Two weeks ago on Friday, I headed to Chisinau and then on to Criuleni, where we had a yoga retreat. When I arrived in Chisinau, it was snowing lightly, so I decided to walk around the city a bit to kill some time before I headed further north to Criuleni.
As I walked, it started snowing pretty hard, which made everything very beautiful and quiet. I spent some time walking some streets in Chisinau, and then decided to walk through the two main parks in the center of Chisinau: Cathedral Park and Stefan cel Mare Park. Both were covered in a light dusting of snow with more coming down. I took my time and just really enjoyed the cool air, big snowflakes, and the quiet lull that always occurs when it snows.
By the Arc de Triomf in the center of Chisinau, a huge real Christmas tree had been set up and decorated and for a minute I watched as an older gentleman took selfies with his young grandson. It was a beautiful and almost magical morning.
Later on Friday, I headed to Criuleni, which is in the north of Moldova. A couple of volunteers have hosted a number of yoga retreats over the past year with other volunteers, but this was the first one I had attended. Although I have done some yoga over the past few years, I am definitely in the beginner category, and I was a little nervous about going to a retreat, but also excited to get motivated to do some yoga and spend time with other volunteers. It ended up being a really small group, and I learned a lot and had a great time.
Two volunteers hosted us in their home, since they live in their own apartment. We had a nice space to do yoga in and shared some delicious meals, which they graciously made for us. The menu included: chili and cornbread, banana chocolate-filled pancakes, a pizza bar (make-your-own), a delicious vegetarian casserole and mashed potatoes, and an oatmeal bar.
On Saturday, in a break from yoga, two of us accompanied our hosts on a walk through the town and along the Nistru River. The river was gorgeous! The other side of the river is Transnistria, the part of Moldova that self-proclaims it is an independent nation (but is not recognized by either Moldova or the UN to be so). It was a chilly but not cold day, and we walked back to the apartment just as the sun was setting. We even encountered a tiny bit of hail as we were within sight of the apartment building.
The weekend as a whole was really great, and I’m glad I went. I met some new people, ate some great food, learned some new poses (including downward facing dog with a partner!), and enjoyed getting to explore another part of Moldova.