La sfarsitul lumii means at the end of the world and that is exactly where I went to celebrate my Thanksgiving weekend. Kelly lives in a little village called Focuri which literally means fires. She is about 45km outside of Iasi, the second largest city in Romania. I left for my adventure immediately after school on Thursday. With my backpack in tow, I headed to the main corner where one picks up rides that are leaving the city. I found a ride within 10 minutes and headed to the train station in Ilva Mica. After waiting for about 40 minutes for the train to Pascani, I finally got on the train and then proceeded to defrost my body for the next hour or so. Nothing unusual came out of the train ride, random bunicas (grandmas) talking to me and inquiring where i’m going, why i’m going then finding out i’m not a native speaker which just opens the floodgates to even more follow up questions. Since I was not going to be able to make it to Kelly’s site in one travel day, my stop, 5.5 hours later was Pascani, the home of two very wonderful volunteers that would also be attending our Thanksgiving feast name Theron and Sarah.
The following morning, the three of us got up around 8 and headed for the train station to meet the others in Iasi. Our train arrived 1.5 hours later and we were greeted on the platform by Kelly and another volunteer Matt. Our first order of business was getting a little taste of America by patroning the McDonald’s that is right next to the train station. The rest of our time spent in Iasi was shopping at the ginormous grocery store that Carrefour has made at the edge of the city and being astonished that they actually carried sweet potatoes since no one knows what sweet potatoes are and they assume they are regular potatoes you just put sugar on. We caught the last bus out of Iasi at 5pm and headed to Focuri. After about half an hour on the bus, the asphalt stopped and we knew we had officially entered no man’s land. The last hour of the bus ride was spent bobbing up and down and trying to figure our exact location based on the minimal outside lighting.
Saturday rolled around and the last two members of our Thanksgiving Day Extravaganza arrived which brought our party’s total to 9 PCVs in a house that was built for far less and for hobbits under 5ft tall. Since the kitchen we were to use was a very cozy 6×6 foot space, and the stove could only accommodate about 1 item at a time, we had to start cooking fairly early. at 11am, we started off with the apple pie to get it out of the way. When we started our cooking, we did not anticipate that we would be cooking until 8pm ish. After the turkey had been taken out of the oven and the side dishes were underway, we were graced by the wonderful Thanksgiving Gods and the power went out on the whole street. Since we didn’t really have a choice and Kelly’s host’s oven/stove runs on gas, we continued cooking, mainly in the dark with the only light being from the flashlights on our cheap first generation Nokia phones. We managed to carve the Turkey, set the table, finish all the sides, and dish out the food all in the dark and we finally sat down to dinner around 8pm. Eating in the dark was definitely an interesting experience.
I don’t know if it was because of the lack of light, the fact that we all missed our friends and family back home, or the fact that we actually made delicious meals, but the food was extrodinary. Everything was made from absolute scratch and every bite tasted even better than the last. We went around the table and said what we are thankful for and I shared with the group that this was my first real American Thanksgiving. Being foreign and what not, my family doesn’t really celebrate Thanksgiving that much. The reason why we started eating a turkey for the holiday was because my dad would get them free from work. Every Thanksgiving that I have been to was never a dinner but more of a lunch, which to me, just didn’t seem quite authentic. On top of that, every single one had at least one Serbian dish that just didn’t fit the typical Thanksgiving menu.
Travelling a total of 24 hours within a 3 day span was quite exhausting but so worth it. I’m so happy I got to spend the holiday with such great people that have become my Romanian family.