Above in red, you will see the path that I have taken throughout the country since my last post which was about the All Vol on August 24th. Within the past two weeks I have spent more time on public transportation than I care to admit but it was all worth it.
After coming back from the PC conference and repacking, I headed on my 16 hour train ride to visit Barbara’s site which is located in Drobeta-Turnu Severin. I met up with Meg and Lindsey there as well and we had fun hanging out for a few days with Babs. We walked around the town and got to see Serbia from her balcony. We bonded over homemade Mexican food and no bake cookies. I was very impressed with this city because, at that point, it was the cleanest city that I had seen in Romania. I did not see a single piece of litter anywhere on the streets and was blown away by this fact.
Two days after getting to Barbara’s, Meg and I said our goodbyes to the girls and started the 12 hour journey to her site that included 4 different trains and a taxi. Meg’s site is located in the Szekeyfold which is the Hungarian part of Romania. her city of Odorheiu Secuiesc is about 95% Hungarian. I was somewhat thrown off by this, especially since Hungarian is the main spoken language and you have to ask people to speak in Romanian to you. Meg’s city is absolutely beautiful and I fell in love with it. It is another city that is absolutely spotless and have a very quaint feel to it with local shops lining the streets and a very adorable and pedestrian friendly city center.
We hung out at Meg’s site for about 4 days and this included a lot of relaxation time which was somewhat needed. We visited the local hobby store and made jewelry, thought up ideas for our booths at the PC Gala event the Ambassador is holding for us, hung out with her counterpart and had a day trip to Corund.
Corund is a village that is located about half an hour north by bus from Odorheiu Secuiesc and is known for its gorgeous pottery. We spent a few hours in the village roaming the various shops and being blown away by how beautiful all of the handcrafted work was. We also got a chance to have a very interesting tri-lingual exchange with a local cafe owner and a young man from the village. As we were sitting in the cafe waiting for our bus back, we struck up a conversation with these two people. The young man knew Romanian, Hungarian, and decent amount of English. The cafe owner knew Hungarian and Romanian. Meg has a god grasp of Hungarian since that is all she speaks in her town, and I had my Romanian. Between the four of us, we managed to have a wonderful conversation about various topics and it was such a great experience to see how all of the different languages were mixed when we didn’t know a word in one language or another.
That Monday Meg and I made the 6 hour trip of hell from Odorhei to Bucuresti. When we got on the initial bus that was going to take us from Odorhei to Brasov, it smelled of vomit. It smelled like someone got drunk and puked over every square inch of that bus to the point of me having to breath through my mouth for the entirety of the 3 hour trip. When we got to Brasov, we missed 2 maxi taxis going to Bucuresti because they were filled. We got the last two spots on the third one and ended up in the very back corner. 1.5 hours into the ride the AC decided to stop cooling and just recirculated the hot air. By the time we were about half an our away from the city, people were starting to yell at the driver because of the heat. The thermometer that was at the front read 32 degrees which is about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the driver couldn’t do anything, he just put a piece of paper over the thermostat hoping no one would notice. Smooth.
After arriving at our hostel in Buc, we showered, changed, and headed out to the mall to meet up with Lindsey and the new PCRV Robert who lives in Bucuresti to see Batman. All I can say about that movie is WOW. It definitely did NOT disappoint. We followed up our movie night with some wine and relaxation in the old center part of the city.
The following afternoon we packed our bags once again and headed down to the seaside town of Mangalia. Mangalia is a very quaint town situated about 10km from the Bulgarian border. There really wasn’t much to see there but there was a wonderful beach that we made sure to hang out at as long as possible. The nights were spent relaxing and eating seafood meals that are so rare everyone else in the country.
The final stop of my crazy summer traveling session was the Hotel Rozmarin in Predeal. I, with 4 other PCVs went to a weekend long “job well done” conference that was put on by the Eu Sunt! Tu? campaign and members from PSI (Public Services International). PSI is worldwide NGO that focuses on various health issues such as HIV, Malaria, and reproductive health. At this conference, there were about 160 people from the LGBT community throughout all of Romania. Teams from 10 major cities within the country came to share their projects that they have put on within the past year in relation to various LGBT awareness topics.
The first day of the conference was mainly just a meet and greet. The second day, Saturday, was comprised of meetings in the morning where we put on a very education STI activity that I did at GLOW camp, and we heard about the various projects that have occurred within the past year. After lunch, the entire group got on a bus and we divided ourselves into city based teams ( Meg and I were put with team Brasov) to compete in a 4 hour long teamwork obstacle course of sorts. The various challenges we had to do were, got down on a zip line, cross a tightrope, move three metal balls from their stands onto other stands by only using rope, complete an obstacle course by moving 2 tied up bicycles through the course without touching them, and placing bowling pins on various targets while being suspended up in the air. Throughout the challenges, we got to know the various participants from the Brasov team and we instantly became friends with them. Most of the team is fairly young ranging from 18-24. They were all absolutely amazing people that were really welcoming and kind. We had a blast joking around with them and I even learned how the gay community greats each other. That night was the all white party and I can honestly say it was one of the funnest nights I’ve had in Romania. It was absolute mayhem and we ended up dancing with team Brasov until the wee hours of the morning.
Sunday many of us woke up with that awful feeling one wakes up with after a long night of fun. Not wanting to get out of bed, but knowing that checkout was in half an hour, I managed to drag myself out of bed, take a shower, and head down to the train station to wait for my train. When Meg and I got to the train station, we ran into our lovely friends from Team Brasov who ended up being my life savers. When we got off the train in Brasov, Meg had an hour long layover while I had about a 7 hour layover. A few of the guys that lived outside of the city invited me home with them so I can relax until my train back to site at 9pm. Me, Adi, Razvan, and George headed to Rasnov for the day and we ended up hanging out at George’s apartment. It was nice to hang out with these amazing and strong people for one more day before I had to say goodbye.
I arrived home today at about 5am and passed out for most of the day. I am very happy to be home but know that I have so much work ahead of me. With school starting in a week, some faculty changes, the Gala event in 2 weeks, and many other projects and travel dates coming up, i’m going to be quite the busy bee this semester.
Until next time,