Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A weekend without foreign ATM transactions

I spent the past weekend visiting Zach, my friend and fellow PCV from Sibiu. I arrived on Friday evening, dropped my stuff off at his apartment, and headed out to a bar that had a variety of games and arcades. We ordered a round of drinks, and looked around. There had all the standard games-- foosball, air hockey, basketball, billiards, etc. But there was one thing that really intrigued me, something called the “Party Box.” The most confusing thing about the Party Box was that it did not resemble a box in the least. Zach and I wondered what it could be. Our questions were put to rest when a few large men put some money into the slot and a punching bag dropped down. They wailed their drunken fists against the helpless bag, thereby confirming their aggressive masculinity. The maximum score was 1000, and we saw these guys racking up 700, 800, 985. The dumb competitive male inside Zach and I made us wonder what scores we might be able to achieve. Something told me that by the end of the night our curiosity would probably get the best of us. I was right. Just before we left the bar we decided to try our hands at it, or fists as it were. Zach scored something near 400. I nearly toppled the machine with my earthshaking punch, scoring 138. Victorious, we called it a night.

The next day Zach and I took a long walk around town. The last time I was Sibiu, I wasn’t able to take any pictures because I had forgotten a memory card for my camera. So, this time I made sure to take plenty of pictures. Check them out HERE. At one point a well-dressed old man approached us, and tried to scam us (or so it seemed). He said he was with a tour group that had come all the way from Constanta (on the Black Sea). Somehow (he wasn’t really able to explain how) he had gotten separated from his group and gotten lost. He needed to get back to the bus, where his luggage, passport and money were. He complained that his 70 years made walking difficult, and being an out-of-towner, he didn’t know who to talk to. At first he asked us if we knew anywhere he could go to talk to someone. We suggested the tourist info bureau at the city hall. He said he’d been there, and continued to play the old-age card. Then he suddenly asked for money for cab fare. I asked him how he had managed to get so far out of the city in the first place. He gave some sort of hollow excuse. I was just about to ask for his ID (to see if he was really from Constanta) when he gave up on us, and walked off. It was a sunny day, but it was windy and cold. So, if he was telling the truth, I sort of feel bad for him. But then again, his whole story seemed kind of fishy. Plus, if I were in his situation I don’t think I would approach the two people on the street who were obviously not Romanians. Nevertheless, he invested a lot of time in talking to us, time he could have spent trying to find someone more helpful, or at least someone who spoke better Romanian.

When we returned home, we decided to make Buffalo wings. Zach’s from Buffalo, so he knows his wings. He had some mix for buffalo wings sauce, something extremely precious to a PCV here in Romania. It was my first time making anything like this, and my first time deep-frying chicken. But, all in all, I’d say the operation was a success. The only thing was that we could have made them a little spicier.

On Sunday Zach and I got up late and decided to go to the Brukenthal Art Museum. It was ok, but perhaps a little too heavy on old portraits of rich people I’d never heard of. There were a few interesting Flemish landscapes, and some antique furniture with wood-inlay. Despite our age and supposed maturity, Zach and I entertained ourselves by thinking up comical captions for the paintings. Hearing us talk, one of the curators came up to us and started speaking German. Upon the realization that we didn’t speak or understand German, she quickly changed to English. Following us around, she gave us information about many of the pieces, which was nice. After finishing our tour of the museum, we emerged to discover that it was raining/sleeting outside. While we were walking along, the precipitation got more intense, so Zach and I ducked in a newly-restored Orthodox church to check the frescoes and escape the sloppy weather.

After that I boarded the train home. I was pretty tired, and the train car was bouncing and swaying in such a way as to lull me to sleep. I slouched in the chair and dozed off, waking periodically to find little pools of drool had gathered on my shirt. I’m sure the girl sitting across from me thought I was a complete slob.

I was suddenly jolted to consciousness when a slew of people noisily entered the cabin. One of them had a cell phone blaring music. Another had a portable television with an extremely long antenna (that when fully-extended came precariously close to my face). He kept saying something like, “Seven-thirty. It’s at seven thirty, right?” I could only guess he was talking about the time at which a show would be airing. With the cabin noisier, more crowded and hotter, there wasn’t really much hope of falling back asleep. So, I pulled out my copy of Newsweek. Seven-thirty rolled around and the man turned on his TV. He kept moving the it around, holding it at different angles, and adjusting the antenna in an attemept to perfect the reception. Apparently he got the best reception when he held the TV on the knee of the man sitting next to him. I heard a voice coming through the little speaker, it was rattling off numbers. Evidently, the man had brought the TV along so he wouldn’t miss the lotto drawing. He asked for the pen from my hand so he could mark down the numbers. I obliged. Eventually he gave it back and I decided to draw corny fruit/vegetable comics on the cover of my Newsweek— I had grown tired of reading. I drew one cartoon with a tomato talking to corn on the cob. The tomato says, “I feel rotten.” The corn responds, “Need an ear?”


rs said...

Those are some really fantastic pics of Sibiu!

Jack Nork said...

Were you able to exchange your money yet?
You should take a picture of the veggie cartoon and post it! :)

marius said...

sibiu is great...

Titza said...

I love Sibiu, I'm born and raised there. Really happy to see that foreign people appreciate this country.
I wish u the best, for sure I will read some more of your posts.