Sunday, July 24, 2011

Apple Pie.

Apple Pie, fresh from the oven.
 It's another lazy day for me on this sunny Sunday. And while its wonderful to have another PJ day, I find myself feeling a bit uneasy about doing, well...nothing. Why is it that I have a hard time taking days to just relax? Why do I feel bad for not having a "plan" for the day? It is something that has been ingrained in me due to where I grew up? Is it Peace Corps telling me I should be doing projects and teaching and integrating and learning Romanian?

In northern Virginia, or NOVA as we lovingly call it-life is fast. Life is crazy, diverse, fun...but filled to the brim and my life for the past 10 years was no exception. I was always on the go. If I wasn't working I was at school, or playing lacrosse, or with friends, or youth group, or studying, or at the gym, or cooking (just kidding on that last one). My mom used to tell me, "Sara, slow down. You go go go until you make yourself physically sick. Stop and relax!" She was right-I would literally go go go until I would get sick from exhaustion. Sounds crazy right? So maybe me living in Romania was finally the opportunity I needed to just...relax.

Now she looks relaxed!
But wait-I'm in the Peace Corps and we don't do that! We are constantly thinking about the next project, better teaching methods, how to say "cinnamon" at the town market for that apple pie we want to make. We have been taught to "accept any invitation" and integrate into our towns like its nobody's business. I fully agree with this and believe that integration is key, but who can accept EVERY invitation? I can't help but feel bad though when I have to turn someone down, or if I'm out of town. Is that just my nature? Why do I feel like I always have to be on the GO to be a successful volunteer? Surely an exhausted volunteer is not nearly as affective as a rested and relaxed one, right?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not sitting here doing twiddling my thumbs. Yesterday, I baked an apple pie from scratch and took it to a dinner party with my Romanian friends from town. BIIIG hit! (Picture above-excuse the non-traditional pie pan!). I also make a stroganoff lunch from scratch, did laundry, and worked on a presentation for a camp where I'll be a counselor in a few weeks. (All my presentations are in Romanian-cross your fingers!) Today, I'm continuing to work on these presentations for camp as well as start to pack for my next big volunteer opportunity-Transylvania Fest in Blaj. I'll be working in the "Cookery Tent" (I realize how ironic that is) and will be celebrating every cultural aspect of Transylvania for the next week! Then it is off hiking with my students for 7 days in the Fagaras Mountains, another camp, quick trip to the eastside to visit some famous monasteries, and then my brother and his beautiful wife come to visit right before school starts all up again! Whew.
Fagaras Mountains...I can't wait!

So for now I'll stay in my pjs and try not to feel bad for not leaving my house today. After all, I'll be gone working for the next few weeks and will probably crave these moments, relaxing in my house-pjs and all.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I confess.

I confess, I spent an entire day this week sitting in my PJs watching TV, napping, and planning for next year.  PJ days are the best and entirely necessary from time to time. "Mental Health Days" as I like to call them.

I confess, I've watched Bridesmaids 4 times since I downloaded it less than a week and a half ago.

I confess, yes-I downloaded Bridesmaids.

I confess, I worry too much about things that are out of my control.

I confess, I can't sleep at night. Living alone in Romania, in your own apartment with a gas meter to detect potential gas leaks can be stressful. Not to mention just living alone in Romania. That can be stressful too.

I confess, I actually awoke to my gas meter blaring at me this morning. My nightmare came to life and I opened all the windows and prayed it was just a faulty reading. It's back to zero now (scale of 0-6) and I'm fine, did I mention it can be stressful here?

I confess, even though I am a teacher teaching in front of classes all day every day, I still have a fear of public speaking. Especially to my peers.

I confess, the beach is my absolute favorite place to be in this world. 

I confess, I should be more consistent with my p90x workouts. But lets be real-that p90x yoga is not made for humans.

I confess, I have always, always wanted to learn to play the harp.

I confess, I still have no idea what I want to do with my life after Peace Corps, but have faith I will figure it all out.

Until then, I savor the moments here. Especially the summer sunflowers.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Walk from the Train Station

I thought I would show you my route (in awesome pictures!)  from the good 'ol Recas train station back to my home. I walk this route frequently, each and every time I head to the big city for groceries, or to visit friends, etc. These pictures are from today. Enjoy!

 I start walking down the small road to the foot path, and I run into fields and fields of corn. Lots of corn.

Then, I reach the footpath. These geese look fun and sweet, but they are not. I'm not even going to sugarcoat it I hate these geese. They chase me, hiss at me, and one even bit my skirt once as I was running by. I loathe them, and each time I have to pass them I debate whether I should run, or walk slowly, or what is the best move to avoid getting bitten.  Today, they were more interested in harrassing the man in front of me, so I was more or less safe. For today.

 Getting closer to them...debating my next move. But they seem uninterested thank goodness.

 Successfully passed them!  You can see some of them are young, they don't even have their adult feathers.

 Then I pass some thorny thistles. I think they are gorgeous but would never walk barefoot around here.

 I live near that steeple, which is the Catholic church. Making my way down the footpath...

 I cross over a little bridge and this is to my right. That tire has been in the water since I arrived, but it looks like the rest of the trash has been picked up recently! Win.

 I run into chickens everywhere. Today was no exception.

 This is an example of what the older women in my village wear-usually a skirt, socks with sandals, and a head scarf. 

 I pass several beautiful gardens and grapevines. Everyone has grapevines!

  Just one of the 7 dogs that I met on the way home. This one was more curious than most.

 Time to cross the "main street". This road goes straight to Timisoara.

Another dog. This one acted all tough and then started following me home. He crossed that main road to do so, which always makes me nervous.
 This is a little monument to a person that died on the road.  Inside are pictures of the man, and tablets with information about his life and death.

The little punk dog following me home. I would turn around and he would act like he wasn't paying any attention to me and look away. We played this game most of the way home.

 This is what the "highway" signs look like.

 Yeah, he's still pretending to ignore me. :)

 I love the beautiful gates and vines everywhere.

 Another stray pup trying to get a nap in.
One of the two town pharmacies.

Walking through the center, I found one of my 11th grade students selling his wares-watermelons or "pepene rosu" and tomatoes.

 Here is my post office!

 The Catholic Church and the center of town-I'm almost home!

 Just another horse-drawn carriage sitting on the side of the street.

And finally, I pass my neighbor's dog, tied up and laying on his "house". Sometimes I throw him food and he in turn has stopped barking every time I walk pass. We have reached an understanding after a year.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A village on the "East Side"

After arriving back in Romania I stopped off at a friend's site on the east side of the country-a little village located near the Black Sea town of Constanta.  Of all the sites that I've been too, this was by far the most remote and small. The carutas (horse carriages) far outnumbered the cars, and corn was EVERYWHERE. The stray dogs roamed the streets along with cows and hedgehogs-well, we saw a dead hedgehog at least.  It was a stark contrast from my 3 weeks in the states but I loved it. We were able to make stir-fry from spices I brought from the US and then we climbed up a hill and watched the sunset over the village. It's good to be back.
Watching the sun set. PCVs Aron, Beca, and Ashley.

Haystacks at Aron's site.

Sunset over the village.

I think I was pointing at butterflies.
Love this country.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back in Romania!

It’s 6PM on the 13th and I’m staring out the window of my plane headed to Switzerland.  As I watch my hometown slip away from my view, tears stream down my face. I knew that it would be hard to leave my family and friends again, but I didn’t know it would be this hard!  It felt so comfortable immersing myself back into American life. Things I worried about like culture shock and stomach issues just weren’t a problem for me, thank goodness.  I did however, really missed speaking Romanian, my Romanian friends, students, and fellow volunteers, but I had an amazing time at home doing amazingly wonderful American things like outside BBQs and eating foods from all over the world.  (Many of you asked what I ate for my first meal in the states-it was Chinese food! Don’t worry, the burgers, steaks, seafood and pizza would come later.) I attended a beautiful Eastern Shore wedding (where we left at 8:30PM-before the party even STARTS in Romania!) and participated in all the July 4th celebrations I missed out on last year. (Dressing up in ALL red, white and blue, wearing gaudy necklaces, glasses, watching the parade, cookout with the family, fireworks!) There was wine tasting, special dinners with family, and fun times out with my friends. It was so good to be back.
As some of you know, my two weeks at home was extended to three weeks because Peace Corps put me on “Medical Hold”.  I had a suspect mole removed by my dermatologist while home and ended up waiting around longer for second opinions on the biopsy results and then finally, thankfully, a clearance. It was pretty scary just wondering if maybe I had skin cancer and I was relieved to finally get the good news that it was benign. (NOW would be a good time to start wearing suntan lotion and not tanning oil…) While it was scary to be held in the states for medical reasons, I have to admit it was nice to get those extra days to spend with loved ones. A huge bonus was that I was able to be around for my sister’s 21st! I was reminiscing about my own 21st-I was studying abroad in Spain and partied All. Night. Long.  Was that really almost FIVE YEARS AGO!?  Ughhh.
Please enjoy the numerous pictures to follow, I feel that’s the best way to give you a glimpse into my life in the states  for three weeks. Although I’m sad to leave my family and friends, I am exited to get back into my life in Romania. My summer is jam packed with activities and I start right away after I arrive in Bucharest later today!
Love my momma! Watching the parade on the 4th of July in Fairfax, VA

Watching the parade! Mom, Mary, Dara, me and Aunt Mary

You know you're in VA when everything is fried....

Go America.

This poor kid must have been maybe 8 or 9-he walked the whole parade!

Hoggettes!! GOOO Redskins!

4th of July horses.

I love their "got poo?" shirts! The walked behind the horses and picked up the messes.

I want one.

Pimp my ride?

Some awesome dancers from Bolivia. (And my sister!)

We stopped to buy lemonade from a neighborhood stand.

My beautiful cousin Dara in her garden.

I made a 4th of July Cake! (Thanks Lisa)


Dad, the master of the grill. Chicken, Sausages, Hamburgers, Hotdogs=America.

An American spread!

A St. Bernard named "Rocky". Uncle Terry has him in a headlock apparently...

A Great Dane named "Tiny". Linda was in love.

It was a great 4th. We ended the day at a lake. Eli, (cousin) Me, and Dara (cousin)