Thu 22 Oct 2009
By Dennis Polhill, 1997
The fall of the Berlin Wall on the other 9/11 … November 9, 1989, symbolized a blow against repression and on behalf of liberty. Eastern European Communist dictators subsequently fell in weekly succession. The USSR was composed of 15 “independent” Republics (When Lenin wrote the Soviet Constitution, the American Civil War had been relatively recent. Lenin wrote his constitution to avoid similar events among his Union members, pledging that each republic to join the Soviet Union would remain independent and free to leave at their pleasure. The reality of this promise proved otherwise). In the face of economic turmoil in 1991, Soviet Union President, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to consolidate his power by reaffirming the Soviet Constitution with their first national referendum vote. Discontent among the participants resulted in inconsistencies. Some independent republics refused to participate in the referendum or neglected to schedule the election. Others placed other issues or qualifying conditions on their ballots. In the end, the largest referendum in world history reaffirmed nothing other than the independent republics may be independent after all. Gorbachev was still president, but president of nothing. There no longer was a Soviet Union. The USSR had an aggregate population of 300 million. When the 15 independent republics went their separate ways, Russia remained with a population of 150 million with Boris Yeltsin as its president.
Throughout the remainder of 1991 the Newly Independent States busily adopted new constitutions. Among other things and departing from socialist tradition these constitutions recognized the right of individuals to own property. Government bureaucracies resisted the creation of property rights by roadblocks of all kinds. As time passed, the natives grew increasingly restless asking “The constitution says I can own property. Where is my property?”
The various former Communist states attacked the problem differently. In Russia and Mongolia, having been under communism for over 70 years, there was virtually no living memory of property ownership. Others, such as Czech, had become communist after WW II and the elders remembered the property they once owned. In Czech, anyone who could prove their property ownership prior to confiscation had it returned on Feb. 1, 1993. So by a date-certain all property in Czech was either returned to its original owner, was in dispute because ownership evidence was inconclusive, or there was no claim and the state could dispose of the unclaimed properties by other means. Not knowing how to approach the task, most former Soviet Republics did little or nothing.
By 1996 the rumblings among the masses were noticed by USAID who wisely went to the most obscure piece (Moldova) of the FSU to find the most obscure collective farm (Mayak) where they paid all of the bribes, extortion and outrageous fees to subdivide the farm so every individual could have their own small farm. To grasp the scale of a collective farm, Americans should think of rural Iowa where an entire county would be a collective farm. The county would have a population of 1000 people. About half of the population would be farmers. The other half would be teachers, doctors, mechanics, etc. in a centrally located small town. When the subdividing was done, land titles were issued in a formal ceremony in January 1997. The emotional experience garnered major media coverage throughout the FSU, but none in the U.S.
USAID had proven issuing property to the people was possible. The next goal was to make it repeatable. Doing it a second time was not sufficient. This time USAID wisely refused to pay the bribes, etc., recognizing that the subdividing costs exceeded the property value. If the transaction costs exceed the value of the property, there could never be a secondary market. There would never be another sale after the initial subdivision.
USAID determined to do 70 collective farms, offering contracts paid in U.S. dollars to surveyors who would leave their government jobs to establish their own firms to do the work. Each surveyor would have several farms in their part of the country. The compensation would work out to about one dollar per parcel, which was a little more than a man-day equivalent (comparable to the U.S.). The economy of scale made this practical for the surveyors and workable for establishing a secondary market.
The bureaucracy was not happy with the USAID plan. Their gravy train of bribes, extortion and fees was at risk. When the program was announced one of the government ministers went on national TV demanding that the program be boycotted. Fortunately Paul Revere is alive and well (he just happens to not live in the U.S.). Sergi Gori was a 26 year old surveying instructor who reasoned, “They have lied to us forever about everything. Now they tell us to boycott. Therefore, the right thing must be the opposite of what they say.” Sergi was the first to sign a contract. As soon as there was one leader, there was a second and a third and finally 10 private companies existed. USAID had created a private sector for surveying and consulting engineering in Moldova.
When the wall came down, President Bush created a non-profit organization, CDC (Citizens Democracy Corps). It was a data base of resumes from volunteers. CDC matched resumes to requests for help. I had submitted a resume. The USAID subcontractor, Booz, Allen, and Hamilton, submitted a request for a surveyor who had left his government job to establish his own company as an advisor to the 10 new Moldovan surveying companies. My phone rang. They wanted me to go to Moldova for 2 months to fulfill this purpose. Had I not previously visited USSR, Czechoslovakia, and China, my apprehension would likely have been too great to accept. The diary of my time in Moldova follows.
The successful subdivision of the 70 collective farms in Moldova was of great interest throughout the Former Soviet part of the world. Georgia, instantly copied the Moldova program and was the first country to subdivide all of its collective farms. Ukraine being larger, more bureaucratic, and more corrupt, was still struggling to divide its farms in 2009. Moldova subdivided all of its collective farms defining property for all of its 4 million people. When the project was complete, the market for surveying shrank and several of the 10 surveyor-entrepreneurs went in different directions. One of the 10 businesses failed. At least two did collective farm subdividing in other countries. One used his surveying profits to buy a restaurant. One bought a prime piece of real estate in his town center and built an office building. Several serviced the secondary market for land transactions. Sergi relocated to his home town and established a chicken processing business.
Each collective farm elected both a Mayor and a President, both elected by the same population. The President of the collective farm managed the farming. He decided what crops would be planted in which fields, when they would plant, fertilized, irrigated and harvested and which workers would go to which fields on which days. The Mayor managed the remainder of the collective farm activities: doctors, teachers, mechanics, etc. The subdivision process was complicated by the fact that the people knew which parts of the collective farm were most productive. So a complex land fertility index system was established so those who received less productive land would get more land. Because wine is so important to the Moldovan culture, each farmer received 3 parcels: tillable land, orchard, and vineyard.
Non-farmers received a “garden plot.” Many of these garden plots turned into building lots, as they eagerly sought escape from city tenement life. In other words, where suburbs had previously not existed because the state prevented it, given a modicum of freedom the people busily invented suburbs. I witnessed the same thing in Cancun, Mexico. There, with a rented car, in addition to the normal tourist sights, I drove away from the beach as far as the road went. There, just like the people in Moldova, people were busily busting their butts to build single family dwellings from nothing. No money, no tools, no vehicle … carrying a couple of brick on their back for miles to add it to THEIR home.
Once the Moldovan farmers had their own land, they could make their own choices. Some would sell to send their child to college or lease to their neighbor, or farm it alone. In many cases they chose to re-collectivize, working together to operate one large farm, often under the leadership of the former president of the collective. About half of the farmers in each collective chose to go this route, the one they knew best. Each individual still had title to his land and could leave or sell at his sole discretion. Mongolia privatized its collective farms by creating an enterprise for each collective farm with the same boundaries and functions as the original collective farm … and each farmer then received ownership (or stock) shares in the enterprise.
I often relate stories of my personal experience in Moldova of how socialism injured the culture, the work ethic, the morals, and more, but have been derelict in not documenting these for future reference by others.
Apples: The one I have told the most often is about apples. When communism collapsed, so did the food distribution systems. So a farmer had a pile of apples he had harvested and says to me, “My apples will rot.” I reacted the same as every American I have told this story to by saying, “I don’t see a problem. Throw them on a truck and take them to town. Problem solved. Better yet, buy up some more apples, load them on a barge and take them to Istanbul and make even more money.” Farmer: “I could never get permission to do that.” The reaction of every American: “These are my apples. No one better get in the way of me selling them.” How is it that an American instantly knows the solution and no Moldovan does? The story exposes a corrupting influence of socialism on the culture. People are afraid to make decisions and to take action.
Peace Corps: Conceptually I think the Peace Corps is a good thing. But one has to question how the U.S. uses and manages it when one observes what I saw in the field. A couple examples follow.
Central Planning: I was tasked to attend a meeting. One of the presenters was a Peace Corps volunteer. After making several idiotic statements such as there no longer being any fish in the oceans, he responded to a local question about how Moldova should fix its economy. The Peace Corps volunteer commented, “You need more central planning.” Well, former Communists may not know much, but I will go out on a limb here and suggest central planning is one thing they know is wrong. This adds up to at least two massively misleading comments in one short presentation. If the Peace Corps is dispatched to help people, volunteers should know enough to ‘first do no damage’ … and try not to say anything when they don’t know anything. Moldovans are economically poor and not many of them will ever have the opportunity to visit the ocean to learn that they were misled.
Propaganda: I’m not remembering the details of how this came to happen. I was out in some remote part of Moldova, probably visiting one of the surveyors and there was a local NGO (non government organization) to which had a veteran Peace Corps volunteer had been assigned and with whom I was to meet. The telephone system in Moldova was unreliable but a meeting was finally set up. I arrived at the appointed time, 10:00 am. The guy was not there. After a time the NGO manager tried to phone him. Finally someone was sent to retrieve him. When he appeared, he demonstrated perhaps the worst attitude problem I have ever observed. He was obviously sleeping in intentionally to avoid meeting with me. He joined PC after serving in the U.S. military and had a prior PC assignment in Africa and he was in his second tour in Moldova. Evidently his only job with the NGO was to keep their two desktop computers working, so he probably did not put in very many hours … making the meeting with me a big imposition on him. Early in our exchange his problem was revealed so I got him outside the office so fewer of the locals could listen to his rants. Basically, he had adopted the belief that the Peace Corps should not be in Moldova because unlike Africa, Moldova had electricity part of the day. He called the PC presence in Moldova “propaganda.” Right or wrong on this point, Peace Corps volunteers are representatives of the U.S. (supposedly ambassadors of goodwill) and convey more by attitude, outlook, and behavior than anything they can do physically. This guy was out of his mind and probably should have been terminated. Where was his supervisor and why did they allow this negative individual to damage both the U.S. and Moldova by his presence?
Overhead Cost: Early after my arrival in Moldova, many of the new surveyor entrepreneurs were assembled for dinner so they could meet each other and gain some confidence in the project they were about to undertake. My assignment was to stay close to Peter, probably the most entrepreneurial of the surveyors and probably the strongest leader. Peter was a realist and expressed his fear, “If the communists come back, we will be the first to be hanged.” I assured him that could not happen. Because of how the seating worked out, Peter and I ended up with 2 translators. When we got into more of a business discussion, I noticed difficulty when I used the word “overhead cost.” The translators talked to each other and in the end Peter had a blank expression. I knew we had not communicated. My office was a bull pen with about 12 people: 6 translators, 3 surveyors (They were the big picture surveyors, not the contractors. These were probably the 3 most technically competent surveyors in Moldova), me and a few others. I went to the head translator and said, “I think there is a problem translating the word ‘overhead cost.’” Everyone went to the other side of the room and formed what looked to me like a football huddle. There was lots of noise and activity. Finally one of them approached me saying, “We know the meaning of overhead cost. It is when a project does not have enough money.” I said, “No. That is over run.” So, the moral of the story is, socialists understand a project running out of money, but have no clue about indirect costs … non-project related costs … overhead cost. I prepared a hand out defining overhead cost which went to all of the surveyors. It was Managerial Accounting 101 on one sheet of paper.
GPS: One of the 3 main surveyors came over to my desk one day asking, “Is GPS real?” Being the technical expert that he was, I thought the question somewhat odd. I started into explaining as best I could 3 dimensional triangulation and he interrupted saying he knew all of that. He wanted to know whether satellite global position was real and currently functioning technology. Are there really satellites up there that can do this? Wow!! I think GPS requires a fleet of 28 satellites. Both the U.S. and the USSR had their own fleet. But the Soviet GPS system was available only to their military. Meaning not even their most competent technical people were sure that GPS was real. So the correct answer to his question was “yes.” Now, how to prove it to him? Is it fair to conclude that the more secrets a government has from its people, the more authoritarian it is? I think so.
Profits: Under socialism, “profit” is a word that does not exist. So, the survey firms were getting familiar with some new verbiage. I was meeting with one of the surveyors. We had a long discussion about the best way for him to get his phones answered while he was away. He had hired a neighbor lady, who apparently did her job randomly and to her personal satisfaction, not his. Most of his calls were not being answered. Those answered rarely resulted in a message. We talked about him getting an answering machine. His objection was a machine costs more than a person. But the person is not doing the job. So it went. In the U.S. we fire such people. Evidently the lady harbored no such fear. She gets paid; any work she does is a bonus. As we parted he commented on how much money he would make now that he is a private business. Somehow he got it in his head that a 15% profit was automatic … an entitlement. To make him think about it, I said, “Maybe. More than 15% if your get the work done faster and less if you get the work done slower. And if you have to do the work a second time to get it right, your profit might be negative.” There was no evidence of any planning that would help him complete his projects efficiently. By contrast, in a similar discussion with Peter, he brought out a ledger book, where he had set up pages for each project and broken each project into tasks including time and cost estimates for each task. At the end he included a 10% contingency for unexpected difficulties and figured on doing all of the work with 50% of the contract amount … meaning, obviously, his intent was to make 50% profit. My guess: it was more likely that Peter got his 50% than the other guy got his 15%.
Roofs: While visiting the surveyor in northern Moldova and driving thru his town, I observed that the roofs on most of the houses appeared to be made of aluminum. He confirmed my observation. I said, “Aluminum seems to be a very expensive way to make a roof.” He said, “No. The aluminum is free.” As it turns out before the fall of the USSR, there had been an airplane factory in this town with most of the population working in it. The often heard Soviet maxim came to mind, “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” Evidently this means, if you don’t like your wages, you are entitled to steal from your employer. Further, there is apparently no shame to this theft as most of the town had turned their homes into billboards announcing that they are thieves. Again socialism has worked to undermine the moral fabric of the culture on multiple fronts. When the Soviet Union fell, pessimists said it would be a generation for their economies to recover. Before their economies can work, they must have basic morality. Perhaps the pessimists were not pessimistic enough. How do they ever get this entitlement mentality and the immoral behavior that goes with it out of their thought process?
Street Sweeping: Many mornings I went jogging about 6 am and the streets were filled with hundreds of people sweeping the leaves by hand from the streets and sidewalks. Finally I asked Tonya (my translator) about this. First, why does this need to be done daily. Second, why not get the workers real brooms (instead of the thatched twig brooms they use) to be more efficient. Third, why not do it with a machine. She said with a straight face, if they did it more efficiently, those people would be without jobs. I said, no they would be free to do other work. She did not grasp my point. Socialism had deprived her of an understanding of the importance of the individual and the value an individual can contribute to society.
CIA: Each evening I walked down to the park to buy ice cream. One night one of my translators was there with her boyfriend, an attorney working with us to write Moldova’s first land code. I bought them ice cream. Sitting on a park bench, they finally got up the nerve to ask the question that had been bothering them. “Everyone says that the CIA tells the Americans here what to do.” Me: “Two things about that. First, thank you for having the comfort with me to ask the question. And, second, by asking the question, that tells me you don’t understand Americans very well. If the CIA did that, every American I know would instantly do the opposite of what they are told to do.” I left them to ponder. For me it was one more example of the authoritarian state imposing on its people and beating them down (subjugating them) to the point that they don’t know any longer what is true or not true. The corrupting influence of socialism has struck again.
Students: After many trips to the park and near the end of my stay, a group of 5 or 6 college students recognized me as a regular and approached as I enthusiastically ate my ice cream. They asked to confirm what they already knew … I was American on short term stay. They asked 3 simple questions about America which I answered as best I could and they summarily departed. I would have preferred to chit-chat longer. First they asked about Americans speaking second languages. I said there was essentially none (most folks here speak 5 or so languages. Not so much as a product of American being ignorant, but as a product of the countries being small and close … so they gain exposure from a young age). To the extent that there is a second language, it would be Spanish and I guess that 5% of Americans can speak it. Next they asked about race. They wanted to know how many blacks there were in America. I didn’t know but guessed it was less than 20% (the correct number is near 12%). They were shocked … probably because of sports events and entertainment they have seen on TV. They thought the U.S. was majority black. I don’t recall the third questions, which tells me it is a good thing to be writing some of this down.
Orange Juice: There were other volunteers besides me and the Peace Corps. These tended to be business people trying to do what they could to help. Most would come for a shorter time (more typically 2 weeks) and work with a single company in an industry with which they had experience. Factories were now called “enterprises.” The same people worked at them with the same management structure as under communism, but ownership had been transferred from the state to the people via a voucher system which ended with people owning shares of stock. I had met another American on his way home as I arrived. He had set up the Moldovan stock exchange and advised me to go look. I did and the guard was about to harass me until I said “Americanski” and then I had my run of the place and took some photos. It was a large room with 50 or more computer stations. But no people were there; nothing was happening; no stock was being traded. Because the stock was not paying dividends, it had no value and no one had the incentive to speculate and trade. I always wondered whether someone could buy all of the worthless stock for all of the worthless companies for peanuts and just sit on it … or change the incentives so people actually started to do their jobs. Back to orange juice … another volunteer I met was assigned to help an orange juice factory. We met 3 or 4 times. He was very frustrated and did not know what to write in his final report. The orange juice factory could not make money. It could not generate enough revenue to pay its people. So they paid them in boxes of orange juice … which made the black market problem worse … and further damaging the tax revenue stream needed to fund the government. Under communism there was no sales department and no marketing department, but they had 30 or so people in accounting calculating what the fee should be for a box of juice. The factory produced 2 sizes: 400 milliliters and 500 milliliters. Evidently, no one ever thought that the consumer might prefer a family size or anything else … but this is socialist culture, so not to worry, no consideration for consumers is given or expected. I suggested that maybe he should recommend that half of the accountants become sales representatives … even though the personality types for those two functions tend to be opposites. Thus, this recommendation would be convenient and compassionate (not firing the excess accountants), by design it was high risk, meaning even though the organizational structure would be improved, chances of success due to personality miss-match would likely be a problem. Under communism everyone’s job is safe, even the manager. So the idea of the manager holding an underperforming worker accountable or being accountable himself is another cultural issue. When the state privatized the enterprises, it kept 10% of the stock shares. If they really wanted their factories to start performing, they could divest that stock. It is wrong for the state to hold stock anyway. State minority stock holdings diminish the value of both the enterprise and all stock shares. The state could issue minority shareholder rights to itself and by so doing control all decisions with just a 10% share. One means of divesting could be to offer the 10% as a performance incentive for the CEO … or it could be a discounted purchase offered to the CEO based on performance of the enterprise … a stock option. I don’t know what was recommended.
Agricultural economics: Another volunteer was a Rhode Island university professor. He showed me the teaching aids he had created to use with his farmer-students. Unbelievable: It was first grade stuff. If you plant corn, seed cost this, fertilizer costs this, yield is this, sales price is this and revenue minus expenses is net. Repeat the exercise for wheat and beans etc. and then the farmer can make a rational choice about which crop to plant.
Opportunities: The last time I met with all of my surveyors before I came home, I offered them a challenge. Knowing how inept the average CEO was in Moldova, I suggested the room was filled with some of the best entrepreneurial talent in Moldova, because they had incurred expenses, they got the job done and they made money. How many others in Moldova have this experience? My parting homework assignment: go home and read the front page of your local newspaper and identify a minimum of 5 business opportunities that you might have interest in. I don’t know that they did their homework. Most of them seem to be doing OK now from the little I know. Peter is the only one who has managed to learn English. He now has email and is my only remaining contact in Moldova. Because of ongoing corruption in Moldova, he is considering immigrating to Czech.
Mass transit: Chisinau had trolleys. The fare was 1 cent (U.S. equivalent). But this is a socialist culture, so no one paid, except for the ignorant tourists (silly me). Probably the most thriving industry in the country was mobility. Vans could not be imported fast enough. They had invented the jitney industry (outlawed in the U.S. because it is more efficient than buses). A jitney is a van that runs a semi-fixed route, picking up and dropping off customers at the customer’s convenience. The fare was $1.00 per trip, but people willingly pay 100 times as much as the trolley because it got them where they need to go, when they need to get there. Perhaps jitneys are a concept that can be legalized someday in the U.S. … more mobility for less cost and at higher value to the consumer.
Corruption: Moldovans always had questions about America. During an interruption to one of the surveyor meetings, someone asked. “How can we ever succeed with this corruption and the Mafia stealing from us?” Those who know me would be shocked that I had an accidental astute reply. “Because you know that the U.S. had periods like this in its history (cowboys and Indians and train robbers and prohibition) and the U.S. made it thru successfully and is now better because of that experience, tells you there is an end possible. And because you know this history, you can get thru this period in your history faster than the U.S. was able to.”
Oklahoma City: In a similar setting the question came up about the Oklahoma City bombing. I said, “There are crazy people everywhere.” It was fun to watch them look at each other, starting to nod and smile. Every family has a crazy cousin.
Race Riots: Another time the locals were shocked to learn that the U.S. race riots were real. Communists had made a big point of these to illustrate the evils of capitalism. They said, “Because they lied to us so often, we never believed the race riots were real.” Amazing!! The lesson from this for the U.S. is our government should lie less in order to sustain credibility.
Ethnic Friction: I often practiced my “buna dimi natsa” (good morning in Romanian) with the locals. Frequently someone would correct me with, “Oh, he’s ‘Russian’ and cannot understand you.” Well, “Russian” did not mean he was Russian. Rather, it meant he was not Moldovan, which in turn meant he was not welcome and did not belong here. Many of these “Russians” were born here and simply never learned to speak Moldovan. In speaking with a tourist translator, she mentioned she was Bulgarian. I said, that is very interesting; how long have you lived in Moldova? She said, “300 years.” By that way of thinking not many of us are Americans.
May 11, 1997 – Sunday – 9:30 am … Left Denver on Delta Airlines, changed in Cincinnati. Laid over 5 hrs. in Frankfurt, Germany. Spoke with German and Lituanian on airplane. Arrived Frankfurt 6:00 am. Tried internet phone in Frankfurt airport … it failed to send my emails, but did not fail to take my money.
May 12, 1997 – Monday – 11:15 am … I departed Frankfurt to Budapest on Malev (Hungarian Air). Arrived 1:00 pm. 50 to 100 soldiers were guarding Budapest airport. I took a taxi ($13.00) to second airport to catch the connecting flight. I tried to speak with young Hungarian mother with 2 year old daughter returning from L.A. The Hungarian language is different from the Slovak and Romance languages. On same flight was U.S. West cell phone system man from Tennessee going to Budapest. He gave me melatonin to help with sleep. They were putting up cell phone towers and mounting a cell phone on the walls of the homes, skipping the land-line step. Moldova Airlines was a turboprop. They served much wine and Champagne and bread with a meal. I sat with the head of the Moldova Chamber of Commerce. I was charged extra for my suitcase. I arrived in Chisinau at 6:00 pm. Irina of VOCA and a driver picked me up. She graduated high school in Kansas City. At my apartment I met Ludmila, who was with the Center for Private Business Reform (CPBR). In transit I also met Jerry and Julie Mosher and Joe Saunders from Georgia. They were building a Baptist Church.
May 13, 1997 – Tuesday – 5:00 am … Up. Jogged 33 minutes to McDonalds and back. 8:45 Irina arrived. We walked to the BAH (Booz, Allen, Hamilton) office. Met Bob Cemovich (boss), Al Slipher (second in command) and other BAH staff. My office is with five translators and three surveyors. Tanya (head translator) talked the most. Another American engineer will arrive soon to help with the project. Had lunch in office for $1.60. Veal, noodles, bread and coke. I did not eat cucumber salad. Mid-afternoon apple juice. Igor set up my computer with email address and delivered my emails (8). The office is open 24-7 hours with security guard. Too late to change money. Banks close at 6:00. Phoned Ludmila and Joe Saunders – Emailed Debby and Brian Propp (a friend with state department stationed in Kiev, Ukraine) and Doug Till (writing an Independence Institute paper).
May 14, 1997 – Wednesday – Today was a big day. I was the first one in the office at 8:00. Did some emails. Changed $100 to Lei. Met Steve, U.S. attorney working on enterprise sales. He was very frustrated. The government does not want the people to own property. He says the entire program is at a standstill. Clearly, the most important thing that needs to be done is to move the government out of the way (sound like the U.S.). I spoke a long time with Tonya, chief translator, regarding resistance to privatization. She is 27 and seems to understand markets. Evening was a dinner. I should have had my camera – a historical event. Several (about 5) of the survey firms were present. The purpose was to let them know that they are not alone. They are being pressured and intimidated because they are staking out the land for private ownership. I was assigned to sit with Peter from Cahul (the south). BAH is concerned that he is undertaking too many farms and will lose control. Peter is a university professor with two sons. One plays college basketball. Peter seems very competent. Part of the reason he is getting much work is that the farmers are coming to him. It seems that he is effective at the difficult task of reconciling disputes among the farmers so that the subdivision and privatization may move ahead. Once the farmers agree among themselves, the power of the government officials to frustrate the process is gone. Peter understands the need for property rights and said he “would be the first to be hanged if the communists returned.” I said it was impossible … but his concern illustrates the fear and pressure the surveyors are under. I could barely contain tears many times as we spoke. Who knows what they are going thru, and how important it is, not just to their freedom but to the freedom of all people everywhere?
May 15, 1997 – Thursday – Ran again … every day so far … 30+ minutes. Got to office at 8:30. Emailed attached file to Doug Till and suggested to Dave Bishop that he contact John Semmons. Bob Cemovich took me to the weekly embassy meeting with 6 or 7 U.S. entities cooperating on various aspects of privatization. A good, but too short, talk with Bob in the car. He was impressed with my Marshall Plan research of 1993 (not published). We will do lunch Saturday. At noon I went to VOCA office and met the people there: Irina, Elaina, Visili, Sergi, Giani. VOCA will pay me $10/day and they gave me $200 in advance. BAH will pay the same. … So I will probably take more money home than I brought. I went to Ukraine Embassy for a Visa to visit Ukraine, but they are open only 10 to 12 on M, W, & F. Went on Crivoca Winery tour. It is like a city 200 meters (600 feet) underground. Blocks of limestone are carved from underground to use for building and the remaining tunnels are the winery. The tunnels are 120 km (75 miles) in length. 1,000,000 bottle so wine are stored here. We were forced to try 12 different kinds and they gave two bottles as samples to each person. I spoke at length with Valery Efimov (CPBR) about the problems of the privatization program. Vouchers were issued to all citizens and exchanged at auctions for stock in 1500 companies. Some stock and some companies are still held by the state. Very few companies pay stock dividends and because the state has some stock in every company, it wants veto power over decisions. Mike from MOP (Ministry of Privatization) forced me to drink too much wine. Had dinner with Ludmilla (the VOCA-landlord facilitator). Watched video of Rumanian folk dances. Bed at 11:30.
May 16, 1997 – Friday – Up at 4:00 am – Ran around lake. Wrote in diary. In office at 8:30. Sent emails. Met Rick, the surveyor who just arrived from Florida, not licensed, but a competent hands-on surveyor. Lunch with Rick and Tanya at Turkish restaurant. A long meeting before and after lunch regarding the steps to convey land. Salary for entry level teacher is 80 Lei (what 3 of us paid for lunch today) = $17/month. Office has wine and cognac after work. Drank too much … again … there seems to be a theme here.
May 17, 1997 – Saturday – Overslept. Up at 8:00. At office at 9:00. More too-long meetings before and after lunch regarding coordinate systems, aerial photos, maps, and other procedures. Lunch with Bob C. (Mexican) making some goal decisions. Talked again about Marshall Plan. I will give talk to Moldovan attorneys about term limits and petitions. I will go on a bunch of 2 day trips to visit the fledgeling surveying companies and evaluate their procedures. Left at 4:00. Bought a 2 liter bottle of Coke for 9 Lei. I got an ice cream bar for 1.6 Lei. I could not find grocery store or bread. Home, nap, CNN (European … I learned more about the impending election in France than any American wants to know). Filtered water and studied history of the one collective farm that has been privatized. Called Deb and Tyler. Bed at 1:00 am.
May 18, 1997 – Sunday. Up at 8:30 am. Ran around lake. Took pictures of apartment. Inventoried the gifts I had brought. Wrote plan on how to approach surveying companies on their business procedures. Ran into Bob from N.C. in the park, listening to band. He and his wife were with 2 other Americans, elderly ladies from Peace Corps. Bob is retired and used to work in finance … and is working with CBPR to help a canning company. Went to circus with Ludmila. Brought a loaf of bread. A big park I walked past had flower vendors side by side (probably more than 50 of them). Called Deb. In bed at 11:00.
May 19, 1997 – Monday – 6:00 am. Ran lake. Many soldiers running also. About 8 groups of 12+. I have been going past the U.S. Embassy to get to the lake. 8:00 at office. Typed memo to Bob.C. Went to Ukraine Embassy again, trying to get them to give me a Visa. Must have a letter of invitation stating purpose. I told them my purpose was to spend tourist dollars there and I knew no one who could supply such a letter. I asked why they were making it so difficult and I might not go. They acted disappointed that I might not go, saying “those are the rules.” Plus, they wanted $50. Maybe it would have been simpler if I offered the $50 first. Later, I changed $100 to lei. Lunch with Sean Carmody, American head of VOCA. Reached David Nolan at Peace Corps. We will try to do dinner next week end. Received 11 emails. Met with Bob C. regarding scope. Studied list of contractors and collective farms, mapping some of the locations. Phoned APFC … Elaine on vacation, spoke with Nancy. Figured out how to check my VM box in Denver. The phones and phone switching system uses the old dialers. So after I’m in the mail box, I switch the phone to “tone.” One of the Moldovan attorneys, Viorelia, turned 25 today. Birthday party at 5:30. I gave 5 lei ($1.00) for her gift. Bob says they find a reason to drink 4 nights per week. Home at 7:30. I walked to grocery store to buy bread, orange juice, vegetable oil, jelly, coke. Asleep at 11:00.
May 20, 1997 – Tuesday – 5:30 am … no running today. Meeting at 7:00 at office to drive to Balti (Moldova’s second largest city and a manufacturing center), where a collective farm was being surveyed. Got back at 10:00 pm. Beers with Rick at Dache Hotel. Home at 11:00. Took 2 cars. Rode with Oxanna and Rick. Met with Mircea Ginju, the surveyor-entrepreneur in Balti area (pronounced “belts”). We looked at his computer and maps. Mircea showed us a Mylar 1:10,000 orthographic map flown in 1987. It shows contours and buildings. Similar maps exist for each collective farm in the country. We had coffee with Mircea. Then we went to the “8 Martie” collective farm associated with the village of Hisnasenii near Cubolta, about 20 km north of Balti. This collective has about 2500 people … 600 retired, 300 children, a school, hospital, 1000 homes, 600 farm workers. We observed Ginju’s field crew surveying a vineyard. Procedures were normal, using 30 year old 30” theodolite and inverted stadia rod. We visited the Primaria (mayor) and president of the collective farm. Both were recently elected as communists in the first ever contested elections. They have lost links to markets and are having difficulty selling their goods. They started building a canning factory but ran out of money. No restaurants for lunch so the school cooks did up some stuff. Lunch went from 1:00 to 5:00. I drank about one tenth of the required alcohol intake which was twice my normal allotment (Evidently, disappointed at my meager alcohol intake, the mayor tried to gain favor by giving me one of the ladies. One would assume they were beyond this level of maturity. I declined his gracious offer in the most diplomatic way possible. I had more drinks). The mayor and the president are torn, but committed to privatization reforms. Back to Balti and more drinks with Ginju and his crew. Finally, we left at 7:00. At the collective also was a representative from MOP (Ministry of Privatization who was paid by CBPR = USAID), Folotorier Pefres, from Socora, even farther north. He pushed hard for a visit to Soroca, MOP. The perspective on this is the sacrifice these people are making for their children. They gave up a level of material security and no freedom so the next generation could have some freedom and opportunity … totally opposite to the U.S. whose policy is to enslave our children with unthinkable debts, taxes and financial burdens.
May 21, 1997 – Wednesday – 6:00 am up and around the lake. Connected with Brian Propp and scheduled lunch Thursday. I got a massage at Dachia Hotel. It was 1 hour for 40 lei = $9.00. She worked hard on beating up my skin but did not do much for the muscles. At the office at 9:00. We discussed the adequacy of Co-Go (coordinate geometry software) program being developed locally. Phoned producer in U.S. – has demo on internet. I located more of the collective farms on the map. I met with Al Slipher about going to survey firms. I met with Vicili Yakub (BAH staff surveyor, Moldovan). Peter from Cahul will be in Friday. 7:00 met Bob and Henrietta Wolbering from N.C. for dinner. I had pork, French fries, bread and wine. Bob is working with a cannery. They have no perception of costs. He gave many stories of pricing stupidity. Like a package of orange juice with 15% more volume priced at 6 times the other package. They mix fixed and variable costs. Excess inventory. Overhead. He had prepared no materials that would be useful for the surveyors. Home at 10:00. To bed at 11:00. Awakened at 3:00 am by the light of the full moon coming in my window.
May 22, 1997 – Thursday – 6:00 am up and around the lake. Confirmed lunch today with Propp. He has a car and will pick me up at the office. More meetings about maps and coordinates. Lunch with Brian at Old City Café … steak and French fries. Discussed Reform Party (this is where Brian and I first met in Colorado) and taxation. His wife, Loella is still in Kiev. His daughters are in Denver. Oldest (20) gets married in July. We will try to do dinner tonight. We will try to meet with Perot when he comes to Denver. After lunch met Sergi Gori, surveyor-contractor. He was the first to sign up, 20 minutes after minister asked all of them to boycott. He is a young professor who works out of his home and has two field crews. I will meet with him again next Thursday. Beers with Bob C., Rick, Allan, Steve, and Joe Murphy. Murphy is helping set up stock exchange. Of the 80 companies, none pay dividends. He is going home due to funding cuts. Bob C. asked for copy of my Marshall Plan research. I went back to office to send emails. I went to park for dinner … ice cream. Bob Wolmering (NC) was out for a walk. We walked together to my place and had wine. Cleaning lady had left flowers. It rained. He went home at 10:00. Propp called for dinner at 10:00 … declined … too late. He was working on press release for container of medical supplies arriving in morning from U.S. military base closing in Germany. To bed at 11:00.
May 23, 1997 – Friday – Mosquito woke me up at 5:00; out of bed at 7:00. No running. Called Debby from office 8:15. Surveyors were in to get paid. I met more of the surveyors. Got schedule commitments for the next 2 weeks. Tonya (the elder of the 2 Tonyas, not the boss-Tanya) will be assigned my permanent translator. I must begin assembling materials for my field visits. Anna (the tall translator) is 20 today, birthday party. Home early and worked on calculating average durations of the 11 work tasks. Lunch with Al, Rick and John. John has a 5 day business course … 1 day of accounting and finance. I will review it with John and try to schedule for the week of June 9. I spoke with Galina. She will try to teach me some Romanian. One day per week for 1 hour for $5.00. Starts Sunday. I will meet Dave Nolan, Peace Corps, Sunday afternoon. Called Debby and Tyler at 1:00 am.
May 24, 1997 – Saturday – Up at 7:00 am. Ran lake … picked up some speed. Finished durations. To office at 9:00. No one was in except a group debating coordinates. Found and read public opinion poll of Moldovans regarding media. Received Kiplinger from Debby by email. Sent emails to Cameryn at the Independence Institute and Anne Campbell, regarding her PhD. dissertation. Lunch with Rick, Gregori Brianu (the lead local BAH surveyor) and John (driver) at El Paso Café. Meeting at 2:00 at CPBR regarding status of 70 farms. Returned to office. Beers with Allan and Rick. Home. Walked to Fidesco (grocery store) to buy bread, cheese, orange juice, cookies, pretzels. Stopped for hot dog and ice cream at park. Walked home a different route … past “the” cathedral. Priests are regularly seen on the streets collecting donations to rebuild the bell towers that the communists demolished throughout Moldova. I made a list of my TV channels, so I would know which language is being spoken on each. Napped; wrote in diary; and snacked on bread and cheese.
May 25, 1997 – Sunday – I was annoyed by a mosquito all night (I bet his name was Dennis). Up at 8:00. No run. Romanian lesson is at 11:00. Galina is the first local to express discomfort with the number of local “Russians.” $5.00. Same time next Sunday. I tried to meet, but could not find, Dave Nolan at the lake. Too many people; a concert. We will do lunch Monday. Sean Carmody, sick, cancelled dinner. Elaina, Sean’s secretary, got a business degree in the U.S. and is studying for a second business degree here. She confirmed that there is no word for “overhead cost,” nor is there any understanding of it. Even her professors have no understanding of it. I wrote some stuff to explain overhead cost to the surveyors. Meet the Press was on TV in the evening but was a rerun from many months prior. It rained constantly from 2:00 pm on. Killed the mosquito. Listened to Romanian language tape. To bed after midnight.
May 26, 1997 – Monday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; 8:30 at office. I immediately started an argument among the locals by asking about “overhead cost.” They finally decided it is when a project budget must be increased. “Indirect costs may be what we call overhead.” Met surveyor #7. Lunch with Dave Nolan and Kelly King of the Peace Corps. Dave is working with non-profits, NGOs (non government organizations). Kelly is on a collective farm helping teachers. She is from Virginia, has been here two years and goes home in August. She goes to the Peace Corps office weekly in Chisinau so she can get a shower. Changed $100 to lei. Bought coke. Another massage by Nina at Dachia Hotel for left lower back pain. Back to office. Robert Mitchell, American attorney who is helping local attorneys write land code, and I had dinner. Back to the office. It was too chilly for a T-shirt. Home at 10:00 and to bed at 11:30.
May 27, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 6:00 am. Slept well; no mosquito; reasonable temperature; no run. To the office at 7:00; woke up security guard. Phoned Peace Corps guy in Cruileni; he will be in office Thursday afternoon so we can stop to talk with him then. Completed a bar chart for surveyors. Left my Marshall Plan file for Bob C. Lunch at office, beef stroganoff. Copied project management manual for surveyors. Talked with NewBizNet about seminar for surveyors. In bed at 11:00.
May 28, 1997 – Wednesday – Awake at 6:00 am; laid in bed thinking about surveyors until 8:00. Organized papers. To office at 10:30. Lunch at office was chicken and mashed potatoes. Met with NewBizNet again. Tanya, head translator, tries to learn 10 new English words each day, so it is a game at lunch to try to stump her. Found a bread place between home and office. Got a loaf of French bread and ate it all. Tanya wants to come to U.S. Reviewed papers for tomorrow.
May 29, 1997 – Thursday – Up before 6:00 am; ran lake; office at 8:00. We headed for Criuleni at 8:30 to meet with Sergi Gori (surveyor) at his office. We discussed his business plan, bar chart, corporate goals, balance sheet, and overhead costs. Lunch with Sergi and his parents. He is 25 was a teacher of surveying. He will succeed. Stopped at the MOP regional office to meet Richard Corey, Peace Corps. He had nothing to offer and thinks the Peace Corps should not be here. PC presence here is “propaganda, not humanitarian assistance.” I gave him a mini-cheerleader speech. I doubt that he is capable of much leadership. We picked up Adrian (computer guy) who we had left with Sergi. Back to the BAH office at 4:30. Home; then to the park for hot dog; phoned Larissa in Moscow and Brian Propp in Kiev. To bed at 11:00.
May 30, 1997 – Friday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; at office at 8:00; did emails. Loretta (USAID) is scheduled to go with us to Orhei; need a bigger car. When she arrived, we learned she could not go; back to plan A. We got to Orhei at 9:30. Vlad Sevcenco and Efim Trajanovsky, partners, were not ready. Vlad seemed to have a good handle on the money. He acted as if he understood “overhead cost.” Vlad had little interest in surveying and is involved in other entrepreneurial ventures. They moved the conversation to marketing. We discussed brochures and statements of qualifications. They want to do GIS conversion work. I left them a Walsh and Associates (environmental engineering firm in Colorado) brochure. They had planned lunch at collective farm and tour of the castle (most of the castles in Moldova had been dismantled during the Islamic occupation). Because we had to be back at 2:00 for a meeting, we had a quick restaurant lunch and skipped the castle tour. I left them a U.S. Atlas and maps of Colorado and Denver. At lunch they wanted to discuss political corruption; I tried to match their stories with mine about the U.S Congress and the need for term limits (I think they won this contest). We got back to the office at 2:30. Did a few emails to home and others. There was a formal dinner at Caacho Restaurant at 7:30 with Loretta, Al, Steve, and Millie (Steve’s wife). Home at 10:00; to bed at 11:00.
May 31, 1997 – Saturday – Up at 6:00 am; at office at 7:00. We picked up Vicili on the way to Cahul. We could see Romania on the other side of the Prut River (the border), but not time or visa to go there … maybe later. We met Nellie, Peter’s wife and technical manager. Peter just executed a 5 year lease for his office at the Institute. It was free in exchange for computer training of students. He already has a bar chart and budgets per task on each project. He has two contracts to survey farms separate from BAH at twice the fee. We got into a deep discussion of overhead. He attended a state sponsored seminar on marketing. He thought it was poorly done because it was from the “old system” perspective. He has 7 employees, including two new engineers. He keeps a daily diary with production rates of each person and crew and weather, etc. He knows whether or not work is getting done. We arrived at 9:30; had lunch at noon; left at 1:00; back in Chisinau at 4:00. We had a nice discussion in the car with Visili and Tonya about Jefferson, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, Marx, Lenin, freedom, etc.
June 1, 1997 – Sunday – Up at 7:00 am; ran lake; good finish; Romanian lesson at 11:00; studied Romanian most of the day; called Debby; listened to sales tapes; took notes for surveyors; went to park for ice cream; bed at midnight.
June 2, 1997 – Monday – Up at 7:00 am; no run; office at 8:00; 22 emails; wrote status report of the first 3 visits; met with NewBizNet about June 11 seminar; brainstormed with Steve about stagnated status of land privatization of land owned by 2400 enterprises (factories). Conclusion: two groups of seven enterprises operate in friendly environments and can proceed to create the seed for a private land market. A market does not exist until there is a second sale. I ran into Diona (translator) and Andre (attorney) holding hands. They are a pair but he won’t say his age because he thinks he is too old for her. We talked about Mafia, parliament, corruption, etc. I bought them ice cream. Finally Diona asked if the rumor was true. “Are the Americans here CIA or coached by CIA?” She would not have asked if she did not know in her heart it to be untrue. Andre was a prosecutor before going to work for BAH and knows Mafia to be real. I met 2 girls (maybe 11 and 8). They spoke a little English. I gave them gum. Elaina from VOCA called and wanted to reschedule lunch. I called Ludmila to discuss Brian Propp job prospect, laundry and CPBR training. Today I started to get a better sense of the animosity between locals and ethnic Russians. It was a brief discussion with Lena about her moving to Moscow … that made things said by others come together (Tonya, Ludmila, Oxanna, etc.). It is not so subtle. The “Russians” are clearly not welcome and they feel it.
June 3, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; record speed; finished status report. Long meeting with Allen. He asked again if I would stay longer. I will consider. He is questioning the foreign policy objective because some programs are working in opposite directions. Anna’s (the tall) entire job is to translate newspaper articles to English. She will give me copies. I met again with NewBizNet. They did not get pricing done. I sent 5 emails (McKenna, Hosken, Merrick, Sellards, Kaufman) about the possibility of subcontracts to local firms. Adrian Cazacu is very interested. I called my vm and Cameryn at the Independence Institute. Re-emailed to Cameryn. Another BAH after-work drinking party. Had one and left. Organized for trip; CNN: McVeigh was found guilty.
June 4, 1997 – Wednesday – Up at 5:00 am; no run; packed for overnight; at office at 7:00; at Mircea Ginju’s office in Balti at 9:00; 2 hour meeting; Mutu (third BAH surveyor) needed to stop at CPBR regional office. We visited a nearby Orthodox Church while waiting for Mutu. It had no chairs and no pews. The people stand for an entire 3 hour service. I took pictures. The priest would not let me ring the bell. On to Floresti to meet with Grigore Ursu. Like Ginju, Ursu was preoccupied with the many activities of running his business. Cazacu did computer training of two employees while we talked. We had chocolate and cokes. No lunch. On to Brinceni to meet with Valentine Gauzin. We arrived at 5:30. He was in a meeting after which he had to go home to get his computer (It was not safe to have it at his office). Here is an example of the ethnic friction: Gauzin was born and raised in Moldova, but because he speaks Russian and not Moldovan he is considered “Russian” and is not welcome in his own country. He considers himself Ukrainian first, partly because the far north tip of Moldova was once part of Ukraine and partly because he feels unwelcome in his country. Under Soviet Union domination, Russian was taught as the first language. The byproduct is 100% of Moldovans speak Russian and 50% speak Moldovan. Moldovan is a dialect of Romanian. Russian and Ukrainian are both Slavic languages and are similar. Romanian is a Roman (Romance) language with many words similar to English, French, Italian, etc. Computer work (installing printer) was cut short when power went out. Went to dinner at 8:00, thinking it would be quick. Power went out again during dinner. We had planned to stay overnight but Tonya was emphatic that it would not be enjoyable so we left for Chisinau at 10:30, arriving home at 2:30. Tonya argued that since we drove half of the night, we did not have to work the next day. I said, no, I am here to get as much stuff done as I am able.
June 5, 1997 – Thursday – Up at 9:00 am; ran lake slowly; dropped a pound to 81 kilos, probably due to less food and alcohol yesterday. I got to the office at noon. I met with the other far north surveyor that we missed on our trip (Marcel). He is young and sharp and split off from Gauzin (partners, now competitors). I resent some emails that may not have gotten thru. Internet access is limited. The system collects them and they go on line once or twice per day and send them in batches. Had dinner at Robert Mitchell’s home with Sean Carmody. Later we went to play pool. Home at 10:00; bed at midnight.
June 6, 1997 – Friday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; office at 8:30; gave Lena $20 for Ukraine Visa. She will bring it back this afternoon. Grigori Brianu (local boss of everything, subordinate to Bob C.) wants to postpone seminar. I will develop a new plan. He wants survey companies focused on technical and production tasks. Beers after work with Joe Murry (his program was cancelled) and Al Slipher. Both have many complaints about U.S. foreign policy objectives. Joe has week off; then new assignment in Bosnia. Al and I discussed Marshall Plan at length. Home at 9:00; called Deb and Tyler.
June 7, 1997 – Saturday – Went to Hinchesti to meet with a survey firm, 2 partners. Back at 1:00; Romanian lesson at 2:00. John, my driver, showed me Chibanu’s house (outgoing MOP head was caught in a scandal), about one block from my apartment. Dinner with Sean Carmody and Nora Dudwick (World Bank) spawned interesting discussion about Moldova. I challenged Sean to offer a solution. Sean is at the end of his 3 year learning curve and is looking forward to leaving. Nora is also working on the farm privatization program and will be here 1 ½ weeks from DC and is fluent in Russian. Her Jewish parents left Ukraine in 1920. She is an anthropologist and will study poverty and hunger on farms. I suggested making the president of the collective farms (soon to be unemployed) the marketing agents for the farmers.
June 8, 1997 – Sunday – 7:30 am left for Ukraine with Oxanna and Valery, her husband, a driver. Got home at 7:30 pm; 3 hr drive each way. At the border they would not let Oxanna cross because her passport had expired. So she got out of the car and walked across, no problem. Coming back I lost count after 10 stops to cross the border (probably close to 14). Oxanna walked across again. There are two borders: Molodova-Transdneister and Transdneister-Ukraine. Transdneistria is the part of Moldova on the east side of the Dniester River. It is a breakaway region, as if Moldova is not small enough, roughly a million people who prefer to be an independent state. Their second choice would be to annex to Ukraine. The least tolerable option to them was to be part of Moldova. There was a mini-civil war here in 1993 that resulted in several hundred deaths with no coverage by the American media. Our first stop was the Black Sea; lots of fat people; 11:30; no one topless. We took a tram to get back up the hill … it did not slow down for boarding … very dangerous. I took 1 ½ rolls of pictures. In a courtyard one group of apartments took up a full city block, with a communal central courtyard where children played and people fixed their cars. There was one entry way to the center; the apartments face the courtyard. We toured past opera house, mayor’s office, Pushkin’s house, several weddings, new port built by Italy in 1992, flee market. We had Cokes and snack … then to parliament, founder of Ukraine (missed the name), Odessa City Limits sign, emissions test, street cleaning, catacombs (freedom fighters hid in the catacombs during WW II … 2000 km (1250 miles) of tunnels under city, service station, water tower, well. Paid them $90 in one dollar bills (what they wanted). I will use the rest of my one dollar bills the next time I change money.
June 9, 1997 – Monday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; OK time; detour to avoid dogs; office at 9:00; worked all day on 18 emails; home at 5:30; massage for 10 lei ($2); hamburger at Turkish restaurant.
June 10, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; office at 8:30; package from U.S. with Independence Institute Issue Paper in need of edits. Bought wine to take to Debby and plastic blocks for Oxanna’s daughter. Not feeling 100%; maybe one of those bugs finally got in. 14 emails; home early; stopped at grocery store for bread and orange juice. Ludmila came over to brainstorm on her job prospects. She left at 9:30. Cleaning lady did not come (a friend died). So, tomorrow I wear twice used socks and shorts … standard procedure for the locals. When we went for the overnight trip to Balti, I was the only one with an overnight bag.
June 11, 1997 – Wednesday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; office at 8:00; met with Bob C. and Al; 10 emails. I will do a status report to send to the survey companies. I am to consider a return trip in November. I met with two of the NewBizNet professors. I went to the National Palace with Ginadi (IESC) and a new batch of American volunteers to see local cultural concert; very interesting; colorful costumes; many violins; lots of yodeling and screeching-type singing; accordion; many people (maybe 3000). Diona and Andre were there. People from the audience took flowers to the performers after each number. A new minister of privatization (MOP) was appointed today (Urie Badir who was part of the agency that audited/investigated Chibanu).
June 12, 1997 – Thursday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; new personal best; late to office at 9:00; took a long time to stop sweating; down to 81 kilos = 178 pounds. Made notes for presentation to attorneys. I received my Issue Paper on I&R from the Independence Institute. I bumped into Mike from Ohio on the street; he was part of Ginadi’s new IESC group. We will meet tomorrow for breakfast. I went on a picture taking circuit: parliament, presidents house, primaria (mayor), sock exchange, embassy, lake, bought shirt for Debby. Ran into American kids – Baptists. I re-read my Issue Paper. I got home at 5:30 and returned to park at 6:30 – Baptists were singing and handing out literature. I met local students on park bench: Mark and Nat. Went to Sean’s; met David and Amy(?). She is pregnant. He is an MBA working on privatization of businesses … stock sales. Home at 10:30; to bed at 11:30.
June 13, 1997 – Friday – Up at 7:00 am; no run; met Mike and Kedwick for breakfast at Dache Hotel … 10 lei = $2 for buffet. They are IESC volunteers. Mike is in bottle production. Kedwick is in corrugated boxes (looking at $6 million investment). Changed $100 in one’s to lei. Breakfast was slices of ham, cheese, salami, boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, cake, bread, apple or prune juice, instant coffee or tea, cottage cheese, corn flakes and other unrecognizable stuff. A new translator, Radu, (the only male) started today. I went to the library to write and to search for English newspapers. Lots of young people studying. I did more writing at home. I went to the park at 6:30 to meet the students from yesterday “Nat” is “Natasha.” Instead of Mark was another Ludmila. We walked to Wam (McDonalds). I think they were too poor to have eaten there on their own and too polite to ask for anything. 3 cokes, 3 French fries, and 3 burgers were 42 lei ($10) … very expensive in local terms. Burger was normal. Fries were better than U.S. Wam looks and feels like McDonalds, but the arches are upside down … thus “W” instead of “M” … evidently they were not a real McDonalds … but close, nonetheless. We met a university friend of theirs from Syria who took our picture in front of Wam. Nat and Ludmila were both 20. They will be English teachers in 2 years. Ludmila is from Hincesti, Nat from far north. Nat’s first language is Ukrainian, then Moldovan, Russian, Spanish, and English (so she is speaking with me in her 5th language). They laughed that I have only one language (the truth is I’m still working on that one). Ludmila has the same languages in the same order without Ukrainian because Hincesti is more central Moldova. By the time we walked back to the park, Mark and another guy were there. We talked until 9:30; everyone went home.
June 14, 1997 – Saturday – Awake at 6:00 am; no run; laid in bed thinking about things until 8:00. I remember Nat asking about corn flakes. She has never had any. I arrived at office at 9:30; home at 1:00; went to park at 2:00; tried to write for surveyors; Nat and Luma (Ludmila) appeared at 3:00. We took a trolleybus to a lake, picking up Mark, his brother (Rado), and his wife (another Ludmila) on the way. While they were swimming, other young people came and asked about America. The parents of these kids are 34 to 40 years old. They keep saying, “There is no hope here. The country cannot be fixed. The government is too corrupt.” As soon as one group left, another took their place. I gave them Reagan coins (that I had purchased at the U.S. Mint in Denver) and U.S. flag pins. We took the trolleybus back to Pushkin (my) Park where I bought four of them Cokes for 25 cents each. I spoke with another young Moldovan who had just returned from America. He asked about my Bronco t-shirt. He was on a tour of U.S. military bases, visiting 5 states. I was home at 9:00 and made some of the pop corn I had brought. It came out well this time. Watched a Dan Aykroyd movie in German. An alien from outer space, disguised as Kristi Brinkley, came to destroy earth, but married Aykroyd and they saved the planet … thank God. Bed at 11:30.
June 15, 1997 – Sunday – Up at 7:00 am; ran lake; called Deb and Tyler. They were watching Saturday Night Live. 8:00 am Sunday is 11:00 pm Saturday in Denver. Debby thought I was in a bad mood because I complained about everything. She is always right. Maybe I have been gone too long or maybe it is because I am stalled temporarily in helping the surveyors. No Romanian lesson today (a good thing since I did not do my homework). I meet other Americans at 10:00 at Dache Hotel to travel to Orhei Monastery. Mike (bottling expert) is from St. Louis. Kedrick (box manufacturing) is from Florida. Rhode Island professor, David, teaches farm economics. A German couple now living in Texas is helping in restaurant management. And a new lady from Florida … basically the same group that was at the Wednesday evening concert. The monastery was the same as Odessa catacombs and Cricova Winery … limestone building blocks are mined leaving tunnels. Monks hid here during feudalistic times. Ceiling was 5 feet high. Each monk had a 5 x 5 x 8 room. On the top of this mountain is a village with a church, the oldest known remains in Moldova (300 B.C.) We got good pictures inside the Orthodox Church. The locals invited us to share lunch with them. Today is “Dominica Mare” (Great Sunday) celebrating that all of the crops have been planted. Colorado is famous here for the Colorado Beetle that eats their crops. We skipped the second stop in order to get Mike to the airport on time. I gave gum to the kids (about 10 years old) at the monastery. I walked from Dache Hotel to apartment with Kedrick. His apartment is in the next building. I went up with him to get papers I had loaned him. We will have dinner later. Nap. I gave gum to kids outside of my apartment. Three of the older girls (10 to 12) looked at U.S. maps and my family photos. They spoke a little English. I ran into Nora Dudwick (World Bank) at dinner. Ked gave her a hard time because she lives in DC and is a Democrat. She leaves tomorrow and will send a copy of her report to me in a month.
June 16, 1997 – Monday – Worked at home until noon writing report to surveyors. Changed $100 to lei and got 457 one-lei bills. My phone bill is 586 lei = $130.00. I spoke with Moldovan attorneys about term limits and petitions. I got home at 8:00. Gave more gum to kids. A mom insisted that I teach her 8 year old son English. She wanted to pay. Hot dog for dinner.
June 17, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 5:30 am; ran lake; early to office to revise and finish surveyor report. I turned in report to Al and Bob C. I went to see conference room with Lena. I changed more one dollar bills to lei. Went to Fantasy Store and got more Moldova shirts. I had lunch with Sean, who is writing up VOCA paper work for me to return in November. CDC has no more funding. Evidently CDC had funding for just one Moldova volunteer for 1997. I met Salvation Army group in shirt store (Fantasy). They are building Methodist Churches here. They have built 6 churches so far. I went to the National Library (biggest library in Moldova), but they had no newspapers in English. I got 2 more rolls of film, which looks standard but the box is written in Russian. I got books from Gianady (IESC is another brand of CDC and VOCA) on writing business plans. I spoke with attorneys again. They want to meet again after my Issue Paper on petitions is translated. I exchanged one of the t-shirts. I saw Mark and Nat in the park … no time to talk. I was late to meet Victor. But Victor wanted to play and his parents wanted to talk. The other lady’s husband is General or Secretary of the Army. They said Chibanu (the old MOP) lives in my building, but they declined providing an introduction. TV is either Charles Bronson speaking Italian or Beethoven in French. NBC (English) had golf. To bed at 10:30.
June 18, 1997 – Wednesday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; Tom Brokaw is on 7:30 to 8:00 … not enough time to do both. Late to office at 9:30 … worked on hand outs for Monday seminar … forms and questionnaire also. Home early at 5:00. Got call from Lena that apartment was OK. Celebrated by making (filtering) water. I had been letting my inventory decline. Found Mark and Nat in the park. They decided in the last couple of days they are a couple. We discussed Nat’s “impossible” goal … to visit America. Now I think she knows her goal is achievable. I bought them hamburger and coke at Turkish restaurant … $3 for the 3 of us. Mark has political aspirations … wants to start a new political party. Home at 9:30. Vacili from VOCA called and said I had to change apartments. Moldova Air allows only 64 kilos for my return flight baggage. So I will leave my surveying books for my friends here when I go back to the states.
June 19, 1997 – Thursday – Up at 6:00 am; raining; no run; to the office at 8:30. Saw Ked in front of Dache Hotel. He is 77 and here until June 26 and interested in going to Romania. I will do some more research. My apartment status turned into a crusade at the office today. Everyone got on it and refused to let me move to another place. Finally it was settled. I would not have to move. Home at 6:00 to rest. Left at 6:30 for Bob’s, buying Champagne along the way for $4.00. His wife made pork chops. Bob, Robert, Tanya, Al, me, Mitzi (Bob’s wife) were all from the office … plus Melissa (from U.S. Embassy … she is the consular who decides visas). Bob graduated from U. of Illinois in 1986 and then went to law school in Wisconsin. Al left early to pick up his wife at airport. Home at 11:00. Bob insisted that a car take Tanya and me … I never thought of it as unsafe before. To bed at midnight.
June 20, 1997 – Friday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; good time; met Ked at Dache Hotel for breakfast and to discuss possible Romania trip. He has to work Saturday and the good stuff (Transylvania and Dracula’s Castle or Bucharest) is too far for a one day trip. I met Brian Propp for lunch again. He seemed a little preoccupied. Maybe he has been here too long or has attended too many of those vodka bashes. We talked about funding for political reform initiatives in the U.S. He will be in Denver mid-July. Today, Bob C. asked if I would come back for pay … he wants 6 a month commitment. Ilia’s birthday today (the lead Moldovan attorney) … birthday party after work. Galina (my Romanian teacher) is applying for job in my building. Home at 8:00; more rain. Today they fired Oxanna. She is upset. They won’t even give her a good reference. Someone said she came in late too much. There must be more to it than that. I tried to learn to record on VCR … too tired. Bed at 11:00.
June 21, 1997 – Saturday – Up at 6:00 am; rain; no run. Ked called at 8:00 … went to Dache Hotel again for breakfast … fried eggs, pancakes, bread, coffee, cheeses and meats, corn flakes (which I screwed up by putting milk on them). The eggs hit the spot. I stopped to pick up bread, Coke, and orange juice on my way home. The cleaning lady failed to change burned out light bulb in bathroom so I swapped with the one on my balcony. I worked at home most of the day. Several phone calls … wrong numbers. I started organizing to return to the U.S. Decided which gifts would be best for which individuals. I wrote in the books I would leave for the surveyors. Went to the park. Read some Adam Smith.
June 22, 1997 – Sunday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; to office; checked emails; organized for seminar; met Ked at 9:30 for breakfast at Dache … no eggs today but ate too much anyway. 10:15 IESC/CDC/VOCA volunteers gathered to go to Pushkin museum (Pushkin lived 1799 to 1837, was anti-Czar, was part Arab [or black], and was exiled from Russia to Chisinau for 3 years. He was a philosophical Jeffersonian). I gave a Reagan coin to museum curator and to translator/guide. David, the R.I. professor, tried to convince me Reagan was evil. After the second museum I went for a Coke with the professor, Ted (the walnut expert from San Francisco) and Tom and Dee (new couple from Minn.). On my way home I met 20 to 30 Peace Corps volunteers in Pushkin park. We spoke for 30 minutes. One wanted AOL access number, which I will get to her. They get 3 months of language training and orientation before being assigned. They know not where or what they will be assigned … probably schools, hospitals and a few businesses. I didn’t tell them how tough it would be in the villages. Home to change for the ballet. Met Ked. Saw Robert, Verelia and her boyfriend at ballet. Went to dinner with Ked, Tom, Dee at Sea Beka Hotel. $10/person. At home I called Ludmila to tell her of Tom’s interest in attending seminar. She will drop him at 10:00 tomorrow. She has internet access.
June 23, 1997 – Monday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; office at 7:30; 175 month anniversary today; card from Deb (no small task in that the mail service here is dysfunctional. To get anything from the U.S. it has to be sent to the mail person at the BAH office in DC and once or twice per week, a package is overnight mailed to BAH-Moldova). Tonya and Lena and I went to the Soros Building at 8:30 to get the room ready. Surveyors were late. We started with 4 at 9:30. 3 came later making 6 of the 9 companies present. Paul Morris (USAID) came at the end of the day to speak. Afterwards had beers with Djiganskii and Gori and Fidui … fun but awkward with no translator. More beers later with Rick, Al, Bob, and Robert. Seminar ratings were all 9s and 10s out of 10 (they must be afraid to tell the truth). Good enthusiasm all day. Many questions; most took notes. Saw Nat and Ludmila in park and gave them Colorado Rockies baseball caps. They were very excited. They took a third for Mark; he was in exams. Nat thinks her parents hate her (typical among teenagers). I asked her to explain, then, why they were sending money for her college; checkmate. She will phone her mother tomorrow. Her father died when he was 27. Her mother remarried so she has a half-brother who is 15. Home at 9:30. Bed at midnight. Got up at 3:00; watched TV; ate; back to bed.
June 24, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; breakfast at Dache with Ked and Ted. They both leave tomorrow at 5:30 am. 9:00 at office. I tabulated the results of seminar. Discussed return trip with Al. I will meet with Sean and Lena tomorrow about report they want written. I had lunch with Rick. He has 26 people working in Minnesota on pipeline project and will go to Siberia for gold mine survey. He thinks he can get a PhD from Siberia for $100.00. If so, I think I’ll ask him to get one for me too. I gave Bronco sweatshirts to Tonya and Lena. Both acted over excited, but Lena was most excited. She was jumping up and down, literally. It was embarrassing. I tried to be invisible. Very humid; raining; home at 5:00; got bread and orange juice; read Moldova constitution. It is not a constitution. It fails to recognize the people as sovereign or limit the government. Plebiscites (referendums) may be advanced for a vote by parliament. They have an initiative process but the president or 1/3 of parliament must agree for it to go to the ballot. I will do a report for the surveyors on the seminar results. I met Robert and Sean for beers and pool. I gave more gum to the kids near my apartment. I tried to talk with them; one girl (about 12) tried to act as translator. Home at 9:30; cable TV is out; returned call from Tom. He wanted to meet for beer tonight; maybe tomorrow. I read the professor’s (Dave Brown) report and western NIS report (Ked). Bed at 11:00. It cooled off a lot after the rain. Neck hurting less; left thumb still numb; stress or boredom.
June 25, 1997 – Wednesday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; call from Tom; a reception tonight at Peace Corps at 6:00. I reported to Bob C.: … Moldova has no constitution. He, an attorney, was interested in the thought process. The Stewart from Stewart Title Company is due in later today. Dinner is scheduled with him Thursday evening. I worked on surveyor status report. I met with Sean Carmody. He said I should get $45/day and CDC will pay when I get home. Therefore, I paid him back the $200 Vasili gave me from VOCA. He also gave me the apartment receipts to submit to CDC … so VOCA can be reimbursed. He will call me in July when he is in Iowa. I had lunch with Elana (Helen) from VOCA. She wants a final report and to follow up with all surveyors in 3 months. I went to Peace Corps at 6:00. There was a presentation by two PC volunteers who were working in northern regional offices. Afterwards I spoke with ABA representative, UN, and Melissa (from Cahul) and Victor (who is recruiting 100 Moldovan business owners to go to the U.S.). He will come to surveyor meeting on Monday. I saw the children near my apartment; more gum; they were making dinner (mud). I deferred eating any. I practiced high-fives with two 2 year olds. I showed my family pictures to the older ones. I went to park. Nat and Mark were there wearing Rockies caps. I tried to explain to Mark that Moldova does not have a constitution. He knew it had been written and adopted by the Communist parliament without citizen approval. I tried to explain “why” it was deficient, but the ideas are too difficult for Nat to translate. Mark’s friend finished exams and will be a doctor. He will look up the name of the Australian doctor who discovered the true cause of ulcers. Home at 10:30; bed at 11:30.
June 26, 1997 – Thursday – Up at 6:00 am; rain; no run; office at 8:00; worked on report to surveyors. I had lunch with Stewart Morris of Stewart Title. After work I had beers with Rick, Iacub, Mutu (surveyors), and Rado (translator) for $20 until 8:30. Mutu opened up on politics and thinks there will be 100% turn over in parliament elections due to lies. Social Democrats control now. Rick promised to bring GPS locator and their eyes lit up like little kids. Mutu knows at least 50 additional farms that can be subdivided immediately without controversy, but CPBR will not change the list. Next batch of farms would go better if surveyors could do all of the work without CPBR (CBPR’s roll is to reconcile conflicts among the farmers). I ran into Nat, Mark, Luma in the park. Mark had gotten a copy of the Moldova Constitution and was reading it. He finally understood when I pointed to Article 141. I will get him a copy of the U.S. Constitution (although it contains the same flaw). I met 5 new Westerners (Scott, another American, two Brits, and a Belgium). Home at 10:00; to bed at 11:30.
June 27, 1997 – Friday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; too lazy; office at 8:00. I worked on the surveyor report all day. It will be too long but I think it will be helpful to them. Tanya (older) and Rado have been struggling to translate my paper. Today is Igor’s birthday … party from 6 to 8; left to go to grocery store and to avoid excessive drinking. I worked on surveyor report at home. I went to park at 9:30 for ice cream. Doina and Andre were there. Nat and Mark went away for the week end. I introduced Lena, the Jewish girl, and Larry from Kentucky, and moved on. He is working on the same bottle plant that Mike was here to help. He will try to get me a tour tomorrow. Looks like no chance to go to Romania. I watched 70s movie until 1:00 am; the “Runner.”
June 28, 1997 – Saturday – Up at 7:30 am; stretched during NBC news (2 weeks old news); ran lake; good time; under 25:00 minutes; to office at 10:00. Tonya (older) and Gregori Breanu were working. Bob C. was in and out. Sean and Robert called to invite me to go with them to the country for a picnic; declined. Brain went on strike and stopped working at 4:00; changed $100 to lei. I went to museum to get ear rings, to Fantasy for runner and to outdoor market for flute (the $30 price negotiated quickly to $20). I got jewelry box for Tyler. He can put junk in it. Quiet. I went downstairs to read where kids are. Only 3 kids tonight: 6, 5, and 3 years old. We drew on the sidewalk.
June 29, 1997 – Sunday – Up at 6:00 am; no run; office at 8:00 to work on report; tired. Got coffee at Dache for 1 lei. Home at 3:00. Tom and Dee (Minn) called to go to Hans and Dorothy’s (from Texas) restaurant. Stopped for desert on way home … sold out. We went thru Pushkin Park. No Nat or Mark tonight. I got home at 9:30. Kids were not out; to bed at 11:30.
June 30, 1997 – Monday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; office at 8:30; finished surveyor report. I met with surveyors most of the day. I finished the CDC exit report. Dave Nolan will come for my clothes Wednesday at 9:00 am … he will take most of my clothes to a charity. Home at 5:00. I met Tom and Dee for desert. I showed them my apartment. I introduced them to some of the kids. I met Nat and Mark at the park. I gave him U.S. Constitution and my comments on it and Moldova Constitution. Home at 9:30. Cable TV channels are scrambled, several are not working. Others are on different channels. I gave Tom and Dee blank video tape, phone # list, list of restaurants, business cards. In bed at 10:30.
July 1, 1997 – Tuesday – Up at 6:00 am; ran lake; OK time, but not fast enough; sorted out clothes. One of the surveyors said I gave him “confidence.” Another showed delight at a comment in my letter. Maybe my trip was a success. I met with VOCA for exit interview. Sergi will pick me up Thursday at 5:45. He says I am allowed 60 kilos (easy with no books and minimal clothes); called Deb; Hayden (grandson) was born June 23; she sent several emails that did not arrive; the entire country has been email-down for several days; translators were shocked that I failed to find out if Hayden was a boy or a girl. Elana (VOCA) visits U.S. this year and will try to come to Denver for a few days. I went with Bob C. for exit interview with U.S. Ambassador John Stewart and Paul Morris for 30 minutes. He was very personable (after all he is a politician). When they asked about the surveyors finishing on schedule, Bob had a chance to open up on bureaucratic resistance; perfect timing for perfect opportunity. Mutu got a copy of a title certificate for me to take to U.S. So I cautiously gave him my trigonometry calculator. I was fearful of insulting him. He explained that he needed it because he must use book tables and interpolation. I was so in disbelief he got the tables out to show me. Beers with Rick; home at 7:00; sorted out clothes for morning.
July 2, 1997 – Wednesday – Up at 6:00 am; last day; no run; sorted and packed. Dave Nolan picked up clothes and food for Peace Corps at 9:00. I got to office at 9:30; still no email; purged files; office is in turmoil due to government interference with titling process. 10:30 Ludmila (attorney) and Tonya (older) and I went to meet NGO president (family and children issues). Ludmila is part of NGO (non-profit). President is also a Vice-minister and wants to do a petition drive. Moldovan constitution allows it, but does not define procedures and parliament has the power to ignore it. She said she could talk for only 30 minutes. But she didn’t stop talking for 1 ½ hours. We walked back to office. I took pictures of underground pipes for central heat. I went to Fantasy store and spent most of remaining lei on serving tray. I got to office in time to have lunch with translators; back at 2:00. Computer system is up and got a few emails but not of the ones sent by Deb and Tom. Responded to Dane Waters (USTL); I had filed term limits initiative petition for November 2008 ballot from here with State of Colorado by fax. I met from 3 to 4:30 with attorneys who had read my II IP on I&R … we also discussed Moldovan constitution. More emails. Party at 6:00; gave me a wedding shroud; I gave out sweatshirts, baseball caps, coffee cups and gum. I gave Tonya T. (head translator) one of my cameras. Translators, Robert, Rick, Lena and Yuri (courier) and I went for dessert (the bird egg shell stuff Dee likes). I went thru the park at 9:00. Nat and Mark had just left. I sat with the two who could not speak for a few minutes. Three of their friends arrived. One could speak only French (when I speak French I end up with diesel in my gas tank … so no way for me to communicate … I also failed Romanian lessons). The other 2 could speak a little and had 6 questions and left as soon as I replied. There questions were about crime, second languages, race and women’s rights in America. They are generation X and feel that there has been “no change” in Moldova. Home; called Oxanna and Ludmila for last time; finished packing; no TV; to bed at 11:00.
July 3, 1997 – Thursday – Up at 5:00 am; closed suit cases; 2 instead of 4; called Deb and Christa. Sergi was on time at 5:45. I sat next to girls from Italy on airplane. I met a Russian in Budapest airport who spent 5 years in NYC and is returning to get his MS degree. Actually, he is Moldovan, from Transdniestria. He gives “Russian” answer for Americans because most Americans do not recognize Moldova or Transdniestria. Hungary airport is like modern times: glass, light, clean, services …. I think I am back to the other world. Four Baptists are on the flight returning to U.S. One said he has been coming to Moldova for 4 years and Moldova is rapidly changing. His perspective is probably more accurate, but the local Gen-Xers have another view.
Bob Cemovich, the head guy, saw the project to completion and stayed in contact with me for a few years.
Allan Slipher, Bob’s #2, finished in Moldova and ended up on another project in Bratislava, Slovakia. I offered to introduce him to some friends I knew there including the former Ambassador, Josef Sestak, but got no reply.
Steve, the lead attorney and #3 in command, took on the identical project in Georgia. Partly because of reform-minded Eduard Shevardnadze, President and former USSR Foreign Minister and reformer with Gorbachev, farm privatization in Georgia advanced quickly and was completed before Moldova’s. No doubt Steve’s experience in Moldova helped to expedite the quick result.
Robert Mitchell, attorney, helping to write the land code, was from Seattle, but it seemed like he never lived there. After Moldova he went on to help with a land reform project in Indonesia. That was the last I heard from him.
Sean Carmody, VOCA, from Iowa was burned out and left the foreign service, but got a job with the Federal government in DC, helping to gain approval of African-grown crops for importation into the U.S. His first Peace Corps assignment had been in Africa from which he had told stories of racism. Early after his arrival there shots rang out and 2 fellows ran down the street laughing that they had killed someone who was, evidently, the wrong shade of black. And he told of the little girl who died because the father would not allow Sean to take her to the hospital. Sean also served in the PC in Korea where he met his wife.
Peter Djiganshi, surveyor-entrepreneur, learned to speak English, stayed with us in Denver for 2 weeks and now does regular (every couple of months) emails with me. His younger son (Gene) graduated in finance from a college in Budapest, which required an internship. We got one set up for him in the U.S., but the U.S. State Department refused to allow him a visa (both Gene and the U.S. are worse off due to this … lose:lose). Peter bought a prime piece of real estate in the city center of Cahul and built an office building there. He had duel citizenship with Ukraine and subdivided several collective farms there. He also bought the records of several of the other surveyors and kept his survey crews busy doing surveys for resale of farm parcels. He is frustrated at the corruption in Moldova and is considering migrating to the Czech Republic. He also spent a few weeks in New Zealand exchanging knowledge of wine growing and production.
Sergi Gori, surveyor-entrepreneur, finished his contracts, pocketing enough money to build a chicken processing factory in his home town. I recall him teasing me about going to help the people in Africa next. I said that will be for the next generation of entrepreneurs … meaning him. He smiled, knowing I trusted him to carry on the cause of liberty someday.
Mircea Ginju, surveyor-entrepreneur, finished his projects and used his profits to go into the restaurant business. He always carried a pistol.
Tonya B., was my translator (the elder Tonya). We exchanged emails for a few years. She and her husband did not feel welcome in Moldova and were labeled as “Russian” even though they had never lived in Russia. They moved to Moscow. They had one daughter who attended college in Florida.
Tonya T., (also spelled Tanya) lead translator, exchanged a couple of emails, but she was a workaholic and had less time to be social.
Vicili Yakub, one of the three Moldovan surveyors on BAH staff. He seemed to be the most technical of the three. Gregori Brianu (built like an NFL lineman) was the boss of all the locals, and so was more the big picture guy and did the hiring and firing. Mutu seemed to be the make-things-happen quietly behind the scene personality type. Yakub is the one who wanted to know whether GPS is real. Peter reported that Yakub had suffered a heart attack and died.
Ludmila Sviridov, was my go-between with my landlord. We continue to do emails on occasion. In 1997 she was very worried about her daughter who was in college but paying too much attention to a male. She was lonely and sought marital advice from, of all people, me. Translators are exposed to a lot. In addition to language they learn culture, and people and trivia. (I saw the same thing in Egypt … a wise, alert, and informed 30-year-old taxi driver … with no real education, but knew plenty). I suggested that she was probably too cosmopolitan because of the exposure she gained by translating, to be able to find the right man among the local Neanderthals. Thus, she would do better to shop among the westerners she meets. Sure enough, she married a German and now lives in Frankfurt. She visited the U.S. several times, including Denver once.
Kedwick Martin is the volunteer from Florida and expert in box manufacturing. We continue to exchange Christmas cards annually. Until typing this, I had forgotten that we had had so many meals together.
David Brown, the R.I. university professor and I always exchange Christmas cards. He is always appreciative of the tiny tidbits I am able to provide, usually from either Peter or Ludmila, my only two remaining sources of information.
Ludmila Svirina, the lead local attorney. We exchanged a few emails. I did not get to meet her children.
Cazacu, there were 2 Cuzacus, a father and a son, both computer geeks working together on the project. The son was developing the coordinate geometry software. The father did training and installations. The father told of when the Communists came and confiscated all of the property. Many land owners were murdered. He was lucky and was shipped to a gulag in Siberia. When he got back from Siberia, his intellect was recognized and he became an “economist.” Under Soviet Communism, economist means central planner … the level of economic understanding of a Soviet economist is a question. I was sorry that I did not have the opportunity to learn more from him.
Citizens Democracy Corps: I got one additional invitation from CDC to go to Sakhalin and help a local paving contractor decide which paving machine to buy. I suggested the Sakhalin guy should go look at the machines in action. They did not call again. Sakhalin Island is part of Russia, but is the island immediately north of Japan, used to be part of Japan and is primarily Japanese culturally. I may have blown my best chance to see that part of the world.
Brian Propp, my friend from Denver, served in the Ukraine for 10 years before being transferred to DC for a year or two. We met in DC during one of my visits there. He retired and moved to northern Colorado to start an energy conservation business.
Constitution: Annoyed at persistent friction between Parliament and the President, the Parliament (who has unilateral power to amend the constitution) sought to eliminate such friction by changing the presidential selection process. Henceforth, instead of election by the populace, the President will be chosen by the Parliament. This change happened shortly after my stay, later in 1997. Shortly thereafter, Parliament announced an amnesty for those with illegal weapons … they could turn them in to the government without fear of penalty. To this I say, how interesting … that the government would seek to protect itself against insurrection when it is taking actions that might incite insurrection.