We spent our last night in Carahasani on the water. Victor is a good friend of Ana and Grigore’s and owns land on the outskirts of town with a large pond. He was generous, energetic, and mildly inappropriate – let’s just say I didn’t translate for my mom half of what he said. You’ll find a variety of things on his land – exotic birds, a bee farm, sunflower fields, a pig pen, and a mechanic shop to name a few. As we sat in a makeshift cabana on the water eating peaches, grapes, and apples, Ana explained why all the fruit was peppered with black spots. Earlier in the summer a vicious hail storm blew through Carahasani and a neighboring village, destroying plants and badly bruising the fruits and vegetables. Earlier that year Russia stopped accepting imports (fruits, vegetables, wine, etc.) from Moldova, and the visual appearance of the fruits and vegetables didn’t meet the EU regulations to export the products west, so nobody in the village could sell their agricultural products. The fruit tasted better than anything I’ve every bought in a grocery store in the states.
At a time in my life when I was trying to reconcile some of my own religious beliefs, I automatically asked if they believed God sent the storm. Ana started, “I don’t know, Susan. We are Orthodox. We don’t go to church much, but there is a force that causes things like this. We respect all the traditions of our religion…” Grigore quickly interrupted with palms raised, “Not quite all of them.” Ana continued, “No, not quite, but close to all of them.” I could sense her answer was somewhere between, ‘Orthodox members believe this’ and ‘I believe this’. Was this my draw to Ana? Did she find the same security and comfort in the unknown? Do any of us really know the answer?
Ana’s non answer made more sense when she continued to explain that they were from a generation that was educated without religion because it was prohibited during the soviet occupation of Moldova. “We’re in a period of time when our old way of life was destroyed and a new way of life hasn’t yet been paved,” she said. This transition period has been hard for the country, but Grigore believes those suffering the most are the young people. “They aren’t working or learning well in school, and their parents are leaving to work abroad and send money home, so the kids are undisciplined and just want to have fun.” While that may be the case, I couldn’t help but remember conversations I’ve had with adults in the states who feel the same way. A shared thought. Common ground.
Leaving Ana’s house was hard. We said our good-byes, a kiss on each cheek, while hugging the bundle of honey, tea, cookies, and fruit that Ana insisted we take. The tears that streamed down my mother’s cheeks as we drove away reflected my own feelings. It’s beautiful how easy it is to love.