(Because is more likely that my portuguese friends know english than my non-portuguese friends know portuguese, this post will be in english.)
It's been ruffly a month since my last update about living in Moldova and about my first impressions. I confess I wasn't expecting such a hard time but I'm an optimist and maybe sometimes that's not a good thing.
I met some Moldovans in Portugal, that's not strange since more than one quarter of the Moldovan labour force is currently living and working abroad (more info). The Moldovans I met were very friendly, and I was expecting that... I encountered some of that hospitality, specially in my host family and at my working place. But I also encountered a lot of suspicious looks and unfriendly faces from the people in the streets of Chisinau. The first weeks I was really fed up of being treat like a rare bird, everyone looking like I'm an alien. And here in Moldova, I really am. Moldova is a small country trapped between Romania and Ukraine. Besides a strong link with Russia and the neighbor countries there is not long relations with other cultures and continents.
It's interesting that being away from your own country puts a new light on it. Portugal has more than 5 centuries of relations with other cultures, countries, people... it was the first global village. And I'm a fruit of that melting pot, the fruit of the portuguese-african relation and greatly influenced by brazilian culture, I'm a lusophone. Growing up in such a culture and having so many friends and experiences in other nations, it's hard to me even notice someone's color... meaning of course I can see if you are white, black, asian or mixed race, but that's not important to me, it will not be the first thing I say when I describe you.
So back to Moldova, I'm different here and people really make me feel different. I understand it because for some is the first time they see a black girl (or mixed-race or whatever) with crazy curly hair... and I'm ok with curious looks, what hurts is the "how dare you?" looks. There still the soviet mentality of order and everything being in its place, and for those people I'm not where I'm supposed to be. But where am I supposed to be? One leg in Portugal? One arm in Angola? Or maybe in the middle of the Atlantic...
A funny thing (for me at least) happen the other day: a group of high schoolers was passing and they were looking curiously and one of them said "hakuna matata". I was surprised but then I got it... he must thing all black people speak the same language, in this case swahili... But interesting this phrase means "no worries"! I'll try not to worry because I can't change people's minds but I'll try to bring some Light and show that it's not good to people in boxes. We are not just black and white, we are bought I guess.
Finally, Moldova has lovely people and I can't wait to meet more. There's discrimination everywhere and most of it comes from fear of the unknown. So hope they like me when they know me or if they don't, may they realize that I'm not all portuguese, all women, all angolan, all curly hair people. Everyone is different and we should embrace the difference. In the meantime, I'll focus on the ones that make me feel welcomed.