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,
Before my medical appointment in Bucharest, i decided to stop by my gazda’s in Targoviste for a few days. During this short visit, I have realized there are many things I love/miss about Targoviste.
the cafe on the corner where we uses to buy covridogs. It has now turned into a pizzaria/shaorma-ria
The familiar smell of my bedroom
My gazda bunica and how freaking cute she is
How hysterical my gazda dad is
My gazda mom’s cooking
The army of stray dogs hanging out on my street
The old city center
Hanging out in Chindia park
Picnics by the lake
And finally PST. It was such a great time being here with my entire group for 2 whole months. Now that the summer is coming, I’m starting to get homesick for all the great times we had together.
Pronounced Trgovishte – This city of around 100K will be our training site for the next few months! Here are some fun facts about the city from none other than Wikipedia.
- Dâmboviţa County Capitol
- About 40miles north of Bucharest
- First Attested in 1396
- Trial and execution site of Nicolae Ceaușescu
- Twin city of Miami, FL
- Known for its PC gamers? WTF?! They even have counter strike dedicated server?!?!
And now some of my self discovered facts:
- The roads are awful…I was told that this can be said for most of the country. It is rare to find a local road without a stretch of potholes every 100 feet or so.
- There are more dogs than people. Romania is known for its stray dog population. some dogs have tags on them that the city is using to track but there are still many more out there.
- The dogs are not bilingual and therefore will not respond if you yell at them in english.
- Property value is non-existant. on 1 street, you can see anything from mansions to shacks all build side by side.
- Huge range of old vs. new world. There are horse drawn carriages along with bmws
After the group spent most of the day sitting inside the hotel’s meeting room participating in orientation, we got to wander around the city for the rest of the night. The majority of the group decided to visit one of the local bar/restaurant/cafes while about 5 of us decided to walk around and see the city first. The city is small but very quaint. There is a nice amount of greenery with a cellphone shop on every corner. We took a walk through the park and got to know each other a little better as well.
The "Metropolitan" church
- Nick (looking like a fool) Meg and Lindsey
The day started off with an hour and a half language lesson that actually went much better than I had anticipated. We went over money, numbers, and basic greetings. After our lesson we had a short meeting about our homestay experience. We were given the basic do’s and don’ts when it came to living with our host family and what the expectations were from us and from them as well.
After lunch, we went back into the meeting room where we waited for our host families to come and pick us up. I was extremely nervous and hoping that someone in my family would at least know a few basic sentences in English. A lady and two teenage girls came up to me and introduced themselves as my host mom and sisters..IN ENGLISH! I was ecstatic! Maria, the mom, doesn’t know much English but can understand a lot more. Denisa(19) and Izabela(12) were more conversational. Denisa is fluent in English and Izabela is conversational. They told me how I am their 3rd volunteer so they are very familiar with the homestay program.
When we got to their house, we hung out in the kitchen a little bit, talked, and I got to meet their dog Bijou. Bijou is a feisty chihuahua/jack russell mix that loves to bark and you gnaw on your fingers and toes. After about a few hours of attempting to befriend, Bijou, he finally accepted me and stopped trying to bite my toes off. When my gazda(landlord) dad came home, we ate dinner and I was told there was a “surpriza” in store for me. It was a cake that Maria had made that had “WELCOME!” written on it and tasted chocolate and fruit mixed heaven in my mouth. When dinner was over I told my host mom “Sera muna pentru masa” which literally means I kiss your hand for the meal which is a HUGE compliment. She was so surprised that I knew what that meant and went on to wish that I grow even taller and more beautiful. Thanks to one of the PCVLs (PC volunteer leaders) Zach, for teaching me how to kiss ass 🙂 While talking with the family, I learned that Denisa is graduating highschool in about a month and has applied to go to college in the U.K. and Denmark. She goes to the bi-lingual highschool in the center and knows French and Latin as well. Here are a few pictures of my accommodations:
My gazda family's apartment
After dinner, Denisa and I picked up her friend Diana and we went to the center for some coffee and then for a walk around. Denisa showed me her highschool and the places where the PCVs like to hangout. During one of our conversations I learned the Romanian equivalent of a “Guido”. Denisa was telling me how men (usually older than our typical guidos) listen to a certain genre of gypsy music called Mandele. She was telling me about a type of men that wear very thick chains, dress in expensive clothing, flaunt their wealth, and essentially make it rain with money on these gypsy performers called cocolari. The girl equivalent are called pitzipoance. They are known to take pictures with the “duck” face. I guess some things are the same, no matter where you go.
Today we really didn’t do much other than go to the “countryside” where Maria’s mom lives to visit with Denisa’s cousin “Johnny” that flew in from London this morning. We spent the day hanging out and ate an amazingly tasty lunch. Denisa and I came back to the house a little bit ago and are just hanging out for the rest of the day. Tomorrow is my first day at training. Our host families are required to walk us to and from school with the hopes of being able to find our own way to school Tuesday like big kids 🙂
Until next time, love and miss you all! and my texting app is in order so if you want to text me (for free, or so it says) the number is 740-651-4703