This past weekend was a busy one. I initially thought it would be a light weekend of studying some Romanian and relaxing. But as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’ve come to realize that schedules don’t always go as planned. Despite my limited relaxation, this weekend was one for the books and definitely worth sharing.
My Saturday morning allowed me to have some relaxation, I was able to sleep in and do some free reading. Eventually some of my host family (sister and her family) came to visit. Along with my host parents, we ate a nice and hearty lunch. I wondered why we would have such a nice feast. And then the news hit me: we were going to go to the vineyards to pick grapes. This was a new experience for me and I am so glad I was able to get my hands dirty, do some hard work, and eat some fresh picked grapes. Let me tell you what, these were probably the best tasting grapes I have ever eaten. My host brother-in-law told me it would be worth eating just-picked-from-the-vine grapes. I’m glad I listened.
My aunt recently reminded me (with my mother telling her) that growing up, my twin sister preferred eating red grapes and I had an affection for green. (Sorry mom for the high grocery bills.) After this weekend, I definitely agree with my mother’s statement. These grapes were so flavorful; much better than any store-bought. Honestly, these grapes reminded me of the “grape” flavoring you get on snow-cones or find in candy. If you can imagine that, raise the fullness of flavor up another 10 degrees, then you have what these fresh grapes tasted like.
Something I forgot to mention is that in Moldova, many families make their own wine (vin de casă). My family is one of those. I’m looking forward to learning more about the wine culture here. I’m very thankful I was able to help my family pick grapes, see any amazing view of my host community, and see first-hand some of the hard work my host parents do every single day.
Earlier in the week, I was asked to join some of my work partners to represent our town in our raion’s Plum Festival. This is a big deal as my part of the country is known for producing more plums than anywhere else in Moldova. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I decided to say yes, but I’m sure glad I went. It seemed like almost every town in the raion had a booth. Some aspects of my town’s booth are seen below.
The festival was a lot of fun, but it turned into a long day. I met up with everyone at around 7:45 am near our Primaria (that’s the mayor’s office building). We did not leave right away, but we ended up getting to our raion center around 8:30. I assisted in setting up our booth, and then one of the more exciting parts of the day happened- I was given traditional Moldovan attire to wear! It was something I was honored to be able to wear, and that day, I did feel slightly Moldovan.
I would describe the festival as something you would see in a typical American small town; food stalls, a center stage, rides and games. There was a huge stage where Moldovans were singing traditional Moldovan songs and dancing traditional Moldovan dances. That was a grand-spectacle to behold. There were people selling all kinds of food and drink (popcorn was available but so was placinta and other Moldovan classics). The festival space was in the central part of the raion center, where there is a small park and plaza. The streets were closed off around the plaza. It was like a mini-Fall Festival (anyone from Southern Indiana would know about this festival). So around 2pm, we cleaned up our booth and then made our way back to our village. Once back in our town, we stopped in the local forest to eat some food and have a little celebration for the successful day! Being included in this day helped me to feel more apart of the community, it helped me learn more about some of the citizens of my new town, and I had a blast enjoying the Plum Festival!
In America, my aunt and I have made plum compote as part of our celebration of having met family from Poland. They had made some amazing compote to share with us and so ever since, in order to remember them, we make plum compote to drink. With this in mind, I felt I had a unique connection to this Festival and now my new community. Isn’t it funny how life works out sometimes? A friend once remarked that coincidences are God’s way of remaining Anonymous. It’s times like these, I think she’s right. Anyway, until next time, enjoy your cup of joe.