1st Thanksgiving in Moldova! As you can see, me and 5 other PCVs (and one of the PCV's friend who is traveling the world for the next year who took this photo) met up at SaraH's apt (SaraH is the who's lap i'm sitting on) to celebrate together.
(From left to right: Gabriel (English Education (EE) Volunteer), Nate (healthE), Heidi (Small Enterprise Development (SED) Volunteer - she's also one of the people i sat next to on the plane from New York to Germany), Jeff (SED) - he was at my table during Staging in Philadelphia, me (duh - healthE...p.s. thanks for the beanie Cin!! I LOVE it!!!), and SaraH (Community Organization and Development (COD) Volunteer). All of us are M29s (meaning we're the 29th group of PCVs in Moldova) except for SaraH, who's an M28, meaning she's in her last year and will be leaving next summer.)
Like Stesi mentioned in her Thanksgiving in Malawi post, i too had to work that day, and Thursdays are my longest days, so i didn't get out of school til almost 2pm. The rutieras (minivans that i have to take to get out of my village unless i hitchhike) in my village are pretty rare after noonish, especially since it starts getting dark around 4pm now.
So, instead of going home first and changing into jeans, i went immediately to the rutiera stop after school (in my long skirt). After waiting for a few minutes, an older woman, weighed down by numerous bags, walked by. At first i thought she was also waiting for a rutiera, so i was hopeful that since a local was waiting, then there must be a rutiera that was gonna come by. But she just started talking to me and kinda giggling and then kept walking up the hill...which then made me think that if the older local woman was walking up a hill weighed down by bags, then a rutiera was probably definitely NOT coming after all. SO i considered starting to walk (which i did once before and it took me 1 hr 40 minutes to walk 7km with my backpack on), which i would've had to start doing right away cuz an almost 2 hr walk outta my village would've meant walking in the dark by the end, which is scary on these village roads cuz people drive like maniacs here and have no respect for pedestrians!
So as i was quickly trying to contemplate what to do, one of my students walked up and asked me where i was going. I told him "Soroca" and he told me to get on the school's rutiera with him (Moldova's version of a school bus). So i did. The blue van pulled up with all students (all of them being in my classes) and they all got crazy when i, their funny foreign teacher, got on with them. They immediately surrounded me while the driver drove like a lunatic down the road, jerkily swerving (making me carsick) so that the kids were being tossed back & forth across the aisle, but not seeming to think it out of the ordinary.
Then, at about halfway between my village and the main road, the driver let us all out at another village. Then the kids told me to hitchhike to finish getting out and 3-4 of them waited with me til someone picked me up.
The guy who picked me up was really nice. He started asking me where i lived and i started explaining that i'm a PCV, and he told me he already knew that (of course he did...everyone does!). Then he started speaking tome in his broken English and i responded in my broken Romanian. It was pretty funny. Then he dropped me off on the main road at my rutiera stop and i offered him money, which he refused :o]
(Thanksgiving dinner: rotisserie chicken instead of turkey, homemade pomegranite sauce instead of cranberry sauce, mashed taters, salad, green beans, Mexicanish rice, chopped tomatos, "dressing", and pîine (bread), of course...cuz no Moldovan meal is complete without pîine!)
Then i got picked up by the rutiera going into Soroca. When i got in the driver asked me if i was American (cuz of course he could just tell). I sat in the seat next to him cuz the drive was only like 5 minutes from there. He asked me in body/sign language if i wanted a "drink" and i politely refused. Then, when we got to Soroca and everyone was getting off, he told me to stay. Once everyone was off he said he was gonna go buy some smokes and he'd be right back. When he left, i got out and got on the rutiera going to SaraH's. Oh Moldova...never a dull moment! So, all of that made for a very interesting journey just getting to Soroca, which is only about 15km away from my village!
Overall, Thanksgiving was fun, but it definitely didn't "feel" like Thanksgiving, which made me think that all of the holidays i spend away from home aren't gonna "feel" like those holidays, and i'm sure by 2016 when i go home, the holidays are gonna be magical, wonderful BLISS!! :o]