Lance & Megan's Blog

Adventure on the road


Traveling is not complete without some kind of adventure. Although I have to say, I don’t necessarily go looking for it all the time, but it is fun once you’re in the midst of it!

The scene

While in Cahul, Moldova visiting Lance, we made a “short” trip to pick up his leader in Odessa, Ukraine. It was supposed to be short but the fog and ice slowed us down. We arrived to a sunny Odessa picked up Kyle, dropped off someone else and were on our way. Despite being pulled over by police our trip home was uneventful… except for one stop.

The GPS had led us to Odessa on one road, but for whatever reason, decided to take us back by a different road. It was a bad road, we thought about marking it in the GPS as the Never-Go-Down-This-Road road, but I think we forgot. It was like we had entered onto Mars without a landrover. Or maybe it was a remnant of a mine field littered with holes, potholes to be exact. I know roads can be bad in Ukraine, but this was hardly even a road. We kept thinking it would get better at every turn, but it never did. The fact that we saw less and less cars should have told us something but we were busy chatting until Lance finally said “we got to get off this road!”

We looked at the GPS and saw that we were basically traveling next to the road we took in the morning. There were no roads apparently connecting them. Lance just decided to take the first left that he came to, we had come to desperation out of concern for the car. So we took a left.

It was a slightly better road, a little more deserted, but was a degree better than the previous road from Mars. It led us into a little village where it seemed the road ended. Great. We looked around, asked some villagers who directed us a different way. This led us to the outskirts of a different village. We were traveling on what reminded me of a dike between two fields. We were just driving between some fields in the middle of no where. No. Where. This is where it got a little too adventurous.

We saw another road closer to the field that looked better so we thought we would just go down off this crazy dike road and continue to the road ahead… what? what’s wrong? Why aren’t we moving? Ack! It’s mud… no it’s worse, it’s clay!

Yep, we turned off a perfectly good road for a deceptively muddy road and got stuck. We tried for a good 20-30 min to get out, spraying the car with mud/clay all over. We were quite the sight. As I noted the fuel gauge bordering empty and the sun nearing the horizon I began to determine which house looked the friendliest and might allow some strangers to stay the night with them. Lance and Kyle decided to go ask a villager if someone had a tractor they could use to pull us out.

Lance trying to get the clay out of his wheel well.

Don’t be fooled by the road’s smooth appearance…

Praise the Lord they found one! The tractor was slipping all around as well but eventually managed to tow us out. The man who had towed us out was a pig farmer, with him was his brother, dad, neighbor, son, and neighbor kid. We were a spectacle. They enjoyed the spectacle so much they invited us over for homemade wine made with red and black pepper. Typical Ukrainians, always ready for guests and hospitality.

We muddled through the mud to their farm. As we rounded the corner, I saw them defuzzing a pig they had just roasted. The man brought out a pitcher of wine and one cup. His brother (or neighbor I kept getting confused) downed a glass in one gulp. He filled the glass again and gave it to Kyle. Kyle finished his glass, the man poured another glass and handed it to me. I weigh like half the weight of these guys and I had not eaten much that day, I cautiously took the glass and took tiny sips until I had finally finished the glass. I was proud of my accomplishment.

At this point, they brought out some  food. Since they were pig farmers they brought out pig skin, just a big ole flap of pig skin. It had been roasted, but was not crunchy or hard, just sort of a grey rubbery consistency. Luckily, it did not have much of a flavor ,just chewy, really chewy. Then there were some nice little meat patties, I like meat patties, can’t go wrong with those. Then there was this sort of triangular shaped jellyish-looking meat thing. Not sure what to call it. It was made with pork meat and ground up pig skin. It had a slimy jelly texture, reminded me of a JELLO jiggler with meat and pig skin. This also did not taste that bad, I just kept thinking “JELLO jiggler” and swallowed it.

I was offered another glass of wine which I took but drank even slower than before. I managed to finish it, but when they offered me another glass I had to decline, after accepting two glasses I was sure they would not be offended if I refuse the third glass. We chatted for a while longer about the farm, they gave us a tour, we talked about what we were doing here, and Christmas. They were happy to help and refused our monetary offering. We drove off in our clay covered car just as the sun was about to set. It was a fun adventure indeed but I will think twice before turning on seemingly smooth dirt roads!

I went to a Moldovan wedding…


I went to a Moldovan wedding, that is a wedding in the quaint little country of Moldova. My dear friend, Ruslan, was getting married. (Ruslan was staff here in Ternopil, you can read my staff bio on him here.)

I met Lance the day before and together we attended our first Moldovan wedding. It all started at the church, actually the festivities started at 6 in the morning when Ruslan’s mom and sister got up to do the kids hair and then go and have theirs done, but I was asleep for all that. The church service was at 10 and was part of the normal Sunday morning service. The church had their worship time and then as soon as the music ended they brought out the arbor and flowers. It was really much like a typical church wedding just set in the middle of the church service. They said their vows, had communion, were prayed over by the pastor and the church and that was that. Nothing huge, beautifully simple.

The happy couple

Exchanging vows

The real party began later at the reception which began at 6. Moldovans like to dance… a lot. Everyone dances, no excuses, there’s no reason good enough to not dance. You started the night by giving a blessing, flowers, or gift to the happy couple and then get your picture taken with them. Then you dance while you wait for everyone else to do the same thing. We finally sat down to eat at 7ish. Moldovans like to eat… a lot, especially at weddings. There was so much food.

Food on the horizon

Fellowship and food

There were multiple meat platters, chicken with mushrooms, sardines, veggies, salads, salted fish, holodets (meat jelly), bread, zucchini rolls, cabbage rolls, mamaliga (a Moldovan dish), fruit, candy, cake, crepes, canned mushrooms, stuffed chicken… it just never ended! This all came out in stages through out the night, stacking up plate upon plate. The cake was finally cut around midnight and then more desserts came out around 1 in the morning.

Dancing the food away!

And then we danced so we could keep eating more and keep ourselves awake. Moldovans have several traditional dances, one is similar to a waltz/salsa, the other pictured above is a circle dance that is a basic grapevine step. Easy to learn and enjoy. All of Ruslan’s friends and family were out dancing, I danced with his dad, his uncle kept calling me out onto the floor, his sisters danced every dance… there was nothing weird about it. You must dance at a wedding. I even got Lance to dance 🙂

Couples dance

Some unique things about the evening were that many people had prepared a song to sing for the couple. It is normal to prepare something to present the couple at the reception. His sisters also prepared a little dance to show everyone. There were games to be played by everyone. We had to spell out their names using separate letters that people were holding, they played a game with the couple asking questions on who would be responsible for what. They had their backs to each other and held up the corresponding shoe for you was responsible for something. Really funny.

Playing games

The night ended with everyone in attendance standing up and saying a blessing or wish for the couple. They did this as they gave them a money laden envelope. It was a great way to end the night and hear what everyone had to say. The couple got to hear from everyone. This would be a great tradition to have in the states.

The wedding began to break up around 2ish. Lance and I stayed to help clean up and gather the food up in bags. The couple was there until the end too. I finally fell into bed at 3 in the morning, having been thoroughly exhausted from my first Moldovan wedding. It was a wonderful experience and I’m so glad I made the trip. Ruslan was glad we made it as well.

Lance and I at the wedding

Winter in Ukraine


Just thought I would post a few pictures of what winter looks like here. Pretty much I can sum it up in one word… BEAUTIFUL!

Through the park

A frosty church

A view of the city

Christmas tree in the city center weathering a blizzard

People say “you’ll get tired of the snow.” Wet icy blankets they are, I love the snow and I have not grown tired of it! Bring it on! I want to wade through it, dive into it, throw it around and have some to spare. We only get it 4 months out of the year here so what’s to complain about? 🙂

Pointy, shiny, pointy
Hanging precariously