Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving with the Ambassador and Language Weekend.

I am currently on a 9 hour train headed back to my site after a whirlwind of a weekend in Bucuresti and Ploiesti. My journey started with an eventful night train Tuesday night and after switching to a bus and continuing on a 2 hour journey to my friend Sara’s site, I was finally in Moreni Wednesday by 1:00PM. Yes-18 hours after I left Recas I arrived across the country and to my destination. I’m exhausted just typing that.
I had decided to stay with Sara (she’s a PCV in my group) the night before Thanksgiving at the Ambassador’s house because lets face it-after all that travel I needed a good night’s sleep before dressing up and making an appearance at the ambassador’s residence. Sara lives in a beautiful town of about 20,000 called Moreni. We enjoyed catching up and she made some AMAZING chicken parm and garlic bread. Girl can cook. We picked out and finalized outfits for the Thanksgiving dinner (hey-it’s not every day we get to dress up!) and called it an early night.
Moreni-Sara's view every night.
 Everything went as planned on Thanksgiving-we took a maxi-taxi to Bucharest and got ready at the Peace Corps Headquarters. I felt almost like I was back at the dorms in college again-5 girls getting ready, curling hair and trying to iron out the wrinkles in dresses and jackets before heading out. So fun!
The Ambassador’s house was amazing. Beautiful and homey, we were welcomed with open arms by the family and given wonder foods and drinks to enjoy before being seated. Not only were PCVs invited, but there were State Department employees and even the Ambassador from Turkey was there. I ALMOST felt like I was right back in America-complete with the Ambassador’s Labrador “Buddy” strolling around like he owned the place. I can’t tell you the last time I saw a purebred dog. Ha.
Where we ate our meal. Gorgeous!

Go America! Inside the Ambassador's home
 The setting for the meal was gorgeous-tables surrounded the indoor pool which had floating thanksgiving decorations with flowers and candles. And the food-WOW. Everything I could have ever wanted for Thanksgiving and the stuffing was out of this world. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go and have that experience at the ambassador’s. Thanksgiving is always a big holiday (usually spent at the beach!) for my family and while it was sad to be away from them, it was amazing to be surrounded by my PC family and friends.
Mostly excited about the stuffing.

Sara and Tara, PCVs

Barbara, Aran, and Michael, PCVs group 28

Jessica, Sara, Tara, PCVs

The gang!

Megan and I-she got that hat for less that $2.00 at a second hand store!
 After Thankgiving I headed to Ploesti (about an hour outside of Bucharest) for a Romanian Language Learning Weekend. With 12 other volunteers, we met at Jeremy’s site for Romanian lessons with our professor from training, Simona. The theme was “Romanian Cooking” so we learned how to make 4 traditional meals and learned words such as “to strain, to peel, and to sauté” We learned how to make Sarmale (the rolled cabbage meal), ardei impluti (stuffed peppers), zacusca (an AMAZING spread consisting of eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.) and finally, vin fiert-the hot spiced wine served here all winter long.
We're learning! PCVs in Ploiesti for the Language Weekend

Sara is paying attention, as you can see. :)

Oh hey Valerie! 3rd year PCV!

Nick preparing the eggplant for Zacusca

How many PCVs does it take to DESTROY a kitchen? Sorry Jeremy. :)

Aran keeping a close eye on lunch.

Peeling peppers.

Andy making a mess.

MMM eggplant!

And some traditional clothing, because why not?
 We had a little glitch in the weekend when a fellow volunteer was bit by a stray dog at Jeremy’s site. For PCVs, when this happens it means the next few weeks you’re taking your behind to Bucharest for a lovely series of rabies shots! I believe this is the 4th volunteer I’ve heard of having to get rabies shots because of dog bites. While I never had had an issues with dogs in Recas or Timisoara, I know they are a huge issue in Bucharest and over there on the east side. Luckily Stephen was in good spirits and called the doctor right away to schedule the shot cycle. What a pain though!
This week is busy as well with 2 days of classes, then a Romanian holiday on Thursday so no school. I am traveling to the bustling city of Cluj-Napoca for my long weekend then I’m heading to training with UNICEF back in Bucharest on Monday. All the while trying to plan some Christmas activities for my kids at school such as a clothing/food drive, caroling (English AND Romanian!) and a Christmas cantata of sorts with singing and traditional dancing.
So stay tuned!

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