What a great last day in Romania…it has been non-stop busy from 8am-11pm! I even woke up early this morning and went and took a peaceful walk around the area before breakfast. This was great because when we are driving around I have my head down (motion sickness prevention), so it was nice to see new things in the area I had not previously. It was another beautiful day as well. We really did pick the right week to come…it couldn’t have been more perfect.
In the morning Simona took us to the first Romanian School. The first Romanian School means that it is the first school in Romania that taught in the Romanian language. We saw several first additions of Romanian almanacs, thesauruses, books, etc… and the first Romanian printing press as well. We learned that when they first started printing books it would take two years to print 1 book!! Some book covers were very elaborate, but they should be if it took two years to create…right?! 🙂
Simona also took us to visit a couple of churches so we could see the insides of them. First we visited an Orthodox church, which is the church the Romanians attend. In the Orthodox church there are no chairs (only along the sides for the wise older gentle folk) and the sermons run approximately 3 hours…and you are standing! Then we got to go to the Black Church…really St. Mary’s Church…which is the church the Germans attended and if I remember correctly their religion was Lutheran. I am really tired so I may be getting my information mixed up and will correct later if I am wrong. What I know for sure is there were mainly 3 groups of people that had settled here…Romanians, Germans (also known as Saxons), and Hungarians. Each had their own religion. I asked if having different religions was an issue between them…it was not because everyone’s primary concern was security from invaders.
Then of course we stopped for a delicious lunch. We haven’t eaten a bad meal yet. I have never eaten so well on vacation! After lunch we were off to explore the city of Brasov on our own for a couple of hours…free time just to take in the last day. Brasov is such a beautiful city…I had no idea it would be so awesome and I really do love it here! I don’t understand why more people don’t come here!?
Simona had to go to teach her kindergarten and after our free time in the city Peter took us to see 4 more families that will benefit from their center in Haghig. It was a great time visiting with 2 of the families, but the other 2 families told Peter they didn’t want to be a part of the program anymore…for whatever reason they had. Some because of rumors (remember…rumors are often not true…but they still put fear in people) they have heard regarding Hungarian discrimination, no choice in education, etc. Peter tried to tell them they were not true, but you cannot make them want a better way of living. It is sad when they pull out and I think Peter and Simona were disappointed, but better they pull out now instead of later when there may have been problems as Simona said.
We stopped by the farm for one last time to visit with the goats, sheep, ducks, and the dog who just had two cute little puppies. They were adorable. Then we were off to see the center where we all thought we were staying, but the project there completed right before we arrived. The center was very nice and would have been comfortable and enlightening as well. The area where this center is also houses the biggest Roma community in Romania. We drove through it and stopped by one of Peter’s friends, who is also Roma. Remember the other night when I shared pictures of the difference between homes in the Roma community…not all Roma live without their human needs and Peter’s friend, George, is one of them. He has built a new home for him and his family which had electricity, running water, and heat. They are working on putting in a washroom as well.
Then it was off to a nice restaurant for our grand finale meal. Of course I ordered potatoes! Something I love about Romanians is that they eat a lot of potatoes!!! For those who know me well know that I LOVE potatoes. It has been a pleasure eating here because of this. I don’t know if I have ever met anyone else with the same passion over potatoes as I have…until this trip…Brian LOVES potatoes too.
So, after a big meal what do you do in Romania? Well, tonight we went back and dressed up in traditional Romanian clothing and danced. Boy…am I ever happy I had Dramamine in my system when we arrived because there is a lot of spinning involved in some of those dances. But it was a great ending to a perfect trip!
This is the first Romanian school. This is also where they had the first Romanian printing press and a library. Many valuable historical documents are in this building.
Our guide in the Romanian School. This is also one of Simona’s former teachers who is also the priest who married her and Peter. This was a man who had a great sense of humor, sang for us, and shared his vast knowledge on…well I think EVERYTHING!!! During communism rule, when government didn’t want people to learn certain things, they would take and burn all of the books. Someone wanted to keep the history safe and put items in the attic of the school where they stayed safe for many years. This man is the one who discovered the historical documents/books in the attic of the museum and now shares the history with visitors. You can tell this man loves to learn and has passion for what he does. Plus, he also knows 5 languages!!! The books he is standing by are ones he has written…with the exception of the Bible.
People watching at the Piata Sfatuliu (Piazza fountain – City Center, Brasov). You might be able to see the Brasov sign real small at the top of the mountain…that is where we stood the other day looking down onto the city. I can’t say it enough…I LOVE this city…it has such character.
This is one of the families we visited today. The mom is in the blue & white striped shirt. She is 33 and has 10 children ranging from ages 2-18! The room I am standing in is where they have an iron stove for cooking…similar to the one in the picture the other day. The room you see behind them is where they all sleep…a total of 11 people since here 18-year-old is married. They do not have running water, but they do have electricity. These kids were so happy to see us and loved to see their pictures after we took them. They kept posing, giggling, and I don’t think they wanted it to end.
This is where the family goes to use the restroom. No commentary necessary.
Two of the children standing in the doorway. Like I said before, this is one of many photos I took of this family. I probably took about 25 photos of these kids…they were enamoured with our cameras. Luckily there were three of us or we wouldn’t have been able to keep up.
The second family and home we visited. In this home live 6 children…with one on the way…and 2 adults. It was so small and with the family in there we couldn’t even really look in.
This is the family (not all pictured) who live in the house just above and Peter is the one giving them food. We brought food to all of the families we visited…a gift from the Easter Bunny as Peter said.
This little guy seemed weary of us…hiding around the corner…but he was happy to get some chocolate. 🙂
Cassidy & Abbey…this picture is for you! These puppies are only a couple of days old. Aren’t they adorable?!
Peter and his friend George. George works for the another non-profit Peter and Simona coordinated with before they started building their center. Yet another nice family that graciously welcomed us into their home.
Simona, Peter, and Oscar their new puppy. They have had him for only a couple of weeks. Oscar will get HUGE! They plan to have him help guard the center when it is done. You can tell they love this little pup.
Victor was ready for dancing upon our arrival back home. These folks are full of energy and ready to share it with you. It was a wonderful time and luckily the step count didn’t go above 3 or I would have been in trouble. 🙂
Victor and the Trae Voluntares in traditional Romanian gear.
Tomorrow will be bitter-sweet. I have enjoyed my time here so much and feel like there is much more learning to be done. However, I am also very overwhelmed by everything and now I can begin to process it all. The trip has gone fast and when I get home it will probably all feel like a dream to me. I have asked A LOT of questions, heard different perspectives on many issues, met many wonderful people, and gained insight into a country that I didn’t really know anything about prior to planning this trip. WOW! You know how sometimes you have such strong feelings that you can’t express in words…right now, in this moment, is how I feel.
Wish me luck, for the next 2 days will be long airport and travel days…but at the end I will get to hold my family again and I can’t wait!
I will miss you Romania! Napte Buna.