Of Dan Balan and Visas

I have a very long story to tell you, but bear with me: it's worth it.

Once upon a time, when we first arrived in Moldova, we saw these billboards for Dan Balan EVERYWHERE. We had no idea who Dan Balan was (Somehow I thought he was some kind of lawyer) but Jesse and I both loved his intense, over-serious stare. For awhile, it seemed like Dan Balan was on every billboard in the city, and whole jokes developed in our conversations about making Dan Balan-like faces and so forth. Before we knew it, Dan Balan had become a beloved part of our humor and lives. 

Several months later, we went to the Moldovan Immigration Office to pick up our completed Visas. This was after we had already spent an entire morning at the office a month before with every possible identifying document we could possibly gather (passports, blood type documents, three separate letters of invitation from the US Embassy, some sort of stamped document we had to pay to get, birth certificates and our marriage license), making copies and paying fees and arguing with serious governmental office employees about seals and signatures and so forth. 

A month after all of that, we all were various degrees of sick (all the way from Jesse and Nikolai with un-diagnosed pneumonia and me and Miriam with annoying colds), but that couldn't stop us from trekking across the city to pick up the completed visas. We got to the office and sat there for 20 minutes, only to hear an announcement that the office would be closing for an hour for lunch. *Sigh* Unfortunately, Jesse had to go teach class, so we headed back home, unsuccessful. 

Miriam, coloring in the waiting room, with pacifier in tow to help her forget she was missing her nap

On Wednesday we returned, waited for an hour in the waiting room and finally made it to the desk to pick up the visas, only to discover terrible news: despite the fact that we had already provided every form of identification ever, we were supposed to bring several of those same documents back at THIS appointment in order to pick up the visas. Yes. The same documents they already had copies of. 

SO. We returned on Thursday, with every single possible document we could think of, even the documents they hadn't said we needed to bring (because the lesson learned from this situation was always bring every possible document). And we were successful! The visa process was pushed along (we don't technically have the visas yet because *surprise* they have to be processed further, but we have legal status here now) and we left triumphant (to return in a few weeks to pick up the actual documents). 

But the really exciting part of this entire process happened when we were sitting in the waiting room on the third and final day of our visa pick up attempt. The flat screen on the waiting room wall was on (it had been off during the other two attempts), and was showing a series of charming videos for the Moldovan tourist industry. I duly noted a few places I hadn't heard of for us to visit, and then, WHAM! They started showing clips from the pop group O-Zone's international hit Dragostei Din Tei (also known as the Numa Numa song):


This song was HUGE in my high school in freshman or sophomore year, and I was minorly obsessed with it. I knew all the words (who knew I knew Romanian?), looked up the lyrics in English, and watched as many versions of the video as the burgeoning internet would allow. It was all I could do to not sing along with every word there in the waiting room, and, after all this time, I was blown away to find out that the group was from Chisinau!

I started babbling to Jesse about how excited I was and was trying to explain to him what song this was (he missed the clip in the waiting room, and, as it turned out, the song hadn't made it to his high school back in the day all the way out in Idaho). I looked up O-Zone on Wikipedia to try and figure out other details to tell him, when one of the band members' names caught my eye. 

"Jesse, this might be a game changer," I said, frantically clicking the Dan Balan link (because I had to make certain there wasn't a plethora of unrelated Dan Balans running around Chisinau, and because sitting in an immigration office with two children for the third time that week was making me lose my mind).

LO AND BEHOLD: It was the very same Dan Balan as our billboard Dan Balan.



My head exploded and my worlds collided and everything everywhere came full circle. 

the end


julis said…
Now THAT was a good story! (Not that your other stories have been bad) (but total mic drop!)
ivrcti said…
So why does Dan Balan have all those billboards now? His stare doesn't seem to be yell pop star...
Hi Catherine! This is Laurene Jackson, Kylie Burgener's mom. I'm a secret stalker - and I love your fun stories. Anyway, I thought you and Jesse might like knowing that the Numa Numa dance has totally made it to Madison High School. The kids do it at every home basketball game. As a matter of fact, last spring, Highland and Madison got in a kinda big altercation when Highland's mascot tried to intervene in the ritual. The story even made it to ESPN!


The Numa Numa dance lives on!

P.S. For the record, Madison won that game! Go Cats! ;)
Maren said…
That song is the best! So much nostalgia. We had fun times at the visa office in China too. One time we were worried my visa wouldn't get renewed and we ended up with the grumpy worker (we'd been there enough times to know) but the ice was totally broken when she recognized Patrick from TV after he went on a Chinese game show. Glad you are legal now! :)
Loïe said…
Hahahaha, what a twist! I loved that song back in the day too. Actually, I still love it. :)
Unknown said…
Ha ha ha! I know that song too! I love your wit and storytelling skills, Catherine! So glad that you won't have to go again to the visa office....atleast for a few weeks :) We had a great little dance party to the numa numa song today and thought of you :) Hope you are all well!

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