While we were busy reliving last month’s travels, winter has quietly crept up on us. Not only has the cold set in again after a pleasantly mild October, but also the days have gotten much shorter — a phenomenon we had happily forgotten in two years of living on the equator. And now that we’ve set the clocks back for winter, nightfall begins well before 5pm. By the time D leaves work, pitch-black darkness has already engulfed Moldova’s unevenly illuminated capital, significantly raising the bar for what makes going out worthwhile.
Posts tagged ‘politics’
From the Netherlands, S and her family flew to Berlin for a four-day visit with another foreign exchange student, Laura. S had been to Berlin once before, but the visit lasted a mere 24 hours, which was not enough to even scratch the surface of one of Europe’s biggest and most iconic cities. Coming from Amsterdam, Berlin offered a stark contrast of urban chic. A pillar of the fashion, art, design, and music avant-garde, it exudes a spirit of innovation and experimentation while also offering reminders of Germany’s turbulent history at nearly every turn.
There has been a lot of coverage of the U.S. Government shutdown, some of it humorous, a lot of it vitriolic, and all of it utterly depressing. Although we too chuckle at John Stewart’s apoplectic tirades against what must surely appear as madness to those who are not familiar with our dysfunctional domestic politics, those of us who can logically connect the dots and understand how we got into this mess must also realize that there is little at which to smile, and that our political malaise goes a lot deeper than the current crisis.
D was once a millionaire. He spent three weeks in Paraguay, where the local currency — the guaraní – was traded at 4,000 to the dollar at the time. A couple of hundred dollars was all it took to feel immensely rich. In Ghana, where S studied in 2005, one dollar was equal to 10,000 cedis, and whenever people went to an ATM they would bring a plastic bag for the armfuls of mostly worthless bills they withdrew.
We had been counting on a quiet night in last Thursday. It was going to be our last night together for two weeks. D was planning a weekend trip to Western Ukraine over Labor Day to play ultimate while S was going to spend some time with her family, who were traveling through the Netherlands and Germany. Instead, we wound up driving an hour and a half to watch a soccer game in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria.
The Foreign Service roller-coaster tends to rush from one crisis to the next, the workload at times threatening to overwhelm before suddenly dissipating into a lull. With the electoral commission declaring a victor in last week’s presidential vote by the slimmest of margins, and his main rival vowing to fight the decision in court, we’ve had a chance to catch our breath and focus on other things for a change while the whole country awaits the outcome of the court case.