Chisinau, is the capital city of Moldova, located about two hours south of where I live, in Balti (the northern capital). Chisinau is the cultural hub of the country, offering many more food options than any other city, cultural events, it’s where the vast majority of international NGOs have their base offices and where Peace Corps Headquarters in located.
Most volunteers come to Chisinau somewhat regularly – if for no other reasons than medical, dental, trainings, meetings and collecting packages, a volunteer is still in Chisinau at least every other month. Some volunteers avoid Chisinau as much as possible, preferring to stay at site or simply come for a day to complete their errands and then head out, other volunteers find any excuse to come to Chisinau and enjoy the town, while others pick events to attend and enjoy the town while they are there. The reasons for volunteers being in Chisinau vary and for a lot of volunteers, Chisinau is the closest city, meaning it’s where they come for grocery, clothes or other shopping.
Moldovan PCVs are lucky that the furthest sites from Chisinau are only five hours away, in many larger peace corps countries volunteers can be a days travel away from the capital and their country’s peace corps headquarters. While I am certainly not the furthest PCV from Chisinau, I don’t head into town very frequently. Partially this is because I have site mates, so I see other Americans almost every other day, partially because I live in a big city, so anything I might need to buy, that would be available in Chisinau, I can almost certainly find in Balti and partially because I have been pretty busy so far at site.
This past Friday evening was the Ambassador Moser‘s Christmas party for Peace Corps Volunteers and I had planned for a few weeks to attend. Friday morning I headed to Chisinau, to visit medical for another round of shots, to visit the computer shop and see about fixing my hard drive and to check into the apartment. (When volunteers head to Chisinau, they typically either stay in a hostel or check into one of the apartments that are available for by the night rentals.) After completing my errands and getting to catch up with a few fellow volunteers I hadn’t seen in a while, I headed back to the apartment to get ready and then head out to the dinner.
The ambassador’s house was incredible, it was something out of Southern Living, but in Moldova. And the food, was amazing. There was a buffet with all types of finger foods, egg rolls, crudite, cheeses, potatoes, deserts, but the best part was the curry buffet. (While they sell curry mix at some of the speciality stores here, the curry at the Ambassador’s was super spicy and perfectly done.) The event was only two hours and flew by in a blur of food and catching up with people I hadn’t seen in a while.
After the event a lot of the volunteers headed to a small wine bar, that stayed open late for us and that was filled with exclusively Peace Corps volunteers and their friends. Towards the time we were leaving the bar, another volunteer’s Moldovan friend invited a few of us to go with him to a club. Normally, I would have headed home, but since I had nothing going on the following day and we trusted he would make sure there were no problems, we headed there with him. The club, Typographia, was unlike anything I have seen in Moldova. It was great music, a great atmosphere and I had a great time dancing until 5a, with some Moldovan friends and four other PCVs.
Saturday, day was spent catching up with a fellow PCV who I don’t see often and opening the three care packages I received! (Thanks Megan, Matt, Elise, Julia and Rachel!) Saturday evening I went out to dinner with a few friends to a Georgian restaurant, Tiblisi, in Chisinau, the food there is excellent, but also rather pricey (especially on a PCV salary) so it was a nice treat.
Sunday was spent cleaning the apartment and figuring out how I would transport all the care package contents home, having a final lunch in Chisinau with friends and heading back to site.