Mull It Over? No, Moldova…The Country

13 Feb

When we told people we visited Moldova, we got blank stares. I figured that people didn’t want to appear ignorant by asking “Where is THAT?” Instead, they said nothing.

Believe me, I completely understand. I’m no geography whiz. I only found out about Moldova when Mr. Wanderlust said he wanted to go there.

So, I wasn’t surprised when no one asked where it is. I was surprised that no one asked, What’s there to see in Moldova? or Why would you go there?

Orthodox Church, Moldova

Orthodox church spires in Moldova

Just so you know, there’s only one reason to go to Moldova…

Visiting last October, we found that this small Eastern European country has very little tourism and approximately five tourist attractions in the entire country. We decided to see only one, an Orthodox cave monastery, still occupied by a solitary monk.

On our way to the cave, we found ourselves stranded in the middle of nowhere about thirty minutes outside of the capital, Chisinau (Kiss-in-now).

I’m not kidding when I say IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE! There was nothing there but a bunch of farm land and an intersection where two highways split.

Farm fields of Moldova

Farm fields of Moldova. There's nothing out there.

On the side of the road, we found a slab of concrete covered by a rusty corrugated tin roof. We assumed it was a bus stop. We weren’t sure, though, since there were no signs and no one around to ask. Even if there was someone there, we didn’t speak the language, anyway. Not only that, but we had no idea which bus to catch. And, if this wasn’t a bus stop, how would we get back to town?

I started biting my fingernails.

Then, things got worse. It started to rain with a stiff wind whipping around us. Trying to shield the kids, we stood in front of their strollers, hovering over them. Nonetheless, Feisty Spice and the Little Guy started to cry, shivering in the cold.

After a short time, a family (husband, wife and teenage son) walked up.

The empathy in the mother’s face showed as she smiled at me. Being a mother, she understood.  Soon, the teenage son asked us, in very broken English, where we were going.

Cave Monastery in Moldova

Cave monastery in Moldova

What luck, they were going there, too. We could go with them. I thought we would get on a bus together, but I was wrong. They weren’t getting there by bus.  They were going with their uncle who picked them up, driving the smallest car imaginable.

Helping us with the strollers and the children, we piled into the car, all eight of us in a car that could comfortably hold four, with the father sitting in the trunk.

Road leading to the cave monastery: Moldova

I wouldn't normally hitch a ride with complete strangers, but we were desperate.

While winding our way up narrow unpaved streets, the teenager explained that they were going a wedding in the church next to the monastery.  They invited us to attend and even offered to drive us back to town afterwards.

Going into the cave monastery

The Little Guy making his way into the monastery.

Over and over, we found that the Moldovan people were extremely kind. I will always remember that wedding, that family, and how they so graciously helped us.

Orthodox church in Molova

Standing outside the church with our new friends before the wedding.

In my mind, there is only one reason to visit Moldova…the people.

By the way, does anyone know where Burkina Faso is?

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4 Responses to “Mull It Over? No, Moldova…The Country”

  1. Meredith February 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Loved this story!

  2. redeyefamily February 17, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    Thanks! I’m glad you liked it.

  3. Lisa March 23, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    I hadn’t heard of Moldova until about a year ago and now it keeps coming up – it’s like a sign or something! My older daughter’s school organizes a number of service trips each year and each student is expected to go on at least one prior to graduation. One of the places that they go is to work at an orphanage in Moldova. Katie will be doing her service trip next year in grade 11 and at this point she thinks that Moldova is her first choice – that may change but it sounds like a country filled with kind people and I would be happy to see her travel there.

  4. redeyefamily March 23, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    That’s exciting! It’s interesting that you mentioned an orphanage in Moldova. We met a mother and daughter on the bus who were going to visit an orphanage. They go every week to play with the kids. I’ll be interested in hearing about your daughter’s experience, no matter where she decides to go!

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