13 October 2009

Readers, digest.

I went for about a seven mile walk today. I was looking for a music store that I didn't exactly know how to get to, and this seemed like the best way to familiarize myself with the area anyway. Besides, it's supposed to start getting colder, so I figured that if I was going to do something like this, now is the time to do it. Luckily, my Spidey-senses (and maybe a little dumb luck) took me right where I was trying to get to, even though my orientation to the map that I looked at before I left was completely wrong. In any case, I was able to purchase a relatively cheap acoustic guitar and then retrace my steps back to our apartment without getting completely lost.

Bear in mind, going for a walk here is a lot like passing through a Flintstones backdrop: Alimentara, Farmacie, Biroul de Turism, repeat ad infinitum. I should also note that I have played guitar virtually every day for the past fifteen years, and frankly, it has been strange to not have one here. To make up for lost time, I played for a solid two hours this afternoon. It was awesome.

The other part of my mission today was to find some stomach medicine. Back in the states, I took prescription stomach medicine everyday which prevented me from getting heartburn. Too many years of eating unhealthy food and drink has forced me to change my diet considerably and take medicine everyday for acid reflux. (Thank you very much, Buffalo Wing Challenge.) In any case, I went to a "farmacie" (farm-a-chee-a) today and was able to ask the pharmacist for what I was looking for and get it for the equivalent of about $5 U.S. Without insurance, in the U.S., a thirty-day supply of the same medicine would have cost about $200. Insert your own conclusion about the state of capitalist health care and the unrestrained power of the pharmaceutical industry in the United States here.

Places like this get a bad rap. When I go to the grocery store in Chisinau, maybe I can't find an entire aisle dedicated to different brands of soft drinks, or when I go to the pharmacy, I can't find ten different brands of toothpaste or scents of deodorant ranging from "Extreme Burst" to "Power Sport," but come on... how many options do we really need? And what the hell is "Extreme Burst" supposed to smell like anyway? Here, I bought some deodorant in which the only word in English is "Men." Good enough.

So far, this has been the biggest difference in terms of lifestyle adjustments here. And in order to find what I'm looking for, I may go to three or four different stores instead of one "super-store" in the U.S., but when I buy vegetables here, you can tell that they just came from a farmer's field directly to the store that I bought them from. Case in point: the carrots still have dirt on them. The apples don't have a film of pesticide on them, and the tomatoes weren't ripened with ether after being shipped to a warehouse. (In the United States, most companies ship them while they're still green so that they won't bruise during shipping. True story.)

Between the walking and the healthy food I've been eating, maybe by the time we leave here, I won't need to take stomach medicine anymore. And I'll probably complain about how hard it is to find decent produce in the U.S., despite being one of the largest agricultural producing countries in the world. But I have to tell you, I do miss peanut butter and sliced bread. And I've never loved the English language so much as I do now. Frankly, I think that if I were to hear someone speaking it on the street, that person would become my new best friend. And even though my wife is a gourmet chef and the only times I've eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in recent years were rare flashbacks to my days as a bachelor, strangely enough, it sounds pretty good right about now.

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