never a dull moment
Given its location and the size of the international community here, we expected Chisinau to be a relatively sleepy post. We anticipated that our social life would revolve largely around get-togethers with other Embassy families, and in winter it no doubt will. Even so, we’ve found enough to do our first couple of weeks in Moldova that our belongings, which arrived from Nairobi even before we did, are still largely unpacked.
After his unsuccessful first attempt, D connected with the Flying Mamaligas, Chisinau’s ultimate frisbee team, and we’ve attended a handful of their practices. The group plays three times a week, though unfortunately the practices tend to run late into the evening on weeknights. Even taking taxis back to our apartment, playing ultimate means a late night out. There is also a friendly group that plays soccer on the weekends, so D is all set on the sports front.
We hung out with other people from the Embassy in Nairobi, but there were so many other expats there that it was relatively easy to keep our work and personal lives separate. In Chisinau, that likely won’t be the case, but there are also upsides to frequently seeing one’s coworkers socially. Even before moving to Moldova, we had heard that the Embassy community here was very tight-knit and that post morale was high as a result. In contrast to Nairobi, where it took some time to cultivate relationships, various people already have had us over for dinner or drinks, and we’ve actually had to turn down some invitations because of conflicting events.
A lot of the families posted here have very young kids, and many also have dogs, so quite a few of the social events revolve around children and pets. Last weekend, for example, the DCM organized a dog walk to a lake just outside the capital city. Chisinau is small and incredibly verdant – by one account it has the most trees per capita, making it the greenest capital in Europe. We live on a hill overlooking the city center, and a few minutes’ drive further up the road the city abruptly gives way to farmland. We drove half an hour and then let the animals run around off-leash while taking a pleasant stroll through the countryside.
Without a car – we shipped ours from DC and it should arrive the middle of next month – we have just begun exploring the city. There is a good and cheap public transit system, though for now we’ve only mastered one trolley route, the one that stops close to both our house and the Embassy. There are also marshrutkas, which bear a close resemblance to Kenyan matatus, and which are just as accident-prone. There are plenty of horror stories of people killed or badly injured in marshrutka collisions, including a Peace Corps volunteer who recently lost her leg in an accident, so we have decided to avoid them as a mode of transportation.
Chisinau may not be a cultural mecca by European standards, but there is opera and ballet, so we hope to find enough to do to keep us entertained.