Village Life in Riscova, Moldova

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While in Moldova, we had the opportunity to visit some friends and spent 7 days in the small village of Riscova.  The village is located about an hour north from Chișinău, the capital of Moldova.  It was a very unique experience.  Going to the village felt as if we were transported back in time. Over 90% of the homes in the village have no running water and still rely on wells for their water needs. Life in the village is simple.  People spend their days tending their animals, cooking, cleaning, and socializing with other villagers.

When we arrived in the village, it was a bit of a shock.  Dirt roads and not much else, when it came to stores and such.  The only three, extremely small, stores that the village had doubled as village bars.  Going to the stores was quite an interesting experience.  At the counter of each store they had a small “shot station” where people would come in and purchase shots for a whopping five Moldovan Lei (30 cents).  Entire big bottles of vodka were the equivalent of $2.  Candy bars, and other similar snacks were under 50 cents.  Everything was so inexpensive.

The people in the village were very friendly.  It is customary in the village to greet people as you pass them. Everyone says “bună ziua” (good afternoon) or “bună seara” (good evening) as they walk down the roads.  Our friends told us that this was an extremely important custom and that we needed to be sure to participate in during our time in the village.  The village doesn’t get very many visitors, but when they do it becomes the “villages news”.  We were happy to participate.

We also had the privilege to sit and drink with some of the villagers.  One of the many things Moldovan’s are great at is drinking. The country has the highest alcohol consumption per capita in the world.  They make their own wine, as well as a variety of plum brandy type liquors.  It is a pretty big deal when an outsider is invited to sit down and drink with the locals.  We felt as if we had been accepted into the village, and welcomed with open arms.  When Moldovan’s drink socially they use one glass for the group.  Pour some wine, gulp it down and then pass it to the next person.  This goes on and on and on.

Our activities in the village consisted of mostly hanging around and catching up with our friends.  We had met them in Bucharest though hashing, and they were staying in the village to assist with the construction of an eco-village.  We also did our fair share of chasing chickens and playing with various cats and dogs that lived on or near the property.  We also cooked some really tasty food each night we were there.  For being in a  remote village, I have to say we did pretty well working with what we had to make some amazing dishes.  Another fun thing that we did was target shooting in the woods around the village. We used an pellet rifle that had a cool scope.  I had never shot any type of gun that had a scope on it before.  It made shooting so much easier. I have to say, Brandon and our friend Rob were both pretty impressed with my shooting skills.

When it was time for us to head back to Romania we had to ride a bus back to Chișinău.  This was very interesting.  The bus arrived, and when I say “bus” I really mean a small airport shuttle type of vehicle, it was packed full of villagers. Our friends had warned us that it might be a bit tight for the first 15 minutes, until the last load of people got off. Oh my god, tight was an understatement. We were crammed in, practically standing on top of each other.  There must have been at least 25 people crammed into that small vehicle.  It was nuts.  Thankfully when the bus made its last stop we were able to get a seat for the remaining 45 minutes of the journey.  We got to the train station in Chișinău and boarded our first overnight train. We’ll leave that adventure for another post.  You can read about it shortly in our post about our train trip from Moldova to Romania.

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