Looking Beyond Our Assumptions

Moldova's Beauty

I’ve been trying to convince my brother to come visit me here in Moldova.  Now, I’m sure there are various reasons he is asking if I would pretty please meet him in another European country rather than him come here (like finances), but I think part of the problem is that he is buying into a “single story” of Moldova (check out this awesome TedTalk about the “Danger of a Single Story” to see what I’m talking about here).  Basically:

Adichie shares ‘the danger of a single story’, warning that if we only hear a single story about a person, country or issue, we risk great misunderstanding. She says:
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
From what I’ve been able to find online and what friends and family from home have told me, here’s what people think Moldova’s single story is:
  • It’s poor.
  • There isn’t much to do.
  • There isn’t much to see.
  • It isn’t a very interesting country.
  • It is difficult to travel to and around.
  • It’s not a very pretty country.

I recently read a blog post from a seasoned blogger that said Chisinau, Moldova’s capital, is the most boring capital in Europe.

But here’s the thing: these ideas of what Moldova is like are not exactly true or are at least not the whole truth.  Although it is, indeed, a poor country (the poorest in Europe, for that matter), Moldova is also a pretty cool country.  So to counter those single stories, here is what you might find in Moldova:

  • There is an abundance of natural beauty.  There are sunflower fields in the summer that stretch as far as the eye can see, gorgeous river banks, gently rolling hills, and nice forests.
  • There are a number of interesting sites to visit.  In Chisinau, there are numerous interesting monuments and nice parks, as well as the former circus building, which is known as an excellent example of Soviet architecture.  Outside Chisinau, there are cool sites in the northern part of the country such as the Soroca Fortress and Orhei Monastery.  To the west of Chisinau is Milesti Mici, the world’s largest underground wine cellar.  There are other famous wineries, including Cricova, Pucari, and Castel Mimi.
  • There is a unique mix of old and new, traditional and modern.  In the capital, you can find modern amenities, such as a cinema, excellent restaurants, and dance clubs.  In towns and villages, old customs and traditions are still very much alive.  You can experience impressive traditional dances and watch wine being made in house courtyards.
  • There is an extensive public transportation system.  Although not always particularly comfortable, there is reliable, affordable, and extensive public transportation in virtually every part of the country.  In the capital, you can take a trolley bus anywhere in the city for just 2 lei (0.10 USD).  I can get to the capital from my village in 2 hours riding in a mini-bus for the cost of 48 lei (2.38 USD).
  • The people are wonderful and welcoming.  Moldovans are friendly and will generally welcome you with a glass (or two or three) of good, homemade wine (or compot, which is homemade juice, if alcohol’s not your thing) and a masa (table) of food.

You see, if you believed the single story, you might miss out on a lot of really wonderful things (Hint: Chris (my brother)! You need to come visit here!)!

This post is part of Blogging Abroad’s 2017 New Years Blog Challenge, week two: The Danger of a Single Story.