In the morning it became apparent that R. caught some sort of bug and was stretched-out in his room when he wasn’t in the toilet. Natalie, one of the nearby Peace Corps workers had contacted me and I set out on the 40km trip to Campulung Moldevenesc. To meet her, I took the maxi from the front of the monastery into the next town and lucked upon an almost immediate connection with another one that took me directly to her. We went on the obligatory and always fascinating walk through portions of her town. She was given a dog, a gun-shy but frisky thing that she says she’ll keep and take to Spain with her when continues her masters education there in the fall when she finishes her two years service here. She called a Rachel, a volunteer from a nearby town to join us and the three of us had a drink and a snack. Both of the girls had received books from me during their time here and it was nice to meet them face to face. After our visit Rachel and I hitchhiked back, with me dropping her off halfway. The tradition here is to give the driver and amount of money equal to what a maxi would have cost. Some refuse it but most take it.
That night one of R.’s former students was playing guitar at a pizza bar in town and invited us to come. A couple of singers from Piatra Neamt were headlining. I’m told they performed folk songs of the modern era as opposed to musica populare. I would guess kind of a John Sebastian/Arlo Guthrie sound. Claudio is a junior in high school who has only played in public a dozen or so times, but he held up quite nicely during his set when compared with the more seasoned guys. I stepped outside and exchanged minimal English with some of the others outside for a breath of air. It was weird to have a high school junior buy me a beer and to return the favor.
The restaurant itself is less than a year old and faced with the ever-present crys, but the owner says he’s keeping his head above water. His concept is to have pie that are unique from everyone else’s. It’s kind of a ‘third place’ to a circle of clientele. The menu is visually interesting and filled with humor. Each pita (with a tail on the T so that in Romanian it is phonetically “pizza”) is pictured with its list of ingredients and a name. R. told me one of them was titled: “eat this and go home to die.”
As the evening petered out it became apparent that it was time to take our leave. I drained my third - no it was fourth - beer (and after making arrangements to have a coffee the next day with one of the locals), R. and I took a taxicab home.
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