Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Catch-up

So I feel like I need to give a synopsis of what I've been up to these past weeks. Its been a busy few weeks. Language classes are plugging along. We had a mid-training oral evaluation two weeks ago and I did pretty well. Before that we had two weeks of practicum teaching, in which my fellow trainees and I spent one week teaching middle school classes, and then another week teaching at the highschool level. Everything went pretty well, but I discovered that I like highschool better than middle school. I like to be able to engage the students on an intellectual level, which is possible with more advanced speakers. With the highschoolers I did a pretty successful lesson in which we analyzed the song "Hotel California."

(a portion of our 9th-10th grade class)

Vile's health seems to be deteriorating quickly. He spent two weeks in Bucharest for some tests. He has a number of problems, but his most serious is something related to his heart. It's hard to get concrete details from him beacuse, fisrtly, he doesn't like to talk about it, and, secondly, there's a bit of a language barrier between us. As far as I understand, he'll be going in for bypass surgery on July 11th. He has good days and bad days (more bad days than good, especially in this heat. He spends most of is time in bed). Surgery in this country is supposed to be free, but it rarely is. As my tata put it, if you want "good surgery," you have to pay the doctor. Vile and Florina have been concerned about the financial strains that surgery might cause them. They've appealed to several charity societies, but have come up empty-handed each time. So, I decided to start a collection among my Peace Corps colleagues. I realize we're all pretty strapped for cash, but I figure some money, no matter how little, is better than none at all. In the very least it'll be a nice gesture and a sign of our emotional support.

A few weekends ago Ploiesti had a festival known as Zilele Orasului Ploiesti (which basically translates to "The Days of the Ploiesti City," or more simply, "Ploiesti Days." Its basically a celebration of the begining of summer. They had bands playing in the town center (mainly traditional Romanian folk bands), and they set up a beer garden in the park nearby. There was also a rock concert in a park on the outskirts of town. The concert is known as Moto-Rock, beacuse everyone comes with their motorcycles and camps out for two nights. I stayed for one night and saw some of Romania's premier rock bands. It was good to know that rock does exist in Romania. The techno-pop played on every radio station made me doubt I'd ever hear rock again. But, Moto-rock gave me hope. Zilele Orasului Ploiesti lasted all weekend, until the finale on Sunday night at midnight, at which time they had a massive fireworks spectacle. It was great, especially considering the fireworks (pocnitoare) were shooting right over my bloc while I was trying to get a good night's sleep for my first day of practicum (the following day).

(The terasa/beer garden they set up in the center)

(Daria, the daughter of a close friend of my Gazda, taken during the festivities of Ploiesti Days)

The next weekend I went with a group to a town north-west of Ploiesti, known as Busteni. We planned to hike to a waterfall, but it started raining , or rather 'monsooning.' So, needless to say, we didn't get to do much hiking. We did, however, get to know some of the local drinking establishments.

(the Busteni station)

The following weekend I went with a group of about 20 trainees to a small village known as Oaurja (near the city of Pitesti, which is west of Ploiesti). We worked on a habitat for Humanity project. I helped put a tin roof on a woodshed. That took most of the day on Saturday. After we finished they told us we were the best Peace Corps group they had ever worked with. Sunday I spent the day in Bucharest with a few friends. We wandered around and got lunch at a shaorma stand (shoarma is my new favorite street food, its like an eastern-european/lebanese taco, and it has EVERYTHING on it, including french fries). After lunch, we stopped by the house of one of the language teachers who lives in Bucharest.

(I got a phone call from my parents while I was working on the roof)

(group shot at the Habitat site)

Last Saturday I went to a town called Slanic, which has an old salt mine and a salt lake. We toured the salt mine (which was surpringly huge) and went swimming in the salt lake. There was also a mud pond next to the lake, so we all took the opportunity to slather ourselves and rinse off in the lake. There's so much salt in that lake that you float without doing anything (sort of like the Dead Sea). In fact, as soon as you emerge from the water and let your skin dry, you'll find yourself covered in a noticeable white layer. Spectacualr, and quite dehydrating, I might add.

(a few of us covered in mud)

On Sunday of last weekend I returned to Busteni and finally got the chance to see the waterfall. It was a great day of hiking, after which we met up with a group of friends who had spent the weekend backpacking from Sinaia (a neighboring town to Busteni). I was jealous, it sounded like they had an awesome time. I plan to do that hike eventually.

That's probably enough rambling for now...

Oh wait, here's a picture from a recent thunderstorm:

1 comment:

Adam said...

hey hey, stumbled across your blog and saw that your heading to the Timisoara region. I'm a volunteer in Deta just a bit south of timi. Anyway any questions or anything I can do to help ya out email is adam.plagge@gmail.com