Saturday, October 23, 2010
Seeing Romania afresh through my good friend Diane's eyes is such a pleasure! She arrived on the 15th and will return to Georgia on Monday (25th), and we've managed to cram in a lot of experiences and fun in these 10 days. Oradea, Baile Felix (nearby thermal baths), a movie, some shopping, a day at my school, a six-hour train ride through the beautiful countryside between Oradea and Sighisoara, and now we're ending a 3-day stay in this awesome (in the truest sense of the word) medieval town. We've had gorgeous fall weather--quite crisp, but sunny--and we've had beautiful walks, sightseeing, great shopping, and some indulgent Romanian/German cuisine. Added to that are several jolly encounters with other English-speaking tourists from Finland, Washington DC, and two families of Baptist missionaries from Arkansas and Alabama who have lived here in Romania for 10 years. We're also continually besieged by groups of school children who hear our English and want to talk to the Americans. All Romanian students study English and to speak to native speakers seems to be an opportunity they can't pass up. They are bright, inquisitive and utterly *darling* as we both have come to exclaim after such a meeting. Because I can speak some Romanian, they become embarrassed when they think I've understood all their chatter. (Don't worry, kiddos!) Diane is such fun through our travels because she never meets a stranger and the Romanians love her genuine interest in the culture and history here. And we've had funny things happen. I bought a collapsible umbrella and the 2nd time I used it in downtown Oradea as we're making our way to the train station, I pushed the button to open it and it opened and flew from the shaft like a flying saucer! Di had to take a picture of it forlorn on the sidewalk where we had to leave it. Then because of a little tumble from the top of my suitcase, the bottle containing the last of my landlord's gift of Palinka (strong plum brandy) cracked just enough to flavor the inside of our plastic snack bag and to let us know that we needed to finish it off on the train quickly before it all drained away. We tried to be subtle as we passed the bottle back and forth--nobly frugal in saving a waste of perfectly good spirits. The rainy train ride was quite cheery after that! These are only a few of our laughs. So I'll miss her after the Monday departure for sure, but will be so busy getting ready for the big community Halloween Carnival, which this American is *creating* and overseeing, that I won't have time to be gloomy. More about this invasion of Yankee kitsch and commercialism in the next entry.