I went to Piatra Neamț to visit a fellow volunteer, Berta, and participate in the English Club she started at the local library. When I got in Sunday night, we just went back to Berta’s, made some dinner and relaxed. Monday morning after a very delicious breakfast prepared by the best host I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, we headed out to explore the city a bit. Berta’s city is fairly sizable since it is the county seat. It lays at the beginning of some mountain foothills and is known for its winter sports due to the many gently sloping hills. Her city even has a tele-gondola(cable car) which we rode to the top of one of the hills where the view was nothing short of gorgeous.
After our mini trip, we headed to another volunteer’s (Ellie) site about half an hour away from the city. After quite the interesting maxi taxi ride, we arrived in Bicaz which is the city closest to Ellie’s village. We met Ellie at the local supermarket and headed on a micro bus into her village about 10 minutes away. The day we were visiting, the town was celebrating it’s 400th birthday and put on a festival called “Flori de Munte” (flowers of the mountain). I should start out by saying that the backdrop to Ellie’s village is beautiful rolling hills covered in Alpines with one big blemish which is the German concrete factory that sustains most of the village.
The festival was held at the bottom of one of these hills next to a nearly dried out river bed, a car tire graveyard, and the factory in the background. It seemed as though the entire town attended the festival. There were some cheap carnival rides, vendors selling random crap, mici (grilled sausages) cooking in every corner and an army of bunici(elderly people) sitting in the front rows by the stage, waiting for the show to start. We walked around a little bit and when the mayor started talking via a very amplified speaker system, we headed towards the front. After what seemed like half an hour of him talking and awarding flowers to the elderly couples in the community that were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, he started talking about English and how they all need it in their lives and how the village is honored to have a courageous 77 year old volunteer come from the united states just to teach the village some English. Ellie was called up on stage to say a few words and then the mayor officially started the entertainment which was filled with dancing and singing (videos and pictures coming when I get back to site).
After Ellie stepped back down, we were invited by the school’s director to have lunch with him and his colleagues. As little as all of us like mici, we couldn’t refuse. When we got to the tables, we shortly realized we were in the VIP area which included table cloth on the tables, actual plates and silverwear, tents, and the collegues the director was referring to were the likes of the county prefect, some priests, the mayor’s family, and now us. After our lunch we said our thanks to our hospitable hosts and headed back into Bicaz to catch our bus to Piatra Neamț.
Back in Piatra, we had a nice dinner at a local restaurant then headed back to Berta’s for a very fun night of scrabble and Melissa’s attempts at making up words like hamin and twip. The following day we headed to Kaufland to do some grocery shopping and then headed to the Foreign section of the city library for the English club. There were about 8 people that joined us for the club and the discussion was very advanced and intense. The club ended at 6pm and Melissa and I set off for the bus station. We left for Pascan, Sarah and Theron’s site around 6:30.
We got into Pascan about 8pm where we were greated by our next set of hosts. I was really happy to see the Labounty’s because they are a lot of fun to hang out with and I really wanted to see their place. We had dinner that night, drank some very tasty vișinata (home made cherry liquor), and had a good time catching up and hearing each others stories of attempted integration and random Romanian language mishaps. We stayed the night with Sarah and Theron and then headed to the gara(train station) to head to Melissa’s site in Suceava while the two of them headed to Bucharest for a couple of days before our conference. The one thing I must mention is the elevator in Sarah and Theron’s apartment. It not only smells like pure butt, it is the scariest looking piece of machinery I have seen in country so far. After getting in on the 9th floor and riding it for a good 5 minutes, we ended up on the 8th floor. It had gone all the way down but when we manually opened the two sets of doors, all we saw was cinderblock wall and assumed that we had not reached the bottom. When we felt it stop again, we opened the door only to be informed by a resident that we were on the 8th floor. I couldn’t stand the smell in the elevator anymore and was practically vomiting in my mouth so I decided to run as fast as I could down the stairs.
Those are all the updates I currently have for you. I’m in Suceava right now and will update you all on the shenanigans that Melissa and I get into once we get to Sinaia.
Until next time, va pup!