The End of War and Peace and Some Other Things

For weeks I have been asking my host family when we will gather the grapes from our vineyard.  Every time I asked my host father would say “Later, later, they are not quite ready.”  They have looked ready to be picked for about a month now, but again I know NOTHING about picking grapes or making wine.  He drove me home from the bazaar on Thursday afternoon and told me that my host brother and his wife were coming home so that we could pick grapes.  I was very excited because this would be my first and last grape picking in Moldova.  Ok, so it will probably be my last grape picking EVER, but I think you get the point.  We started picking in the late afternoon and cut and picked for about three hours.  My host mother was worried to death the entire time because she was convinced that I would fall off of the ladder I was standing on.  She is correct in thinking that I am “domestically impaired” as I do not know how to slaughter chickens, feed the pigs, or even operate our 19th century oven, but I DO know how to use a ladder.  I think she spent 70% of the time watching me and worrying and only 30% actually cutting bunches of grapes.  After we picked most of the grapes, the ones within reach, my host father and brother cranked the bunches through this machine and now all of the juice, stems, and everything else are sitting in a huge vat in our driveway.  I don’t know how long it is supposed to sit or what happens next, but I promise to keep you posted.  I took lots of pictures yesterday and I will post them here as soon as I have access to high speed internet again.


Earlier this week I visited an English class at the school where my host mother works.  For months I have been telling her that I wanted to ride in a horse-drawn cart. How in the world are these two things related?  Well, there is a guy who moves supplies between the five schools in Ceadir-Lunga and he makes his deliveries in a horse-cart.  Last week my host mother came home from work on Tuesday and said that I could go for a ride in a horse-drawn cart if I would come talk to this English class.  DEAL!  The kids had all kinds of questions for me- I felt like I was a celebrity being interviewed by the paparazzi.  Do I like 50 Cent?  Have I ever been to New York City?  Who is my favorite actor?  Have I ever met anyone famous?  How many cars are in America.  All very cute questions, but I eventually caught onto the fact that these were all questions that the teacher helped the kids come up with.  After the third student asked her question I noticed that they were reading their questions from their notebooks.  I started asking them if they understood my answers and I am pretty sure that they would only understand one word from each of my sentences.  Sure, the kids were only in fifth grade, but something tells me that after four years of studying English that they should be able to formulate simple questions.  Oh well, in many ways it was all about the experience for these kids.  And I was able to go for a short ride in the horse-drawn cart.  We did not go very far, just from one school to the next, but I now I can cross something off of my “To Do in Moldova” list.  Gathering grapes- check.  Ride in a horse-cart- check.  Actually, I think I have finished my list since I have no desire to slaughter a pig or eat chicken Jell-O.


On Friday afternoon I finally finished reading War and Peace.  I can now say that it is the WORST book I have ever read.  I think War and Peace is one of those books that every person should read so I kept plowing through it even when it bored me by page 200.  I kept thinking that it would get better, but it never did.  I have to hand it to a man who had the guts to write a 1400 page book, especially since I am having problems writing a simple 35 page thesis, but it was awful.  There is nothing positive I can say about the book.  The plot is dull, the characters are underdeveloped, and the writing is choppy.  I am aware of the fact that some of the quality writing gets lost in translation, but even whole chapters were choppy.  A character would think one thing one minute and something radically different the next without any explanation or rationale whatsoever.  I hate to offend any Tolstoy lovers out there, but War and Peace earns a definite “thumbs down” in my book.  Most of you will be shocked that I will finish my thesis before my September 30th self-imposed deadline.  I only need to write a conclusion, edit, and work on the bibliography.  I am a little shocked myself!  I can now spend my remaining weeks in Moldova working on Peace Corps forms and polishing off Plato’s Republic (already a million times better than War and Peace).


I am still waiting for Peace Corps to purchase my ticket back to Michigan, but every day I am more and more excited to be heading home.  I can “hear” the clock ticking on my time remaining in Moldova.  I promise that I will let you know when I will be flying out as soon as I know.  Can’t wait to see you all very soon!


2007-09-24 09:22:58


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