A lot of my posts lately have been more general in nature, about my life here, about my impressions of Moldova, but this one is about my past week.
Having a birthday away from home, away from your family, favorite foods, normal habits can be stressful or with a little creativity a birthday in Moldova can be a unique and once in a lifetime experience. For my birthday here, I had a small dinner, but got to enjoy some of my favorite things – Mexican and Margaritas, with some of my favorite people. This is a pretty standard birthday celebration for Peace Corps Volunteers in Moldova – invite a few friends to join you, make some delicious American (or not easily available in Moldova food), and take a weekend to enjoy each other’s company.
For Moldovans birthdays are generally celebrated either with a large celebratory meal at home (a masa) with family or at a restaurant, again with family and/or friends. In Moldova, unlike in America its standard for birthday boys or girls to pay for the entire check for the meal if it’s at a restaurant. Also in Moldova, depending on your office, the birthday person generally will bring in a cake or food for a celebration.
Some Peace Corps Volunteers get creative when it comes to their birthdays – a site mate (another PCV who lives in Balti) of mine invited some other Peace Corps Volunteers here to join him and they rented out a bath house here. This past weekend to celebrate another friend’s birthday we organized a mini-surprise pub crawl in Balti. It was a lot of fun, but I always forget how much effort even a simple event takes to plan well and I am certainly glad there is almost nothing on the schedule for this coming weekend.
Comedy shows are quite popular here. There are several comedy groups in Balti who do shows ranging from stand-up, mixed with skits to what is called in Romanian, a zebra show, which is comedy skits mixed with singing and dancing. This past Friday, one of my Moldovan friends, Igor was competing in a comedy show with his team and invited me. There were six teams in the show, three from local high schools and three semi-professional teams, two from Balti and one from Tiraspol (the capital of Transnistria). Even though the show was in Russian and I understood very little of what was said, the parts I understood were quite funny.
St. Patricks Day:
To celebrate St. Patrick’s day this year I went to a small local bar, that has eight beers on tap, sold by the liter bottle, including a few German beers. I also organized a small celebration at my office for our volunteers. At the office celebration our volunteers watched Matilda (one of my childhood favorite movies), in Russian, participated in some team building activities, learned about St. Patrick’s Day and enjoyed some snacks.
While St. Patrick’s Day has never been one of my favorite holidays, it happens to also be my mother’s birthday. This year was my mother’s 60th birthday and since I wouldn’t be there to celebrate with her, I organized an effort to have 60 birthday cards written for her and sent to my neighbor’s house from different friends, family, co-workers and other people from her life. I believe we ended up just shy of our goal of 60, but my mother had a great birthday with lots of surprises, so that was definitely the best part of my St. Patrick’s Day.