Winter is here! Last week the temperatures in Moldova dropped from where they’d been, around 30-40 F, to around 10 F. Its predicted that the rest of this week will get even colder, with a low of -5 F for Thursday. We got a first layer of snow last week and its been snowing on and off ever since. we’ve got about a foot accumulation, but unlike in the states, no one’s school or work is cancelled. Apparently here school is only cancelled when the temperatures get to around -10 F, the point at which pipes freeze and cars can’t run.
A few weeks ago, right before the cold front came in, we received a note from the Peace Corps office here reminding us to stock up on water, in case pipes freeze and to have extra materials for our sobas if we have that option. Sobas are wood, coal or pellet burners, there are many variations, but essentially it’s a metal bucket you fill with wood, set fire to and burn inside a tin box! They are used for heating, cooking, disposing of rubbish, drying clothes and making tea on. Sobas are mainly used by people in villages, since you can’t have a soba in an apartment and houses in the city tend to be newer and gas heated.
I have started making sure I always have a few liters of water in stock, just in case and I guess if we lose heat, for some reason, I can figure out that game plan then. For now though, I’ve learned to wear long underwear under my clothes all the time and always have my hat, gloves and scarf. Luckily the coat and snow boots I brought with me are both really warm and good quality, otherwise I’d be in trouble.
The worst part about the winter here isn’t the snow, which looks beautiful, or the cold, which is bearable as long as you’re appropriately layered, it’s the ice. Under the snow here there’s a layer of ice and sometimes when people clean the sidewalks or paths, they sweep it, instead of shoveling and all that’s left is a layer of ice with a little snow on top. I have heard from other volunteers that the snow usually doesn’t melt until early spring and when it does, the mud is everywhere, but I guess I’ll experience that when I do.
So far this winter has been pretty mild. We have not had too many days with below 0 F temperatures. We haven’t had the gas cut off or the pipes freeze. And most importantly we’ve had lots of days where we can see the sun. (The days where the sun never comes out and it’s just gray all day are the worst.)