People ask me sometimes how I go about getting organized in a new foreign country. Having recently arrived in the Republic of Moldova, I can tell you what not to do: Twist your foot. Don’t ask me how I did it, as I am not prone to twisting ankles, feet or other body parts, not even on bad pavement. (When I do trip and fall, I do it well: I once broke a leg that way in the rain forest in Ghana, West Africa. Yes, I should write a post about that some time; it was hilarious. Not.)
Okay, I did write it and here it is: Expat Trouble: What Not to Do in the Jungle
Onward. So, for several beautiful sunshiny spring days I’ve been sitting – foot on a pillow — in this mustard-brown (temporary) apartment, staring at the computer, the TV or the boxes of our shipment decorating the living room. Drinking tea, and eating a lot of yummy yogurt (read on).
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was so proud of having discovered plain, unadulterated, unflavored yogurt in the dairy section of the No. 1 Supermarket on my second day in the country. Yes, the cheery cups of Activia, and other varieties of
chemically fortified probiotic enriched stuff for the digestively impaired have conquered the world and are everywhere, internationally recognizable without benefit of language. This is wonderful of course, because not only in America do people suffer from the heartbreak of slow intestinal transits. But I simply want the plain stuff. However, as I am an illiterate in Moldova, it was a bit of a challenge, but I found it. So I thought.
Truth is, I’ve been consuming, by the cupful, a soft, spoonable cream cheese. No wonder it was so creamy and delicious. Back to square one regarding plain, unadulterated yogurt. Stay tuned.
Note: Since Activia and its fruity competitors have colonized major acreage in supermarket dairy departments the world over, you might be entertained by this funny video.
My foot is on the mend, possibly because of mentioned cream cheese consumption. So today, another sunshiny spring day, I venture out to do some shopping and find myself hobbling through a snowdrift of fluff. I’ve innocently stumbled into an orgy of procreating dandelions. The puffy things are everywhere, blowing around and collecting in pillowy heaps in the cracks and crevices of the uneven pavement. The dandelions, blooming profusely in every nook and cranny of this city, have expired en masse, joyously spreading their seeds to impregnate new seasons with their yellow cheer. Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth: Moldovan dandelions do it with Old Testament fervor. The fuzz loves my face, my hair, my nose and I am not amused.
Neither was I amused several days ago when my man and I went in search of a couch and chairs for our future dwelling place. Despair settled over me as I limped through some of the furniture shops. It was like going back in time with styles that went out with the hand-crank telephone.
Also on offer were artsy imitations of massive creations of the sort you might find in castles and mansions. Very
pompous aristocratic stuff, carved and gilded, with lots of curlicues and velvet-like upholstery, grandeur of which I, a simple plebeian, am not worthy. I really try not to rise above my station even when I get the chance. I’m basically an IKEA groupie. Sadly, IKEA has not yet arrived in Moidova (but it will!) and the closest store is 500 km away, across the border, in Bucharest, Romania.
But praise be, I was led to another store, cleverly painted blue and yellow, that offers contemporary styles and makes things to order. Hallelujah. And, wouldn’t you know, the universe is with me. It so happened that I met a lady living in the serviced apartment next to ours. And she’s Swedish! And guess what! The Swedish embassy has some pieces of used IKEA furniture for sale!
I tell you, life is good.
And even my foot is better.
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What about you? What tribulations did you encounter during the first few weeks in a new country? How did you deal with furniture, yogurt, and dandelion fluff? Or possibly monkeys on your roof and snakes in your bed.