Kishinev is the capital city of Moldova and, as such, is the most prosperous part of the county. This relative prosperity translates to poverty when compared to most American cities. The buildings look like slums, even the ones that are only three years old. Some have peeling paint, the rest have unpainted CBS block or some combination of the two. Elevators are built to hold 2 or 3 people; you put in more at your own risk.
These apartment buildings are noteworthy for their extreme drab ugliness. Rising 15 stories into the sky, they all appear to be unfinished with raw, untreated masonry bedecking their facades. It is not that they are old buildings that are falling apart. It is that they are new buildings which are falling apart - some only several years old. When I asked Ron Helton about them, he replied that it was the communist policy to construct all new buildings so that they were equally ugly - communism dictated that all people be brought down to the lowest common denominator.
A girl was reported to have been injured outside our building when a piece of plaster broke away from the building and fell on her, giving her a deep gash in the arm. From the look of the buildings, this is no uncommon occurrence. The plaster is pealing from every building that we have seen. They are in a constant state of disrepair. Even the buildings that were constructed within the last several years have this run-down appearance. As the deterioration continues, the actual stability of the buildings begins to be compromised. To make matters worse, this is an earthquake zone and small tremors are not uncommon. The effects of a major earthquake would be comparable to those of which we read in Turkey that kill so many thousands.
The streets are filled with potholes. This has one advantage in that no one drives exceptionally fast and accidents are hardly ever fatal. On the other hand, pedestrians cross streets at their own risk. They are expected to jump out of the way and no allowances are made for slow reflexes.