With the clock ticking down on the last hours of the year, we indulged in a bit of nostalgia, looking through our photographs from the past twelve months and reliving the highlights of a busy and adventure-filled year. We split 2013 between three continents, starting the year in Kenya, spending the summer months on home leave in the United States, and moving to Moldova in August. In addition to exploring a bit of our own homeland, we set foot in eight other countries, and hope to visit many others in the coming year.
Our latest move, coming less than half a year after we last packed up our belongings, was the shortest of our Foreign Service career to date. Leaving the apartment we have occupied since arriving in Chisinau in August, we moved to a house that is less than a ten-minute walk down the street. Even so, no matter how many times we relocate, or how often, moving always stresses S out, and this time proved a bit more adventurous than we had anticipated.
There has been no snow since the flurry a week and a half ago, and we’ve even had enough feeble sunshine hence to melt pretty much all of that first snow. The mornings have remained cold, however. So cold, in fact, that we’ve found a heavy layer of frost coating our street white most mornings. As we moved houses this weekend, D took a break from unpacking to snap some pictures. We hope you enjoy.
This year, the stars aligned so that two of the most food-intensive holidays of the year — Thanksgiving and Hanukkah — overlapped. S has a friend whose family even commemorated the mega event by making Thanksgivukkah t-shirts. Although we were in Vienna for Thanksgiving weekend, we were able to celebrate the Festival of Lights belatedly upon our return.
I wasn’t scared one bit. Oh, ok — you got me. I am not being entirely truthful. I just told you a small white lie. Truth be told, I was a tad nervous, but I can’t help it: I was born nervous. My mother might have attributed it to bad genes or the fact that I never knew my father, but I never got the chance to ask her. She was run over by a car when I was barely a week old. Foster care. Adoption. My siblings were scattered to the four winds.
“We are gonna put the POW in the WOW to make pow-wow. We are gonna razzle and dazzle you.” The translator did as good a job as she could, but it is highly likely that the full meaning of these words eluded the crowd of Moldovans gathered in the half-filled auditorium of the Bălţi House of Culture. What they could not convey verbally, however, the Native Pride dancers certainly transmitted with their feet.
We spent our first Thanksgiving in Africa climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. It wasn’t the best season to go. In fact, it rained almost every day of our ascent and snowed on the days when it didn’t. However, November was when we had the time off to make the trip and we are glad we did not pass up the opportunity. Similarly, when D’s friend told us that November was not the best time to visit him in Vienna, we simply shrugged and booked the tickets anyway. Even more so than in Africa, there is really only one season for European travel, and there are too many places we want to visit to sit around waiting for the warm weather to return.
In an earlier post we hinted at the faint sense of déjà vu that has colored D’s return to Eastern Europe. It is a fleeting feeling, one that usually lays dormant until it is unexpectedly triggered by a conversation, a meal, or a simple stroll along the streets. It is a feeling that is hard to convey in words; thankfully, pictures usually help where words do not suffice. Now that we have finally found the time to sort through the thousands of photographs we’ve taken since moving to this corner of the world, we’d like to share a few images.
A few friends have asked whether our soon-to-be-born child will have Moldovan citizenship. The answer is no, unless Moldovan authorities have begun handing out citizenship documents to newborns upon arrival at the airport. With the exception of a handful of posts, mostly in Western Europe, the State Department encourages expectant mothers to deliver either in the United States or at a medevac hub, which for us is London. To do otherwise would be “acting contrary to medical advice” and would require us to sign a liability waiver, which we see no reason to do. This means that we will trade in a few months of cold Moldovan winter for cold New England winter as we return home early next year.