I found out my friend Diana was coming to visit me for new years back in November and I was excited to show her my town, students and have her meet my host family. As I mentioned in previous post, I am a very happy volunteer and I am lucky to have met such generous people who have taken me into their homes and treated me like part of their family. While I try my best to share my experience here, I know that I leave many moments out and get lost in all of the other things that life throws my way. So, to have a friend visit me during my service allows me to show her how special my community is to me and how incredibly lucky we are to have each other.
The last three weeks have been filled with adventures in Novaci with my students, bus rides in Romania, singing with almost famous people and much, much more.
I will start with an invitation I received from my students to join them in a Romanian tradition.
On December 24th I woke up at 6:30 am to go “colinde” (caroling) with my students. We ended up not singing but receiving oranges, bread, cookies, fruits and ,for the lucky ones, vin fiert (warm wine) as we walked from house to house. It was a cold morning and after an hour of walking I enjoyed the vin fiert one of the neighbors gave me. How I love vin fiert, definitely have enjoyed it these last couple of days.
Out with my students--love my new purse
Vin Fiert, when the wood stopped burning you kept me warm --Warm wine can easily replace any meal:)
Making Salata de Boeuf: Christmas dinner is Romania is a long, exhausting process. I was only able to help with making the salad "salata de boeuf" which took about 4 hours. Slicing pork, onions, peppers, carrots, potatoes takes a long time, especially when the amount you are making can feed the whole town.
Having fun with my students during their Christmas party.
Pociovalistea students caroling
Diana with students from Novaci: After Christmas, I was delighted to pick up Diana from the airport. I was so excited to have her visit me, I made and event at school called "Meet Andrea's friend from Chicago". I asked my students to come by and hangout with us for a couple of hours. Diana brought an American football and we taught them how to play. Not that I know much about football (actually if you ask my brothers and mom they would tell you I know NOTHING) however I think I have a good arm and that makes an expert regardless of what my family thinks. During the event, Diana and I played football with them, I was in charge of one group while Diana took the other half. I was under the impression that we were going to play a simple game nothing too serious so I told my team to tag whoever had the ball, however Diana was teaching them plays and strategies...since I've never played football, let alone coached a team, I decided to say any football term I knew like "SAC", 2nd down blah blah blah--it worked like a sharm! Kids were impressed with my lingo, and so was I!While we visited other places in Romania, this was one of the favorite things we did. This doesn't happen all the time, but when it does I enjoy the moment. I sit in silence and smile enjoying my journey.
Teaching them how to play football
A little girl power
Diana showing her football skills
Diana giving them a strategy to beat my team
Celebration party with the Pociovalistea students
Leaving my mark in Brasov.
Met an Egyptian priest in Bucharest who showed us the basement of his church...and look what we found.
Happy New Year: All of our traveling was done by bus. Which means that Diana saw first hand how many bus drivers decide to make personal deliveries of tires, rice, corn and other random things during their shifts. We are both safe to assume that most Romanian bus drivers think they are driving a sports car instead of a bus. We did make it to all of our destinations, so everything that happened in between was part of the adventure. We stopped in Cluj to bring in the New Year. The fireworks were a couple of feet away from us, I'm not kidding! We were standing right underneath them...dangerous, perhaps but it was New Years who is thinking in their right mind?
Vlad Tepes' House (best known as Dracula's House)
While I love to karaoke, I'm absolutely horrible at it. However,when I was asked to Karaoke in Romanian I couldn't say no. How could I pass up this awesome opportunity to make a full of myself? Plus, a past contestant of the Romanian version of American Idol "X Factor" happen to in the bar that night so this called for the perfect occasion. I get check this off my list.
Sibiu: One of my favorite places in our trip, Sibiu. Absolutely loved it. Picture taken from the church tower.
Finding Chicago in Bucharest: After dropping off Diana at the airport I was back to traveling to Novaci alone. While I've traveled alone in Romania several times before, this time was different because of Diana's visit. Sitting at the bus station, I thought about my family and close friends back home and right before my first tear ran down my cheek this guy walks by wearing a Chicago Bulls jacket. I couldn't believe it, talk about perfect timing. I smiled walked up to him and took the picture. No matter where I go in life, I will always find a piece of home in my journey. Thank you random guy at the Bucharest bus station for making me laugh instead of cry.
Means of transportation is the least of my concerns. What I find at the end of my traveling days makes the uncomfortable ride worth all its troubles.