Happy Birthday

May 12-13, 2002

My friends in Costeshti offered to organize a birthday for me again this year. We held the party a week late because May 6 is the Orthodox Easter. This year I was better prepared -- I knew that the party would continue for two days.

Dima's mother gave him the shopping list and Friday after work Dima, Sorim, Micha and I went to the Piatsa (market) to buy the food. In Moldova the tradition is that it is the responsibility of the person with the birthday to supply the party. We filled up the back of my Audi with 33 pounds of chicken, 17 pounds of pork, salami, tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas, oranges, cheese, bread, mineral water, Moldovan soda (lemonade)and assorted other goodies. I didn't have to buy the lamb because one of Dima's uncles raises sheep and would slaughter it for us on Saturday. And there was no need to buy wine because Efim, Ana and Dima had made plenty (with help from me, Armando and Larry). We drove to Dima'a house, unloaded the food and then headed off to an uncle's house where we ate some freshly killed pig.

The next morning I bought the birthday cakes and chocolates, joined my colleagues at my office and we all headed for Costeshti. In the center of town we found Dima and Sorim in his Niva (Russian jeep) and they lead us out of the village, across farm land and into the forest where we found Dima's extended family cooking shashlik and setting up for the party.

Over the next 30 hours it seemed as though we seldom stopped eating and drinking for long. But we found time for two long hikes, a soccer ("football") game, lots of volleyball and frisbee, some horseback riding, a swim and even a few rests.

We finished our dinner after 11:00 PM and soon it was time for bed. This year I planned ahead and brought my tent, sleeping bag and pad. The night was crystal clear so I slept out where I could admire the stars. The children mostly slept in cars. Some slept near the fire.

Brunch included bananas, oranges, chicken, cheese, salami, fish and more. Plus more cake for desert.

The men cooked the meat, the women did the rest of the cooking

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They brought the table in a truck.

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We hiked up to the top of a hill and admired the view.


We hiked back down through the woods and Sorim found a huge snail


Then everyone stopped to see Mark's pictures.


We played a game with the volleyball. If you failed to volley the ball to another player, then you had to kneel in the middle of the circle. You stayed there until the ball hit you (sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose, sometimes softly, sometimes not).

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Many were serious football players

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Some were more relaxed.


One family member brought a horse for children to ride

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Big brother watched out for baby brother. Usually.


Those without frisbee experience learned quickly.


I had my first swim of the summer.


We couldn't be vigorous all of the time.

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After the horse rides, volleyball, frisbee, a second hike in the woods and a swim it was time to eat again. This time we had lamb stew. Then we packed everything into the trucks and headed home. It was a wonderful two day party!

Thank you for some of the pictures to Andrian Ivanov.

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