In the late-afternoon light, the gingerbread homes of the Moldovan village, Rosu, were bathed in golden hues. The homes’ green and periwinkle-blue fences, and wooden adornments on their gables cast frilly shadows on the dirt road, as Shawn and I embarked on an evening stroll.
The wire arbors over the homes’ driveways were brimming with grapes wearing muted amethyst, plum, and seafoam-green hues. They ranged from smaller clusters to plump specimens, calling me to spirit away a bunch or two. They looked so tempting.
As I stopped to photograph a green trellis studded with grapes overhead, two women chatting on the street, called out to us in Moldovan.
Exaggerated miming ensued for a second, and then the routine language check to see if we speak Moldovan or Russian, or if they speak English, French, or German. (Though Shawn can hold his own in Japanese, we don’t find that comes in handy much in Eastern Europe!)
In lightning-paced French, the woman asked us if we would like some of her beautiful grapes. As she ran behind her fence to procure a knife and a bag, I mumbled to Shawn that I thought she’d mentioned that she’d been to the dentist earlier in the day, and was experiencing that all-too-universal discomfort following her visit. I thought I’d also heard something about her having been a French teacher in the village for decades.
Running back past her yippy dog who wasn’t at all happy at our being in front of his domain’s gate, the woman exclaimed, “Quelle chance – what luck – to meet young people from the United States who speak French! I used to be a French teacher,” she added. We learned that her name was Violetta.
As Violetta propped a ladder up against the gate, I asked, “May I help you hold it?”
In a feisty fashion, Violetta replied, “Uh, no. I’m a retired woman, but I’m not afraid to climb this ladder!”
With her dog continuing to bark enthusiastically, Violetta sawed away at the grapes’ branches, eventually stuffing a plastic bag with 2 kg. (more than 4 pounds) of grapes.
Closing the gate, and feeling quite satisfied with her harvesting prowess, Violetta chatted with us further. We learned that she was the former teacher of our guesthouse host, Constantin, and that many of her neighbors had gone to work abroad. We then asked Violetta if we could take a photograph together to commemorate our chance meeting.
“Uh, c’est dommage – it’s such a pity that I met you on the same day as going to the dentist,” she lamented. “When are you leaving our village? Can you come back another day?”
We all wanted a souvenir photo to remember the moment, but what to do? Unfortunately, we would be leaving the next day.
Standing in the sun’s warm rays, I had an idea.
Pulling out a fat clump of grapes, I pretended as though I was gobbling it – perhaps that I was on a safari in a vineyard?
The silliness worked, for in a second Violetta too was donning a grape mustache, concealing any dental discomfort, and hamming it up for the camera.
With that gesture having primed the pump, our impromptu photo session continued, and at Violetta’s insistence, she also had a photo shoot with Shawn.
Leaving her vocal pup to continue crooning at her home front, the three of us walked off into the sunset, with Shawn carrying the bag overflowing with the grapes that brought the three of us together.
Where in the World?
- The village of Rosu is located about 5 km. (3 miles) from the city of Cahul, Moldova’s third-largest city. Not far from the Romanian border, and on the travel circuit between Bucharest, Romania and Chisinau, Moldova, the village is a convenient stopping point and introduction to village life in Moldova.
- During our time in Rosu, we were fortunate to have discovered the CostelHostel Guesthouse, founded by Constantin, who was born and raised in the village. He has a super command of English (he’s self-taught!) and speaks his native Moldovan-Romanian, plus Russian and Italian. Constantin was eager to walk us through his village, show us how to cook traditional Moldovan dishes, and share tidbits about Moldovan culture. We also participated in the grape harvest with his neighbors, and highly recommend an autumn visit to the region!
- To view bus routes throughout the country, as well as schedules, visit the following transportation website (in Romanian-Moldovan).
- Need more inspiration? This link contains an index of all my posts from Moldova.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.