Well, it is the last day of the year and this is my last post on the blog. I wanted to wait a few days to reflect on my stay in Chisinau.
First, let me tell you about my departure. I left on December 20 and flew to Vienna with no problem, but ended up being in Vienna about 24 hours rather than the planned 30 minutes. My onward flight was to Heathrow was cancelled at the last minute. It took about 3 hours to get my luggage off of that flight and into a nearby hotel. There were thousands of bags by the baggage carrousels and probably close to that many people milling around trying to find an available flight. Many passengers were stranded in Vienna and many were sleeping in the airport, but I decided to book a room in a nearby hotel for a night or two. At 5:00 a.m. the next morning, I lined up with many others to find out about rebooking a flight. After several hours in several different lines, I was booked on a morning flight on the 22nd-so faced another day in Vienna. My flight from Heathrow to Detroit was scheduled to leave the morning of the 22nd, so I knew it'd be impossible to make that flight.
After returning to the hotel room for a few hours, I then returned to the airport to see if any progress was being made. About 1:00 p.m. I talked to an agent about a flight scheduled to leave Vienna for Heathrow in the afternoon so I would have a chance on catching my flight to the USA. He said I might be able to try standby so bring my luggage and come back around 4:00 as the flight was to leave at 5:15 p.m. I arrived at the counter and talked to a new agent at about 3:45 p.m and was handed a standby ticket. My luggage would be loaded on the plane and offloaded at carrousel #1 if I did not make it. I went to the gate and through security and waited. About 30 minutes before scheduled departure, all the standbys--about 10--were called and we received tickets to fly to Heathrow on the 21st. I arrived on time, checked into my hotel that I booked 4 months earlier (planning to stay for 2 nights) and got something to eat. The next morning-the 22nd, my flight was on time and I even arrived in Detroit early. I felt very very fotunate to be on that flight! After about 2 hours there, I caught the commuter plane to Kalamazoo where Alma met me at the airport.
A day or two before leaving, I received an e-mail from Malina Dumas, a young Fulbright researcher, seeking to set up a dinner for departing Fulbrighters. The tenative schedule was too late for me, but she agreed to change it to Sunday evening . Only Malina and Rod and I could come, but I still think of how thoughtful Malina was in arranging for one last get together. I made a number of good friends while in Chisinau includng Fulbrighters like Malina and Judithanne, university colleagues like Aurelia and Alexandru and Elena and Helen, friends like Michael, Rali and Rich, Sandy and Andy, Dennis, Slav, Natasha, Natalia and others. I don't have photos of all of them for this posting, but many of them are here and some of my earlier photos showed the others.
I met many students through my presentations and quite a few asked questions and had kind words to say to me. The people I met in Chisinau are wonderful people who helped me to come to know more about Moldova. I'll never forget them.
Finally, I'm includng a couple photos of my home. It is where I started this venture and of course where I have returned to. I hope to do some collaborative work with a couple of the professors I met and will of course seek to inform others in this community and beyond about Moldova and its people! I wish each of you the very best for 2011 and pray for peace throughout the world!
Fulbrighters Malina and Rod
Dennis and me near Stephen CM statute
Alma on our frozen lake with our home in background