Author: Dane Lowell
Submitted by: redadmin

Chapt. 240 – 5,092 words
Columns :: Extreme poverty, one-holers, and pretty boys

Moldova, March 19, 2007 – Comments:   Ratings:
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Votes: 1 since 2007-03-24 08:32

Moldova – time warp from a century ago
We arrive in Garlic
…With no pillow on which to lay our weary heads
A smelly armpit? Well, something like that
“Bukhat”-ing and kissy face
Mom’s religion: “Help of the helpless…”
An excursion to Kagul –Moldova style
Abandoned with Mom in Svetliy
“Serious Problem”: averting a crisis with a big IF

A well on Gagarin St. which furnished water for many of the homes there.

Moldova, March 19, 2007 – A trip to Moldova is something of a time warp to the rural America of the 1920s and ’30s, when most roads were unpaved, water was hauled to the kitchen from nearby wells, indoor toilets were unknown, baths were a Saturday night phenomenon, and refrigerators were barely a dream.

On Women’s Day, March 8, Denis and his 16-year-old friend Sasha, saw us -- Igor and me -- to the Kievskiy Train Station. After Igor had dawdled around and then had to go back for his passport, it was with barely 20 minutes to spare that we found ourselves ensconced as the only denizens in a compartment for four, which would have been a cozy little honeymoon cottage for the next 27 hours, except for the fact that there was a modicum of honey.

I would have even settled for a moon or two, but the closest I got was a tantalizing naked torso (see photo) that I stroked and kissed a couple of times.

Igor and I were the sole occupants of a compartment for four on the 27-hour train ride to Chisinau, Moldova's capial. His half-naked body was tantalizing but remained generally unattainable for the entire trip.

We also kissed affectionately on the lips many times, but there was no real chance for sex, even if he’d been willing.

We had brought yogurt and energy bars for breakfast, fruit to munch on, cocktails and beer, and 100 American dollars and 3000 rubles for emergencies.

I had also taken pains to assure that we could stay in communication with everybody by putting 500 rubles on my mobile phone, 300 on Sergei’s, 200 on Zhorik’s, and 100 on Igor’s. I had also bought two phone cards for Sergei and Denis to use to call us in Moldova and Zhorik in Novosibirsk.

"Finish"'s 6-year-old nephew Dima (right) and neighbor boy playing Cowboys and Indians in Comrat.

But the phone cards mysteriously transmigrated almost immediately to a parallel planet and haven’t been seen since. Furthermore, Igor used my mobile phone several times to call “Finish,” nickname for his Moldovan buddy Seryozha (see photo), so before we had even reached the Moldovan border, the entire 500 rubles had evaporated from my mobile. So our plans for constant communication were stillborn. We were incommunicado the entire six days.

Our first documents check came at the Russian-Ukraine border. The passport control bureaucrats looked at Igor’s passport and told him to follow them. He came scurrying back in panic: “I have to pay 500 rubles (about $ 19) or they’ll deport me.”

“You’re already leaving!”

“But I can’t enter again for five years if I don’t pay the 500 rubles.”

But as border bribes go, it was relatively cheap. I had paid $ 50 at the Russian-Estonian border in 2000.

I had to pay another 1000-ruble ($ 38) bribe at the Ukrainian-Moldovan border for some still-unrevealed sin of omission. But such are the mysterious ways of Eastern European customs officers and border guards:

At a little after 6 p.m. Friday, 27 hours after our trip had begun, we arrived in Chisinau, Moldova’s surprisingly modern, bustling capital, which serves as home for nearly 650,000 people and as the center of the struggling Moldovan economy.

When properly pronounced, Chisinau sounds remarkably like “chisnok,” the Russian word for garlic, and came much easier to the lips, so to speak, so I simply substituted it.

“Struggling” seems an apt word for Moldova’s economy, because the GDP per capita, at only $ 381, is five-and-a-half times lower than the world average, lower even than Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2004, some 40% of the country’s population was below the absolute poverty line with an average income of $ 2.15 per day.

I was told that a teacher in the public schools makes the equivalent of 500 rubles -- $ 19 – a month. If they’ve been teaching for many years, it may be doubled to $ 38 a month!

And consumer prices were not that much below Moscow’s.

Like Russia’s provincial population, survival of the rural poor depends on growing and preserving their own food.

Moldova’s biggest economic problem is that there are no mineral deposits in the country – no gas, oil, or aluminum. They have nothing which anybody else wants except agriculture -- fruits, vegetables, tobacco, and wine – with wine by far its best known and traditionally most lucrative export.

But last year Russia banned the import of Moldovan wines – allegedly because of impurities. But it’s widely acknowledged that the real reason was to punish Moldova for its flirtation with Rumania and the European Union.

Consequently, Moldova’s 2005 wine export income of $ 350 million was halved last year, and economic growth slowed from 7.5% to 4%.

So what we saw everywhere – except in the capital city of “Garlic,” – was the extreme poverty of one of the poorest countries in the world.

It’s also a turbulent political mish-mash. They declared their independence from Russia in 1991 with the announced intention of eventually joining Rumania. But the union has never taken place. To complicate things, one part of the country has declared its independence and a preference for Russia, so Moldova is now torn between Rumania and the European Union or Russia.

I heard no discussion of any of this, however. The nearest thing I got to it was when I asked Igor’s mother if Moldova had been one of the Soviet republics.

“Yes,” she answered, “and things were much better then, much better.”

Our plan had been for “Finish” to meet us at the “Garlic” train station, then to make our way to an older friend of Igor’s mother, whom he called his “grandmother.” She would bed us down for the night. The next day we would take the bus to his mother’s home in Svetliy, about 150 km away.

But Finish was nowhere to be found. When he did show up 20 minutes late, we caught a cab to “Grandma’s’ apartment.

But nobody was home, and there was no back-up plan. Our funds were limited, and the cheapest hotel room for the three of us would cost $ 60 -- cheap, but with our minimum funds, out of the question. On the other hand, we couldn’t sleep on the street. What the hell were we going to do?

Vasiliy, an incredibly kind and helpful Moldovan, helped us solve our first-night lodging problem.

Igor and Finish fell into conversation with a local dude named Vasiliy (see photo), a very kind and helpful soul who wasted a good part of his evening helping us solve our problem – first by repairing to a nearby café to have a beer and think.

A solution slowly evolved: One of Finish’s three sisters, Masha, lived in Comrat, a town between Garlic and Svetliy, but still about 110 km away. The cheapest option would be to hire a cab to her house for about $ 40. From there we would catch the bus on to Svetliy the next day.

We still had to buy our return tickets to Moscow, which would cost about $ 80. I had promised to lend Finish and his mother $ 100 so they could also get back to Moscow. Igor had asked for $ 50 for his mother, and we had to have money to party and live on for the next week and for bribes back to Moscow.

The last balance I could remember from my account balance in the Raiffeisen Bank in Moscow was 278 euros, but I wasn’t sure that I hadn’t charged groceries and medicines since then. And how much is a euro worth?

It was crucial to know just much money actually stood between us and dereliction. Finish went with me to the ATM across the street to check my balance. But as in Spain and Novosibirsk (Chapts. 231-232), the local banks would only hand out money, not information.

Only one thing to do: Take out as much money as possible. At least we would know what we had to work with. The ATM would only kick out a maximum of 1000 lais at a time, about $ 87. So I cranked out 3,000 lais and then went for a fourth – this time, 600. It didn’t balk. So we had 3,600 lais, about $ 300 plus about $ 60 or $ 70 left from the train journey which the bureaucrats hadn’t figured out how to siphon off of the Rich American.

This would cover our tickets back, the cab ride to Comrat, Finish’s $ 100, Igor’s mom’s $ 50, and a little over $ 100 for living and incidentals.

Vasiliy arranged for our cab and, after stopping by the train station to buy our return tickets to Moscow, we headed into the night for the next leg of our Moldovan adventure:

16-year-old Dima and I danced and played kissy face. Before the evening was over he had lost his cookies and with a little more time might have lost his virgiinity too :-))

Finish’s sister Masha kicked her 6 yr. old son Dima (see photo) out of his bed to make room for me, and put blankets on the floor for Igor and Finish. But first they had to go to the disco! Boys will be boys, even – maybe especially – in Moldova, where there’s not much else to be.

When I asked about a bathroom, they pointed to the outhouse. I decided I could wait till morning. I needed to take a dump, but when I found my way there the next morning, the only seat was a pee-drenched platform about 8 inches off the floor for Dima and his two-year-old sister Kohlya. I decided I could hold out a little longer.

About 10 a.m. we crossed the highway to wait for the bus to Svetliy. It was standing room only.

About an hour later, we got off the bus and again crossed the highway to begin the trek to Igor’s mother’s house. He had purposely misled her about when to expect us, so she was shocked and overjoyed to see her baby boy.

Igor's mom with Veronika and baby goat.

Her home, like most others, was actually a postage stamp farm which helped her survive by growing and canning her own vegetables. It boasted a nanny goat and her kid, a donkey named Veronika (see photo), a gaggle of geese and assorted dogs and cats.

The house was like all others in the Moldovan countryside. You can’t call them tumbled-down shacks, because rocks covered with stucco don’t tumble down; but it was a dark, chilly hovel with several broken windows covered with plastic. There were three rooms for living – two bedrooms and a long corridor which also served as the kitchen. The house was heated with an old wood-burning Russian “oven” – a large clay chamber between the two bedrooms. One wall of each room was actually the oven.

Unlike the housewives of rural America of the 1920s and ‘30s, Igor’s mom at least didn’t have to cook with wood. She had an ancient gas stove and a modern electric oven which she used to bake bread in. One of Igor’s gifts was an electric teakettle which improved her life considerably by shortening the time to boil water from 10 minutes or so to 60-90 seconds.

Cold water was piped into an adjoining storage room and carried in buckets to the kitchen. There was no refrigerator. Left-over food was kept in a cupboard on the floor, which posed no problem in the winter and early spring, but must pose considerable danger of food poisoning in the steaming summer..

The toilet was the piece de resistance – but actually just like all the others in Svetliy. It consisted of a hole in the middle of the plank floor. At least our outhouses of the ‘30s had seats! Now I know why all Russians are so adept at squatting flat-footed on their heels: They’ve been doing it since they were house broken. Sergei, for instance, doesn’t sit, he squats – everywhere! He squats on his chair at the computer, on the stools at the table in the kitchen, and on the side of the bathtub to chat. Finish accommodatingly demonstrated the skill by squatting on the porch railing of Sveta’s house (see photo).

Squatting over a one-holer is no problem for Moldovans. They sit that way even when they're not in the outhouse, as "Finish' demonstrates on Sveta's porch railing.

But Americans are not good at squatting. Especially septuagenarian Americans. So taking a dump in Molova, I discovered, is an effective form of torture which the Bushmaster might consider adding to his repertoire of horrors in Guantanamo. No telling what he might get out of innocent people to confess to! To make things worse, I was experiencing a mild case of the runs.

But when torture is inevitable, you learn to squat and enjoy it.

There was no toilet paper, of course. But fortunately, I had stocked up on a good supply of pocket tissues. Dan Schramm described Moldova as the “smelly armpit of Europe” (see comment, Chapt. 238), but with the ubiquitous one-holders sans baths or hot running water, the armpit was not the most aromatic region of the Moldovan anatomy.

Igor with his mother and Marianne in the yard outside their house. Marianna looks 14, but at 19 is actually older than 18-year-old Igor.

After greeting Mom and Marianna, the girl who lives with her (see photo), and handing out gifts, it was time to do what country boys do the world ‘round: find their friends, get drunk, and sniff poumintang. The locale for doing that, I discovered, was the nearby house of Sveta, who it turns out had been Denis’s former girlfriend. She apparently owned the house and shared it with two other girls and her male cousin Kostya.

Marianna, a diminutive 19-year-old who looks 14, has lived with Igor’s mom for several years. Her mother is an alcoholic, and Igor’s mother needed help because of her epilepsy, so it’s a symbiotic relationship. She also helps with house chores.

She seemed quite taken, as the saying goes, with Igor, who treated her like his casual girlfriend. My mother used to have a descriptive term for moon-struck couples who constantly draped themselves around each other in public. Lollygagging, she called it.

Igor and Marianna were constantly lollygagging over each other. Once when she and I were alone together, she asked if Igor had a girlfriend in Moscow.

“In general, no, I don’t think so,” I answered.

“Does he talk about me? Does he ever say he loves me?”

“I’m afraid not,” I said.

On the train back to Moscow, I asked Igor if Marianna was in love with him. Yes, he said. “And how do you feel about her?” He shrugged and smiled. “Are you in love with her?” No, he replied emphatically. “She’s so tiny.”

I told him about her conversation. My answer, he said, while “not true,” was “correct.”

“But you don’t have a girlfriend in Moscow, do you?”

“Mila,” he replied.

“Where does she live?”

“At VDNX.”

“I never hear you talk about her.”

He smiled and shrugged.

And in the four days we’ve been back, he hasn’t gone to see her and to my knowledge hasn’t communicated with her. But anyway, he considers her, whoever she is, his Moscow girlfriend. Marianna was merely his Svetliy diversion.

When I was Igor’s age and a freshman in college, when it came time to get pie-eyed, fraternity brother Bill T. would make it official: “Let’s get drunk, get naked, and throw ice water.”

The Russian equivalent is “bukhat’.”

Everyday by mid-afternoon or early evening it was time to “bukhat’.”

By the time I arrived at Sveta’s about 7 or 8 p.m. for our first “bukhat,” the welcoming party was in full swing. They had already put away some beer and one bottle of vodka, and all the guys had already reached the affectionate “best buddies for life” stage.

The Moldovan boys are very affectionate. "Finish" and Grisha demonstrate a best buddies hug.

So they merely added me to their repertoire.

Finish started it all when he hugged me tightly and kissed me on the lips. From then on, I was playing smacky mouth with all the pretty boys. My favorite was 16-year-old Dima, who seemed to enjoy “dancing” – jumping up and down to hard rock music -- together and kissing me hard on the lips – you might call it passionately, if he’d been sober enough to know what he was doing -- as much as I did.

But unfortunately, my last view of Dima was of his prostrate – and clothed -- body passed out on the spare bed, with both him and the bed coated with evidence of a very young boy shit-faced drunk for the first time – little chunky bits of whatever solids he had managed to get down during the evening.

Igor and Finish accompanied me back to Mom’s house, where I promptly went to sleep in the bed which Mom had given up for me. When I awoke the next morning, she had slept in Igor’s old bed, which Marianna had taken over after his departure last October.

And where were they? I could see no evidence of them. It was only later I discovered that the three of them – Igor, Marianna, and Finish – had spent the night at Sveta’s, a routine which was repeated every night thereafter.

But it meant that I was abandoned at Mom’s house with nothing to do but finish grading the test papers from my last class in Organizational Behavior at Potemkin U. I was mightily displeased. I felt he was neglecting both his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in nearly six months, and me, his guest whom he had begged to come with him.

But you have to face reality. An 18-year-old’s hormones outweigh responsibility and duty every time.

I was financing a good part of the alcohol that fueled the good time, although there was some local wine that ranged everywhere from high grade vinegar to very good table wine. But most of the beer, brandy, vodka, etc., was being bought with my bucksi.

By the second night, Saturday, we had $ 75 left and four days to go. Would we make it?

My blood pressure was standing up under the strain. On Sunday morning, it was 112/77 with a pulse of 72. I was taking my medications diligently.

Mom had fantasies of taking me to church with her. I seriously considered it, just so I could describe to the Court of the Red Queen what a Sunday morning Baptist church service in Moldova was like. But I decided there was a limit to the sacrifice I was willing to make for research.

As it turned out, she missed her bus to the service – probably because she spent too much time fixing a breakfast of fried potatoes for her American guest. “It’s the Lord’s will,” she said, smiling her relentless Christian smile.

She and I had a conversation about epilepsy. “It’s caused by an evil spirit,” she explained, citing a Biblical reference which reflects a long-standing historical stigma against the disease that has long been associated with demonic possession and witchcraft.

“God spoke to me eight years ago and told me to get rid of my shame, and I haven’t had a spell since,” she said.
When Marianna’s brother Misha and his wife Irina unexpectedly showed up a little later, Mom smiled. “That’s why the Lord didn’t want me to go to Church this morning. I’d have missed Misha and Irina.”

It’s easy to make fun of her fundamental Christianity and its role in her life. But seeing the bleakness and dreariness and aloneness of her existence, it’s probably the only thing that keeps her sanity and her sense of human dignity intact.
Her worthless alcoholic husband (see photo, Chapt. 238) left her with two young boys a dozen years ago. She has virtually no income and possesses nothing of any value beyond her stuccoed shack and small herd of farm animals. Her young sons have now grown up and also abandoned her. There is no money and no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s day-to-day survival.
As I sat in the dark, chilly stone hut and felt the evening darkness enveloping me, I couldn’t help recalling the protestant hymn;

“Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.

“The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.

“When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

“help of the helpless, O abide with me.”

When you’re alone and helpless with no one to care for or be cared for by, to love or be loved by, when there is no help or hope of help, what a comfort to feel that there is somebody after all: “What a friend we have in Jesus“…”Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know”….”And he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own….”.

Hope of the hopeless, O Abide with me.

As simplistic and obvious as it is – to those who don’t need it – religion is the only thing that sustains her and millions like her in their lonely poverty.

In the dining car on the way back, I found Igor fighting back tears.

“What’s the matter?”

“Things are so bad for Mama. They’re much worse than when I left. Denis and I were at least able to give her some money for food. Things were much better for her then.”

I promised him I would send her $ 100 a month until he and Denis get jobs and are able to send money themselves.

Mom’s sister called Sunday morning and invited me to come to her house that afternoon. I said it depended on Igor’s schedule, but agreed tentatively to go.

Marianna, Igor and Finish arrived about noon from Sveta’s to see Misha, and suddenly Igor announced, “Let’s go.”

But it wasn’t to Sister’s house. It seems we were going to the nearby town of Kagul, where Finish’s brother Ivan was serving as a draftee in the Third Infantry Brigade of the Moldovan Army. It turned out to be an arduous trip involving walking, hitchhiking, buses, and frustration.

The problem was that the last return bus from Kagul to Svetliy left just about the time our bus arrived. “We’ll find a way,” Finish assured us.

In the meantime, we were running out of money. We had only about 100 lais -- $ 12.50 -- and a $ 50 bill. There was only one way we would survive till Wednesday, the day we were to leave and the day my pension would hit my Bank America account.

If Finish would relinquish the $ 100 I had given him, we could survive till Wednesday, at which time -- if there were no hitches -- I could give him $ 100 from the Bank America account. He agreed.

So we would survive.

Finish’s solution to the return trip to Svetliy was to hitchhike – all five of us: he, Sveta, Igor, Marianna, and I.

I scoffed: Who’s going to pick up five – count them, five – hitchhikers? He seemed mindlessly unconcerned.

In front of this war memoiral we snagged a ride in a diminutive Zhiguli automobile which for about $ 8 carried the driver and SEVEN passengers to the crossroads half an hour away.

Near some sort of war memorial (see photo), we planted ourselves by the road. I was shocked and incredulous when a motorist actually stopped. Yes, for 60 lais he would take us to the crossroads where we could catch another ride to Svetliy. The fact that there five of us didn’t phase him. In fact, he already had the front seat filled with two more!

So with eight people in a diminutive Zhiguli, we set out.

It’s how things are done in Moldova.

By the time we reached the crossroads it was starting to get dark and there were already a dozen or so people waiting for rides. The last bus had already passed by, we were assured.

Finally, Finish suggested we walk to the next crossroads where there would be fewer people. We did, but there were another ten or so there. Again I fumed: Nobody is going to stop and pick us up, especially when we’re just yards from another gang. Let’s continue walking, I insisted. In three hours if nobody picks us up, we’ll be home. If we stay here, in three hours if nobody picks us up, we’ll still be here.

“No,” Finish insisted. “We’ll wait. Somebody will come by.”

This is supremely dumb, I thought to myself. Up to now, all my skepticism has proven wrong, but this time, there’s simply no way.

Caving in to my growing impatience, Finish borrowed my mobile phone to call a friend in Svetliy to come pick us up. He had just arranged it when a pair of headlights stopped. It was a commuter bus. But there weren’t supposed to be any this late!

We all climbed aboard and in 10 minutes we were home.

For at least the second time that day, I found myself apologizing for my doubt and losing my cool. Finish knew how things are done in Moldova. Obviously, I didn’t.

A running battle with my sphincter muscle had been intensifying my frustration all afternoon. My “runny stool,” as the clinicians would knowingly describe it, was pushing relentlessly against the bravely steadfast sphincter.

When we finally got home I couldn’t put it off any longer: I would have to try my skill as a bombardier, with my target the hole in the floor of the outhouse – in the dark.

it was also cold. Should I freeze to death in the dark or take a chance on shitting on the tail of my new $ 140 coat?

I opted to wear my coat and hope to find a place to hang it. “I saw a flashlight somewhere today,” I said to Mom with all the casualness and savoir faire I had left. I picked my way through the goat and goose shit to the outhouse, but before I could get my coat off and hung on the outhouse door, I sensed two tiny jets of something warm and wet shoot past my sphincter dam.

Oh, shit, I said prophetically.

I finally got my pants off, and puckering up in the best squat I could muster, I felt all the valves opening.

I wonder where it’s all going, I mused.

When I was finally able to stand up and look around with the flashlight, I had completely missed the hole. But what was staring at me from the wooden planks wasn’t brown, but a mucousy white. I used a whole pack of Kleenex issue to try to clean myself and the wooden planks around the hole, with only partial success, I hosed the rest of it down the hole with a stream of piss I had saved, because I hadn’t dared pee in the squatting position. No telling where it would have gone.

My blood pressure that night was 161/87.

Igor, Finish, and Marianna again spent the night at Sveta’s. On Monday morning Mom went to work and I finished recording my test grades while waiting impatiently for the trio to surface. At 12:30 when they still hadn’t shown, I wrote Mom a note and set out over the deep-rutted dirt road for Sveta’s (see photo).

Gagarin St. in Svetliy at dusk. Sveta lived at #12, and Igor's mom at the end. The road is traveled by almost as many horses and wagons as automobiles.

The two-lane federal highway from Garlic to Svetliy split the town, but on each side there was nothing but dirt roads on which I saw nearly as many horse-drawn wagons as cars. There were also bicycles and one motorcycle.

We killed the afternoon pretending to watch TV and BS’ing mindlessly with the others, and that night again resumed our “bukhat’” tradition. I also added Tolya to my list of adorable Moldovans. It turns out he and Igor were old friends. In fact, he had called a time or two on my mobile phone trying to reach Igor, and I had actually spoken to him. He was 17, but looked older. He was also sweet, affectionate, and kissy.

He also had a girlfriend (see photo).

Tolya, one of Igor's best buddies, and I. My what a long....finger!

The next morning, Tuesday, was pretty much a replay. I called Igor. ‘I’m coming soon,” he promised. I called again: “Don’t forget to bring the razor, the shaving cream, the camera and the rechargers.”


After another half hour, I again put on my coat and marched to Sveta’s. “Where’s Igor,” I demanded of Finish.

He opened the door to the spare bedroom, where Igor and Marianna were intertwined on the same bed that 16-year-old Dima had christened a couple of nights earlier.

“Igor,” I called. No answer.

A few minutes later he resurrected. When he finally fully recovered consciousness, he had no recollection of our earlier phone conversations.

After a smoke and a trip to the outhouse, he and Finish started putting on their coats.

“Where are you going?” I demanded impatiently.

He mumbled something about the store, checking on the bath, and a long walk. “You wait here,” he said.

Bullshit! I was tired of being abandoned with Mom everyday. I was his guest!

“No, I’m going with you.”

He looked at Finish with an “oh-oh-we’ve-got-a-problem” expression.

They conferred quickly. “You go with Finish. I’ll be back soon.”

I went with Finish to another sister’s home nearby. When we returned a few minutes later, I called Igor.

“Where are you now?”

“I’ll be home soon.”

“Igor,” I countered, “this is our last day here. When are you planning to spend some time with your mother?”

“We’ll talk about it when I get back.”

“When will you be here?”

“Half an hour at the most.”

When he arrived, I met him on the porch.

“When are you planning to spend some time with your mother?” I demanded “This is your last day here.”

“I’ve got some serious problems. You remember Dennis and I borrowed $ 600 to get passports and go to Moscow? We haven’t paid it back yet, and they’re threatening to call the police and take my passport.”


The problem had just escalated to crisis bordering on catastrophe. I saw Mom’s scarved head scurring down the path. She, Igor, Finish, and I discussed the crisis. There was an air of resignation and despair.

“Maybe it would have been better if we hadn’t come,” he said.

“Maybe so, but we’re here now.”

Then remembering that my pension was to go into my Bank America account the following day, I said, “Maybe if you gave them $ 200 now….”

As we discussed the possibility, a solution began to take shape. Mom would go with us to Garlic the next day; I would take an extra $ 200 out of the account – assuming my account hadn’t been blocked -- and she would take it back and give it to the lender with a promise to repay the rest soon. In the meantime, Igor and I would catch our train back to Moscow.

Of course, this was contingent on a big “IF” which was getting bigger and more crucial with every passing moment. IF Bank America hadn’t blocked my account because I hadn’t used it for a couple of weeks – as they have done several times in the past (Chapts. 187, 192 ). But there was a good excuse this time; I had no money left in the account, so how could I take it out?

In 24 hours we would find out. In the meantime, one more “bukhat’” was waiting in the wings.

Another night in Moldova – Part II – to be continued next week.

See also related pages:
Chapt. #241 - Fade out Moldova, fade in sex
Chapt. #239 - Anti-Putin demonstration kept under wraps
Chapt. #238 - Moldova’s bureaucrats ruder than America’s
Chapt. #192 - Twins steal the rent money – for the last time
Chapt. #187 - Twins exit with St. Valentine and 2000 bucksi
Chapt. #232 - Reunion with Zhorik nails down future
Chapt. #231 - Galicia: Land of bagpipes and miracles

This day years ago:
2006-3-19: Chapt. #192 - Twins steal the rent money – for the last time