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coping with the cold

The last week or so Chisinau has resembled a flash-frozen version of Mordor, a chilly, thick, impenetrable fog enveloping the city. There were a few hours of bleak light each day; at times the reluctant rays of a distant, listless sun penetrated the haze. It did not rain hard, but the dark, heavy clouds hung so low that nightfall appeared to begin well before sunset. Winter has come to Chisinau, protestations to the contrary from our Moldovan friends notwithstanding.

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fighting hibernation

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.

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the baby universe

There is a whole wide world out there — a cosmos we have only glimpsed, but which we are soon about to enter. It is the world of sippy cups and diaper accessories, of nipple butter and snot-suckers, of teethers, pacifiers, and training potties — and navigating it is both exciting and absolutely terrifying. In Kenya, juggling our own safaris and a nearly endless parade of visitors, S felt like a part-time travel agent. With her ever-expanding waistline and the knowledge that soon our little guy will make his entry into this world and forever change ours, S has become a full-time product researcher.

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what’s in a name?

At last, our sightseeing behind us, it was time to pack up our bags and do what we had come to London to accomplish.

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fifty shades of gray

Predictably, it rained a good deal of the time we were in London. And even when we did not need umbrellas, the sun rarely shone during our five-day visit.

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battling the crowds

It is a curious aspect of human nature that the extent of our enjoyment depends to a large degree on other people. Movies, plays, and concerts, for example, are more enjoyable when one can share one’s appreciation and excitement with someone else. Sporting events are far more electrifying when one is at a sold out arena than a half empty one. Yet, the opposite seems to hold true for travel, at least for us. Part of the reason we enjoy mountaineering, hiking, and camping so much is that they offer an escape from the crushing mass of humanity. A breathtaking mountain vista feels more magnificent after a grueling hike when one is alone atop a summit than when one is surrounded by a horde of others, especially if most of them drove instead of hiking to get there.

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just as we were expecting

No sooner had we returned from Ukraine than it was time to repack our bags for another trip. It is standard State Department practice to send employees and their family members who need medical care to regional hubs where the healthcare standards are on par with those in the United States. In our case, London serves as the medevac point, and S was due for her second trimester screening. We did not yet know the gender of our baby, so D asked for a couple days of leave so that we could receive the news together, and see London besides.

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a literary excursion

Unlike Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, who enjoy widespread recognition the world over, Mikhail Bulgakov is not a name that readily springs to the mind of most non-Russian speakers when discussing Russian literature. This is sad, though perhaps not surprising. Bulgakov’s masterpiece, The Master and Margarita, was not published until 1967 — almost three decades after it was completed — and then only in heavily censored form. And it was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union that an unabridged translation that was true to the original manuscript appeared in English.

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humdrum days

Though ours is not a travel blog, per se, at times it may give the false impression that all we do is globe-trot. “Wait, you guys work?” asked a few of the friends we saw during home leave this summer, a question that was typically accompanied with a quizzically raised eyebrow of mock disbelief. Yes, we certainly do, but the longer we go between trips, the greater the urge to relive past adventures through the photos and stories we share in these pages.

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