30 Days Straight: #27

“The difference between the individuals that leave a footprint on this world and those who simply walk in those steps is that there is no unattainable goal. There are simply adverse avenues to greatness and smooth roads to mediocrity.”

– A pack of cigarettes costs 6.5 lei (approximately $.50).

– I spoke with the grandfather of my friend Sasha as we walked home from their family party across town. He lives in the same apartment complex as I on the top of the hill so we conversed for 30 minutes or so. I asked him a question about his current pension. He told me that he earns 1,700 lei per month (less than $150 USD). His most recent gas bill to heat his apartment cost 2,000 lei. I wanted to know if they have ever shut off his electricity or gas. He said no. He stated that he will die with a huge amount of debt in his name and that no one will inherit it. Everyone just seems to be in terrible debt yet there are no additional penalties or consequences. I do not know if they allow exceptions for pensioners but it seems like with most business establishments in Leova, the debt seems to pile up yet the issue gets swept under the rug while it hemorrhages. How does he even get by with his monthly earnings after “paying” the gas bill? All I know is that with the remaining 15 lei he had in his pocket he managed to buy a loaf or bread and pack of cigarettes as we walked home. It is a shame and continues to make this fun adventure of being in the Peace Corps a lot more sobering and pressing. I try to separate myself from these issues. It continually gets harder.

– Speaking with a 25 year old local at one of our town’s cafes last night he told me that there is nothing to do for fun in Leova. I agree with him. He mentioned that there is no fitness center, movie theaters, shopping areas, music spots, art museums, etc. He said this is the reason why people drink so much, especially the youth. Due to the lack of entertainment venues in Leova people can only come together socially over drinks. Thinking about Moldova as a whole and most neighboring towns and villages, the same deficiencies exist which creates one massive health and social problem for the country as indicated by their highest per capita alcohol consumption rating, according to CNBC in 2011.

– No more Moldova to America comparisons, please. If I have to compare our women, food, salaries, lifestyle, conditions, prices, cars, music, jobs, government, etc. I will lose it. Why can’t we just ask questions about one or the other without having to make me sugarcoat my answer or playfully attack the place I call home. When I am forthright about the areas Moldova can improve upon, feelings are hurt. I can see it in people’s faces. When I do not put America on a pedestal I am called a liar. Comparison questions always make me uncomfortable. It is as if your new girlfriend/boyfriend was asking about your ex and how she/he compares. I would like to be able to answer a question without having to repeat, “I do not want to compare them, both are incredibly unique.”

– Made a bet last night with a local friend that it would rain at some time today based on a forecast I read earlier that day that stated there would be a 50% chance of precipitation. Unfortunately, as the clock strikes 22:30 it looks as though I will be losing this bet. What were the stakes? Loser jumps into the Prut River for a bath. Photos and embarrassment coming soon.

– Ate an eggplant and garlic spread on wholegrain bread at a family brunch for Ziua Internaționala a Femeii. It was incredible.

– Becoming better at playing the game Belot. It is a variation of euchre and is played out here often. It is a little trickier but just as fun. My friend Sasha, his sister Marina, locals, and I play together to pass time. It is a great way to socialize with Moldovans and helps foreigners pick up many Russian words representing all of the cards in the deck. Due to my laziness, you can read more about it on Wikipedia.

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