I want to tell you in this particular post, how I discovered Moldavia’s capital, Chisinau within it’s riches. From surviving by Google Translate with Babushka, until my first time paragliding. From birthday music solos, to a visit to an illegal country. Color festivals, hole-digging-grilling, Markets and more. How I’d grown in knowledge and maturity in one month.
- 08.15 – 09.15
- One month
The two reasons, why I Entered Moldavia from Ukraine: North was Russia. East had war conflicts about Crimea. South was the Black sea. West was Moldavia and the only decent solution, to continue my journey. The other reason was the deal I made during the month I’ve spent in Odessa, Ukraine, where my CS-Host and I agreed on a rather incredible deal, that made me spend a month to Moldavia’s capital, Chisinau. Her mother was in a state of health where she could not proceed with her housewife duties, such as buying groceries and more. Since I had still a month to spare, until my return to Switzerland, to meet Nobu for the beginning of Easy Languages, I offered my time to be spent as a.. Uhm.. How you call that? A butler?
I had already been used to the rough wind from the East of Europe, when I entered Ukraine. The state household, the war in Luhansk and Donetsk, and the dossier of Crimea. Citizens, that cannot leave the country for granted, corruption without ends, and the general flair of Sowjet countries. The flair however already started to go more Western with the spotting of actual legal labels on public places. No “Hamburger King” or something else, instead, the whole center was fully covered in cellphone stores. Like banks in Switzerland. I could already sense qualities in environment, like buildings and roads. People where a little easier in mind, consider the fact, that having an easier chance for a better future and having higher salaries can be definite reasons. Of course, they still had greater issues in securities, corruptions, and with the histories of Transnistria, it makes an impression of Ukraine. Just less worse.
When I arrived at her mothers house, I saw a rather tubby elderly woman with white hair in slippers and a purple dress. As I gazed around the house, I merely discoverd a few items. We talk about a kitchen without fridge. No oven, just a rice cooker. No shower, just a plastic tub, as big as a meter. No bed for me, just a floor. Wardrobes were there with all that she had. Outside, I’ve discovered a trashed garden that had seen better days, until her husband passed away and the garden started to grow wild. Babushka, that’s how I’ve called her.
She could not believe, that I would just randomly crashed here as a stranger lifesaver and take care of someone that speaks no English. And I mean really absolutely zero! She spoke Russian and Rumanian. Ukranian too, I guess. All them languages I don’t speak, lol. I haven’t met many friends here altogether in Moldova. I mainly spent time with Babushka and Natalia, who passed by sometimes.
The local marketplace downtown
I recall, that the local marketplace in Chisinau downtown, which was huge, was a place I’ve been visiting often. I had to do the walking and carrying of the groceries for the grandmother, and I neither knew the place I’ve lived in, nor the language at the market. I took my red travel backpack, headphones and started to head direction downtown. Well, with a minivan bus, that took me there for 10 Cents. It was absolutely overcrowded, especially for someone as tall as me. And just think about the full backpack of heavy vegetables.. It was insane. But anyway, after I stepped out of the bus, I’ve been wandering down the road and then I was there. The entrance to the fruit section of the local marketplace. Let me tell again, even though I’ve told it every soul I’ve met: the grapes were so fresh, so juicy, so cheap. A kilogram of grapes where 60 cents! Wtf! I randomly bought 2 kilos and went on, buying bananas.
As further as I’ve walked I’ve been entering the section of household goods. Shampoo, Plates, Moskitos pray etc. I’ve bought an incredible big metal cup (rather a jar), because babushka always had tony cup of tea and that freaked me out. I wanted a big one that lasts. I paid 15 Lei and continued my little journey meeting the meat section. Let’s just say, chicken dinner. Everywhere. “Curiza” was the code word to get grip to a piece of chicken. As my bag started to gain the weight, I’ve arrived at the most important part, them veggies. I didn’t know exactly, what I was supposed to buy for her, all I knew is, that she would be able to cook something with more basic vegetables. So I tried to combine them vegetables myself by taking onions, garlic, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and more. Then it was the best time to ride crowded busses and smack them people down with my lettuce sticking out of my bag. That babushka always demanded to pay herself, even though I was the one with more money.. She really got furious sometimes, but always happy with the shopping I did, hahaha!
Feasts and Festivals
We had one for her birthday, but she was sick that day therefore she was acting quite moody. It was the birthday wish to create some eggplants on grill. Only problem was: there was no actual grill available. Instead I was told to dig a fucking hole in the ground and set some heat in there. Like Africa, no joke. But I did what I was told and we had it done after a ridiculous lunch program. However, she was too sick to really eat and so was the birthday party rather trashed than celebrated.
I still recall this guy with his incredible grill skills as he just set fire like a god and grilled our whole stored food. Like a maniac. We ate grilled everything outside the house in the garden with the whole family. I used to play some songs as well for her in a later rewind of her messed up birthday. That was truly a good moment to remember, everybody was listening to Ed Sheeran (cause that was all that I could sing).
I won’t be telling the whole history of Moldavia, but this part. Transnistria is a country, that is not acknowledged by any official country on this globe. It was a similar rebellion like Crimea, supported by Russia, in Moldavia, that went on a ceasefire, after both sides agreed until today. The country contains an own currency, borders, labels and even uses Sowjet UdSSR Passports to enter as a citizen! I had the honor of holding one of them of a woman, while riding a share cab from Chisinau to Tiraspol.
After no bigger troubles, we’ve arrived in this city. It was absolutely abstract and eerie feeling.. there where simply no people around the city! It felt like entering a joke. Surreal Sowjet style buildings and empty roads. We’ve been doing a day trip and I’ve figured out: A day is already too much, hahaha! We did all the touristic things in 5 minutes, by simply watching a statue with a horse and his rider. We went into some lunch at a restaurant afterwards, that made us completely tired. Like drugs, I’ve had that already before. Then we’ve been wandering around a bit, discovered some small markets and left again. I kept a one Tiraspol Lei as a remembering and that was it. The only thing I’ll remembering is the strangest atmosphere I’ve felt in this city. A ghost town, which is used to laundry the money of the corrupt and Russian supporters with militaries stationed here and there. Akward as hell.
That’s what I did for 20 euros and let me say that this is simply the coolest shit I’ve ever did. For the first time floating like a boss in the air. And the view should just be shown with this picture. It was only thanks to my future Blablacar-driver, that i’ve got the chance to do something like this. When I was thinking about, how to get back to Switzerland from 2200 km away in the east, I checked out all possibilities and the cheapest, most adventurous and insane thin I found was a ride sharing trip on BlaBlaCar.com that would take me straight from the capital to Frankfurt, Germany. As I called him, we’ve agreed on meeting up in a pizzeria, just to see each other once and talking about details. After we’ve seen, that we’ll be getting along just fine, we made up an appointment in the next day, to go for a paragliding trip. I was absolutely amazed by this idea and agreed instantly. We got picked up and left for the country side. The view was astonishing, as we’ve arrived at the scene. We’ve waited quite some hours, chilling on the grass, saw someone crashing and getting ambulance made me feel a bit uneasy, until it was my turn to fly like a boss. I never did Something such as this, even though it is quite lived in Switzerland, it’s just too expensive here, hahahaha! I’ve made some awesome videos in air as I flew with my companion behind me, controlling the kite. Of course we’ve went back after and that was the craziest day, again. (A link to my video: Ima Fly So High)
We had this dog that was typically street dog looking and he was strolling around the garden like always, looking for a chance to steal something from the tables outside the house. One day he, or “it”, decided to let my brandnew headphones disappear, as I just bought them for 500 Lei! He also destroyed my guitar tool for 30 euros and Babushka’s cellphone. Seriously, that dog was expensive as hell. We could never do something proper about him, I think that she still needed the dog, just to be not too lonely.
The material market
My shoes were literally about to fall apart. I tried so hard in Ukraine to use a superglue, but it had only been a temporary hope. Even shoemakers declined, to fix my shoes, so I had been forced to get a replacement. With European shoesize 47, I struggle since childhood for a decent size in foreign countries. I got recommended to have a look at the biggest market in Chisinau. With little hope we left for this journey. After a bus ride to a district I’ve never seen before, we’ve crossed a bridge above rail tracks and arrived at this huge shoe market! It was not to be believed. They had damn original trademark products for sales to max 50 Euros. Second hand and outdated/ sorted out products, that come from the west. I would have paid 150 – 200 euros in Switzerland for new shoes. I found incredible durable, awesome shoes, which are also incredibly waterproof from Germany, the label is German. I’ve paid 30 euros and I still got them today. While I’m writing this sentence, I believe, that I’ll be using them for my upcoming adventures as well. They are just too good. I also received this crazy used up knife from a seller as a present. I took out my wallet and tried to find something, that would somehow compensate the present, but not money. I took out a little one-time use refreshing tissue, which my sister gave me in Chzech Republic as a present, in the birthday envelope, that she gave me, before i’ve left for this crazy trip.
That park in the capital, which was so famous. I just never went there. Probably because I’m from Switzerland and we got parks and shit in the most spreaded offer. In general, the landscape was quite rough. The green makes a rather dry impression, giving it a feeling of being fragile. See, just comparing the grass would make already a top big difference. It is so green, fresh and shining, that you’ll get an impression of seeing something of the most beautiful sceneries ever. Of course I could not spot any mountains, even though there are the Carpathian Mountains in the north. It is surprisingly warm in good fall days, which was the time I went.
I met more stunning sceneries or kinder cultures elsewhere, but that was not the reason of my stay. It had been the circumstances, of taking care of babushka. Never, did I took care of an elderly person, of course not under such circumstances. Just think about this moment: Babushka knew what she wanted, but she couldn’t see and find it. I could definitely see it, but I didn’t know what she wanted. She couldn’t tell me, I couldn’t ask her. Google Translate had been our big savior with the microphone mode activated, she even started to learn to speak after the peep tone.
After some time of traveling, you’ll get a bit spoiled, I must confess. Picking out the best of something is always better, if you have more choices. But the particular people, the personal stories, made me enjoy Chisinau in a way, barely anyone else would be able to. It had been an experience, Which I will never forget and as time moves on, I move on.