If you spend a day in Transnistria, did the day actually occur?
The journey to Tiraspol, Transnistria was one which nearly did NOT occur.
It did not NOT occur because this non-country country’s borderland disputes have left a mix of opinions as to what to call the area. Some say country, some say territory. Others say DON’T GO!
It was the final saying that turned me away, causing the chance to visit to nearly slip through my fingers. Deciding whether or not to go was a Wimbledon match playing out in this indecisive mind: doubt versus belief.
The month before, doubt won.
The week before, doubt won.
The day before, doubt won.
The night before, belief won.
The morning of, doubt won.
The moment of, belief won.
It would appear that belief had lost. But in fact, belief was stronger than doubt. How so?
Ashamedly I confess, doubt was encouraged by a few sentences written as a warning in Wikipedia’s description of the non-country country. “Although the ceasefire has held, the territory’s political status remains unresolved.” Sounds scary.
Belief was encouraged by: a friend, another friend, a friend’s friend, a friend’s friend’s wife. Friends trump Wikipedia.
It blows my mind that I, a trusting yet fact-checking, go for it kind of girl, would have let one measly quote, from Wikipedia nonetheless, get in the way of a now or never journey. So the morning of, after tossing and turning in the physical and mental sense, I set out to discover the non-country country Transnistria’s non-glory glory.
Border control pulled me and a handful of others from the bus passing between Chisinau, Moldova and Tiraspol, Transnistria. They wanted to know the cause for our visits and how long we intended to stay inside the non-border borders.
“Oden” I said quietly to an armed man standing behind bulletproof glass. One day.
He nodded and printed out a receipt rather than stamping my passport. As a tourist, I was allowed to spend no more than ten hours inside the non-country country. They’re a non-generous bunch, aren’t they?
I was previously aware of this limitation, and had a small agenda planned. The city has few sites to see, leaving three hours of free time during what I made into a four hour trip. On my list of must-sees were The Church of Nativity and its matching golden gate, a canary yellow theater and a statue of the Man himself, Vladimir Lenin. After believing I’d conquered the city’s gray and somber streets (and later realizing the statue I found was NOT the Lenin statue), I had time to fulfill my main wish: changing money into non-money money. When you see their non-money money, you will understand why this was an important part of the day.
It is not made of gold, silver, or copper, or any other type of metal.
It is made of plastic.
And it is not made round or rectangular or with a hole in the middle.
It is made in the shapes of triangles and hexagons and pentagons.
And it is not made in boring colors to be meticulously picked through while standing in line at the store.
It is made of pinks and blues and greens and yellows.
And this non-money money is accepted at every shop in the non-country country.
Welcome to Transnistria.
The journey to the non-country country was one which nearly did NOT occur. But it did not NOT occur, and I have non-money money to prove!