Tag Archives: birthdays

My Birthday, Moj Rodjendan, Ziua Mea

Standard

So this post is a TAD late, considering my birthday was two weeks ago but I have been fairly busy so blame it on that if you like. My birthday tale starts on the eve of said day, November 4th. I had quite the PCRO moment when my mom and I were in the middle of baking what ended up being over 100 brownies, 50 cookies, and 50 other random food…things, my propane tank went out. It was around 1pm on a Sunday so all the normal places I would have gone to to get a new tank were closed. After about half an hour of calling around, I finally found a place that was open and a friend of mine to drive me to said place since a full tank weighs about 50lbs.

The actual day of was fun. I received lots of kisses, flowers, chocolates, and “la multi ani”s from my students and I treated them to the plethora of cookies that I had made the day prior. That night my mom, Mary, and I went out for a birthday dinner at one of the restaurants in town.

That week didn’t really entail anything else that exciting. My mom and I hung out in town and in school until Friday. Friday morning we caught the 5:30 am bus to Cluj to meet up with Meg, Megan, Nick, and Kevin to see my mom off and celebrate my birthday with my friends. The weather was pretty dreary and rainy so we didn’t get to do everything we had wanted. I had an interview with the International School in Cluj which went pretty well and that will hopefully be an option after Peace Corps. We spent the day hanging around the city center, going to the craft market and relaxing in a cafe over some vin fiert, hot chocolate and cheese plates. After the entire gang had arrived, we headed to dinner where my mom got to know some of my favorite volunteers.

Saturday morning, after seeing my mom off at the airport, the 5 of us headed out to the salt mine in Turda. If you recall from a post around this time last year, the cit of Turda, which is about 20km outside of Cluj, houses an enormous old salt mine that has been resurrected as a tourist attraction. We spent a few hours there walking around, riding the Ferris Wheel, and rowing the boats.

After getting back to Cluj, Nick told us of a microbrewery in the center that serves liter sized beers so naturally we headed there. The beer was great but what we didn’t know is that they make an amazing burger as well. As mentioned in many previous posts, beef is very hard to come by in this country, especially good quality beef, so when we bit into those burgers it was like heaven! We spent quite a time there enjoying each others’ company and finishing up our gigantic but very delicious beers.

After heading back to the hostel, we got ready, and headed to one of the many college bars in the center. To say the night was fun is an understatement. I even ended up getting to see Ioana, one of my very good friends and ex- students that is now at university in Cluj.

I’m so happy that I got to celebrate my birthday weekend with such an amazing group of people and I could not have asked for a better time. Oh, I forgot to mention, I was talked into wearing a hot pink tutu the night we went out since I was the birthday girl. It was absolutely ridiculous and all thanks to the one and only Megan.

P.S. I ended up getting ICED 4 times that weekend. For those of you who don’t know what that is, you did not attend a college in the states in the recent past. For those of you that do, this is how it happened.

1. Nick saying “LOOK! Some one shit in the plant!”…..ice

2. Found it in my purse at 10am after a shower…ice

3. Found it in Megan’s boot…ice

4. It was in the back pocket of a random traveler that was staying in our hostel…ice

Enjoy the pictures:

Advertisements

The Start To a Very Busy Summer

Standard

So my summer vacation started off with a nice trip to Bucharest to visit Good ‘ol Dr. Dan. I think i have previously mentioned how my ankle has been bugging me more than usual lately and I needed to finally figure out why. I arrived in Bucuresti at about 8am to find out that it was going to be another hot as hell type of day. After cooling off from the early morning heat and hanging out in the PC lounge for a while, Lili, the medical assistant escorted me to get an ultrasound done. A short half an hour later, I was sitting back in Dr. Dan’s office while he was telling me that he wants me to stay off of it. Needles to say I laughed at his advice and told him there is simply no time for such a thing. The next plan of action is physiotherapy. GREAT!! [read: shit!]. apparently I have tendinitis along with what looks to be a possible cyst on my ankle and the sooner it gets taken care of the better. Please note my 20 free days this summer have now gone down to 15 due to the therapy which will require me to spend several days in Buc.

After a delicious Mexican lunch with a group 27 PCV Sara, I headed to Targoviste to visit none other than the best gazda family EVER! I walked in and was immediately greeted with hugs from the entire family and got to meet Denisa’s college roommate, Arletta, a 21 year old spunky Polish girl with a badass British accent. I spent Friday night catching up with the family and being in great company.

Saturday the girls and I headed off to Bran Castle so Arletta could experience some Dracula lore firsthand. We left hot and humid Targoviste and after a two hour car ride arrived at Bran only to be caught in the middle of the worst rain storm I’ve seen in country. We tried to wait out the rain for about an hour at a caffe but decided to brave the storm and head up to the castle. We got to the castle completely soaked and shivering but this was not going to stop us from having a good time. After touring the castle we headed back down the hill and that was when the hail started. When we got into the car we looked like we had just gotten thrown into a pool. After laughing at our misfortune we decided our best option was to strip to our bare essentials and slowly start on our way home. Most of our trip was driving through Arges county which is absolutely gorgeous. It is serpentine roads passing through mountain passes and quaint villages nestled next to flowing rivers. Since we were at such a high altitude we were driving through nothing but hail for over 2 hours. By the time we made it towards the end of the storm, we were passing former green pastures that were now covered in a sheet of white from the little ice balls of fury. 4 hours later, we made it back home only about 45 minutes before the storm.

Sunday was spent celebrating Iza’s birthday. After spending a majority of the morning and early afternoon getting ready and packing up everything that was needed, we headed off to Mamitica’s (grandma) house for a gratar (BBQ). We spent the day enjoying each other’s company over food, drinks, and later in the night some very… colorful folklore music.

This post finally brings us to today. I said bye to the gazda fam around 4 pm and hopped on a train to Bucuresti. I am now on my overnight train to pick up the girls in Budapest and can’t wait to reunite with them and show off the country that I have fallen in love with over the past year.

Total time spent on train this weekend: 18 hours, 11 more to go!

Until next time,
Va pup!

More Presents

Standard

So the Eastern European tradition when it comes to birthdays is the exact opposite than it is in the states. Here, the birthday celebrant treats his/her guests to whatever it may be. I decided to bring some America into the cancelaria today with some home made apple pie. Disclaimer: I know what I am and I know what I am not and I FOR SURE am NOT a baker. The pie doesn’t look that great but it turned out pretty tasty and since my pan was so big, i didn’t have enough for a top layer. The teachers said they really liked it and I don’t know if they were doing it to be nice or actually did enjoy it, either way, I doubt i’ll ever try to make a pie again.

I was also lucky enough to receive a plethora of flowers from my classes as well as my director. They all came to visit me during my breaks and give me gorgeous bouquets of flowers, some of them even marched down the street singing happy birthday as they were going to class. too cute!

Birthday Weekend

Standard

The festivities started off Friday afternoon around 1pm. As I was getting out of the shower, I heard the patter of what sounded like dozens of feet going up the stairwell along with many various teenage voices. I knew that there aren’t many kids that live in my building, and I somewhat assumed they were heading up to my apartment, but I honestly hadn’t the faintest idea as to why. I hurried up and tried to make myself look presentable and then came the knock on the door. When I opened the door, to my surprise, stood the entire class of 10B -all 32 of them- with a cake and flowers in hand bellowing out happy birthday dear teacher in their best English accents they could muster. I stood there for a few minutes in shock because I had no idea how the hell we were all going to fit into my apartment. nonetheless, I invited them in and after about a 2 minute parade, everyone finally managed to squeeze themselves into my living room for a photo op. I now know what it feels like to be in a clown car. After seeing them out, I finished up my packing and headed to Cluj (a nearby large college town) for the weekend for the country wide Peace Corps EAP training.

EAP stands for Emergency Action Plan. Basically, every PC post is required to have one just in case something happens within the country and all of the PCVs need to be evacuated. How the EAP works is, if we receive news that we have to leave the country for some safety reason, we are to go to our designated consolodation point and wait for further instructions. The points are chosen based on size of city and how close they are to an international airport. For the volunteers that live in northern and northwest Romania, Cluj is our meeting point. We were required to arrive by noon on Saturday but since that would mean I would have to get up at 4am on Saturday morning to make it, I just decided to get in Friday night. I got into my hostel around 9pm where I put down my stuff and met the rest of the fellow travelers that were staying at the hostel. Another PCV, Kevin, made it into the hostel around 10 where we hung out for a little bit before we hit the town with the rest of the group.

Saturday morning, we woke up around 10 and headed to our consolidation point. Since the hotel where we are supposed to meet had no idea that we were coming, we decided to just have our actual EAP meeting in the lobby of our hostel since most of the volunteers knew where it was anyways. after about 2 hours, our meeting, along with the EAP test was over and we were free to do whatever we wanted. We decided to grab some lunch at a very tasty restaurant that a 3rd year PCV suggested. After our meal, Chip and Ester surprised me with homemade apple cake with buttercream frosting, American flag posters, stickers, a small mouthwash bottled filled with Maramures Tuica along with many other goodies. We dealt out the cake and the glasses for the tuica with which we cheered to my birthday and sang La Multi Ani.

Following lunch, we went in search of the Ursus Beer Factory that we had heard was in Cluj. After about a half hour of walking with a map that ended 1/2 a km short of where we needed to be, we saw the 6 enormous beer silos of the factory peeking out over the buildings. We went inside and were told that we would not be able to go on a tour but we could patron the restaurant. We hung out at the restaurant for a little while and then the girls headed out to the mall to do some much needed grocery shopping for Megan, and turtle home shopping for me. I got back to the hostel around 9pm where I met the boys up for dinner and by 11pm, after thanking everyone for the birthday wishes via facebook and talking to one of my students, Traian, that built me my own personalized blog for my birthday (details soon to come), I headed to bed to rest up for the trip back today. I got back into site around noon where I immediately started making some apple pie that I plan to bring to school with me tomorrow as a treat to all the teachers for my birthday. I am very self aware. I know what I am, I know what I am not, and I know I am NOT a baker, yet there is a part of me that wishes I could be and constantly tries to bake concoctions. I finally finished the pie after making such a mess in my kitchen that it took me twice as long to clean it up than it did to make the pie, I am ready for the school day tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to this week since I get to travel again next weekend to Suceava for a PC sponsored language refresher weekend that Melissa has planned.

Until next time, Va pup!

 

 

Moon overlooking Sangeorz-Bai

Jovankai îi Plac Lei și Vodca

Standard

Once again, the weekend came and went in the blink of an eye but it was thoroughly enjoyed nonetheless. Friday was our last day of practicum at our current high school and it was definitely bittersweet. I really enjoyed teaching our classes and getting to know the students and of course our mentor teacher Monica. It was a great experience to watch her teach because you can see that she truly cares for her students and is very passionate about teaching.  Since the normal school schedule was altered this Friday due to an appearance by the mayor of the city along with a creative writing awards ceremony, we didn’t teach. While the mayor was giving his speech to the teachers, my teacher was telling me some interesting facts about our practicum school and how after communism the population dropped and now many high schools are starting to consolidate and close down due to the smaller number of classes. With this, there are many jobs that will be cut and so on. I never really thought about these types of changes that the end of communism caused and how, 20 years later, they are finally starting to come forth.I also experienced my first form of culture shock at the school that day. My training group and I were standing out side of our classroom admiring some of the students artistic abilities. Kevin and i were discussing something while 2 of our freshman walked by us. As they walked by, they both stared right into Kevin’s eyes and said “Kiss, Kiss…te pup!” Our mouths dropped…. Yes Kevin is a young teacher and our school has mainly girls in it. I never expected any of the students to have that much courage to so blatantly hit on a teacher. We were both left speechless for several minutes after that and it was just another reminder that we are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

After language class we did the typical PCT thing of going to the blue bar and then heading out to dinner after that. I was fairly tired so Jeremy-WB and I walked home around 10pm. When I got to my house, I was very excited to get into bed and just relax but naturally, that didn’t happen. Denisa was in the process of getting ready to go out to a Romanian hip/hop concert at a local club that was made to resemble a castle. She ended up talking me into joining so i quickly changed, put on some make up, and headed out the door. When we pulled up to the club, I was definitely amazed. I wish i would have gotten a picture of it but it was pretty remarkable. The outside was designed to look like a castle, towers, doors, armor and all.  The inside was beautifully decorated. The walls were made of stone and made to look like the inside of a dungeon. There were 3 floors with very posh looking tables and couches as far as the eye could see.

Most of my night was spent sipping on my drink and people watching. If you have seen the movie Euro Trip, you can picture what this very typical Eastern European club looked like. There were topless dancers, whom no one really paid attention to that also baffled my mind. My favorite aspect of this club was the music selection. Before the main act came on, the DJ mainly played what sounded like Romanian techno. About 20 minutes before the rapper came on stage, the DJ switched to American music and I couldn’t help but laugh. The selection started off with songs from the 80s/90s with Ice, Ice, Baby and Hammertime. It then progressed into some Missy Elliot and Not wanting to lose your love tonight. The last song right before the main act was, I kid you not, Carl Orf’s Carmina Burana. For those of you that are not aware. carmina Burana is one of my favorite musical pieces. It is centuries old and was originally written and performed by Benedictine Monks. Anyways, this song came on…it is a very deep and ominous piece and i was so shocked I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or cry. The crowd went wild. Everyone threw their hands up in the air and jammed to, not a techno remix, but the original song. Listen to the song below and picture myself along with 500 Romanian youth, rocking out at a rap concert to this song. Priceless.

Saturday was a lot more tame. It was Jeremy-WB’s 31st birthday and since he is one of the people that I consider myself the closest to within our group I decided to make him a birthday cake, with the help of my Gazda mom, naturally. Since I apparently lack the creative ability and soft touch to make a cake look pretty, I was given the grunt work. I cut up the fruit aranged it within the cake and frosted the inside of the cake. Basically I did everything that would not be seen. Luckily my host mom is very creative and together, with my cutting skills, and her creative imagination, we successfully made a quite tasty cake.  Since the weather this weekend was nothing but sunny, we decided to head to the park again and just hang out. There was about 15 of us and we played uno, soccer, talked, listened to music, and just had a great time. After many hours in the sun, a smaller group of us decided to stop by a local restaurant and get some dinner. We found their wine list, saw how cheap bottles of wine here and noticed that this particular restaurant carried my favorite type of wine which made me that much happier.  The wine in this country is usually arranged by color and sweetness, no names. If you know exactly what you like and what you don’t you can go about ordering a glass of wine but it is very rare that you will get the same rose semi-sweet wine at different restaurants. After dinner we took a stroll to the park where we hung out and eventually got serenaded by some locals with a guitar. Below is the video (actually more like audio) of the PCTs and Romanians singing along.

This morning, I was woken up by my host father screaming which I assumed to be profanities and I had no idea why. Denisa came running into the house and grabbed something and said “I need this for the chickens, the dog bit one of them”…..WHAT?!?!?!?! Apparently Ion, my host dad bought who I call Mamasita, my host grandmother a bunch of chickens. I assumed he bought some to take with us when we went to go visit her to cook on the grill. When I get into the car….I hear something moving and realize that the chickens Ion bought were still alive….the story was finally pieced together. The whole 20 minute ride I kept on hearing the chickens squawking and flapping around in the trunk. Wow…

The rest of the day was spent in the country side at gma’s house hanging out in the sun and walking through the garden. Now it’s off to do more Romanian homework! Until next time, te pup!