I’m back from my site visit to Recas! It was a jam-packed four days, full of meeting people, seeing my school, visiting the town, and basically seeing where and with who I will be spending the next two years of my life with. I’ll just give you a daily schedule so I don’t forget anything!
Tuesday Morning, 6:30AM: My counterpart (his name is Vali) and I head off from Targoviste for our 10 hour drive to Recas. Vali had brought his car to pick me up so that I could take the majority of my stuff to site now, instead of lugging it all on August 7th. He also wanted me to see the countryside and stop a bit along the way at bigger cities. So we headed off bright and early for our journey. The countryside of Romania is beautiful, full of corn fields as well as sunflowers for miles. We stopped first in the city of Targu Jiu, home of the famous sculptor Constantin Brancusi. We went to the central park where we took pictures at some of his famous works, the Endless Column and the Gate of Kiss as well as the Table of Silence. After some pictures, we continued our journey to Petrosani, a beautiful town surrounded by mountains, rivers, and cliffs. Our last stop before Recas with Vali’s hometown of Caransebes. We stopped to meet his mother and brother, who (even though Vali said we were going to stay only five minutes) gave me a table full of ham, tomatoes, cucumbers, bread, eggplant salad, a cherry jam, and some sausage. Of course we then sat and ate a bit before heading out. On the way out of the town, Vali told me that I HAD to try the mici in this one restaurant in town. Remember mici is the Romanian meat that is served all the time-it looks like a sausage but it’s filled with three different types of meat, and its served with mustard. Anyways we went to this restaurant and indeed, it was the best meat I’ve ever tasted here. Before we left I said to the owner “Micii au fost cei mai bun din Romania!” which basically translates to the mici was the best in Romania! We headed on our way-our next stop Recas!
About an hour later we arrived at my site. Granted, it was 10:30PM at night so I didn’t see much of it then, but yes, that’s right-our trip took a total of 16 hours!! I actually did not stay in Recas for the evening because my counterpart lives in Timisoara with his fiancé, and they had prepared a place for me to stay in their house. Timisoara was about 20 minutes from my town, and I arrived, met his fiancé who is a wonderful woman, and promptly went to bed. J
The next day we went to visit Recas! We started at my school, which was beautiful. I am working at a school that has grades 1-12, and I will be teaching 9-12th as well as a 4th and 6th grade class. The school is equipped with three computer labs, a biology and chemistry lab, and they even have a smart board-google it! Outside they have an Astroturf soccer field and an indoor gym complete with bleachers. I have to admit I was shocked at the resources available to use in my small town of 5000. The town basically consists of a main street which leads travelers to Timisoara. There are some side streets with houses but any kind of store , the town library, the community development office and the bank are all on the main street. I was able to meet the mayor, and my vice principal. My principal was actually in the hospital because she just had a baby last Sunday, but she will be there for school on September 15th. I was able to also meet one of my students. Her English was incredible but I also heard she was one of the best in the class so I’m still expecting mixed level classes.
The town is surrounded by vineyards, rolling hills, and five surrounding villages. My town, as I’ve said before, is known for its wine. There are several large vineyards with an underground tasting room, and its wines are sold internationally. In the village next to me, they are known for their horse breeding. I’m not sure about the other village as of yet, but I’m sure I will find out soon enough.
In the days that followed, I was able to visit Recas a bit more as well as the lovely city of Timisoara. Timisoara was the city that started it all. It was the first city in Europe to have electric street lamps and the second to introduce horse-drawn trams. In 1989, Timisoara was also the location of the start of the 1989 revolution against communism and Nicholas Ceausescu. Known as one of the most modern and westernized cities in Romania (besides Bucharest), I’m happy that I’m so close to such a great place. It has every comfort that I could need in case I need to relax outside of my site. It has several malls (one of the best in Romania!) and also very nice movie theater. The parks are gorgeous, and the buildings have a Hapsburg influence and they are stunning. I also found a McDonalds and a KFC. (I don’t know why, but KFC is a big deal here. It’s in every major city and they love it…I haven’t figured that one out yet.) Anyways I have put a bunch of pictures up on my facebook account, and I will add some here for you to see.
On Friday night Katie, Breanna (two other volunteers close to my site) and I decided to take a night train back to Targoviste. We figured it would be fun experience and the most convenience since it’s a 10 hour train ride back to site. We bought tickets for a four person “cuseta” and luckily, no one else was in our room so we had it to ourselves. It was the best 10 hour trip I’ve ever had-slept the whole time and at 6:30AM woke up with about an hour left to Bucharest. Once in Burcharest, we hopped on a maxi-taxi for the hour long treck to Targoviste. About 45 minutes in, our maxi taxi broke down in the middle of a small village in the middle of nowhere…which was an adventure. We waited for the driver to repair the engine and took pictures of kittens, the horse-drawn carriages driving by (they are called Caruta) and debated whether we should just hitchhike back. Deciding against hitchhiking, we waited for about thirty minutes and then we were back on the road. Finally home after an insanely crazy long week, I took a shower, unpacked a bit, and went right back out to meet up with the other volunteers who were back in town. J
My experience was great-I’m totally excited to see where I’ll be living for the next two years. Ironically, I actually didn’t see WHERE I’ll be living because my housing is not worked out yet. Cross your fingers for an apartment to become available! However I’m so happy with my site, its gorgeous and everyone that I met is excited to have me and is ready to work with me on schooling and secondary projects. I feel blessed that I have a large city right next to me, and I have another volunteer (Katie) about 15 minutes from my site as well. These next two weeks of training will fly by and on August 6th, 2010, I will officially be sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer at the Ambassador’s residence in Bucharest!
“There comes a moment when you realize that anything is possible, that nothing is too good to be true. Don’t just wait for inspiration-pursue it. Give yourself time every day to think and dream for yourself. Let your imagination run free. This is your time, and this is your place. Stretch your wings and fly.” –Anonymous