I am a 32-yo Frenchman who decided to settle up in a little unrecognized country, aka Pridnestrovie or 'the country that doesn't exist'.
My goal is to live closer to nature, in a more sustainable way, and live in a much more relaxed atmosphere.
I just bought an old house in a beautiful location, by a lake (hence the name: 'La Maison du Lac' = 'The Lake House'), and I am trying to turn it into a little heaven, where I could produce my own food and live a quiet life. In the future, I would like to start a few projects for the village and around, especially in the field of culture, ecology and economy.
I now have two old houses and a couple outbuildings on 4,300 sq meters (about 46,000 sq ft) of land in the north of the country. There is an orchard, a vineyard, and a big field. My priority is to get the land ready (I already pruned the fruit trees with the help of some locals, and started growing veggies, but still need a lot of work around the plot), fix the roofs of the different buildings, then doors and windows. Then I will start working on the inside of the houses. One of them has beautiful murals and ceilings, made by a Soviet artist, and I would like to keep and fix them.
I have a well to take water from and intend to install a pump in the next future. I would also like to build a bicycle water pump so that one can exercise and save energy at the same time (good for the body, good for the planet).
The village is quite big for the country. It has about 600 inhabitants, two shops, a small museum, a post office, a bank, a dispensary, a library, a school and a kindergarten, a house of culture and a few other things.
The house is literally a metre away from the lake, a river is a couple meters farther, and forests are all around the village. There are some other picturesque villages around, and places for mountain biking, hiking, etc.
The main city of the region is Rybnitsa. It is about 20 km away, and there are a couple buses a day to go there.
One week is a minimum, ideally I'd prefer more. If you're flexible with your time, we can try and see how it goes the first week, then extend if we're both happy. I can host for more than a month, especially in summer.
One or two persons maximum, unless you are a family.
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Help around the house
CULTURE AND TOURISM
Pridnestrovie (aka Transnistria, 'the country that doesn't exist') is a very interesting place, a bit away from globalization. Despite being located in Europe, you won't find any McDonalds or KFCs here (and you can forget about Starbucks!) The country is often nicknamed as the last bit of the Soviet Union, since many things stayed like in the good old times!
Very few foreigners live here, and even tourists are not that numerous. The North of the country is even more 'out of the beaten tracks'. Living in a Pridnestrovian village is something very little people from the West have experienced so far.
You will experience real Pridnestrovian life, meet real people (my friends, my neighbours, the lady from the shop...) and would have a unique insight on the country.
You will learn more about this very special country, its history, its languages and cultures (my village is Ukrainian, but there are also Moldovans living there... we have many nationalities here and three official languages).
If you are learning Russian, you will have a unique opportunity to practise every day with native speakers. If you are learning French, I'll be happy to help you with that!
GARDENING AND BUILDING SKILLS
We will hopefully teach each other what we know about building, renovating, gardening... but also traditional technic and self-sufficiency. Making home-made wine, cooking local dishes, canning and preserving food, etc.
Ideally, you're skilled at masonry, woodworking, roofing, etc.
My goal right now is to fix the roofs (one is in metal and needs to be fixed, the other one will need to be replaced but I might just fix it until I can afford a replacement... the garages need new roofs as well, but this is not as urgent).
I also need to fix the doors and windows (all made of wood) of both houses and the veranda. I would like to use natural materials and traditional technic as much as possible, although I understand it is not always possible.
If building tasks is not your thing, the garden needs to be improved as well. I started a veggie garden in my field (about 1,000 sq meters available, so still plenty of space), and it needs constant care. I think some nice paths made of tiles or stones and delimiting the areas would be great. During the season, we will be canning vegetables, preparing jam and juice, making wine.
But basically everything is to be done here, so if you've got another talent that you think could be useful, do let me know.
This host offers a language exchange
I used to teach French, so I am happy to help you with my native language. I am currently trying to improve my Russian, and wouldn’t mind practising my Italian.
I currently spend my time between the house in the village and an apartment I rent in Rybnitsa.
The house offers very limited comfort but is improving day by day. There are a couple beds there, some linen (but I highly encourage you to come with your own sleeping bag if you've got one), and you can have your own room. You can also camp in the garden if you prefer and have a tent. There is a summer shower (wooden cabin with a water tank on the roof that heats with the sun) and a compost toilet. We cook mostly outdoor, on the fire. Internet is accessible via a 4G modem (works quite well). We can catch Ukrainian signal as well.
Since the house doesn't offer much comfort at the moment, we will likely go to the apartment from time to time for laundry or to spend a night in town (going to a restaurant, meeting some friends or stuff like that). When this is the case, you can join or stay at the house.
The apartment is Soviet (aka not super modern), but it has heating in winter, unlimited hot water for the shower/bath (but please don't waste water), a regular kitchen, washing machine, etc. It is located near the centre. I usually sleep in the living room, as I use it as my office, so you can have the bedroom with two single beds. It has optic fibre, so internet is fast and reliable.
I usually eat a lot of vegetables, especially in summer, but also eat meat or meat products on a regular basis. We can fish in the lake as well to supplement our diet. In a general way, I buy almost only local products (made in the country, and if possible in the region I live), so don't expect industrial/imported food on the table.
If you are vegetarian/vegan, I am happy to follow your diet most of the time.
I think it's nice to have our meals together, at least most of the time. We can cook together or by turns.
You are welcome to buy (at your own expense) whatever you'd like if you absolutely crave Nutella or some Danone Yogurts. Please be aware that we can't always find a particular American/French/German/younamethecountry product here.
I always have (mostly herbal) tea in the house, and can buy some coffee if needed. You can use them whenever you'd like, as well as most products in the kitchen.
I don't provide alcohol on a regular basis and would ask you to refrain from being completely wasted when at home (alcohol is cheap and readily available in the country tho).
I enjoy wine and might get a bottle from time to time, and you're more than welcome to join.
The shop next door sells beer for a decent price (usually about $2 for a 2 L/half a gallon bottle).
Cooking and cleaning the house is a shared duty, as we're all in.
On your time off, you're more than welcome to join me in my activities (meeting with friends, walking in the forest, biking...). We can take trips around the country from time to time, especially if you're staying an extended period of time (going to Tiraspol, visiting some cool places, Urbex, bicycle trips, food trips...), or even to Moldova or Ukraine.
If you prefer to spend time on your own, which is not an issue at all, I can help you organise your trips (finding the best accommodation arrangements, transports, etc.).
Around the house, you can:
- fish or swim in the lake,
- hike or bike in the forest and the neighbouring villages, including Stroensi, Beloci, and Rashkov,
- try a Swedish bath with lavender in a self-sufficient farm,
- visiting some restaurants around (by bike or taxi),
If you take a minibus or a taxi you can:
- go kayaking on the river Dniester,
- go to the movies in the city (only in Russian I'm afraid),
- visit other cities in Pridnestrovie,
- visit the cognac factory, the sturgeon farm (they produce caviar with a process that doesn't kill the fish), some industrial plants, etc.
- take longer trips to Moldova or Ukraine (depending on COVID restrictions),
RULES (I'm not very strict and it's just good sense, but it doesn't cost much to remind them here)
- respect the property of everybody (mine, and others'),
- be respectful with the local people (neighbours, workers, friends, etc.),
- respect the nature,
- be clean and keep things clean around you (no liter, cigaret butts or anything on the floor please),
- don't drink too much when at home (when you're away for the night, it's your responsibility, but try to behave well in all cases)
- no drugs (including cannabis)! This is a punishable offense here, and police quite strict with it. If you introduce drugs on my property, I will have to ask you to leave without delay.
In a general way, communication is key. If you have an issue with me, the work or anything, or if you don't know how to do something, just talk to me. I am a very open-minded person, and always happy to discuss the issues instead of letting the situation rot.
Feel free to ask any question you have before coming.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
You are welcome to work online on your free time. You can use the 4G access at the house (will likely have a DSL access soon enough, but it's still work in progress). It is usually quite reliable, although not as fast as optic fibre. Would be fine for writers, designers, coders... but maybe not for video production. Your call. Depending on how it goes, I might let you free access to the apartment so that you can use it for work (I have optic fibre there). It is about 20-25 km from the village tho, and I can't drive you every time. Might be suitable if you need a stronger connexion one or two days a week, or if you have your own car and are ready to commute.
Might keep it in the garden or just outside the property. I can't help you dispose of your grey/black water tho. If you're happy to use the compost toilet and the outdoor shower, that's fine by me.
Dogs might be fine if not agressive and well educated. In any case, this is something we need to discuss beforehand. :)
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week