd grade girls come running up to me and gave me a huge hug. What a warm welcome that was! And, ironically, these are two of the girls that I struggled with at the beginning of the school year. I think it's actually kind of interesting because I think after that incident they quickly gained respect for me... just like a student who, in my 10th form, I put at the very front of the class on the first day because he was being rude and talking the whole lesson and just driving me crazy... but now he is one of my favorites (not that I have favorites, but I kind of do).
So the rest of the school day went great. It was warmer outside than inside but we still held lessons inside, and I couldn't wait to get outside and sit in the sun (which, like I said, is what i'm doing now). As soon as I walked out, a bunch of 2nd graders were playing around on the asphalt (which needs to be repaired... they will be there tomorrow so I'll take pictures). We did a round of the hokey pokey and then I went on my way because I was anxiously awaiting what I'm doing now.
After that I stopped and pet the doorbells again and I saw the men sitting on their typical bench and enjoying the sunshine. I walked by and told them how happy I am to see them sitting there because it means the weather is nice.... and when the weather is nice it is crazy how much more the village comes to life. I don't even need to be playing music right now because it is nice to take in the sounds of the village: the children in the background playing, the neighbors doing work outside, and the animals doing what they do best (making lots of noise).
Now the hard part with this beautiful weather is the want to be productive. However, I guess that can be an excuse for every season (in winter I don't want to be productive because it's too cold... in spring and autumn the weather is too beautiful I just want to be outside... on rainy days I just want to read... in summer I want to be laying out...). Guess you can't have your cake and eat it, too.
Well, I suppose I should attempt to be productive now since I obviously have my computer and internet with me while I'm sitting outside. Maybe I should get another tea first... :P
10 March 2011
It was hard to sleep now that I am back in the city. A dog barked all night long and this isn't one of the best hotels in Chisinau... So I tossed and turned all night. Hopefully it gets better soon. Good sleep is necessary to good mental health!
09 March 2011
Warning: This is super long.
The vacation in Austria was just what I needed. And you know what? I finally feel back to my normal self and boy oh boy does that feel wonderful. I find myself smiling all the time just to myself and to strangers. That may get me into trouble when I get back to school but you know what? It's ok. I think the students respect me and I am pretty sure they will be happy to see me smiling again and bringing energy back to the classroom because it sure has been missing lately.
Oh, I suppose I should get back to talking about the Sivananda Seminarhaus in Austria.
When I first arrived in Munich I had to go from one end of Terminal 1 to the complete opposite end of Terminal 2 in order to meet up with my friend Isabelle (who I met when I studied abroad in France, and who I also visited in Portugal during that summer of traveling!) the weather was beautiful and the sky was clear during the whole flight. I had a beautiful view of the mountains from my window seat (the best seat, unless you're in First Class, that is... But of course I don't know what that is like). Anyways... It was beautiful until we began to land and then there was cloud cover... I mean, seriously?! But it was ok because as soon as we started going up in the mountains of Austria it cleared up and it stayed that way the WHOLE 4 days we stayed there.
The yoga retreat wasn't what I thought it was going to be, but is anything these days? I thought it would literally be in the middle of nowhere and they would make us give them our cell phones and there wouldn't be Internet (you can't believe wavering you see on a tav and in the movies). Well, it wasn't like that at all. The hotel and the yoga house are two totally different businesses although they kind of work together (even though they didn't really seem to know what was going on with the other one except for the rules of what we could and could not eat and what time the meals were).
Speaking of what we could and could not eat.... This gets interesting (so interesting, in fact, that I bought a cookbook). The people that practice this kind of yoga follow a very strict vegetarian diet. The reason for the vegetarian diet is due to the slaughtering of animals, and of course there is nothing humane about slaughtering (they kept using this term and would say it with absolute disgust) animals... So, they said that even if we raised our own animals and slaughter them we would probably not eat meat ever again (I think Moldovans would easily disagree with this). Regardless, it was interesting to hear their opinion (in which everyone is entitled to their own opinion). So we didn't eat meat, garlic, onions, or mushrooms (mushrooms grow in the dark so that's why they don't eat them). We did eat a lot of food that was cooked with Indian spices and, when we took the cooking class, it was quite interesting to see what spices they put in the food (curry and cinnamon together in the same rice dish? Who knew!?). The cooking in itself is really an art and a science. They know how all of the spices are good for the body and what spices should go with which food in order to aid with digestion. I even ate a TON of a banana yogurt and didn't have any digestive problems. Maybe if I only cook these foods then I will be cured of my lactose intolerance that usually gives me so many problems... Wouldn't that be amazing?! I think that will have to wait until I get back to America, though, because it is difficult to find everything I would need in Moldova, and especially in the village. Good think my host mom cooks yummy food (even if it doesn't agree with my stomach all the time or with the yogic diet).
So enough about the food. Now let's talk about what I learned on this vacation in a semi-bullet format to keep it short (since I have already written a novel and if you're like me, you haven't even made it this far because you probably got bored.)
What I learned:
There is something about flying in an airplane that makes me so happy. Maybe its the freedom. Maybe its the view. Maybe its the destination. I don't know.... But it gets my heart racing and this time it is a good thing.
I really do travel by the seat of my pants... But I like that. It makes for a great adventure especially when I don't speak the language because there can be some things that are lost in translation (such as when I told the shuttle driver today that he did not have my flight information but he kept insisting that he did... But he didn't because Isabelle only gave them company her flight information)
I'm not an organized person. I never put the documents I need in an accessible place, nor do I always know where they are. Oops.
A yogic diet (mentioned above) is actually really really good. And I was surprised that we only ate at 10 and 6 and I really wasn't hungry between then. Maybe that's because of all of the food I ate at those times. ha!
My next getaway-and-recollect myself vacation will be alone. While it was so great to be with a good friend who I hadn't seen in a long time, I wasn't able to relax quite as much as I would have liked. We did have great conversations, though, and I am very thankful for that. I also prefer to do silent walks alone so I can take my time and take in all that is around me. It does help having a guide who knows the area, though.
Put your hands on your abdomen. Now take a deep breath. Did you abdomen move or only your chest? Most likely it was only your chest. Now take a deep breath beginning with your abdomen and then fill your lungs with air. How did that feel? Did you get more air? I sure hope so. That is how you should always breathe.... And do it through your nose! There is a reason we have one of those.
I. Love. Yoga. And apparently I'm a natural (although I would disagree). Bikram (hot yoga) is still my favorite but I did enjoy this kind because it was really relaxing and it focused a lot on breathing, which was great for me.
There is so much more to yoga than just practicing flexibility and strength, which is something I didn't realize until going to this retreat. It is actually very spiritual, which I found out by attending the meditation and chanting sessions. It is also based a lot on mythology which to me seems like it is based on Christianity. It is interesting t study different forms of spirituality and I was definitely able to appreciate it and the lifestyle the yogis have decided to live. They really seem at peace.
The first day of yoga class the instructor had us do one of two poses: the dolphin or the head stand. The dolphin is more about strength in the arms and the abs, and the headstand is about balance (a wall cannot be used). They told us not to do the headstand unless we had previously been taught how to do it. Well, this made me want to do it so I made my goal to do it before I left. So the first days I took it easy and stuck to the dolphin but every time I saw people doing the headstand I got antsy and wanted to it so bad (patience young grasshopper). Then one morning I think the instructor could tell I wanted to try, so she came up to me and helped me get to. The basic position. Then in my last class she came up to me again and helped me get to the full position. It felt so great to achieve that goal and it showed me that patience, persistence, and determination are a big part of who I am and sometimes I lose sight of that, but it sure doe feel great when I find it again.
A man who we usually sat and had dinner/brunch with gave me some good advice. I am usually an open book (um, obviously. I have a blog.) but that can tend to get me into trouble. Sometimes I trust people too easily and tell them information that would have been better if I had kept it to myself. But he made a good point. He said, "A best friend is a best friend." What that means is your best friend is usually also a best friend to someone else. So you know when you tell our best friend, "don't tell anyone this, ok?" Well, most likely they will tell their other best friend the same thing and before you now it, your secret is out. He is so right. And I have done that before. With Peace Corps being such a small community, you really do have to watch what you tell others. It is a HUGE rumor mill and full of gossip (sometimes true, sometimes not). So, just remember: a best friend is a best friend.
When the opportunity for technology is put in front of me, I cant help but use it. My next getaway vacation really will be technology free.
Europe is SO expensive!!! It will be nice to have a paid job after the Peace Corps.
The Austrian winter/spring sun is more powerful than one would think. My face is now a nice shade of pink and my nose is like Ruldolph's after sitting outside for a couple of hours yesterday. It felt so great though!
I'm really really happy. And I love it! This vacation reminded me how powerful thoughts are and that it is important to remain as positive as possible in all situations. After a yoga class you can really feel happy... And it seems like the happiness is magnified. That also means that you are more susceptible to ALL emotions so anger can also be triggered easily... So it is important to recognize those emotions and keep taking deep breaths and remain calm. The little things in life that can upset and anger you really aren't as bad as you think (usually) and will eventually diminish after time (for example, one morning I was told to take my yoga mat out of e room because it was meditation time and not yoga time, but being as it was 6am, I wasnt really oaying attention. So I took it out. Then the instructor that told me to take the mat out stopped me again when I entered the room and said my blanket smelled too strong and I couldn't bring it in to the class (it smelled like laundry detergent or softener), and when I said it was theirs, she replaced it. Then when it came time for yoga class, she approached me again saying I couldn't use my mat because others were complaining that it smelled too strong... It smelled like rubber perhaps because it was brand new and also maybe because it was cheap, but i don't know the price because someone was very nice and gave it to me as a gift. So it was just me being ridiculous and I felt myself getting angry at this woman... But why? She didn't do anything wrong, and neither did I. After the class I calmed down... Because that was stupid I got upset).
I am just like my sister and my dad. I now have a (hopefully healthy-ish) addiction to peanut M&Ms. Thankfully I can get them un Moldova.... Although peanut butter M&Ms are still my favorite.
I love it.
(pictures coming on Sunday)
07 March 2011
Now I am off to enjoy the warm winter/early spring sun and maybe take a nap. Believe it or not, i might go back to Moldova (which, by the way, has a much prettier view of the sky and the stars at night) with a little color on my face. Yahoo!