Friday, January 27, 2006

O saptamana?! Este tot care aveti, Dumnezeu?!

Well, the worst of winter appears to be over. After a week of below-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures, things are warming up in Moldova. My host uncle told me that this week was the coldest it's been in Moldova since 1963. What comes to my mind first is the early-90s clip of a young Drew Carey spraying an aerosol can in the air in his stand-up act so that global warming would hurry up. I might have thought to try that in my classroom; it was 8Вє C (46Вє F) the other day, measuring the wall farthest from the windows.

Most schools in the country declared at least one day off for students younger than fifth grade, and many other schools' heating systems broke down, resulting in the school being closed for a couple days or the entire week. My school cancelled two days of classes for the younger students, has had several days of 30-minute classes instead of the regular 45-minute sessions, and might also cancel classes Friday if the motor for the heating system isn't replaced in time.В 

It has been entertaining to hear from volunteers who have never lived north of the Mason-Dixon Line or east of Las Vegas talk about the cold. For any aspiring volunteers reading this blog, a bit of advice: It's all about the layers.

For an example of how to wear layers, look at what I wore inside the classroom on my most heavily clothed day. I wore a long underwear thermal shirt (thanks Aunt Jane), a corduroy shirt, a thermal fleece (thanks again, Aunt Jane), a collared sweatshirt, my winter storm jacket, long underwear bottoms, jeans, thick cotton-wool socks, my new Moldovan black leather fur-lined boots, a winter hat (thanks Mom) and thick Thinsulate gloves (I'm going to get in trouble for not remembering who those came from). Any time that you need 39 words (even without thanks) to describe what you wear inside, you know it's cold.

But honestly, the week of cold hasn't been too bad. Remembering my not-so-distant past in Boston, I had a couple winters in the Northeast colder than in Moldova. For three of my four years in Boston, I had longer walks to classes or work than the five-minute walk I have to the school, and the wind in Moldova doesn't threaten to take your face off like in Boston. Granted, I never walked for more than a half-hour anwhere this week and I stayed inside my village, therefore notВ necessitating any hour-long waits for a rutiera. But I can proudly say that, having battle-hardened myself in Boston, I never took any of the many opportunities to complain about the weather, even though the Moldovans around me often did.

Moldovans, in fact, often wanted to know how cold it gets "la voi," a generic term basically meaning "where y'all come from". I quickly worked up a stock speech saying that in a country almost as large as Russia, you have to talk about different states when you describe the weather. In California, where my parents live, it rarely gets below 5Вє C, but where I lived for college, it often gets colder than this week's weather in Moldova. This was enough of an explanation for most Moldovans, and I didn't have to bring up the Doppler radar.

The cold has had one positive effect; the pond in Mereseni is now solid ice. I took the opportunity to walk on it for about a half-hour on Wednesday. Sadly the snow that came with the cold had piled up as much as six inches on top of the ice, making it impossible to ice skate without a large amount of preemptive shoveling (it's better this way, since I won't be tempted to buy new skates). I couldn't get my host sister to venture onto the ice with me, but it was nevertheless a near-religious experience to stand on natural ice. It makes me want to live even further north than Chicago when I come back to the States.

Although I like to usually keep my Romanian headlines an inside joke for the Romanian-speaking volunteers and any native speakers who come across the site, I'm taking too much pride in the defiance of my title for this entry. O saptamana?! Este tot care aveti, Dumnezeu?!В means, "One week?! Is that all you've got, God?!"

I'm sure He'll smite me with a February blizzard, but until then, Moldova weather's got nothing on Boston.


At 1:52 AM, Anonymous Alexander Culiuc said...

As I said in a previous comment, winter has been very mild so far in Boston.

On the subject on natural ice and shoveling snow to make room for ice skating... That is exactly what people do in Chisinau, on the "Valea Morilor" lake (previously called "Komsomol lake"). Never participated in the process, but often take advantage of the 50x50 ft. areas cleaned by other ice skaters. BTW, in the old (communist) times, they would have large trucks come onto ice (the lake is up to 20 ft deep) clear the snow and spray hot water to smooth the ice. The good ol' days... The only danger -- holes drilled by fishermen and covered by a thin layer of snow, so you don't see them. If you skate into it, you either (a) loose equilibrium from stumbling upon those rough edges and fall face-down (this happens regularly, esp. to me -- I'm a lousy skater) or (b) you take a bath (happened both to me and my father). Either way, not the most pleasant experience...


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