Worrall Travel R's

Worrall Travel R's
Roz and Russ

Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

My photo

We are the Worrall Travel R's Roz and Russ Worrall. Our goal before we "kick the bucket" is to see as much of the world as we are able, learn about world cultures, experience making friends around the world, and share goodwill and what we learn with others. WE HOPE YOU JOIN US VIA THE BLOG ON OUR TRAVELS.

We started our world travels in 1969 in VW camper van in the USA, Canada, and Europe, but didn't actively blog about our travels until 2009 aboard our sailing vessel SV Worrall Wind, a 44 ft Nauticat Ketch.  On September 5, 2009 we left San Francisco and took a left at the Golden Gate to Explore the World.

From to Sea to Land
After almost 4 years of cruising Mexico and the South Pacific, we sold our beloved boat in Australia, 2013. The Worrall Travel R's are continuing our travels around by many other means of conveyance -boats,trains, planes, sometimes camels, elephants, rickshaws, and hot air balloons.. 

Russ is a retired engineer, optometrist, professor from U.C. Berkeley. Roz is a retired computer programmer/analyst, educator, (teacher, administrator, professional developer). 

Our Mantra:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

Monday, August 29, 2016

Wow! What a Great Cultural Day in Selemet, Moldova Exchange 4, WTRD 20, August 29, 2016

Making New Friends in Selemet, Moldova

There doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to do everything that has been planned for us. I am finally getting a few minutes to write the blog as we travel home from the Village town of Selemet where we have been honored guests all day. It's 6:47 and we have about an hour and half drive home.

We met this morning at 9:00 am, boarded our mini busses, and arrived in Selemet around 11:00. The mayor of Selemet, a lovely exuberant woman, native to the village, met us at the Town Community Center. Tatiana Badan has been the mayor here since 2010, winning a second term in 2014.

Mayor Badan welcomed us warmly.  She attended an Open World training in America - Columbus, Ohio and she said it opened her mind. It reminds me of the quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, "A mind that has been stretched, never returns to its original dimensions." She is quite fond of America not only because it has changed her way of thinking about governance and democracy, but because her daughter has recently gotten a green card and has moved to Panama City, Florida, and she hopes to visit us again.  Reciprocating her welcome with gratitude from our Friendship Force, our Exchange Director, George, bestowed a few California gifts on the Mayor....almonds and a Sacramento Kings Baseball cap.

Since her election, Tatiana is changing her village and the people love her for it. In the last election she received 100 percent of the vote. At its height, Selemet had 4,000 residents, today there are 1,100 residents in this rural, agricultural community where the average salary is $150.00 a month.

The exodus of people out of the village and out of the country (even her own daughter) is due to low wages even for highly knowledgable and skilled people who simply cannot sustain a living in the town. For those who have stayed Mayor Bodan works diligently through grant writing and active solicitation of sponsorship to bring in enough non-tax revenue to make necessary enhancements to an old, post Soviet-era village.

The Mayor explained that the Soviets are gone but the tradition of a top heavy centralized government, leaves little trickle down to the grassroots level for the local people's needs. The school was in disrepair, the people had no community hall, children from poor families had no hope of a better life, residents growing old were not receiving care and nutrition they needed. They have numerous challenges and she is taking them on one at a time.

The American Embassy to some extent, and a non-profit NGO from Norway to a great extent has been financially assisting in the renovations of the village center. We spent the day with Mayor and residents of her community as we viewed the extensive progress that has been made with inconsistent to non existent government support, private donations and the shear imagination and determination of the Mayor and her staff of eleven.

Most of the changes have been made at this point to benefit the children of the community by providing them with an excellent place to learn and be creative. Many of these children are from the most vulnerable families who may make less than $25.00 a week, may have disabilities or parents that have alcohol problems. The mayor's goal for these children is that they learn well, prosper, and have an opportunity to stay in the community when they are grown. She practices what many politicians mouth, but do nothing about. Children are the future.

We were given a tour of town hall,

Classrooms for kindergarten and elementary school children,

Nap time at school - up to two hours
Community Cantina an Exercise Room


The community museum.

In the conference room, we took a break around 1:00 for coffee, tea, and biscuits while the Mayor explained the projects, challenges, and her hope that Friendship Force will help in some way to champion the changes.

She provided us with some Moldovan wines, and we (FFI VP, Chris) presented her with one of two suitcases loaded with donations of children's clothing and school supplies. (The other suitcase, lost temporarily in Istanbul, has been found and is on its way to Moldova...hopefully still filled with donations we brought over.)

After our town halll and community tour, we had a delicious lunch of chicken vegetable, noodle soup, roasted potatoes, chicken, and fresh summer salad of tomatoes and cucumbers. Immediately, following lunch we were whisked away to a cheese making factory that has been newly established in the village, where we sampled cheese.

It was a very short visit as we needed to get to the cultural center, where we were treated to a wonderful Moldovan style "evening gathering", where neighbors, friends, and family gather in their great room to work on hand crafts, sing, play instruments, dance, eat, and drink.

We were served placintei,  Moldovan dumpling sfilled with potatoes, and a non-alcohol beer made from grains.

When we thought our fun, and food filled afternoon was almost over, we were invited to a local village home. It was neat and clean, but lacked indoor plumbing and water, apparently typical of the village.

The woman who made the invitation to us, is the kindergarten teacher at her school, in addition to being an accomplished weaver and seamstress. Naturally we had to buy something from her, and enjoyed the visit to her home.

Cellar Storage of Pickled Foods

Still not over, on our way home, we stopped at one of our Moldovan host tour organizers family home where her mother and sister had prepared fresh melon slices for us and we had a restroom break.

It is now almost 8:00 pm and we are just entering the city limits of Chisinau. We are beat, and tomorrow we have another full day.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's...remembering Selemet, Moldova

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Day in Old Orhel - Historical Ruins and Caves, Moldava Exchange 3, WTRD 19, August 28, 2016

Touring, Eating, Playing Games, and Opening the Piggy (cow) Bank

We all sang happy birthday to our host Marianna this morning while socializing over coffee at a cafe downtown.  About 30 of us loaded into two mini vans by 11:30 and headed to an area called Old Orhel, an hour and a half drive from Chisinau.

The area we we went to is an ancient sea bed at the top of the escarpment.  There is a deep valley below the cliffs with a river running through the valley.  It is difficult to know whether this was a natural depression under the sea or whether the river carved out the valley.  The cliffs of the escarpment are sandstone that easily erodes and which Christian monks carved out caves, much like the ones we saw in Cappadocia, Turkey.

We gazed down at the river and the Village below us on one side a ridge running down between valleys, and on the other fertile fields and cave dwellings in cliffs on the other side.

The vans here do not have air conditioning or even vents or windows that open. As the day grew warmer the vans became intolerably hot especially when we stopped moving.  The front windows opened and two overhead hatch windows tilted up slightly to let out the hot air and capture some incoming air as we moved along....but not when we stopped.  Then it was like being in a solar oven.  At each stop we bolted out of the van and lingered outside until the last minute to get back inside.

We visited some Turkish baths, circa Ottoman Empire.  The ruins of these baths had changing rooms, water heating rooms where runoff or spring water once ran down hill into the top level of the baths and was heated by fires then continue to run down hill into rock basins where there were separate pools and rock platforms for men and women.

From here we visited a tradition peasant home,

a small church carved into the escarpment cliff.

A church tower is built on the rock.  Patrons file down the stairs into a cave where there is now an alter and religious paintings.  An outdoor exit leads to an un-railed ledge that looks over the valley below.  The monks who lived and worked at this church had bedrooms of to the side of the main chapel.
Looking down from the Ledge of the Cliff Church

After stopping at the cave church, we visited another church up the hill

where we also found a geocache, our first in Moldova.

Our group did not get around to eating lunch until almost three pm.  Hosts Vasili and Nathalie helped us translate and pronunciate a stanza to the Moldovan anthem which we are to learn for a television interview on Tuesday.   They cracked up at  how our translator  app was translating and how we were mis-pronouncing the words.

There was a small wedding party at the restaurant.  The bride and groom were in heritage dress.

We took one more photo of our group in Moldova

We did not return to Chisinau until 6:30.  Marianna called a cab from the drop-off point, and we returned to her home and had a late dinner of pasta with chicken balls in white sauce, and wonderful garden fresh tomatoes and basil.

Once the dinner dishes were cleaned up, the dining table became the game table for a  few rounds of Left, Right, Center  The game was fun, but even more so  with 8 year old Catalina playing with us.  Her enthusiasm and depression swung back and forth hilariously as luck was quite fickle.  When we had played 4 rounds, Russ was the only one who had not won a round.  He made a pouty face that delighted Catalina.

By now it was pretty late and really should have been everyone's bed time, but Russ asked if he could trade Catalina a few American dollars for some small coins for his coin collection  that she might have in her possession.  She went into her room and trotted out with a cow bank, which she proceeded to open and Marianna dumped out on the table.

The bank was filled with small coins, each worth about 1/10 of five cents American, 1/2 of a penny.   Catalina had made a good deal.  Even though the bank was nearly full, I doubt whether there were 400 coins that would have made up the 2 dollars.

We had a lovely at home evening with our host family.

All is Well With the Worrall Travel Rs in Moldova.