Sunday, October 30, 2011

Peresecina Public Bathroom Project

Hello Friends, Family, Colleagues: I am asking for your help to raise money for a project with Appropriate Projects Water Charity to build a public bathroom in my office building! You can donate here!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From goats to heated blankets... boyfriends in Moldova.

Explaining to the vast majority of Moldova men, women and children that I am 25, without children and unwed can be a difficult task.
In this country and culture where one of the most treasured (and expensive) moments for a family is the marriage of their child, the buying (or more often building) of a house and arrival of grandchildren on the scene.  It is part of what keeps Moldovans happy.  Part of what they live for are the celebrations in their lives.  The fact that I willingly am rejecting celebrating those things in my life is extremely puzzling to them.  It's not as though I am against marriage... if you love someone and wish to consummate that love under religious law that is fine.  If you invite me I will even attend to help you celebrate the union between you and your new spouse.  My personal beliefs aside, in order for me to answer the constant questions regarding my ring-less finger or empty baby-bearing hips is to make it humorous. 

First my partner had baby goats born; two boys and two girls.  She let me name them all "American names" Billy Boy, Brownie, Daisy and Cinnamon... which was quite an honor as Moldovans typically name the animals based on the day of the week they were born.  Regardless, I started telling everyone in town that I had a boyfriend, his name was Billy, and he was goat.  For a while the questions subsided about my state as a single woman as did the suggestions for me to marry every older woman's single son "about my age."  I thought I was in the clear until we ate him for Easter.  Then I had to explain that my boyfried was deceased but was also delicious. 

My second and still current relationship is with "the road."  It's hard to explain that rather than settling down I want to travel the world.  See the Great Wall of China, cross the Bering Strait, eat sushi in Japan, dance with the tribes of Sub-Saharan Africa and go sailing in the Caribbean.  I must tell a lot of people about this boyfriend because even the Priest in my town knows about him.  He came to bless our house and when he was throwing the water all of my room and drawing the cross with oil on the wall he kept saying "This is for Emily and her road." Here is the deal, I haven't seen the whole world so how can I know where I would want to settle down?  I also don't think I've met the love of my life yet and so how could I even think of settling for anything less?  So my relationship with "the road" will probably be a marriage for life... which is fine but then came along this hot Turkish guy...

With winter coming my host mom and I set out to find a heated mattress pad for my bed.  She was convinced we had to buy a Russian-made one but all we could find at the market was Chinese or Turkish brands.  She decided I should buy the Turkish one.  The first night I turned it on she came to get me for dinner and I told her I didn't want to leave my new boyfriend.  As I was on my computer she said... "Oh can I see him are you skyping with him?"  My response?  "No of course not Zina... I'm sitting on him!!!  This heated Turkish mattress pad is my new boyfriend.  He's hot and sleeps with me all night."  She and I giggled and then we went to tell my host dad who roared with laughter. 

It is the little things that get you through living in a new culture.  When the redundancy of questions start to get to you just turn them into a joke or ask the same question to them.  It's important to share culture but it's also important to respect the cultural customs and beliefs of others. Sarcasm and humor are sometimes hard to communicate but when you do get through be ready to share a beautiful moment of laughter (the one universal communication medium for happiness).  I know that my ramblings are only from one perspective, I am sure that the married couples and single men or married persons who left their spouses at home are all asked different and interesting questions but this is just about me and how I have chosen to deal with culture clash in my village.  Now if you will excuse me there is a Turkish guy warming up in my bed...