It's raining. The temperatures have dropped from 36C to 12C in two days (that's from 97F to 54F for you imperial types). It's so blustery that it downed one of the birches in our backyard. We didn't notice until this afternoon when the kids took advantage of a break in the rain to drag all their duvets out into the BBQ pit to play... something. They didn't want to tell me what they played and didn't protest when I demanded the blankets back inside - best proof of a guilty conscience.
What to do with kids who are cooped up inside all day? There is not much to do on a rainy day here in Chișinău and if you now think "puddle jumping!", I hear ya. Only that David has grown out of his rain boots, and so has Jacob (who has not grown into David's discarded boots, though), and we didn't bring rain jackets, either, nor do we have hats. This happens when you move with 14 small boxes. So, inside time.
Leah spent a good hour this afternoon running around in the house, asking everybody many multiple times, "Which color you take?" Fortune tellers are great time-wasters. I printed out these cheeky fortune tellers and the potty humor appeals very much to my kids. Leah has her own interpretation on the various yucky scenarios - so you are the smelly sock, you are the toilet monster, you get stuck in the poop machine and you are the basement. Which are all very dire fortunes, indeed. Incidentally, if you are craftily inclined, What I Made is a great site and I only wished Scott would be more productive and also that he'd finally finish his Dangerous Alphabet for Boys because that's just awesome. C'mon, Scott, hurry up! I have boys who want to spell out their names with this alphabet!
So, rainy Sunday. We read, write, delete emails, play Wii, listen to Doug's old college radio station and npr from the nation's capital, play games (why again did I think it was a good idea to download "Angry Birds"??) and make lists for our trip to Germany next week. A trip that may or may not happen as have the little problem of having overstayed our welcome in Moldova. Months ago we applied for legitimațies, which are exactly what you think they are, little laminated cards with bad photos that ensure sundry officials that we have no sinister intentions for their country. Or in any case, that those intentions are state-sanctioned and US-funded. However, we had badly underestimated quite how much red tape this country has retained from Soviet days, and so we find ourselves past the tourist visa expiration and before the issue of the official welcome document. Which makes us, um, illegal aliens? Nosy tourists who break a law? Do we get slapped on the wrist or do we get a non-reentry stamp into our passports?
We pushed. We called. We begged. What we did not do was pay a bribe because as the head of a USAID-funded project, Doug is under orders not to do that. This may turn out to be a problem because here in Moldova, the non-bribe official route is always the long, torturous, complicated and time-consuming one. Maybe we have not allowed enough time to pass, maybe the single person who stamps those documents is just righteously pissed at all those USAID people who never pay a bribe and therefore delays indefinitely? I have no way of knowing.
The big boys and I will drive to the border on Wednesday, the car full of outgrown clothes, shoes, read books, filled journals, and we will take our chances. An additional wrinkle is the problem with the car that has also been in the country for too long. For six months, we reckoned, we can get buy without registering the car. When someone pointed out that the Moldovan customs is particularly pedantic with cars, we inquired about registration. It turned out that we cannot register the car even if we wanted to: the poor thing is too old. In Moldova, and we found to our great dismay, in many countries around the world, you cannot import a car that is older than six years. Incidentally, we got our car into Germany some few days before the car turned six, so we never encountered this particular piece of customs law before even if such a law exists in Germany (which I don't know). Our car, which is driving just fine, is precisely as old as Alan: it came out of the factory on the day he was born. We bought it second-hand a few years later but it's a nice coincedence that makes it easy to remember how old the car really is. It's a bit rusty around the edges, and has an enigmatic electrical problem which is both elusive and very in your face, but it's served us well and we had planned to drive it until it falls apart. The fact that we maybe can't do that makes me want to say to someone, "You are the smelly sock!"