1.1.07 0 °F
Wednesday, December 6
Left 8:45 – Lauren in the arms of Memory of a Geisha until 3am was a little slow to arrive
Arrived at the clinic at 9:15
Worked with the mobiles early and we were joined by Andrei and Lauren. Within a few minutes in the room, Andrei had pulled Sylvia backwards which caused many tears from the bumped head. John and Sandy then came in and I went into the Toddler for 50 minutes. Lunch for the toddlers consisted of liver pieces, scrambled eggs from our breakfast followed by cream of wheat. We have noticed that the kids are a little hesitant with any new taste or texture. They seem to love the cooked liver that is great as most of these guys still have some anemia.
Our lunch was watery soup, not very tasty pasta, apple tort and bread. None of us ate very much of it so it went to the local dogs and the leftovers of soup and pasta to the kitchen for the kids.
We continued our pattern of the after lunch walks and during this lunch, we found a small store for Lauren to buy a hat.
Afternoon was the non-mobiles with a special visit from Alessandra, the brittle bone baby who has the loveliest smile.
After work we went into town to find the train schedule (looks like a 7am train for Bernice and I on Saturday the 23rd which will get me in by noon). That should give me plenty of time to get to the airport for my 3pm flight. We also tried to find an internet café as our server is still down at the hotel. We went to three different locations, including the local gambling establishment where Bernice approached two young boys who we suspected would know. No luck. We will ask Manuela when we see her next.
Penny market with Bernice for juice for our entire time, more diapers, diaper wipes and chicken for the kids.
Dinner at Alona restaurant again with Manuela and Stella a student at her HS and her father to discuss the Orthodox Church in Romania. We arrived and had to walk through a St. Nicholas Day party complete with dj and keyboards.
Manuela was going to meet us at 7pm and luckily she sent Helen (the English teacher at the HS) to tell us that the student and dad would not be available tonight. Helen stayed and ate an orange and assisted us with ordering. Lettuce is not in season in Romania so salads usually only have cucumbers, tomatoes and the other ingredients listed. Most of the ingredients are listed separately so it is almost impossible to come close to what the US calls a salad. I found one that I like that has eggs, ham, cukes, tomatoes, onions (not my favorite) and parm cheese on the top. After lots of back and forthing, we finally ordered.
The wines that we ordered came with the entire bottle that was unexpected but not too expensive. The red Lauren and Bernice shared was not well received, as it appeared to have turned or have been stored at the wrong temperature. The white ordered was wonderful and most of the table switched from red to white.
Manuela arrived after her last class and helped me finish by 4-cheese pizza (2 slices of each of the 4 cheeses – rather a fun way of eating 4 cheese pizza). We had not ordered dessert as we had the previous lunch so 3 of us ordered fruit salad. What we got this time was the confection with lots of whip cream, caramel sauce and fruit cocktail chunks. Not at all what I expected, and after a bite, I left the rest. Not my proudest moment of the trip. (I admitted I was tired, cranky and that all I wanted to do was go back to the hotel). I realized that we had ordered fresh fruit the previous meal and what we received was delightful. I now know to order fresh fruit.
We finally left and upon arrival from the dinner unloaded the bus and went up stairs in hopes of internet connection – no luck. May not be able to find it again until I get to London. Manuela said that she would take us somewhere tomorrow.
We did a little more searching in the journals for some of new favorite babies. Most of them were preemies and many from young parents.
Thursday, December 7
What a great day!
Still gloomy and cold when we woke for breakfast, we all benefited from a good nights sleep. Today we were making a special stop on the way to work to pick up treats hosted by John and Sandy for the adults in the wards. Lauren had purchased a Santa suit at the Penny Market that would also be making its debut. Our Romanian failed us again, but Lauren made our desired known in Italian and for a mere 25 RON (around $12), we walked away with 5 bags of little puff pastries.
We then picked up Manuela who was looking very exhausted. Her hours lately have been 7-9, an entire day with us and then classes between 5-8 pm. Plus we found out today that not only does she teach, but also she is the science curriculum lead for all of Barlad. Not to mention she has a family and young daughter and a life outside GV. What a woman!
Next we made an unexpected stop at an office supply store of sorts to see if we could find paper, crayons or other art supplies for the toddlers. We all went in but as the other ladies had it well in hand, I looked around and then left. The store had 4 counters, two that most definitely specializing in office and stationary and the others across the way had items from batteries and clocks, through hair supplies, toys, cosmetics, laundry soaps and ended up with nylons and bras in the final case. Sort of a modified Office Depot/Ultra/Victoria Secret all under one roof!
We were late arriving and also carried dog food purchased by Lauren and last night’s pizza remnants for the dogs. Lauren has become very popular. The dogs were appreciative as you can imagine.
The toddlers were all waiting for us as we were later than usual and John and Sandy jumped in with the art supplies. Lauren and I started collecting babies, changing diapers and putting them in their exercise rooms. I am again with the mobiles that are quickly becoming my favorites. I began with Mirella, our lady in purple, who has been rather needy lately and wanting lots of attention. A little whingey during diaper change, she was happy to be picked up.
Next was Mihaela, who also not pleased with diapers, began her day with two balls in her hands. Next was Sylvia, who is always pleased to see anybody and smiles and gurgles. Finally, my little frog, Marian entirely in green as if you could not guess. All of this took over 30 minutes besides getting all the toys lined up and the equipment in the room. I met John in the hall and he said that unhappiness reigned as they closed up the art class and that the toddlers were wild today. OH GOODIE!
I went in with the group and everything was fine until Mihaela melted down, threw down the two plastic beads she had been playing with and had a glorious tantrum complete with circles on the floor on her back, arching upwards and grimaces of absolute rage. Peace returned after a short cuddle and setting her in the bouncy swing. In her rage she had clunked Marian in the head and also Mirella, so I had two others who needed hugs and cuddles that continued until I left the room. Little Marian needed lots of attention and his head would whirl around nearly at 360 to find me if I was out of his sight. Mirella was also needy and finally I had both of them in my lap, Mihaela in the bouncy and Sylvia bumping her back against the wall. As I left them down to get her, both dissolved into tears. SIGH!
Sandy came in to relieve me so that I could go and relieve John in Toddlers. More melt downs by Marian as I left.
I entered the room to see John telling Florin he had to stay in the room that caused Florin to lift a chair over his head to throw it. I took it from him and turn him to face me to tell him that was dangerous and that he could choose another way to seek attention. Not happy with being disciplined, he took his anger out on the tv. At least it wasn’t someone else’s head. Lots of tears and tantrums as I would put one down to get to another and two didn’t seem to fit in the lap without positioning and pushing. Toddlers are exhausting to me and without Romanian, hard to negotiate with.
Finally it was time for treats. First was the gourmet cooked chopped liver and chicken breasts that Bernice had supplied. Nearly all ate the liver with relish, but the chicken breasts only got limited play. Followed quickly by the cream of wheat and yoghurt soup which lead to food fights with the spoon and upended bowls on the floor. The children were not spanked for the behavior just scolded and cleaned up. Next came the juice bottles, cut up oranges and little bits of cookies. By this time, half the herd had becoming disinterested and was removing their bibs, tracking through the gruel and racing up and down the hall without their socks. Naptime was just around the corner.
We had a good lunch of sandwiches, soup that had been pureed, bread and fruit. Both Lauren and I also supplied sweet treats for snack. By the time we were finished, it was sprinkling but Lauren and I still took our walk. Both Sandy and Bernice stayed back to feed the little twins who are hungry more often and needing lots of attention. They found that one of the babies had diarrhea and now bad diaper rash and they were very upset that the staff be notified to the seriousness of the condition. We are now in search of newborn pampers to try and rectify the situation as soon as possible.
I am in charge of daily supplies. Usually I bring one roll of toilet paper, one roll of paper towels, 4 cartons of juice and two packs of diaper wipes. We will add 2-3 packages of diapers, and two tubes plus one pot of AD diaper cream for tomorrow. We were told today that the kids may not have chocolate, but can have slightly sweet treats or pastries with jam or cheese in them. They also said that they only use 1-2 cartons of juice a day, so I will cut back on the number.
We were to have a short afternoon as we had to visit the adult wards with the treats supplied by Sandy and John before we left a 3:45. John was a hit in the Santa suit and the ladies were charming. The men were a little taken aback when John arrived, but took their share of the treats and smiled. I think the hospital director was happy that we had made the effort.
We left early, as we had to find the pharmacy for the diapers, then to the internet café for our correspondence and finally, meet with Stella for a trip to the Orthodox Monastery and her father, the Priest of the local Greek Orthodox Church. The pharmacy had plenty of diapers, so we all bought at least one pack. The internet café only had 3 machines available, but we all were connected within 5 minutes. All the other machines were loaded with teenagers playing games.
We picked up Stella and then had a 30-minute ride into the woods to the Monastery. It began to look like the woods from the Blair Witch Project and the longer it took, the more we were convinced that we would not make it home that night. The monastery is undergoing a major face-lift and they were laying cement even in the pitch dark. The monastery was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was lovely and ornate on the inside. The chandelier was absolutely magnificent and the twin candle sticks with the double eagle amazing. Apparently, the double eagle has been used in Romania for the local kings for years. We learned about the legend of how the monastery was founded which included a local peasant and his donkey. Apparently, every evening the donkey would disappear at a certain tree. When the man cut it down, on the stump was a replica of Mary so on this site the monastery was founded.
Only 10 minutes away was the little village for the church. We got out of the bus and walked through a dark graveyard on the way to the church. Stella’s father is the priest and is a friendly rotund man similar to Friar Tuck. This church had two styles of paintings the Byzantine (more two dimensional) and the Catholic (three dimensional). This church was dedicated to St. George (of Dragon fame) and we saw the painting of him being drawn and quartered. The church had the steepest set of stairs leading up the pulpit on the wall I had ever seen. The congregation stands for upwards of 4 hours every Sunday at the services.
The priest showed us the books they use to pray with, the chalice and their special hosts that are actually bread and the special way that they cut them to represent Christ, Mary and all the angels and special people to pray for. After receiving a dried herb that will be used tomorrow to bless the holy water, being anointed with special oil from Greece and some wonderful white wine, we took our leave. It was a wonderful church complete with a painted picture of the current priest on the balcony looking at the sacristy.
Back on the bus, we were very late for dinner and our massages that had been arranged by Ionata for us. At dinner we were told that Bernice would receive a free massage because she was over charged for the last one. She went first, I was second and Lauren last. IT WAS WONDERFUL! I have never had my elbows massaged like that. I sit sleepy eyed to finish about today before I go off to sleep.
I am partially packed for our trip to Transylvania for the weekend. YAAH!
DREAM – moths ate all my business clothes. No problem in my mind and I was happy at the end of the dream.
Friday, December 8 – Last work day for John and Sandy
We have been taking our lunch daily from the hotel restaurant to the clinic in a plastic blue and red box. Today, there was a misunderstanding about our lunch. We were a little delayed in our departure and this would already be a short day for Lauren and I as we were to be picked up at 1:30.
I assisted Lauren by helping deliver non-mobiles to her room and then I played with the mobiles. We had a very quick lunch and then it was time to say goodbye to Sandy and John. It is nice to know that they are just up the road in Boulder once I get home.
At 1:30, Marius in a silver car arrived to whisk us away to Brasov. We left Banca in mist and I suspected that we would not have good visibility until we had climbed to the mountains. We had been told that we would have a driver and guide, but we found out that we would only have Marius. In addition, he had not done this tour is several years, so we were not surprised when he had to ask several times for directions to our hotel. At one point, we were at an intersection and the name of the town we needed had two signs, each pointing in the opposite direction.
The ??? hotel looked okay from the outside and inside it was clean, if a little outdated. The LP was not very complimentary, but then again, they didn’t highly praise any of the lodgings in Brasov. We were at the front of the building with lots of Christmas lights. We left the hotel to walk to dinner along a pedestrian street.
There was a central plaza with a huge lit tree and lots of character. Both Lauren and I ordered a salad and a stuffed cabbage with meat and rice. Both tasted great!
LP had spoken of a miraculous beauty cream that was supposed to take 20 years off you. The founder/creator had died at 90 and looked only 70, or so the story goes. As it was sold in all the pharmacies, we suspected that we would be able to find it. Of course, as with any good miracle cream, there was more than one to use. We made our selection, I with a night cream and hand cream and Lauren with two others plus a shampoo/conditioner. I did a sample test before bed with one side of my face with the new stuff and the other side with the old stuff. We will see how much younger we look tomorrow
Life in Romania
Daily, we pass horse drawn carts with young colts in tandem with their mothers learning to drive. The carts may have a huge load of cabbages, twigs, possibly several people and one day, there was a full-grown cow being pulled by the wagon. (My question – why can’t the cow be walked down the road like the horse?) While cars are everywhere, there will most like be a large percentage of the population that will never be able to afford a car.
Boots and babushkas – We are in the country and not close to one of the major cities. Many of the people live on small farms and grow their own crops – cabbage, cows, pigs, sheep, corn, etc. It is not uncommon to see a little lady in Wellington rubber boots and a scarf or babushka on her head.
Gray skies – winter is here for sure and we have had 95% gray skies and mist. We are in a low valley, probably with lots of streams and rivers. I have remarked that it reminds me of Anatevka from Fiddler.
Smoking – EVERYBODY SMOKES IN ROMANIA from what I can tell. My clothes smell and I don’t feel I will be able to totally loose the smell until I get to England.
Right side of the road – They drive on the right-hand side of the road like in the US. It sort or shocked me to find that I found being driven on the right hand side of the road rather foreign to me. I guess after 8 months in the other lane, it would seem strange.
90% Greek Orthodox - the main religion is Orthodox (and while they say Greek, other people say it is a blend of both Russian and Greek Orthodox)
2% of population Gypsies – This portion of the population is still looked down on by a lot of the Romanian people. Not as nomadic as they once were, in some areas, they have formed a settlement with houses.
Generally small in stature with strong noses, magnificent bushy eyebrows – the first thing that I noticed about the Romanians is that they have wonderfully strong noses and abundantly bushy eyebrows. Seriously, some of the men have eyebrows that could be groomed.
Dark hair/dark eyes – The babies have the most wonderful dark hair and eyes. While I have seen many hair and eye colors, the dark/dark combinations are the most prevalent and are wonderful.
Delicate drains – euphemism on how you do not put your toilet paper down the toilet. That is what the little lidded trashcan is for!
Language – As a former Roman province, they consider themselves Roman, hence Romania. The language has so many similarities to Italian that Lauren managed to be understood in over 90% of her interactions with the Romanian people. Some things were different, but the similarities far outweighed the differences.