…that is America’s Independence Day and my first one not in the country, which was an interesting experience in and of itself.
On Monday, the 4th, I traveled back to my training village from my permanent site visit by myself. Traveling from Soldanesti to Chisinau is pretty easy. Since my town is a raion center, there are several rutieras throughout the day that travel into the capital and it is a straight shot on one rutiera. Other volunteers that live in smaller villages sometimes have to transfer buses in larger cities or they have to get off somewhere during their journey and hoof it from the main road to their village. I lucked out…the rutiera starts and stops in the very middle of Soldanesti. Awesome. Anyway, I left my town at 8am and arrived in Chisinau around 10am. After walking in the opposite direction for a few minutes, I GPSed myself and figured out that I needed to turn around to head toward the trolleybus station. I caught my bus and decided to make a brief detour. Instead of taking the #9 trolley all the way to the random parking lot where we catch our rutieras back to Costesti, I got off at the intersection of Ismail and Stefan cel Mare and walked toward the center of town.
I had been surrounded by people all weekend long and I was exhausted so I decided to take an hour or so for myself where I could just listen to music and do things for myself. This need for some mental health time is what led to me sauntering to McDonald’s to celebrate the 4th of July in the best way I knew how in Moldova. I ordered a double cheeseburger meal with fries and a Coke and it was heavenly. I’ve been eating so healthy that I had forgotten what pure, good ol’ American cholesterol tasted like. I know you are probably like “Morgan, come on. McDonald’s? Really?” Let me just say something: when you live in a different country with limited access to things that have been easily accessible to you your whole life, you start to miss them. And not normal things either. Like, really weird stuff. For instance, I miss things that I don’t typically enjoy when I’m home in the States: McDonald’s cheeseburgers, candy corn, Taco Bell, etc. It might have been unhealthy, but it was exactly what I needed after an exhausting weekend. **Side note: being an introvert in Peace Corps is A LOT harder than you would think.** After I finished, I got an ice cream cone and I strolled through a beautiful park in the middle of Chisinau to get to the nearest trolleybus stop. I don’t know that I have felt that content since I’ve been here. The past month has been hard and stressful and overwhelming, but I wouldn’t change any of it. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back to find your moment of peace and clarity. And, for me, that moment happened walking through a park, savoring a vanilla ice cream cone from McDonald’s. Life is indeed stranger than fiction sometimes.
*Also, on my way home last night, I found a kitten in our driveway whose back legs don’t work. Obviously my bleeding heart for tiny animals kicked in and I literally started crying when I had to leave it. It was even harder when I walked outside to leave for class this morning and IT WAS WAITING IN THE DRIVEWAY FOR ME!! All the feels.