And so back to Fladungen.
My project was originally supposed to end in late September. It turned out that we had extra money -- a fair bit of it, actually. The previous Chief of Party, the guy I replaced, had been pretty frugal. (Actually way too frugal. He'd let several key personnel go, and the project was several hundred thousand dollars under budget.) So I was able to get a "no-cost extension" and stretch the project nearly to Christmas.
But everything must end. So now I'm back in Bavaria, looking out at our snowy back yard (actually not that snowy; it's an unseasonably warm December) while Claudia teaches English spelling to the boys at the kitchen table.
Odds and ends:
We all drove back to Germany in November, and then I flew back for the last month of the project. So I was rattling around alone in our house for a month. That was interesting. Got a lot of reading done, got more sleep. Lonely, though.
In my final week I did finally get to Tiraspol, in Transnistria. Maybe I'll do a post about that.
The project... was a project. I think it ended well. If you're a business paying taxes in Moldova, or a person trying to start and register a new business, hopefully your life will get a little bit easier. Everyone seemed pretty happy, and the US Ambassador came to our final event and made a brief speech. It's hard for me to be objective about this stuff, you know? Too close to it. But, yeah, seemed like a good project.
I had a Dungeons and Dragons campaign running for ten months, pretty much the whole time I was in Moldova. Six players, all Moldovans. They got up to tenth level. I've been playing D&D on and off for like thirty years now, you know? And I still like it. It was a good group, and I'll miss them.
We've been homeschooling the kids nonstop since March. By "we" of course I mean Claudia. (I did take over for two weeks when she went off to the US.) She's done a really good job -- the first couple of months were very stressful and difficult, but then they found a groove, and today the kids are well ahead of the curve in reading, and doing pretty well in math, writing and other stuff. On one hand, that's great. On the other, it's leading to some complications, because homeschooling is Not Permitted here in Germany.
Our rented house in Chisinau was quite a bit bigger than our house here in Fladungen. So we're feeling a little cramped just now. (The house in Fladungen does have a very large yard, but that's not so helpful in midwinter.) Claudia is particularly missing the large attic room, which was very suitable for teaching. I liked the little pool-and-fountain in the front yard... when we first moved to that house, I thought it was really cheesy, but I found that I liked the sound of it coming in through the window on a summer afternoon. Also, we put fish in it, and it was astonishingly soothing to sit on the edge of the pool and watch them for a few minutes.
For a while earlier this month it looked like we might be going to Ulaan Baator, Mongolia. That seems to have fallen through. Which is common enough in this business -- something seems likely, even imminent, and you get very worked up about it and start packing, and then it just doesn't happen. It's happened to us before, and very likely will again.
I liked Chisinau. I never fell in love with it, quite, but I liked it just fine. Friendly people, and the center of the city is lovely. And you can get mail there -- order a package from amazon and it'll show up a few days later. (Very much not true in, for instance, Armenia.) In some ways we never really engaged with the place because we were never more than seven months away from leaving... we arrived in March, the project was ending in September, and we didn't get the extension until summer. So we never got deeply involved in the city or the expat community. If we go back, we'd surely try to settle in more. But anyway, we liked it well enough.
Will we go back? Well, that's very much an open question just now. USAID dropped the RFP (Request for Proposal) for the new project about two weeks ago. This was, from our POV, probably the most obnoxious possible moment... a month or more earlier and the bids would be in before I was done with the project, a month or more later and I would probably have been committed to something else. But now my employer is bidding on the new project, so they want me to stick around. Bids are due at the end of January, and USAID typically takes between 2 and 6 months to make a decision. (Though it can sometimes go longer. Much, much longer.) So we're probably looking at a bid award in... oh, I would guess May or June. Which means we may be hanging in suspense for the next six or seven months. That's very typical in this line of work, but that doesn't make it any less annoying.
Anyway: we're done with Chisinau, for now, and back in Germany. Everyone is healthy, I have some sort of employment, and Christmas is the day after tomorrow. So.