29 April 2011

Easter Friday

My Easter Friday plans of going to tour the Milesti Mici winery with other volunteers got cancelled today after another night of having difficulty falling asleep. I think it was probably due to the fact that I knew I needed to sleep because I had to wake up at 3am (yes, 3am) in order to catch the public transportation to be able to make it to Chisinau on time. You see, I could have taken the 5:40 rutiera, but that could have put me at the gara (bus station) at anywhere from 9:05 to 9:30, and I had to be at Peace Corps (a 10 minute walk) by 9:20 to catch the rutiera to the Mici... so that was pushing it. So instead, my next option was the 3:40, which would get me to the gara by 7:30... plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, like I said, I couldn't fall asleep, so I cancelled the trip. I was looking forward to it but that would have been another 8 hours of traveling + about 30 minutes each way to the winery + little sleep = cranky Cate. So, I didn't go.

Instead I stayed home and helped my host mom color her hair. There was still about 1/2 of the bottle left when we were done so I jokingly said I should use it to color my hair. She said, OK! Well, I'm quite happy with my long, thick, now 100% natural blonde hair so I had to explain to her that there wasn't enough it the bottle, that I was just joking, and I'm never coloring my hair again. It was nice of her to share, though. That then led us to the conversation of what color her hair was before it turned a beautiful salt and pepper gray. She said it was similar to mine, very long- and she would show me. I thought she was going to pull out some photographs, but before I knew it she was in my room with a braided ponytail. She said when she was 21 she used the water from the well to wash her long, wavy hair, and for some reason it caused it to knot up really bad and stick together. So she had no choice but to cut it off- and that she sure did! ... and she kept it!

So after the hair-extravaganza, I continued my studying for the GRE that I'd begun in the morning (err, late morning/early afternoon since I slept in until 9!). I am officially booked to take it when I'm home this summer, which means now it's hardcore study time. I have a book and it is extremely helpful, but there is only so much information a brain can absorb in one day. But 7pm I'd had enough and I was getting a lot of the practice questions wrong (which is very discouraging), so I decided to call it good.

Today we had two short rain showers mixed with sun, and I hear the rain coming back again. It's a quarter till midnight so I'm going to call it a night. The good thing is I am now all caught up on these posts so hopefully I won't be "recapping" anymore and they'll be more exciting! Poftim!

Easter Thursday

I came back to Varatic on Wednesday night because I'd promised my 8th graders I would go to the forest with them on Thursday. When I got up in the morning the weather was so nice and the flowers were gorgeous so I thought I'd snap a few pictures. This was, of course, just as I had finished taking a shower and I was too excited to take the towel off of my head. So my host mom came out and we took a tour around the garden and she showed me some good places to take photos, along with where the strawberry patch is, and the cherry trees.

By mid-afternoon I still hadn't heard from the 8th graders so I decided to do some laundry at my neighbor's house because she has a machine. While I was doing my laundry the kids took ahold of my camera. Here are the results... I think we have some photographers in the making! (Now I just need to teach them how to play with the settings on the camera!)

Then I took ahold of it and took some more pictures of them and Stefanel, their baby cousin (who splits time between them and his grandma because his parents have been in Moscow the last 10 months).

... another beautiful day in Varatic.

Easter Wednesday: Engaged!

Easter Wednesday began with a 5:30am rutiera that took me to Chisinau. I had a 11.5lb package of Easter candy to pick up that was sent from home, and an engagement session to photograph... yes, you read that right, an engagement session!

A couple of months ago Rachel contacted me asking if I would shoot her engagement photos in the spring. Of course I couldn't say no: Spring+love+photoshoots=happy Cate!

Rachel and Justin met when they came to Moldova. At first they were just friends, but by Thanksgiving of their first year here, they knew they were meant to be much more than that. They began dating and then traveling when they could, and now they're wedding planning! They will both finish their 27 months here in July and then they'll be heading home to get married just a few days after that. They are doing their part by contributing to the economy for sure: Justin bought the ring here, and Rachel is having her dress custom made (she hopes... there have been some issues with the whole "timeliness" and "I don't want super shiny fabric with silly flowers on the lace covered in glitter" thing. But no worries. It will all work out. It always does!)

Now they're just coasting through the rest of their service until they get to go home... I'm so happy they let me go around Chisinau with them! We enjoyed a tasty lunch and fresh strawberries, too. What beautiful weather we've been having lately!!

Easter Tuesday

I was supposed to head to Chisinau on Tuesday for an engagement shoot but plans changed last minute on Monday when my host cousin came over and invited us all over for a bbq Tuesday night. I couldn't say no to family, so I rearranged the plans (even though it meant I missed out on yoga!).

I ended up spending the whole day just relaxing (that's what you do on vacation and when the weather is nice, right?). Then I met my host parents and the family at their house for the best bbq I have ever had in my entire life (without sauce). It was so delicious, and we cooked it in their backyard on a homemade fire pit. What made this day so great was hanging out with Boris and his sister, Olesea, who are both basically my age and fluent in English. I'm glad they'll be around most of the summer so I'll have people my age to hang out with (which is rare in Moldova, due to everyone going abroad).

What was crazy was when my host grandma showed up. I feel that usually when you are a guest somewhere, it's time to relax (not always, but usually). Well, this definitely isn't the case for my host grandma! I don't think she knows what it means to relax. Literally the moment she arrived she started feeding the chickens and doing some work around the yard. I couldn't believe it... but I think work is just what she knows how to do and so she does it... all the time. I wish I'd brought my camera (I've been really good lately) so I could have captured that and also the mother hen that had about 20 chicks under her at one time.

After dinner we attempted to go to the disco but there wasn't anyone there and the music wasn't fun. So unfortunately we called it a night at around 10, but it was fun while it lasted! Until next time!

Easter Monday

Monday started off rather calm. I had plans for 2pm, but other than that my schedule was open. At 11 I received 2 invitations for noon: one for the river for a birthday party, and the other for a trip to the forest. Because I had already promised I'd attend the birthday party, that took priority, although it did make me late to the 2pm celebration (but it's ok because her parents were late, too).

So once we arrived at the spot near the river, the kids immediately started getting the bbq ready.

Then, just before the meat was done, we got a call that said a car had gone in to the river and so we had to go help pull it out (or, in my case, take pictures). I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I think there is usually a ferry there that cars can go on to go from one side of the river to the other, but as to why the car was going fast enough not to stop when he realized it wasn't there, I'm not so sure. Regardless, the car (and the owners) went for a little swim.

After the care was pulled out, we enjoyed our meal and then I booked it over to my next stop to visit Valentina and her parents, who are home from Moscow. We enjoyed shrimp and conversation, where I made the mistake of saying a girl that is having a wedding in the next couple of weeks and she is only 16 is not very smart... but what I didn't know was Valentina's mother and the other woman that was there both got married at 17. I guess that extra year helps...? :-/ I was embarrassed by the comment, but I don't think they took it to heart (at least I hope not!)

On the way home I got to see a beautiful sunset, which tied the relaxing day together perfectly. I love being on vacation.

Easter Sunday

Easter is officially my favorite holiday thanks to Moldova. It has really made me realize the importance of family coming together, and the amazingness that spring brings after a rather difficult and lonely winter. The weather just worked out perfectly for this celebration and I couldn't have been more thankful.

The morning started with me sleeping in until noon (I know, but hey! I was at Mass until 5am!). I ate brunch with my family, and then went back to my room to work with pictures, catch up with friends, the usual. Then at 2:30 my host mom came in and told me to get dressed because we were heading to her grandmother's house (she is 97 and the oldest person in the village). I thought we were going there at 5 to Skype, but apparently it was a family gathering.

I quickly got dressed, put my computer in it's bag, and we were off. I'd never been to that part of the village before and it was beautiful. I'll definitely be back... Plus, it's family. So of course I'll be back! It was so wonderful seeing so many people walking around the village, visiting friends and family.
You see, for Easter, just about everyone comes back home for a week, if not 2. Easter is the biggest holiday in Moldova and now it is obvious why. Everyone comes home to their families, and what is nice is that they celebrate with not just their close relatives but with friends as well. It is an entire week of celebrations!

So, once we got to the house, I started snapping pictures. Then we tried to hook the computer up to the internet (it was down the in the valley so the internet was touchy), then sat down to eat. There was tons of food on the table and more kept coming. When the eggs came out, everyone tapped the ends together with another egg. I'm not 100% sure what the significance of that was (besides tradition) but I think it has something to do with having good luck.

At first the internet worked- and while we were eating we received a call from Cambodia. As soon as we answered the call, however, the internet stopped working. We went all around the house (inside and out) trying to find a hot spot. My host uncle was so frustrated because he really wanted to connect with my host sister. Eventually, thanks to the suggestion of my host mom, we moved out to the middle of the garden and tried it that way. Thankfully it worked- with the help of a boy holding the internet modem up above his head to try to catch the signal (oh technology!). At that moment I helped connect 5 generations (My great host grandma, my host grandma, my host mom, my host sister, and my host niece and nephew). It was a beautiful sight. My host great grandma and grandma were speechless and crying because it was the first time they have talked to or seen my host sister/niece+nephew in almost 3 years. Even though they weren't able to join us, it was wonderful being able to connect them all over the internet on such a special day.

28 April 2011

Orthodox Mass for Easter

Let's just begin this post by being honest: I was not looking forward to Easter Mass. It's not that I wasn't looking forward to seeing an Orthodox Mass, or to experiencing the culture... but beginning the service at 12am when I'd been awake since 5am the previous morning, having to stand for 4-7 hours listening to a sermon I wouldn't completely understand, and fighting a cold... well, it was less than enticing. But after the fire I went home and I had about 3 hours until one of my students was going to come to my house so we would walk to the church (on the other side of the village) together. Because I was anticipating her call that would wake me up, I wasn't really able to sleep. But it's ok- because once we started walking it was all ok.

We missed the first 2ish hours of the service, which was apparently important, but not important enough to stand through it... because the end was what was the most important. As we were walking to the church in the pitch black we could hear the singing coming from the church when we were about halfway there... and then as we got nearer, we could see the glow of the church. It was absolutely beautiful and peaceful, and I found myself full of energy once again.

Once we actually arrived at the church it was pretty packed. Many people were standing outside because the inside was full. A couple of my students told me to follow them into the church regardless and they lead me to a tiny metal (and rather unsteady) spiral staircase. We climbed up it (good thing I dressed warm and so I had jeans on under my skirt) and then arrived at the 2nd level- which is actually where the choir usually stands. This was AWESOME because not only did it provide a great view but it was warm and we could sit if we got tired (which we did). Here we were able to observe what was going on, but like I said, we arrived late so there wasn't too much other than some singing by the choir, a speech from the Priest telling most people to go outside for something, and Communion.

Around 4:30am we headed outside to arrange our food. This is where, in the videos, you can see everyone has lit candles. They put the candles in their food and arranged it nicely on the ground. Then, once the Mass was finished, the Priest (and his followers) came outside and walked around with Holy water and sprayed (err, blasted) it on us and the food: thus blessing the food. (You can see this in one of the videos, too). If people didn't come for the Mass, they for sure made it for this event. There is also supposed to be a torch that comes from Riscani, but I don't think it made it to the village (apparently this isn't the first time this has happened).

After the food had been blessed some people went home with their families and began eating (yes, at 5am) while others, like me, went home and crashed. I slept in until noon- a new personal record. Luckily we didn't have plans until 3 in the afternoon, so that was ok.

The best part? I saw a shooting star just before the sun started to rise.

This is the church when we first arrived.
This is our church from the inside during the Mass. The Priest was in the back room preparing something- I believe blessing the food/wine for Communion or the water for the food.
This is the Priest walking around the bless the food at the end of the ceremony.

Easter Fires

The celebrations for Easter in Moldova begin on Saturday night (like with all of the holidays here, they are more than 1 day. America has a lot to learn!). Anyways... how it begins is once the sun goes down, people gather for a fire. However, this isn't just any normal bonfire that you would imagine if you were out camping with friends. This is a fire made from tires (yes, it is very dangerous for both the health and the environment. They know this. In fact, the Principal at the school forbade the students from participating in this tradition, but on Friday when she asked if the students were "prepared" for Saturday, she made it clear that no discipline would happen if the students attended). So these fires happen all over Moldova. Big tires are the base for the fires, and then everyone sits back and watches (because it is ONE HOT fire!). Then, the more adventurous (and quite possibly intoxicated) men attach a chain to a smaller tire, throws it in the fire until it catches on fire, drags it out to an area away from everyone else, and then swings it up above his head. The sound it makes is incredible- as is the sight. Check out the videos and the photos for more detail.

This was supposed to last until Midnight or later (when Mass begins), but I don't think as many people showed up as usual. I was home at 11pm, just in time to catch some sleep before Mass... (see the next post).

Easter preparations

The Saturday before Easter I had planned to help my host mom prepare food all day, but when I woke up I'd realized she'd done most of it Friday while I was at school so there wasn't anything for me to help her with. So I decided to go for a walk to enjoy the beautiful weather. I'd decided to walk to our bridge and actually cross it- because for some reason whenever I go on a walk in that direction I don't cross the bridge- I just stay on the side that is in our village (maybe I thought there was a troll living under it or something). Well, good news is there is no troll... but there is a beautiful view!! On the way there, though, I stopped at the house of a woman who lives by the school. She always talks to me when she sees me outside, and because she was outside I decided to stop by. We chatted for awhile and she gave me my first red egg. In Moldova they usually just paint their eggs red to represent the blood of Jesus, while in America we paint them tons of colors- maybe to represent our hippie past (just kidding). It ended up being a perfect gift because, after the walk to the river, I went to Maria's house, and then to color more eggs with Ollie, so I didn't have a chance to eat lunch. It was a nice snack to hold me over until dinner.

When I went to Maria's I was hoping to help her get some work done, too, since she is now alone. Her brother and daughter-in-law had said they would prepare all of the food and come pick her up on Monday so she didn't have to prepare anything. So instead of preparing food or cleaning, she took me inside the house and we looked at tons and tons of old photographs. She showed me two medals that had been awarded to her during the Soviet times... one was the "best teacher in the Soviet Union" and the other was the "Lenin award". They are both incredibly honorable medals that were supposed to mean she would get a higher pension upon retirement, but unfortunately they are now completely overlooked and she is not rewarded for the incredible work she did as a teacher (for things such as the language learning technology lab she created in the 80's where every student had their own headsets and microphone and she talked to everyone individually to improve their language... or the 50+ students that are now English teachers around the world... or the plays and musicals and performances she put on with the students in English). However, for the anniversary of her 30th year of teaching she was given a book that was hand painted and put together by past students with photographs and a wonderful letter from the Ministry of Education. From that book I was able to see photographs of how the school and the village looked back in the Soviet times and I couldn't believe how much everything has changed (or stayed the same). We have the SAME desks that they used in the 80's- just repainted. We have the same chairs, the same chalkboards (except now 3 of our classrooms have amazing dry erase boards), the same materials for the walls (that Maria made), and the same display cart. The once beautiful apartments across from the school are now falling apart and need a lot of work for people to live in (most are even vacant now). It was just so fascinating to me to sit and listen to her stories of how life was back then in comparison to how it is now... it even makes me want to believe that Communism is what this country needs again- but then I come to my senses and remember that while Communism may have been "good" for this country, it is also what made it fall apart later. That is all I'm going to say about that (probably the only political comment you will ever see me post, or even say for that matter. Politics just isn't my thing. Although being here and seeing the changes that are happening has led me to have a little bit of an interest in it..).
Anyways, it was fun reminiscing with Maria. She has done such amazing things in her life. Someone needs to write a book about her.

After Maria's house I joined Ollie to go to her grandmother's to dye eggs (the photo is of the woman I mentioned in the beginning of the post... but the eggs are from Ollie's gma). Like I said earlier, they usually only color them red here. The buy packets of die, pour the powder in the water, and then boil the eggs in the red water. Ollie had bought some wraps that were pretty fun to add some color- we stuck the wrap around the colored egg and then dropped it in boiling water. It instantly shrunk around the egg to fit perfectly. It sure makes it difficult to peel the shell though!

26 April 2011


Kids at our school start learning English in the 2nd grade. The first graders, however, seem so eager to learn (it's probably one one of those "you want what you can't have" things hehe). Anyways, I taught some of the kids to respond to the question, "How are you?" by giving a thumbs up and saying, "Good!" So one day when I was walking to school I stopped one of the students and asked her how she was, and she promptly gave me the thumbs up as she said "good". It was so cute! (Also in these pictures are 2 of my 10th grade students. And me.)

... I'm so happy it's spring!!!!!!!

Hardworking kids

Kids here in Moldova work their behinds off. I'm not sure about what it's like in the city, but at least here in the village there are many times when the kids don't come to classes because they have to be home helping their parents or grandparents in the garden or with housework. A lot of the little kids even take on "grown up" roles such as watching younger children and heavy yard work. In fact, it kind of broke my heart the day before Easter when I went to a 2nd graders house and asked her mom if she could go for a walk with me. Her mom said no because she had to take care of her little siblings. It was a beautiful day outside and she wasn't even able to play outside. Kids here grow up so fast... and it is quickly becoming clear to me the reason why.


Last week I stayed home for all but one of my lessons because I wasn't feeling well. Of course it was a beautiful day and some of my students invited me to a BBQ- and even though I wasn't feeling so well, I couldn't turn that offer down! Plus, I have been waiting to introduce them to s'mores since I returned home from Austria with 4 bags of giant marshmallows (and then found some in the grocery stores here which = awesome!). Bette also sent me some Hersey's chocolate! I'd forgotten just how good Hershey's is compared to the chocolate here...

So here are the results!

... we even found a hedgehog!!!

22 April 2011

Good Friday

Here is how I spent my Good Friday:

... having a morning walk and talk.

... having lessons outside.

... and admiring things such as the brand new fence behind the old one that some men have been working incredibly hard at putting up while I've been having lessons outside and also admiring the random horse in the front yard of the school...?

Here is how my host mom spent Good Friday:

... working hard in the garden (look at the tulips that bloomed today!)

... and making amazing bread for Easter (check out that GIANT cupcake... err... cupbread).

My host mom totally wins the competition of "who can accomplish the most" today. In fact... she always wins. I don't know how she does it.

Morning talks

I have a neighbor who I bonded with when I first got to my site. He came over one evening when we were having dinner outside (when my host brother was in town) and I introduced them to the wonderful game of UNO. It's been awhile since we've really had a chat, and this morning when I was walking to school he was outside the bar and said he was walking in that direction and he'd like to walk with me.

With Easter right around the corner a lot of people are getting ready for the festivities that begin tomorrow evening. They're preparing food and cleaning up the cemetery, and Victor said he'd helped clean up a bit yesterday. I then asked him if he had family buried in the cemetery and if relatives were going to come visit because that's what they do here a week after Easter- they come visit the cemetery of their loved ones and bring food and drinks and I'm not sure what else (more will come when that actually happens). He said his family probably wasn't going to come because out of the 6 of the children, only 3 remain, and most of his family is buried in a neighboring village. This then brought him to tell the story of how his family got to Moldova.

His father was Polish. During the war (I asked him if it was WWII but I'm not so sure) he was captured and became a POW. There he learned how to build and install windows and doors. At some point he escaped and walked all the way to Moldova by foot. He ended up in Zaicani (the neighboring village) and that is where he eventually decided to make himself a home. He then got married and they had 6 children. Like I said, 3 have died, 3 remain. One of his sister's remains in Zaicani and another in Moscow. From what I understood, his sister in Moscow used to send money to Zaicani to his sister and then he would get some. Now there is no money, and he can't afford to go to Zaicani, and she can't afford to come here. Either his wife has died or is also working abroad and his children have moved out of the village: thus leaving him all alone. One day he told me "я тебя люблю (ya tebya lyublyu)" which means "I love you" in Russian. At that point I decided to take a step back from him because I began to realize he is very lonely and he drinks a lot of alcohol. So today I was happy to walk and talk with him because I had somewhere to be and so did he: and it was the morning so I assumed he hadn't been drinking yet. When I told him I enjoyed our conversation and I like talking to him when he's not drinking, his response was, "but I have."

It breaks my heart that most of the people from Moldova leave their families behind. This culture is one that is SO based on traditions and family that when all of the family is gone, often all that is left (in many minds) is alcohol. There is no work here (especially in the villages) so in order to survive the locals must leave. Families are torn apart and many Moldovan's don't want to come back because they are afraid they won't be able to leave again, or they are illegally working abroad. People are sad because life is hard and they miss their family and often many people are just looking for someone to talk to. My host parents miss their children so much and I am so happy that I was able to connect them via Skype but I know it's not the same as having their children in person... and in the same country (even better: the same village). Holidays a hard time to be away from family (trust me). So while many people look forward to them, others are not looking forward to them because they still won't be with their children, or their parents.

Today I went around the room in one of my classes and asked the kids, "How are you today?". Most students responded, "I am happy" and when I asked why they said, "because this weekend is Easter and we won't have school next week". However, one girl said, "I am sad because it is Easter." I didn't understand why this would make her sad and she said, "I am sad because it is Easter and my mother won't be returning home from Moscow."

Out of 350 students in my school, 200 have BOTH parents abroad, 100 have one parent abroad, and the rest have their parents in the village but there is no work which means no money.

(Ok, sorry for that. I just watched, "The Secret Life of Bees" and it got me all emotional and put me deep in thought. This was supposed to be a short post).

20 April 2011

The pig.

Yesterday when I was taking pictures of my neighbor's tree, she stopped me and asked to photograph her, too, and then she invited me to watch them "cut" the pig. I asked her if she participated in it and she said no: they invited the neighbors to come do it for them. Unfortunately this couple is known around the village as being the drunks and as much as I try to ignore "village speak", they weren't doing anything contrary to the rumor. So I think it was better that they sat and watched.

Now, before you go any further... if you are a vegetarian because you are against the killing of animals, please DON'T GO ANY FURTHER IN THIS POST. Also, if you have a weak stomach, please DON'T GO ANY FURTHER IN THIS POST. I took over 700 images of the whole process but I did try to pull the least "gruesome" that would still tell the story. Just remember... this is life in the village.

With that being said, this was a very humane process. Now I can say that I have witnessed it but I think once is enough.

So, Easter is just around the corner (holy cow, err pig, time is going so fast) and that means it's time to get ready for all of the masas (parties) that will be held throughout the villages. We have all next week off of school because family comes in from all over and they go from house to house eating food, drinking wine and homemade vodka, and celebrating the fact that Christ has Risen. It is a HUGE ordeal here... and I'll be sure to post more about it as it happens. But for now the events consist of preparing the meat and cleaning around the house. Yesterday I watched the preparing of the meat.

It was... well... interesting (with all of this GRE studying I will be doing you are going to begin to see new words. This definitely isn't one of them). I have a huge love for animals (in fact, the doorbells I like to visit on my way to and from school both whined at me as I had been in my own world and was about to walk right past them) so needless to say I wasn't exactly looking forward to this. However, it was a weird thought because by the end of it I no longer felt like the pig was an animal... maybe because I was pretending that it wasn't.

The initial pulling of the pig out of the pen was a site to see. That pig had to have been really heavy and BOY was it strong! It also made a sound like I'd never heard before and could have easily popped the ear drums if you were close enough. The sound slowly faded, however, as the pig died from a couple of stabs straight to the heart. I had to look away during this and even got a bit emotional but I was happy when it was over.

(This is our neighbor who, like I said, was much better off just watching.)

This is her husband who too was much better off watching.

Now they are getting the torch ready.

Here they are putting the pig on the table (for the second time because it actually fell off at one point). Vasile is using the fire torch to burn the hair off of the skin.

This is Vasile- one of the men that did the dirty work. His son, Marin, also helped.

The geese went crazy after the blood that had spilled from the pig and the wash of the water. It was like they were savage animals that had never been fed before when in reality they had been fed but they're just animals. Go figure.

"Cate, Cate! This is the INEMA!" said Vasile. That means it's the heart. I've never seen a real heart so close in person before... and I was impressed. Even so, I don't think I can handle being a doctor. However, without ever having an anatomy class (I'm not sure how I got away with that in high school and college...??), I was impressed with ability to recognize organs as they were taken out of the body. At one point the men joked and said they were having an "open body operation". I thought it was pretty funny...

After an hour of so, my neighbor's granddaughter came over to help. As the men scraped the skin off the pig, she poured water on it to make it easier. ... and the rooster? That was one FIERCE little dude. Marin, the son, pointed the fire torch at him and he went closer to it as if to fight back. Well, not even as if. He was definitely fighting back!

All of the animals were gathering around to get a taste of some meat, fat, blood... whatever they could get their mouths on.

... and that is all. I have plenty more images but I thought it would be best to keep it PG. When I had ham this morning for breakfast I almost couldn't eat it... but then I remembered that it wasn't from that pig. But this is life and in my opinion we need meat to survive. Some people don't- and that's ok. At least by being in the village I know where the meat is coming from and that it was raised properly.... which is a good thought! I don't think I want a farm now, though. Maybe. But I don't think I could handle this. My host mom did tell me that when she first got married she wouldn't "cut" the animals either... and neither would my host dad. She would always have her mom do it or one of the neighbors. Then one day she needed meat (probably to make soup or something) and went out the gate and walked around and couldn't find anyone. So the toughened up and taught herself how to "cut" the animals. Now she does it all and doesn't think twice about it. She's such a go-getter!