Running in Moldova means running with one earphone out so you can hear cars approach from far enough away to jump out of the street as they zip by — you’d better be listening because they sure don’t seem to be watching. Pedestrians don’t have the right of way here.
Running in Moldova means not being fazed by dogs barking wildly at you from every house, but keeping an eye out for the gates that are open or the dogs that aren’t chained or the street dogs and making sure to walk by those. The running will get them to chase you, but if you walk quickly they usually don’t follow more than a couple of houses.
Running in Moldova means getting looks of confusion, of disapproval, sometimes mutters from almost everyone you pass; you might as well be wearing a shirt that says “Foreigner!” (I have yet to see anyone else here running, and apparently women certainly don’t.)
Running in Moldova means keeping an active eye on your surroundings — so you can find your way home, so you know who’s around or who’s not around.
Running in Moldova means waking up at 6 or waiting until 7:30 at night because the rest of the day is just too hot.
Running in Moldova means running mostly on asphalt and gravel, seemingly only uphill.
Running in Moldova means feeling that amazingly infinite high that comes when you reach the top of the hill out of breath and you see that view out over the fields you still can’t believe is real.
Running in Moldova means passing girls of all ages and smiling, hoping you’re at least planting a seed in them, that if they too want to run outside, they can.
Running in Moldova means exploring the town — finding a new path in the fields, a new way the streets connect, a John Deere tractor store on the outskirts of Stauceni, or beautiful hidden houses and views you might have otherwise missed. It means seeing the town from a new angle every day.
Running in Moldova means listening to music — laughing at some songs, getting pumped to others, and mostly being grateful for the only steady stream of English you’ll hear the whole day.
Running in Moldova, for me, means that already I’m making positive changes towards becoming a better version of myself, a version that runs, that self-motivates, that enjoys being alone, and most importantly someone who relaxes and enjoys the moment.
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