Friday, September 08, 2006

Hidden Moldova

Yes, we had to look it up on a map when Evan, Anne's brother, told us he was heading to Moldova to spend 2 years in the Peace Corps. Now we know where Cuhuresti de Sus is, which is something that most Moldovans don't even know. When we applied for our visas in Bucharest, the embassy workers took us to a large map of the country so we could show them where it was that Evan taught English. Once we passed the geography test, the rest of the visa process was just paying the fee and joking about us arranging for California's most famous governor come to Moldova for a quick visit.

I imagine that Cuhuresti de Sus is like a lot of other small Moldovan villages. The infrastucture is stranded somewhere between the first and thirld world. Electricity is mostly there, but there are power outages. There's a disco for the kids at night with a bar across the street that serves drinks. There's a school and several other stores that sell some basic items. Every Friday, there's an open air market that sells clothing and a wider variety of food items, like vegetables, fruit and chickens. No running water unless you hook up a pump to your well. A lot of dirt roads that turn to mudpits in the rain. If you want a bath, you need to heat the water. Of course, everyone has an outhouse.

It's a small farming community where everyone grows or raises a significant portion of their food supply. The host family that Evan lives with and with whom we stayed has pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys and a large garden. Rabbit ribs are tasty but don't have much meat on them. The cucumbers and tomatoes are very fresh now, but in the back of my mind I know that the USSR expoited the growing conditions in Moldova and most of the soil is or needs to be loaded with fertilizers and pesticides to make stuff grow well - one of the main barriers that the country is facing when trying to export its agricultural products to western Europe. Evan has at least three items that the Peace Corps has told him to avoid entirely - wild mushrooms, water and fish. I'm guessing now, but I think the reasons are different for each item. Wild mushrooms because you need an experienced person to make sure they're safe to eat. Water because there is so much livestock that everyone's favorite bacterium, giardia, is an ever-present threat. Fish because they're radioactive AND poisonous. The fish come out of rivers loaded with the same agricultural waste as the soil and we're not too far from Chernobyl. Happy eating.


Post a Comment

<< Home