‘Into Moldova’

August 23, 2009 / Maciej Cegłowski on his travels in Eastern Europe.

Maciej Cegłowski on his way into Europe’s poorest country:

We are met at the Moldovan border by Ann Coulter, looking dashing in a Soviet officer’s cap, military jacket, black miniskirt and heels. For a moment I worry that I have taken something other than dramamine, and have wafted into some weird Republican fantasy. But the pseudo-Coulter turns her head and the resemblance fades. Her colleague is much more conservatively dressed, wearing full military uniform and the familiar expression of distaste common to border guards the world over. It is no fun being asked to do one’s easy and well-paying job. I notice that the Moldovan border patrol is an enthusiastic contestant in the popular post-Soviet game, “who wants to wear the ugliest shade of green?”

He has some interesting ways of describing its geographic and political relationship to Romania, too. Good storytelling by a well-informed observer. And I hate travel writing.

Update: It’s more than “travel writing;” it’s social analysis. From a follow on post called “Transnistria:”

Some of the visual language may be borrowed from Soviet times (partly because it’s great visual language), but it’s no coincidence that you never find a statue of Marx or Engels in one of these “living museums.” The same kind of cognitive dissonance that lets Alabama rednecks wear a Confederate flag as a patriotic symbol obtains here. Vladimir Ilyich and Suvorov would not have found a lot to say to each other over sherry, but in Tiraspol they are happily celebrated as symbols of heritage. Their presence is a reminder of happier times, when Tiraspol was a new city in a dynamic and growing empire, rather than a the capital of a ridiculously shaped renegade province of the poorest country in Europe.

Wonderful, confident, incisive prose.

† According to the author, and the Great Wiki.

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