The dust here is everywhere. I don’t know if I noticed it at first, but now I see it all the time. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me, the thin layer of it on the cobblestones, the way my black shoes look gray by the time I come home from work, but sometimes when I’m running and a car comes by me I have to stop and close my eyes and let the cloud settle before I can continue.
The dust is part of the reason why everyone here is so enamoured with their shoes. These streets they tear up your shoes and the dust it makes it near impossible to walk and keep your shoes clean. So if your shoes are clean and new it means you aren’t walking or you just bought new shoes.
When its dry out, but especially on hot days you’ll sometimes see people pouring water on the ground or on the floor of buses. This is to keep the dust at bay. They’ll pour a small bit of water and sometimes use a broom – one of those half brooms, with no real handle they have here – to spread the water out.
When you enter the homes here, you take your shoes off. For me this seemed natural – my mother’s always enforced a strict shoes off at the door rule in her home and when I moved out, in college I enforced the same. It seemed to help with keeping the carpets clean and all Moldovans seem to feel strongly the same way, especially with the dust here being what it is.
People here don’t sit on the ground and women don’t sit on concrete – I’ve heard there’s a supersition that if a woman sits on concrete she’ll become infertile, but I think this might also have to do with the dust that coats everything.
Another supersition here is about the ‘current,’ or wind. You’ll so oftern here people here discussing the current, even educated people saying of I caught a cold from that current yesterday. Some people won’t have windows open in their homes, others will allow the window open, but not the window and the door at the same time, while still others don’t put any stock in this current fear. This supersition, however is common enough that anytime you are on a rutiera or bus here and there is a window open, no matter how hot it is, there is almost certain to be someone who insits that it be closed because of the current.
The water here is something I’m still adjusting to. I’ll admit there are moments where I grab a glass from the cabinet, go to the tap, fill it and then sometimes even am drinking it before I remember. I’m lucky, so far it hasn’t gotten me really sick. In Stauceni, where I lived during PST, the water was really good – its a wealthy suburb of Chisinau and you can drink the water straight from the tap, although its not advised. In Balti, where I live now, I don’t know that the water is exactly safe to drink straight from the tap, but I only have to boil and filter my water.
Some are other PCVs here have to double boil and double filter their water. While several of the PCVs in the south have distillers their water is so bad. In fact a friend of mine who lives in a village in the south told me that after he showers he feels like the water leaves a coat on his skin. So for me, just having to boil and filter my water to drink it, doesn’t seem that bad.