Tuesday, January 31, 2012

-10 degrees.

That is the temperature tonight. -10 degrees...in Celsius that is. For those of you back home-that's a balmy 14 degrees Fahrenheit!

I shouldn't complain as I am in the warmest county of the country. But lord...I am still freezing. The walk to school is insane in the morning as the wind whips through my jacket chilling me to my core and my nose doesn't even run because my snot is frozen. Too much information?  It's the truth.

Thank God I don't have a beard.
 I have a visit from Peace Corps tomorrow-just a routine site visit to see how I'm doing and to hear about my plans for the next few months. My official Close of Service conference is in April, then my group heads out at the beginning of July...I can't believe it. Tomorrow is February, winter is almost over, (I can only hope) spring break plans are being made (London to visit my sister and parents!) but honestly, as each day passes and my time is cut shorter and shorter, the thought of leaving this place breaks my heart.

Ok enough sap for now. I still have 5 months left and that is what I'm focusing on.

Over the next few months I will be working on forming a partnership with my school and the refugee center across the street, one that requires my HS students to volunteer a certain number of hours a year in order to graduate. I'm also in the process of working on a summer English camp for Timis county. I am currently teaching adult English classes at my school and community center and will continue planning activities for my students-in and out of school. 

Vali and his friends have invited me on a road trip to Montenegro in a few months so I'm looking forward to that too! It looks GORGEOUS.

OK back to planning for tomorrow adult classes. Hope you all are warmer than I am right now.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ice and Lice.

Oh yeah, you read that right.

So today was interesting...starting from the moment I walked out my front door. I was in a hurry to get to school (just HAD to push that snooze button a 4th time...) and I was wearing some black boots with absolutely no traction. Now you might think this is dumb for January, in Romania, but you forget that I live on the west side (pretty much in Hungary) and we haven't had any snow for weeks. WEEKS. It doesn't even feel like winter here. So I ran out of the house with my boots, cute skirt and top and thought nothing of it. 

I turned the corner onto the road, jogging a bit to save some time and BAM. Ice patch. Before I knew it I was on the ground (well, after landing prettttyyy damn hard on my left knee) and I was in pain. Sooo much pain. My purse and its contents flew over my head into a mud puddle and for a second I just stayed on the ground, incredulous-is this real life!? What an epic fall. 

I looked around quickly to see who might have noticed and sure enough there was a woman walking towards me from the market. "Are you ok??" she asked, eyes wide, staring at the mud all over my skirt, and the nice hole on the left knee of my tights. I assured her I was, and limped off towards school.

I always make fun of volunteers who wear those ice grip "yak tracks" on their shoes in the winter. Karma: you know what it is.

So, I arrived at school and walked into the teacher's lounge. Everyone was in a frenzy, and I listened in trying to understand what all the fuss was about. I heard the word "sick" in Romanian, then I heard "three kids", then finally my friend walked up to me and said "We have fleas."

Beg pardon?

"Who is WE? What? Where?" I stammered back. 

"Ohh no, wait wait, not fleas, I'm confused with my English" he responded, and I started to breathe a sigh of relief. 

"LICE! That is what they are called. We have a LICE outbreak in school. Do you know what those are??" He looked at me and scratched at his head.

Oh sweet lord...

I'm off to take my second shower of the day, just to be safe.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Christmas Vacation: Suceava, Ukraine, Iasi

I wrapped up my third semester teaching with a beautiful concert of carols and Christmas skits presented by my students. We also went caroling around Recas with the choir. I think I told you last year but caroling is a very different experience here. The kids were given money (a lot!) or bags of treats and food at each location. Can I bring this tradition back to America? 

My 6th grade-so cute!

I spent Christmas week with Vali, his wife Ionela, and their families in the mountain town of Caransebes. Another volunteer, Chris, came along and brought his guitar which became the hit in every home. We sang, we ate, we cooked, and we visited about three difference houses each day. I don't think I've ever eaten so much in my life. Each house had traditional foods-sausages, cheeses, salads, pork-and we were told to "eat! eat!" at each one.  We had an amazing time and I was honored to be a part of a real Romanian Christmas...but YES-I will be starting p90x again ASAP.

In Caransebes.

Just walking.
Vali, Ares and I posing by the mountains.

Decorating the tree!

Chris and I in the center of Caransebes.

Beautiful Caransebes.

traditional food-the meat platter.

traditional food-deviled eggs Romanian style.

Chris playing his guitar and singing carols.
 After Christmas I headed back to Timisoara to host some volunteer visitors! We had a lot of fun hanging out, visiting the Recas winery, exploring Timisoara, and drinking lots of vin fiert (hot wine) at the Christmas kiosks in the center. We also played countless hours of skip-bo (thanks mom!) and banangrams. For New Years we went to a concert (Beatles Tribute Band!) and watched some amazing fireworks. I can't believe it's 2012!

pigeon catching happened.

Jovanka and I in the center with the Cathedral in the background.
After New Years I traveled around Romania, visiting volunteers in the south and then traveling together to Suceava to visit the famous painted monasteries. 6 girls, 1 boy, and a lot of churches=fun for all.

Valerie and I on the train to Suceava! <3

At the famous Black Pottery Store

Suceavita Monastery

Tara inside a monastery...don't remember which one.

Me in Moldavita Monastery.

Beautiful painted walls.

No one has been able to re-create this blue color seen on the wall.
After a four day stay in Suceava, we headed to Chernivtsi, Ukraine for a short visit. The trip started out a bit rough when we couldn't find our friend's apartment and also saw a dead man on the side of the street. No joke. I think he was homeless and froze to death in the middle of the night. His face was blue and people were standing around him and it looked like they were waiting for the police. A little unsettling our first 10 mintues into the country!

We stayed with four German girls who are also volunteers-they were amazing and showed us around the city. We went to a huuuge open air market, and then walked through the city to see the university and other historic buildings. We ate traditional bors and perogies (heaven) and even met up with some Ukrainian PCVs!

Sara and I in the open market.

I should have bought this...

Come again?

5 Americans and 4 Germans.

Christmas kiosk in the center.

After Ukraine, we headed back into Romania to the university town of Iasi. We toured the city and stayed with some Romanian friends who showed us a great time. Since it was the last night we would all be together, we splurged and had dinner at the top of a gorgeous hotel which gave us a panoramic view of the city.  

The Palace

Imitating the statue. I'm on a horse.

Beautiful stained glass from the Catholic church

The largest Orthodox church in Romania!

Dinner with the panoramic view.

Beautiful Iasi.
It was a fantastic three week vacation but now I'm back at site and back to the grind! School started this week and my adult classes start next week. I'm busy developing some projects for this new semester. More to come about that in the next post because this one is entirely too long already. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Current Events in RO: Protests.

I am not sure what you have heard back in the states, but here in Romania we are currently on "Day 6" of anti-government protests. In approximately 45 cities across the country, people are gathering in the streets day and night and vocalizing their concerns and frustration with the government and specifically, the president Traian Basescu. Many are calling for him to step down.

This is a few days old, but here is a good article about what is going on.

While mostly peaceful, the protests/riots have gotten a bit dicey in Bucharest, with over 60 injured by flying rocks and debris-there have been numerous conflicts with the police.  The Peace Corps has been diligiently following these incidents and have kept up posted with daily texts and emails. As of now, we are no longer allowed to travel to the capital, Bucharest, until further notice. Just today, over 10,000 Romanians gathered there to protest, and its better we just stay away for now. We have also been advised to stay out of all large cities and to be inside by dark.

Today, we also found out that some cities are holding teacher strikes-Timisoara being one of those cities. I'm not sure how this will affect me in the next few weeks but I will keep you posted. As of right now, we are attending school as usual and keeping an eye on the daily news.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sara Catches A Feathered Rat.

Soooo for the last 1.5 years I have seen children catch pigeons in the center of Timisoara. I'm always intrigued by this, and was determined to get one of my own. 

Well, it happened. 

My service is now complete. :)