Vacation Report #1: Elk & Apple Jack

Wapiti PubSo we come down from Lost Lake smelling like we’d been camping for four days, which we had. We drive into Estes Park for burgers and wander into the Wapiti Pub and Restaurant. And we notice that all the young waiters and waitresses working there seem to have Eastern European accents.

We order our food–they offer elk burgers, but we both stick with beef–and I ask the waitress where she’s from. And that’s when the universe serves up a supersized coincidence with extra dippin’ sauce.


I badgered the poor young lady with questions. What was she doing in Estes Park, Colorado? She and her fellow Moldovans were on some kind of summer work program. She’s a college student in the capital city, Chisinau.

What did she know about Transnistria? Apparently, the place is a real dump. Poverty, poor infrustructure, etc. They’ve declared themselves an autonomous republic, but they’re still mooching off the Moldovan goverment for help with things like schools and roads. I asked her to explain how an “autonomous” republic could do that, and she said she didn’t really understand it herself.

I told her I was investigating Moldovan spammers. Did her country have a lot of spam? In response, she would only flash her crooked-toothed smile.

Martini BlancoHowever, she was forthcoming on the subject of Moldovan booze. Young men back home will go to a bar and order whiskey and apple juice. (Google identifies this as cocktail called “apple jack.”) Young women drink something called “Martini Blanco.” (Though I located a picture, I still don’t know what it is.)

Slowly but surely, a picture emerges of life as a Moldovan spammer. Sipping apple jack while the giant junk servers hum late into the night, one eye on the window, knowing a mob of vigiliante bloggers could show up any minute. Transnistrian lay-abouts snatching at every Leu you make. (Current exchange rate: approx. $0.08 U.S.) Girls with expensive tastes in liquor in need of orthodontics.

Of couse, it’s possible the spammers there are women, in which case they have to feed their own white martini craving. Either way, I have sympathy for these people… a sympathy counterbalanced by the fact that I now have 63 junk comments in my moderation cue.

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