Monday, June 14, 2010
Ploieste: Linden Blossoms and The Current
We've just finished up our IFV--Integrated Field Visit--on site in Ploieste, a city of 300,000 northwest of Bucharest. In many ways it was great--green and flowering spaces and parks, nice restaurants (Italian and Lebanese were our choices), interesting experiences in meeting a famous boxer at his bar and seeing a French Cabaret performance last night, really helpful information from the volunteer we visited, her counterpart, and another volunteer, and from our language instructor who traveled with us and gave us good tutoring sessions in the host volunteer's apartment and in our hotel lobby. There were just five of us here and 7 other small groups were scattered all over Romania. The down side of our stay here was the heat--temps in the 90s and virtually non-existent air conditioning. Our 3rd story hotel rooms were so hot the first night that two of us went out and bought fans, which we'll take back with us. And here I must tell you of a uniquely Romanian habit/superstition. Doors and windows in houses, schools, buses, etc. must be kept closed because the "current" will cause illness. This was not a concern when the temps were still coolish the first week or so after arriving, but increasingly the obsession about closed windows when you're on a sweltering bus or in a public building or even in your gazda's home seems absurd and a bit masochistic. So there were definitely some sauna moments these past few days and walking long distances in the heat was energy draining, but breezes blew through the city's countless Linden trees in spite of the cultural tabu, releasing the most wonderful fragrance from the blossoms, and we have fans to take back to our training site tomorrow on the Maxi-taxi. Another irony--sweating as I trudge along a mile or so to the station with my luggage and a fan wrapped in a garbage bag. Not as good, however, as needing someplace to pass the time between meetings yesterday and deciding to do so in the Clock Museum.