Why I am writing and what Moldova taught me

Many of my friends said: you should write again! And today Egle, not even reading my blog articles told me again: you should write! It made me smile. Maybe today is the day to write just for my own pleasure.

I have been silent for quite some months now and there is only one article on my blog in English so, yes, I understand. But let me start to explain why I have been silent for so long and what got me into writing a blog in the first place.

When I was in Lisbon I felt lonely, I felt I do not have a voice, my thoughts and ideas went into  some kind of “communal mental trashcan” before they were even spoken or heard. So this was my way of expressing ideas to some unknown audience without being judged (or at least I did not hear judgement, so almost the same) and feeling connected to my home country. There was enough sun so I didn’t need to go out; I preferred to stay in the cooler shade of my home. So writing was in a way my escape and a medium that gave me voice.

“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen

But then things turned in the opposite direction. As I moved to Vilnius, I started to feel good about myself, my ideas were heard, I used my silly humour with my friends and colleagues at work. I not only got that voice back, but I could advocate for myself and others. And at some point in January I also became a media representative for a Paralympic sport called goalball with IBSA (I’m sure by now you know what it is from my previous post from Moldova and others). So since then I’ve been very active in writing proposals, minutes, e-mails and articles about that. I also borrowed a camera from my friend and went on a photo shooting weekend to the nature and even since I’ve been discussing about media representation of paralympic sports. I just feel my “voice” is now all over the place, I literally talk to customers or colleagues all day at work, write different kinds of things for my voluntary position of a media person and at the end of the day I need silence and a walk in the nature.

So, to fulfill the promise of last year’s trip to Moldova, I will just sum up why that trip was so important for me. It stirred up my creativity and helped me think about really important things in my life. (Note to self: I actually have values for myself, they are just not the kind of values my relatives would expect me to have, i.e. stay in Slovenia and go to church every Sunday.)

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee

I had enjoyed the company of the people who “fight”, campaign and just do things, despite the odds. People who help others, but at the same time enjoy doing it for themselves. Those that support me and seek for a better life. And the doorkeeper at the community home for visually impaired, who asked me to come back to my room by 11 pm or my door will be closed. And the president of the organisation for visually impaired organisation in Chisinau, who took me to a wine cellar Cricova, where I got very drunk after their wine tasting and fell in love with their wines. And the girls, who volunteered at the goalball championships, but later also volunteered to take me around the city and show me places they considered of high importance. Should I go on I would also thank the incredibly resilient and loving eye doctor Angela, who performs all of her many jobs with grace and deep understanding and who was so silent at the beginning, but then told me she would really love to practice and learn English. I believe she has been successful on her way of studying. Thanks to Konrad that showed me hidden, but culturally important places to eat god food. Where I discovered that koldunai are similar to žlikrofi, which are a traditional dish from my hometown Idrija.

 

It was the situation in Moldova that forced out of me the forgotten Russian I knew and reminded me again how important it is to be able to speak this and many other languages and how much I really enjoy discussing the political, economic and cultural situation of the people I am surrounded with. On the recommendation of Konrad, Angela and I visited the National Museum of Etnography and Natural History in Chisinau and it was a long walk between the natural and ethnographic history in a very old-fashioned style of presentation of a museum as well. The museums I visited in the last 15 years in Europe were all very modernized, with multimedia and what not, but this one was just very simple and had things on display behind the glass windows.

Then I obviously also visited Old Orhei, a beautiful stoned carved monastery and an ethnic village. What an adventure it was to travel this 60 km distance sight. I first had to find a bus station in Chisinau. You might think that would be easy, but I had to engage my friends from abroad to ask a local, who now lives abroad to tell me which street to follow. It was unclear where I was going, even with Google maps. I came to the central market and surprisingly that was also the bus station. Or mini bus station, because that was all they had – mini buses or vans for 10 to 15 people who would take you to the towns within the distance of 100 km from Chisinau where you would have to change to another van to go further. That’s how I negotiated my way anyway, all in my broken Russian. And then the very lovely driver stopped me on the stop where I met two !Moldovan! hitchhikers with backpacks, tents and a big photo camera and we hitched a man in a mini van, who was going home in the same direction as we were to Old Orhei. After he had dropped us a bit before the village, so we could see the beautiful caves from far away, I picked a walnut from the grass. He told us that where he had worked for several years in the USA as a driver, that would be called trespassing and someone might come with a machine gun to chase me away. Luckily I was only in Moldova 😉 But that again proved that people who have worked abroad for several years, come home when they grow old and they do not need to work again to survive. Because more than 60% of people go abroad to work. And many never return. Like that man with a young daughter I later met on a plane back to Lisbon. He came to Albufeira 15 years ago and worked hard, settled down there with his family, so he only visits Moldova to see his parents.

A famous view from Old Orhei
A famous view from Old Orhei
A boy and a goat
A boy and a goat
Moldovan backpackers - a rare sight
Moldovan backpackers – a rare sight

 

I would have gone to Transnistria if I had had a valid passport, at this point I had no more fear of Moldova. Moldova is just an under-promoted destination for tourists, a bit due to the unpopular Russia’s influence, but I think people were also not used to the tourists, therefore also their lack of ideas of what to present to people and where to direct them. It was fine by me, I prefer the “genuineness of a rough diamond” of like Moldova than well painted facades with hollow, empty interior (no country to compare here, it is better to stay diplomatic).

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

But there you go, my long silence was broken by remembering my trip around Moldova after the European Championship in goalball last year. What I learned and what I felt.

In the meantime it started to rain in Vilnius. So people appreciate every sunny day and try to go out for a walk and D vitamin. I appreciate all the weather and cannot wait for the summer June when I have longer vacation. Then I am planning to go towards Klaipeda and the see to enjoy rivers, the sea, sounds of nature and try fishing with my friend. But before that hopefully I write again!

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