Food Friday: Bostan din Cuptor

My host mom laughed at me when I took this picture.  She doesn’t think it really counts as cooking, since all she did was cut up a pumpkin (from her garden!) and put it in the oven, with maybe a little vegetable oil. Bostan din Cuptor (“Bost-ahn  deen coop-tor”)* just means “pumpkin from the oven.”  But it sure tastes good!


*pronunciation approximate

Posted in Language, Peace Corps, Photo, school

Word Wednesday: Cheie

Doesn’t this key look like it ought to open a pirate treasure chest?  Or a secret room in a spooky old mansion? Or the final clue to solve some deep ancient mystery?  Actually it’s just the key to the office where I keep my things at school (although I secretly think of it as my Harry Potter key).  Using this cheie (“kay-ee-ay”*) — this key — almost always makes me smile.


*pronunciation approximate

Food Friday: Biscuits de Porumb

My host mom loves to try out different treats on me.  When she brought these out she said “these are cookies made with corn flour.” Biscuits de Porumb (beess-cu-eats day pour-oomb”*) just means cookies from corn.  I was curious to try them, and I like them very much.  In my head I call them “cornbread cookies” because they taste kind of like sweet (Jiffy) cornbread only even sweeter, with a denser texture, almost like butter cookies.  img_3564-2

*pronunciation approximate.

P.S.  Yeah, I know it’s Saturday.  Life happens. Deal.  🙂



Posted in Language, Life & Such, Peace Corps, Photo

Word Wednesday: Toamnă

Spring is green.  Summer is bright.

Autumn is yellow.  Winter is white.

Some of the sixth grade English students had to memorize this little poem.  When I first heard it I wondered why yellow was the color they had chosen for Autumn (my experience includes Autumns with red, green, yellow, orange, and mixed-color leaves).  Now I’m seeing the reason.  Check out Toamnă (“Twahm-nuh”*) — Autumn, in Moldova:


(Note that the top middle two pictures are the same place, only 5 days apart. In the second one looooottttss of leaves are now on the ground!)

*pronunciation aproximate

Posted in Peace Corps, People, school

Playing Teacher

The text in one of the 4th grade lessons has a student pretending to be the teacher. So to start the class, we got this volunteer to be the “teacher” and review the previous lesson’s vocabulary with the class. As you can see, it was a big hit!

Food Friday: brânză

I know two words in Romanian for “cheese”.  The yellow kind from the store is called cașcaval (“cahsh-cah-vahl”*) but this more common, locally produced cheese is called brânză (“broon-zuh”**).  Wikipedia says it’s from sheep milk, but I’ve been told there is brânză from cow and goat milk as well.  It’s somewhat reminiscent of feta cheese, but with a sharper taste, a little bit like ricotta and a little bit like roquefort. It’s used very commonly here in all kinds of food, from crumbling it on top of fried eggs to baking it inside of pastries, to name just two.  Since the taste is sharp, tangy and salty, most Volunteers report that they  either love it or hate it.

**Pronunciation even more approximate than usual.  The â really doesn’t exist in English. It sounds kind of like the French eu in “fleur” but not quite.

Posted in Language, Peace Corps, Photo

Word Wednesday: Trandafir

 Trandafir (“trahn-dah-feer”)* means rose. I’m so impressed with the roses in Moldova. There were roses blooming when we arrived in early June, and there are roses blooming now, in mid-October. The weather has gone from blisteringly hot to wear-your-hat-and-scarf cold; vegetables have matured, been harvested, and the remains plowed under; other varieties of flowers have come and gone, and still the roses bloom on and on. No wonder I see them planted everywhere! The rose in this picture is one of my favorite varieties, with petals that are orangey on the edges and brilliant yellow in the center. Absolutely no filters were used on this photo, honest! The flower is really that color!

*pronunciation approximate 

Posted in Culture, Peace Corps, Places

Field Trip!

Our trip took me from the far south of the country all the way to the north.

What did you do this Saturday? I got to accompany a 9th grade class and their teacher on a trip from Cahul (in the far south of Moldova) to the Fortress of Soroca (in the far north).  Along the way we visited several other interesting places and saw a lot of the gorgeous Moldovan countryside.

The adventure began at 5:00 AM sharp, when the bus pulled out of Cahul.  Although it was dark, cold and drizzling rain, the bus was full of excitement.  Kids had brought blankets and pillows. Someone passed the bus driver a flash drive full of music, and everyone settled in for a long ride.

Near the picnic table where we ate our brunch, this interesting shelter was being built.

A couple of hours later we stopped for a “five minute” restroom break.  Then the students discovered that they could buy coffees to go. They bought so many cups of cappuccino, latte, etc. that the employee had to refill the machine twice! After a few more hours of travel we stopped to eat some of the food we had packed. Everyone shared what they had brought, and there was a holiday atmosphere and lots of kidding around. Finally, around noon, we reached Soroca Fortress, on the bank of the Nistru River. (Click the pictures & check out the captions)

“Gypsy Hill”


In the town of Soroca, we visited the so-called “Gypsy Hill” famous for its Roma residents and their distinctive architecture (see here for more information)

Next we headed out into the countryside to the village of Cosăuți and its monastery.  We didn’t enter the monastery itself, since none of the girls had on skirts, and most had nothing to cover their head with, but we did walk around the grounds and visit a springhouse (I think?) with gorgeous metalwork on the roof. (Click for captions)

Next up on the itinerary was the Lumânarea Recunoştinţei or Thanksgiving Candle monument, which sits on a hill overlooking the Nistru River.  Looking out over the river from the base of the monument (after climbing 657 steps!), there are gorgeous views into Ukraine.  The monument was erected in 2004, and is a remembrance of all the anonymous heroes of Moldova, who have helped to preserve its traditions. Shaped like a candle, it is lit up at night and can be seen far to the north and south. (Click for captions)

IMG_3208Back on the bus, we spent quite some time travelling south before stopping for another packed meal.  I learned that the Moldovan countryside is truly beautiful, and that even though I don’t speak any Russian at all, I can mostly understand what’s going on in Russian-language movies (I think I saw four, total, in the course of the day).  One final stop was at a small zoo, on the outskirts of Chișinau, the capital.  At this point it was raining and starting to get dark, but that didn’t dim the students’ enthusiasm. (click for captions)

Finally we climbed back on the bus to enjoy more Russian movies on the way home.  We arrived back in Cahul about 9:45 PM, tired but happy from a long, full, very interesting day!


Posted in celebrations, Culture, Life & Such, Peace Corps, People

Ziua Profesorilor Part 2

How could we make teachers feel even more appreciated than the awesomeness of Thursday? (See this post) What if we put them on a bus, take them to a camp in the woods, give them an excellent meal and lots of music, singing, and dancing, with some poetry and toasts thrown in for variety?
Well, probably those weren’t the words used by the Teachers’ Syndicate when they planned our Friday afternoon event, but that’s pretty much the way it turned out! Click the pictures and read the captions to find out all the details!

What a wonderful celebration!  I love that when Moldovans celebrate, they do it with tremendous joy and enthusiasm.  I am so fortunate to have shared in the festivities!