Family Adventure Time
Something I look forward to these days is Saturday afternoons, when we embark on what I've named in our google calendar as "Family Adventure Time." When the weather was better this often meant exploring a new park, and lately it usually means "go find a place where we can find Miriam some winter shoes" (which ended up being like $20 and made me kinda angry because paying $20 for shoes she's going to wear for 3 months is NUTS) or "go find a place where we can buy a small trashcan for the bathroom."
Shopping here is so different from shopping in America. First of all, everyone in America has a car, so if you need something (like an appliance, or clothes, or whatnot) you can jump in your car and go to Target or Walmart or some other giant aggregator that sells everything under the sun to get it. Second of all, Americans tend to shove everything (food, paper products, medicine, office supplies, birthday cards, camping supplies, kitchen appliances) in even a run of the mill grocery store and call it good. So if you need something random (like a glue stick or dental floss), no worries! Just pick it up (if you remember!) the next time you're at Kroger. The other thing we did in America was to just order it from Amazon (all hail Amazon prime!), so often a trip wasn't even needed.
But here, not everyone has a car, and grocery stores mostly sell groceries (I'm shocked!). There are places that are Target-esque where you can find everything under the sun, but they're further away and a hassle to get to. Amazon might be an option here, but we've heard conflicting stories about how complex customs can be here, so we haven't tried that yet. Lots of things are sold in giant indoor (and outdoor) markets here, and you kind of have to know the market well if you need to find something random.
Take, for instance, bobby pins:
I had no idea where to buy a bobby pin in Chisinau. I've always just bought them at the grocery store in the past, and they don't carry them here! We looked at several stores, and even a few pharmacies, with no luck. I thought they might carry them at a beauty supply store, but I haven't seen any of those here (and couldn't find any on the web). We've been in several markets since we've been here and I always sort of casually glanced around to see if any stalls we passed had them, but I still hadn't seen any. I was starting to think we were going to need to resort to desperate measures to find some (either shaving off all of my hair or asking a Moldovan acquaintance where to find some [and yes both of those felt viable]).
We had finally decided to ask someone where to find them when we happened to be passing a street side vendor selling hair accouterments (those are really common here). I've passed these before and never seen bobby pins (and wouldn't know what to call them if I wanted to ask if they had any) but lo and behold! This vendor had some on the table! I grabbed a bunch (for $.75!) and felt like we had accomplished something truly terrific.
After shopping, we ventured out to a local barbecue place. It was started by some Americans that came to Chisinau as peace corp volunteers but then decided to stay. Being from the South, I can decidedly say that it was Good Barbecue (though not being vinegar-based, it was not the One True Barbecue) and we will definitely go back.
On the way home, Nikolai was tired of walking and Miriam was tired of riding in the stroller, so they switched places:
On the way home, we passed through the triumphal arch in the city center. It was beautifully lit with a Moldovan flag in the middle:
I had one of those moments (that I have a lot when we're out exploring the city) where I felt in awe of this place, and excited to be living here. And that is why I love Family Adventure Time!