Running in Moldova means running with one head phone out so you can hear cars approach from far enough away to jump out of the street as they zip by — you’d better be listening because they sure don’t seem to be watching. (Pedestrians don’t have the right of way here.)
Running in Moldova means not being phased by dogs barking wildly at you from every house but keeping an eye out for the gates that are open or the dogs that aren’t chained or the street dogs and making sure to walk by those. (The running will get them to chase you, but if you walk quickly by they usually don’t follow more than a couple of houses.)
Running in Moldova means getting looks of confusion, of disapproval and sometimes even mutters from almost everyone you pass; you might as well be screaming foreigner. (I have yet to see anyone else here running and apparently women certainly don’t do that here.)
Running in Moldova means keeping an active eye on your surroundings; so you can find your way home, so you know who’s around or who’s not around.
Running in Moldova means waking up at six or waiting until 7:30 at night because the rest of the day is just too hot.
Running in Moldova means running mostly on asphalt and gravel, seemingly only uphill.
Running in Moldova means feeling that amazingly infinite high that only comes when you reach the top of that hill out of breath and you see that view out over the fields that you still can’t believe is real.
Running in Moldova means passing girls of all ages and smiling; hoping you’re at least planting a seed in them, that if they too want to run outside, they can.
Running in Moldova means a time alone with your thoughts; unscheduled, unplanned, unoccupied with productivity – it’s never the same as the day before.
Running in Moldova means exploring the town; finding a new path in the fields, a new way the streets connect, a John Deere tractor store on the outskirts or beautiful hidden houses and views you might have otherwise missed – it means seeing the town from a new angle everyday.
Running in Moldova means listening to music – laughing at some songs, getting pumped to others and mostly being grateful for the most steady stream of English you’ll hear the whole day.
Running in Moldova means keeping your sanity and (hopefully) allowing you to continue to eat placenta and cookies while still fitting into your clothes.
Running in Moldova, for me, means that already I’m making positive changes towards becoming a better version of myself; a version that runs, that self-motivates, that enjoys being alone and most importantly someone who relaxes and enjoys the moment.
- Disclaimer: I’ve taken an artistic license with this piece – this describes my personal experience running in one town in Moldova. Please do not generalize impressions or statements made here to be an accurate, complete or unbiased picture of Moldova or running.
- This piece was first published on my blog, but later was published on Matador Network, under the title, “What running in Moldova means to me.”