Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ja Rule was in Timisoara?

Why yes, yes he was. And Katie and I decided to take advantage of this wonderful news and go see him! So Saturday night we got dressed up (a big deal for us at this point) and headed out into the city, specially to club Heaven. Now we're on European time here and that means clubs don't get crowded until around 1am, but our American mentality is hard to crush so we showed up around 12 midnight and true to form, Ja Rule didn't come on until around 2:30AM. But it was AMAZING! So good to hear some hip hop (house music is the preferred genre here) and to just dance and enjoy ourselves out in the big city.

Getting ready!

drinks and lights.

more lights.

Heaven Club

More of Heaven.
We were surprised to see that Ja Rule actually has a decent sized Romanian following-the club was packed and most everyone was singing along to every song. Who would have guessed?

The VIP table next to us getting drinks...on fire.

He's finally on stage!
See the short one in the white shirt? JA RULE!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just another day with 7th Grade

I was in my 7B class today playing an English question game with the kids.  They were divided into teams and had to answer the question that I or my wonderful counterpart Ildy asked them. After about 20 minutes of playing, the competition was fierce and the kids were really into it. Then Idly asked this question:

"Give me the plural of sheep. One sheep, two.....?"

The kids started throwing out every answer out there. "Sheeps!" "Sheepes!" Sheepy!" they shouted, trying to write their answer on the board before the next person. We kept saying "no, no thats not right" and after a minute they sat there stumped. A silence fell over the room as they sat there thinking, then all of a sudden one of the boys shouted...

"LAMB!! It's LAMB!"

We couldnt stop laughing. I love my kids!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


That was the title of the e-mail that I just received from our awesome safety and security officer here in Romania. Lovely.  It has been abnormally cold here for this time of year-I mean I'm bundled up in my own house and currently the wind is howling outside. It's snowing again and my dreams of spring being right around the corner have been demolished. Sigh... anyways this is what the email said:

"Romanian meteorologists announced snow and blizzards throughout Romania starting Wednesday night through Friday evening. Gusty wind is expected in the country’s south and southeastern regions. According to meteorologists, the wind will blow at about 60km/h in south and southeastern regions and will exceed 70km/h on the Black Sea coast."
cold cold cold.
 Now while I'm not in the south or on the Black Sea coast,  I am still feeling this storm here on the West side. My scarf was wrapped around my entire head today walking back from my adult English classes, and here 3 hours later, I'm still trying to get warm.
The only way to walk outside.

Tea, hot bath (I found bubble bath here!!) and some Mad Men are on tap for tonight. Looking forward to a meeting with an NGO in Timisoara tomorrow and then the opera with my students. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

March Madness? More like February...

I'm in love with this picture. There is no reason it's on here expect for the fact that I wanted to start my blog with it.

I'm back! The last two weeks have been insanely busy with projects, planning, teaching, and life in general. Being sick the last week with laryngitis also added to the chaos but today I am feeling well-so I wanted to update you on what I've been up to.

Last week I started my English classes for adults-both at my school and then for the community.  Having never taught adults before, I was nervous and a little apprehensive but everything went well! We worked on the the basics such as the alphabet and by the end of the class they could use all greetings, introduce themselves, and say where they were from. Success. I look forward to seeing them every Wednesday and I have to admit it's nice not to have to say "sit down, put away the phone, listen!" every 10 minutes. :)
I guess we're on a crazy basset hound kick. I love this one too.
 Vali and I have been planning a big birthday bash for March 1st.  As most of you know, this year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps worldwide and the 20th anniversary of PC in Romania! On March 1st Peace Corps countries around the world will be celebrating and here in Recas we will host a competition then dance for the high school. This month every class in HS has been learning about Peace Corps, the basic information, goals, slogans, etc and they are currently writing essays about what they have learned. The students with the best essays will be awarded prizes on March 1st. Also that day we will have a Jeopardy competition for the HS full of PC questions.  To round out the day, we have organized a dance with food. I hope we can pull it all off in the next week!

The PC logo for the 50th Anniversary and 20 Years in Romania..a break from the basset hounds.

Besides working on the dance for the 50th anniversary, I am working on a mural project to celebrate Peace Corps. The idea is to have students create a wall mural celebrating Peace and exchanging of cultures. We will be painting a mural on a wall somewhere in Recas and at this point are gathering interested students to participate.

We are also working on an ecological project, working towards a "scoala verde" or "green school".  We are focusing on recycling and creating a more environmentally friendly school and surrounding area. The first step is to gather paper from each class to recycle, then we are focusing on creating a garden outside of the school recess area.

There are a few more projects I'm invovled in, including a summer project with an NGO in Timisoara, but I'll keep you posted!

Hope you all are well. Can't wait to see you in June when I'm home for vacation!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy V-Day!

Today I walked to school armed with Valentines Day cookies make from scratch the night before. That's right...I made sugar cookies AND icing from scratch! After creaming the butter and adding powdered sugar, adding the eggs and vanilla and mixing it for all its worth, all I could think when I was icing those little cookies was "Wow, I will never take icing in a can for granted again. Ever." Truthfully though, I'm a bit impressed at how they turned out so I brought them in for the teachers today.  Happy to report they were gone even before I could take a picture...success!
Ok mine weren't THIS gorgeous...
Today I was teaching 5th grade boys, and surprisingly they were excited about making heart valentines for the girls in their class (or their mother!). We started off creating paper hearts, I taught them the "Roses are red, violets are blue..." poem, and they were off running. Before I knew it, they were asking me "teacher! teacher! cum se spune 'inima mea este pentru tine'"which translates to "My heart is yours". These little 5th graders were writing the cutest things, ending the notes with "from your secret admirer" and decorating them with markers, glow in the dark pens (what!?) hearts and flowers. Each and every one was so proud of their creation, even the kids that never participate showed them off to me. It made me happy and it was a great start to the morning.

Wishing you all a wonderful day of love.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Parasites, Worms, and Rabies

I had the worst dream last night.  I dreamed that I was walking through some town (I'm not sure where) and there was a big, white, dirty, hissing cat.  For some reason (maybe my love for animals!?) I reached down and tried to pick it up, thinking I would take it somewhere to clean it up and feed it. Well that cat bit a huge hole in my hand and immediately I saw that his mouth was frothy-RABIES! I went to a doctor who confirmed it was rabies but could do nothing for me...horrible right? It was one of those dreams where you try to wake yourself up, knowing that it HAS to be just a dream and all will be better when your eyes open and you're safe in your room.  This dream was so realistic though, so I was freaking out in the dream. But sure enough, I woke up, looked at my hand, and realized all was right in the world again.
This is actually pretty close to what the bugger looked like in my dream.

On the topic of disease (lovely!), I would be lying if I didn't admit that many people (including some of you!) have asked me if I've encountered any parasites, worms, anything that normal PCVs contract at some point or another during service, and the truth is no, I haven't. Our PC Doctor warned us at PST that we might very likely contract worms, or "ass worms" as we lovingly started referring to them as. But I can say (very happily) that I have never seen these worms, or heard of another volunteer getting them...but let's be real-who is going to admit to that?

Now I do have a little friend that stays with me, pops in to say hello at times, but I don't like to refer to him as a parasite. From my teaching time in Guatemala in 2009, I contracted this little bug and while he is mostly harmless, I do notice his presence now and then. Today is one of those days.  He comes without warning, he's never welcomed, but if anything, it always reminds me of my time in Guatemala which was mostly wonderful...weird? 
Rockin out in Guatemala, post parasite invasion.
Most of you know what kind he is, most of you even know my nickname for him, but here is a picture of what one looks like. Props to anyone to can guess what type of parasite it is from this picture.

I'm staying close to home today, recovering from a week long travel adventure and preparing for the start of my second semester teaching. Shout out to Marika McHenry, my American friend in Guatemala and parasite sister-for you know whats up today. :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Did we REALLY just get on the wrong train?!"

The day started out normal enough. Freya and I had spent the last few days traveling the western front, hitting up Timisoara, Arad, and Oradea and now were headed back home. In Arad, we buy our train tickets, check the Departures Board, see that we're on line 2 and head towards the tracks.  Soon after, the train arrives, we get on, (but not before making comments that it looked like a green cattle car-hint number 1 we weren't in the right place...) and we find out seat. Ipods in, and we waited for departure.

At exactly 2:30PM the train left-right on schedule. We had been traveling for about 15 minutes when the controller, or ticket checker walks by. We noticed he was not wearing the national CFR train uniform but didn't think much of it as we pulled our tickets out of our bags. (Hint number 2 we weren't in the right place.)  As Freya hands him her ticket, he looks at it, looks at us, looks back at the ticket and says "Nu este bun." OR in English- "It's not good." WHAT? I say "poftim?" or "excuse me?".  He looks at both of us and says again "Yeah, its not good.  Where are you going?" "Timisoara!" Freya responds, confused as all hell. "Well", he says, "we're not going to Timisoara". 

At this point Freya and I just look at each other, shocked, confused, horrified, scared. What does he mean we're not going to Timisoara?! Long story short, and with the help of the entire train car giving us information, we realized that we were on a local private train, headed out to the mountain villages in the East. Not South. Basically, the train we wanted was BEHIND this train on line 2-OBVIOUSLY, RIGHT? So once we figured out where we were headed, we had to figure out where to get off and get back on track to Timi.  The lady next to us told us where to get off (Periam) and so at every station our faces were pressed against the cold window pane, trying to spot our destination.  Finally, after about an hour of traveling in the wrong direction, we got off at Periam, a tiny village East of Arad. And so the adventure really begins...
Heading into Periam...where are we?!
We walk inside to the ticket window but there is no one behind the counter, so we walk right into the "seful statie" or the "station master's office" and tell him we've got ourselves a little situation.  In my Romanian, I try to tell him what we've done and miraculously he understands and tells us there IS  a train to Timisoara. ALLELUIA! This is the good news. Bad news-it doesn't leave for another 2.5 hours. AWESOME.  We look around the village. I see a cemetery, a bar, and some houses.  We ask the man if there is a store we can go to, somewhere to stay warm and he points us into the direction of the bar and he says they have great coffee. The bar it is. 

Under the protective and watchful eye of the seful statie we walk towards the bar, and run right into a village crazie.  Literally this man is  walking up to us saying "fetelor! fetelor" with basically translates to "girls! girls!". Yes sir, we are ladies, but we want nothing to do with you. Freya and I have a short discussion in English, muttering under our breathes "What do we do? do we turn around" BUT THERE IS COFFEE IN THERE!" We move away from the man, turn around at least three times to walk back to the station but decide he's probably harmless so head back to the bar.  At this point, he beats us to the punch and runs into the bar yelling "the girls are coming! There are girls here!" Wonderful. We wait until he leaves and enter the bar.

As we enter, all eyes are on us (thank you messenger man) and we (dragging our packs) decide a beer is definitely in order. We order a beer, turn around to find a seat, and realize there are no free tables. Integration right? So we sit at the end of a long table where we were offered a seat and open our Ciuc beers.  After a few sips and awkward glances, the seful statie walks in with some friends and announces our presence again. "These are some American girls, they got on the wrong train and now are here with us!" Wow. So at this point conversation is started, and before We know it, Freya and I are taking pictures, discussing British English v. American English, and insisted that Freya's camera was NOT $1,000 as they kept insisting.  After some time at the bar we were invited back to the station where we could wait by a cracking soba fire until our next train arrived.
The bartender and our faithful station master.

Freya enjoying her Ciuc.
For the next two hours, we read, listened to our ipods, and enjoyed conversation with the seful and the random people that kept walking in and out to "see the American girls".  Before we knew it, our time had come to leave and we said a sad farewell to the kind and hospitable station master, all the conductors, and our new friends in Periam. It was like a movie, the train pulled out of the station and we all waved at each other until we became lost in the darkness of the night.
Pulling away from Periam, there's the station master!

Waving farewell...
 What should have been a 1.5 hour trip turned into a 6 hour adventure back home-and we would have it no other way. We truly had an amazing time meeting those wonderful and kind Romanians. They could have made us wait for our train outside in the cold and not said another word, but we were given shelter, food, and were made to feel at home immediately.  This is what we love about Romania. The people never cease to amaze us with their kindness, their giving spirit, and their love for life in general.  Our mistake turned into a true exchange of cultures, and opportunity to see somewhere we would never have seen before and meet people we never would have known. 

We're considering making a trip back to say thank you-this time on purpose.

Sara & Freya
Back on track! Heading to Timisoara finally.