It Will Be Cold, It Will Be Freezing

Day 144 – The cold period I was most worried about already arrived to Chisinau. ❄️ While last winter I enjoyed the sun and cycling in between ripening orange trees in Portugal, in Moldova I am watching how local drivers enjoy splashing melted snow on pedestrians. My psychical and physical (un)preparedness for this weather is also affected by maximum weight limit of my luggage that I had to pack for the period of 10 months, which was only 24 kilos. I am layering the clothes, I have also traditionally started with crocheting and who knows if I will not start praying here as well so the temperatures don’t drop too deep under the zero.

At work I am involved in the preparations for a Winter Charity Bazaar, which will take place at the beginning of December. As during the Summer School, I am meeting again women and children from groups of refugees and asylum seekers and we are trying to create products that will be available for sale at the bazaar. I train not only creativity, when I try to to create “a lot from a little”, but also my patience and ability to assert and justify my own ideas and opinions. Believe me, it’s not always easy. After all the hard days, I really enjoy the moment when I can just sit alone in the room, listen to the calm jazz music, glue decorative stars on paper and give a final look to our products… Well, all the peace and relax is just until the moment when I have to travel back home by trolleybus again.

However, hurray, because finally I am not the only Czech in the group of volunteers! Jakub arrived a week ago, and you have no idea how amazing it is to receive these kind of messages in the morning: “OMG, I went to work this morning so fast that even those old grandmas outside were walking faster than our trolleybus.” “I have to share my new record with you. In the morning I had to let go three trolleybuses until I was able to get in to a bit empty one.” Ah! 😀

Tiraspol

Day 139A moment ago, my flatmate and I returned from Tiraspol – the capital city of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. Although Transnistria still belongs to Moldova by law, now it’s de facto considered as an “independent” state that is supported by Russia. This territory has its own flag with a hammer and sickle, its own currency which officially doesn’t exist but it’s normally valid and used there, three official languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Moldovan written in Cyrillic, as well as the brand “Sheriff” which owns and controls almost everything. Well, and if you get a migration card at the border, it entitles you to stay for just ten hours.

Given all this information, we expected our day to be all sorts of things, but certainly not what it really was. The conformity of all possible coincidences began already in a marshrutka (minibus), where we met a boy from Tiraspol. He planned to go to Chisinau for the first time in his life, but he forgot his passport at home and so he was returned from the border and appeared in our marshrutka. Briefly said – this boy has become our all-day guide. 

In Tiraspol, we also visited nonprofit organization Apriori, whose activities were supported, among other things, by Czech NGO People in Need. So thanks to all these circumstances, instead of taking pictures of tanks, statues of Lenin and socialist symbols, we spent a great day full of enriching conversations and even playing board games over a cup of delicious coffee…

Sometimes things are simply happening as they should.

A Fairy Tale about Water

Den 126 – In the main roles: Team Dacia 50, NGO ADVIT, plumber Dmitrij, emergency service, owner and his family members, neighbors

Illustration: Oleg Artenii

This story is based (and still continues) on the real situation. Unfortunately.

Saturday – I’m coming home and guys are drying the wet kitchen. They are saying there’s something wrong with a sink. I think they’re kidding. After a while, the water starts to flow out of the sink and I am finding out that this time it wasn’t a joke.

Sunday – At irregular intervals, water comes out of the sink. “It’s normal here”, locals said. We’re waiting for a plumber. He decides to separate the pipe under the sink, plug it with a small plastic cap and said that we probably need some technical engineer. After his departure, the cap flew away under the pressure of water. We dried the whole kitchen again and were changing with a bucket, a pot and a pan on the running water that goes directly to the floor. We’re waiting for the emergency service. An hour. Guys from the emergency service arrived, with the smell of alcohol around them. They said that the pipes are badly made and that they can’t do anything about it. They’re leaving. During that we still can’t believe what is going on around us we started to create a strategic plan, set up an alarm clock for the whole night to watch the water in the kitchen regularly.

Monday – The decision to stay at home turns out to be a very good idea and we started our day by drying the kitchen already in our pyjamas. The water begins to come out again, so in the same time, we were having breakfast, catching and pouring out the water, running to the neighbors and trying to explain them to not use water at all. I was happy to wear my new wellies for the first time. The owner and his brother came. They apologized for the situation and tried to find a solution. However, after a while, we realized that they are more likely to ask us for solutions because they probably don’t know a lot what to do. “For those guys from emergency service you should have offered beer or vodka and they would start working.” We had no idea if it’s a joke, but we felt that there is something weird happening so we decided to don’t laugh this time.

Tuesday – In the morning, the police is ringing at the door, checking if everything is ok for us after reporting the missing flatmate. Boys are staying at home. After returning from work I find that the situation in the flat is the same as in the morning, just there is starting to be more and more mess all around. The flatmates say that the owner tries alternately to solve the situation and drink with our neighbor.

Wednesday – The group of the owner and his brother is growing with another member – their mom came as well. For the rest of the day, the owner decided just to drink with a neighbor.

Thursday – I’m going to work and naively expecting that when I get home, the situation will be solved. Instead of it, I am realizing that all water is stopped in the whole neighborhood because there is also another problem with total sewerage. The owner practices not only his livers but his dictionary of English swearing as well.

Friday – I am staying at home. Surrounded by mess around, with water only in plastic bottles and during the sound of wall drilling I am appreciating the message from my flatmate “Should I bring you a croissant with Nutella or vanilla filling?”

Carpe Diem

Day 121 – We didn’t get bored this week at all.

First of all, we almost caused an international investigation because of our roommate who did not come home at the usual time and arrived exactly at the moment when we were contacting hospitals, calling and waking up our colleagues, contacting the French embassy, and police was just on the way to our house. (By the way, most people still have phones with them, but how many of us turn off the ringing overnight? And how many of us would really be able to pick up the call when it’s needed?) After complaining about our lack of water, we were dealing with the opposite problem – catching freely running water out from the sink. Currently we are still waiting for a plumber. And this morning we woke up with the news that we were sleeping during an earthquake that appeared here.

“I really don’t understand how you can still laugh at moments like this!”

Well, often there is not so many other options what we can do.

For someone it may sound as a cliché, but enjoy your day and take care of the people around you because you never know when your life will turn upside down from minute to minute.

And as for the pictures – I let myself inspired from our TV news because after all the disasters, it is probably ideal occasion to show a report on animals 👍 .

Planting trees in Rîșcova

Day 114 – In order to take a break from the topics we cover in our projects and also to broaden our horizons in another area of ​​interest, me and my French flatmate signed up for a three-day workshop about planting trees Seed It Forward. We were lucky enough that the local organization EcoVisio gave us the chance to participate and we spent past three days in an environmental Eco-Village Moldova located in the picturesque village of Rîşcova. Thanks to the experienced team, the program was really busy and together with the other participants we really appreciated that we could use our new knowledge immediately in practice.

I have already mentioned the topic of ecology in Moldova a few times in my Facebook posts and I am more than aware that finding common ground or understanding from others on ecological topics is often not easy at all here. So what I would like to highlight from the whole seminar is that I was really pleasantly surprised how many enthusiastic and motivated young people had an interest in environmental topics. The final debate stuck in my head – some of the participants mentioned how sorry they are about the situation that many citizens are leaving their country and that’s why the long-term sustainability of the local environment and of Moldova as such is a truly important priority for them.

I would like to really thank all participants for these three days and all those who really care about what’s happening around them!

And once again great thanks to all those who were able to translate into English or Russian for me (as I was the only participant who did not understand Romanian). Until now, I have never felt as a prominent foreign ambassador at an international conference who has the privilege of individual simultaneous translation by whispering to my ear. The perfect, at least bilingual knowledge of the vast majority of Moldovan people still surprises me.

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