Unfortunately, very bad news to report here from Tiraspol.
A nurse working in the village of Varnita on the Right (western) Bank of the Dniester River has been confirmed to have the coronavirus. As such, the village has been completely shut down with cops at every entrance and exit to block it off.
According to PMR state media, they’ve also got men stationed on all the paths and “folk roads” in and out of the village, completely sealing it off.
While it’s called a “village”, Varnita is really more of a tiny town with one main street and a handful of shops, including a large grocery store from a major Moldovan chain (Linella) and some pharmacies and banks.
I’ve been to Varnita several times, not because there’s anything really that interesting there but because it has a strange legal status.
Technically, it is an exclave of the Republic of Moldova, surrounded on all sides by Pridnestrovie, although you can’t see that on any map.
Normally, all that’s required to get there is to go to Bender/Tighina and then take a city bus to Varnita as it’s only 3km away from downtown Bender.
That, obviously, has now all changed.
My wife was born and raised in Chisinau. Pre-virus, there were regular buses going from Tiraspol to Chisinau, and it was no big deal for my wife to go to Chisinau every two weeks or so to visit family members, etc.
Because Pridnestrovie is completely cut off from the international banking system, neither my bank card nor my wife’s work here in Tiraspol, so we relied on her visits to Chisinau in order to withdraw money from an ATM.
But on occasions when we needed money and my wife didn’t or couldn’t go to Chisinau, we just went to Varnita.
Because Varnita is officially part of the Republic of Moldova, the banks there are part of the international network. So I could use the ATM there to withdraw either US dollars or Moldovan lei and then change them to PMR rubles as needed.
Unfortunately, it is now impossible to get to Varnita. And there is no known way for us to get to Chisinau or any other city in Moldova, so we have no way of withdrawing money from our bank accounts.
I’ve calculated that we’ve got about four or maybe five days’ worth of cash left before we run out completely. After that, I have no idea what we are going to do.
There’s plenty of food in the stores here, but we don’t have much of a stockpile here in the house. And since neither of our bank cards works here, we can’t even do something like pay online for food delivery or something like that.
On Monday, we will go speak to the Interior Ministry to see what our options are.
My wife could probably bunk in with her relatives if she was allowed to go to Chisinau, but our home is here. And our animals are here as well. And since we’re cut off from the international systems, it’s not even possible to wire money here from Western Union or Moneygram or those kinds of things.
If that weren’t enough, the streets of Tiraspol are currently deserted, a storm front is moving in, and the skies are dull and gray. Tomorrow, it’s supposed to get quite cold with possibly even a chance of snow.
Obviously, it’s hard to stay positive under these circumstances, but we are trying our best.
Until next time…