So the days have been ticking by. Some days I find myself caught in the monotony of the routine and I wonder why I’m here, but then a magical little moment will happen with one of my partners or my host parents or a student, and it will pull me back and re-energize me.
For example, I have ended up traveling into Chisinau (the capital) on the weekends more than I initially thought I would. Last weekend was no exception. I was planning on going for an optional training session run by some fellow volunteers. It’s a 2.5 hour bus ride from my village into Chisinau, and unfortunately, because my village is fairly offset from the main highway (you have to go through another village to get to my village), I don’t have many bus options that will take me all the way back to my village. I have two, to be exact: one that leaves at 6am and 3:25pm every day. Consequently, when I go in for the weekend I usually stay overnight (usually with a fellow volunteer that lives considerably closer), so naturally these little weekend trips are a nice respite to see friends and get things done in the city.
So you can imagine my initial panic and consequent disappointment when, last Saturday, I awoke suddenly and realized that I had either a). slept through my 5:15am alarm, or b). my alarm had not gone off, because it was 6:30am (I think it was option b). I had my backpack packed and ready to go sitting in the middle of the floor with my clothes for that day ready to be put on before running out the door. After I realized what had happened, I thought there had to be another bus I could take, besides the 3:25pm, which would get me to into Chisinau at the end of the day. There actually are other busses, the problem is that they all involve getting out to the main road, a good 8 kilometers away, which would mean about a 45 minute walk. On a nice warm day I would have actually considered doing this, but as winter is approaching, the dirt roads are turning into swampy messes which are hard to walk on, at least for 8 kilometers.
Still not knowing what to do with myself (I was way to wound up to admit defeat and go back to bed), I went and knocked on the door of the casă mica, where my host parents live. Lucky for me, although they are retired, they are up and adam at 6:30am just about every day, doing their housework and whatever else you’re supposed to do when you’re retired.
I’m sure I was a sight for sore eyes, having jumped out of bed, holding my cell phone, trying to explain that my alarm didn’t go off. My Romanian is bad enough as it is, but it goes to hell in a hand basket every time I get emotional about something: happy, upset, panicked, whatever, the words just fly out of my head and I have to resort to a lot of grunting and pointing. You know, like a 2 year old.
Anyway, I somehow managed to communicate what had happened and my host dad told me to relax and that he would drive me to the raion center where I could catch the next bus to Chisinau. The raion center (not sure exactly how this translates, but it’s basically the biggest village in a cluster of villages that is a hub point for busses. I wouldn’t go as far as to call our rain center a city, a town maybe?) is about 20 kilometers from my village, and driving is kind of a big deal around here. Not everyone has a car and the roads can be pretty difficult to navigate when they get really muddy. Also, one thing I’ve never been able to figure out, is that my host dad basically keeps the tank of our van at empty. If we drive to the nearest piazza on Sunday to get groceries (about 10 kilometers away), my host dad will have to stop for gas either going to or coming from just about every single time. He puts just enough gas in to get to the destination. I’ve always found this to be curious.
So this is why I was touched that he was willing to drive me to the raion center at the last minute. I did give him a few lei for gas (this is pretty common for people to do) but I made it to the center and was able to take a bus to Chisinau a half hour later. It was one of those “wow, you really care” moments that made me grateful to be here.