This week was one of the most adventurous and amazing times so far. As you all know, I visited my future volunteer site Sângeorz-Băi this past week. After a much-needed slumber, I woke up Tuesday morning refreshed and ready to take on the tiny town. The day started off at 9am in front of Marys house. We walked to the high school together where she introduced me to some of the staff and director who ended up walking me across the street to the mayor’s office for some more introductions.
I got to sit in on some of Mary’s classes and even though it was the end of the school year and things were coming to an end, I managed learn a lot about the classes and how the day-to-day things run. The school is a theoretic high school and is one of the best in the county. All of the students seem very well-educated and even more so well-behaved. I havent gotten a chance to see if this is specifically Mary’s own doing or just the environment of the school. Ideas and random thoughts about possible future projects were running through my brain so fast I couldn’t even write them all down.
After the classes we partook in a lunch that one of the teachers provided for her 10 year anniversary at the school. The food was delicious, the homemade wine and vișinata(cherry brandy) were very welcomed by all the teachers and the conversation was,as always in this country, very interesting. Some of the older male teachers were discussing how I should find myself a nice handsome Romanian boy and stay in the city forever, others were discussing a fellow teacher and the possibilities of setting the two of us up, and my other,non-English speaking counterpart and myself were having a tutoring session as to how to pronounce entrepreneurship in Romanian (which I have yet to succeed at).
Loredana, the non english speaking CP of mine headed to the train station after lunch in an attempt to reserve my train ticket in a sleeper car. Just like typical Romanian fashion something went wrong. The computer broke and After waiting a half hour for it to start back up again, we gave up and headed to my future apartment for my tour.
My apartment is breathtaking. I am on the top/4th floor of a very nice block apartment. When I walked into the flat I was astonished. The place was ten fold better than anything I had expected or even imagined. I have hardwood floors, 2 bedrooms,a living room, 2 balconies, 1 opened and 1 closed in, a very nicely sized and new bathroom and a large kitchen. The walls are vibrantly painted and it is pre-furnished with very elegant looking furniture. Leave it to Romania to bring me back down from my apartment bliss. I don’t have central heating. I will be using a soba which is a big terracotta stove in the center of my apartment. It will be interesting trying to find wood, get it chopped, and get it up 4 flights of stairs.
After visiting the apartment. Loredana, Mary and I decided it would be great fun to visit the circus that was in town for the week. It was an interesting experience to say the least… When you picture a circus in the states, you pictures lots of exotic animals, acrobats, clowns etc… This circus had 1 pathetic attempt at a clown, 3 dogs, 1 pony, and a juggler. The kids seemed to enjoy themselves so I guess it was worth it.
The second day/last day of my site visit was another action packed day. I met up with Mary for breakfast and to plan out my last day. After a large 3lei sandwich of șunca, cașcaval, varza, and mayo, Mary and I met up with Loredana and headed to the local Museum of Comparative Art. It is amazing that such a beautiful museum exists in a small town. That is one of those things that doesn’t usually happen in the states. After we visited the museum, Mary, her boyfriend, his cousin, and myself went for a fairly easy walk/hike up one of the hills surrounding the town. When we got to the top was when I truly felt at home. It was such a breathtaking view that I could have sat there all day long and just stared out over the town. After spending some time on the hill-top, we decided to come back down and get some food before I headed out to my train. We stopped by a local pizzeria that has a gorgeous patio with very good tasting pizza and legitimately spicy hot sauce. Hot sauce is a very rare find in this country so imagine my surprise when I actually felt my mouth burn!
At 8pm I was dropped off at the neighboring town by both of my counterparts and another French/English teacher. We said our goodbyes and see you soons and I was off on my first ever Romanian train journey. I was required to ride the train to Salva which is a town about 25km away from mine. At that point my train would merge with another one where I would have to get out of my car and move to the sleeping car. As I was walking on the platform to the sleeping car, I ran across a fellow volunteer Kevin. We were so happy to see each other that we automatically entered into a big bear hug. He was very quick to tell me about another American named Jessica that he discovered on the train. She is a post-graduate student making her way through Romania all by herself for the next 10 days with NO knowledge of the language. We got to talking in her sleeper car and ended up hanging out for quite a while. She was saying how she is so impressed that we are in the Peace Corps when we were even more impressed with her large amount of courage to come to a country where not only you donțt speak the language, but a country where you can’t be too sure you will find people who speak English in the smaller locations. I ended up sharing the sleeper car with her where her generosity surprised me. She gifted me with a large back of mixed snack pack chocolates like Almond Joy, Hershey Bars, Kit Kat, and the ever elusive and rare REESES PEANUT BUTTER CUPS!!!!! I got so excited and explained to her how peanut butter cups among PCTs in this country are like cigarettes in prison. We went to bed around 1130 and although the beds were fairly comfortable, I couldn’t help but toss and turn. The noise the train would make on the tracks would get loud at times and wake me up. When we were stopped at a station it got hot fairly quickly and while we were moving the blowing wind cooled down the room so it was a lot blanket movement going on. My sleeper mate had to get up at 4am because she was getting off at Brașov and I said I would be more than happy to help her with her bags since she was nice enough to let me stay in her cabin since my original cabin mate kept the room temperature at a balmy 90 degrees. God forbid the curent caught up to her on the train and killed her ovaries in her sleep! I saw Jessica off in Brașov, translated a few things for her, and went back to my compartment. At around 6am, Kevin came into my compartment and we just chatted until we arrived in Ploiești at 7:30am. We got on the 8:27 train to Târgoviște which took 1.5 hours to travel about 50km. When we finally arrived at the train station it was a huge sigh of relief! Although neither of us wanted to leave our sites, it felt good to be back in a location that we have grown to know very well. Tomorrow we are back to the normal grind with a site debrief and then some more language review. These next three weeks are definitely going to be bittersweet.