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How did I travel to a country that doesn’t exist?: Ed O'Connor

Posted 8/14/19

Hello once again. I hope your summer is going well. My summer is zipping right along. Since my last correspondence, we have been doing some traveling and exploring.

Our first day trip from Moldova …

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How did I travel to a country that doesn’t exist?: Ed O'Connor

An Orthodox chapel in Tiraspol.
An Orthodox chapel in Tiraspol.

Hello once again. I hope your summer is going well. My summer is zipping right along. Since my last correspondence, we have been doing some traveling and exploring.

Our first day trip from Moldova was to a country that does not exist, Transnistria. It lies between Moldova and the Ukraine. What? Doesn’t exist? Read on.

The breakaway state declared its independence in 1990 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A Moldavian civil war ensued, pitting those who wanted to remain living in the socialist utopia and those who wanted to be free from the communist yoke against each other.

For your edification, the definition of utopia (Oxford Dictionaries): “an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.” The optimum word is “imagined.”

After fighting ceased, the border between Moldova and Transnistria was the Dniester River, hence Transnistria, which means, “Across the Dniester.”

Transnistria is not recognized by any nation, so technically it does not exist. It wants to rejoin Russia, but even Russia doesn’t recognize it. Still, it has its own government, constitution, postal service, police, military and currency.

Some of their coins are made from plastic, are different colors, different shapes, plus look and feel like guitar picks. I have a set of four.

We booked a private driver and guide. When crossing the border, we had to show our passports. But because it is not a recognized country, the border control personnel could not stamp our passports. Paper tickets were issued. They had to be shown when we exited the country.

Our first stop was a restored 18th century fort in the city of Bender. We then toured the capitol city, Tiraspol.

I thought Tiraspol was quite nice and it was very clean. The people were friendly and the food was good.

Transnistria is a country stuck in time. Signs of the former Soviet Union can be seen — statues of Lenin, pictures of Stalin, the Supreme Soviet (parliament building). A hammer and sickle adorn the flag.

The following week, we booked another day trip. This time our destination was Odessa, Ukraine. We traveled by train for almost four hours and were met at the station by our driver and guide.

The tour started with the Catacombs, 1,500 miles of underground tunnels. We saw a few of these labyrinths that were used by smugglers, criminals and partisans who fought the Germans in World War II.

Next we visited the beautiful and historic city. Odessa is the largest port on the Black Sea. After a day of sightseeing, we returned to Chisinau. Having only scratched the surface of things to see and do, we plan to return in September. 

Comparing costs

After many trips to lawyers, various government offices and bureaucratic red tape, Olga obtained her Moldavian government pension and I received my visa extension.

I wanted to give you an idea of prices by comparing living costs between here and your area. Now, granted, I had to use the nearest city, Harrisburg, to do so. According to in Harrisburg:

• Consumer prices are 113.58 percent higher.

• Rent prices are 223.47 percent higher.

• Restaurant prices are 127.46 percent higher.

• Grocery prices are 156.62 percent higher.

We started getting acquainted with some of the medical facilities here. Last week, I thought I was having a prostate or hernia problem, so I went to the clinic. That’s the last time I go to that dentist.

Our apartment is very small. In Europe that is the rule, not the exception. It is the smallest apartment we have ever had. “Just how small is the apartment, Ed?” Well, the other day I put the key in the front door and it broke the window on the other side of the room.

Trash collection

On another note: Do you loony, lefty, liberals know that in your purses and wallets you are carrying bills that have the portraits of slave owners on them? How racist! How insensitive! How intolerant! 

So, as a public service I am having a box installed at the Press & Journal so those who are affected can deposit that nasty trash. It will all be forwarded to me here in Moldova, and out of the goodness of my heart I will see that it is disposed of properly. Don’t you feel much better now? I’m providing this needed service totally free! (the favorite word of socialists).

Little Ralphie

More escapades of my favorite student, Little Ralphie.

Little Ralphie came home from class very dejected. Mommy asked, “Why the long face, Little Ralphie”?

“Mommy, the kids at school made fun of me because I don’t have holes in my jeans like they do.” “Don’t you fret my diminutive darling,” she said. “Give me your jeans and I will help you.”

Snip, snip went the scissors. “Oh, mommy, thank you. Now I can be just like all the other kids tomorrow.”

Returning from school the next day, mommy spots that Little Ralphie is again dejected. “Was there something wrong with your jeans,” she inquired. “It’s not that. Now I am not wearing a headset that makes me look like Mickey Mouse, or have wires coming out of my ears like the other kids.”

“No problem, my little lad,” she said. “Daddy will be home soon and he will run wires between your ears, for there certainly isn’t anything between them to get in the way.”

“Now go to mommy’s basement and work on your PhD thesis in Gender Studies. With that you can get a job under the rainbow arches at McLibtards making those luscious 100 percent all-natural, sugar-free, salt-free, fat-free, GMO-free, gluten-free, AOC-certified, fart-free, additive-free, meat-free Diversity Burgers, and also learn how to make those dairy-free, lactose-free, plastic straw-free, luscious soy shakes and salt-free tofu fries. Or you can always demonstrate for $15 per hour.”

“And since you will soon be 27, you can’t be on mommy and daddy’s health insurance.”

“Like, thank you, mommy. You are, like, awesome, dude.”

Enjoy the end of summer!

From your day tripper … Eddy O

Ed O’Connor, a former resident of Middletown and Lower Swatara Township, is an expatriate living in Chisinau, Moldova.