Galati - days 3-5

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May 22nd 2010
Published: May 24th 2010
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It's funny how people often think I'm confused and don't know what I'm asking for. When I finally got across to my various hosts here that I wanted to know if they had a flea market. Once they understood they kept saying "No, no, there's only old things there!" I said "YES!! EXACTLY!! I asked where I could find an Abecedar They said "That's a book for small children in school." "EXACTLY!!" They are so lovingly protective of me they are hesitant to let me wander on my own.

During these days here I went to Scoala #3 in the village of Pechea where most of the older kids remember my previous visits. It's a bit uncomfortable to have them remember me when I can't remember any of them individually. The director proudly showed off her re-habbed school. They even have inside toilets now. It was raining on this visit, too, as I seem to bring rain every time I come here. I must say it's nice that all the school rooms are accessible without going outside, I popped into every classroom of the older kids (the younger ones attend the morning shift) and said hello to them all. The English teacher, Anca, then led me to her 7th grade class, where I spent the entire period with them. I spoke to them and then they made a presentation for me. The teacher made a touristic slide show of Romania and a series of kids came to the front and read the text on each page. Then after that they showed me autobiographic scrapbooks they made. One even read a comedic episode that fell right in with what we were discussing.

A. was quite concerned when I told her that some of my hosts and I were going to the circus, because she's big on animal rights concerns. She'd be happy to know that they sold out just as we arrived at the window. The show still went on, but without us. Instead we just had family night at the Cucu residence.

Tina's mom was much more understanding of my incongruously modest appetite (or the crize has hit her), as she did not heap massive food onto my plate like last time. She had some standby food premade and I helped myself to as mcu - or in my case as little, as I wanted. It's difficult to make my hosts understand my modest appetite. It sometimes feels like they want me to explode with food. They fill me with delicious ciorba (soup) and when I am sated they bring the next course. YIKES!

I split my time between Tina and her mom and brother and Aurelia and her husband and daughter. T. teaches at a grade school in Pechea and A. teaches at a Galati high school and I went there for a couple regular classes and to a special session that she called in my honor. I unsucessfully cleaned the memory chip on my videocam and I ran out of time just as they started their special presentations.

I'm grateful when I stay with families and was able to use their wash machines. I have no problem doing my laundry by hand - in fact one of the first purchases I made was detergent to have with me - but a machine gets a lot more moisture out in the spin cycle and things dry a lot faster. Driers are not common at all here so they first thing to do when you arrive at a new location is to do laundry so it has a chance to dry.

I did a lot of the 'tourist things' in previous visits so I was in family mode. One of the drawbacks to that is family people are seldom in party mode so nightlife is quite sedate. No wild women to meet this way! I made about an hour of video of a friend's mom to show him. I have NO IDEA what and his aunt were talking about, but I hope he likes it. Sunday afternoon I took a maxitaxi to Focsani to visit a few friends there. I barely made the bus and since the seats are so close I rose the center of two seats in the back so I gave my seatmates on either side some elbow room.

With windows that don't open the only ventilation is the roof vent. It was wide open, which suprised me because the flow of air was massive even for me, much less those who fear "the current.ยท (The curent is air that moves through openings - one might say "breeze" that carries all death and disease to older Romanians.) So it wasn't a surprise when someone half-closed the opening. What was distressing is the one woman who later asked a guy to close it totally, cutting off all airflow whatsoever. It's expected, but no less annoying. The weird thing is that same woman started sweating like a pig and just sat there wiping off sweat the whole trip rather than let the breeze cool her.

My friends were waiting at the gara (station) for me and after dropping my bags off they took me to visit granny and switch cars with the one they keep stored there. We went grocery shopping and later I met an American Peace Corps Volunteer here and talked a bit about mutual interests and acquaintances. She works with autistic kids here, trying to implement more modern techniques. Dinner was broiled chicken and their version of cole slaw. Sleep was on a foldaway sofa.


24th May 2010

Nicely written
Hi John, This is the most descriptive of your posts that I've read. Really get a feel for your experience here. I don't know about your other readers, but I often long for more of a description of your surroundings and the folks you meet. Keep it up! Steve

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