you never know

Yesterday, I was walking into town. At the end of my road there was parked a porsche convertible. Behind this convertible there was a big white van with speakers on top blasting traditional romanian music. And inside the van, a midget was standing between the front seats.
As I was walking down the road, away from the porsche, the midget and the blaring music, I kept turning around and looking back.
What was going on?


the adventure

If you were to visit America and live only in Cheektowaga, New York, your impression of America would be of snow, overly enthusiastic hockey fans and the suburbs with a few trailer parks thrown in.
I live in a big village in northern Romania and my impressions are of horse carts, saying hello to everyone as I walk down the street, farmers and free invites to dinners, among other things.
For the last couple weeks I went on a trip to the polar opposites of Romania - the capital city and the sea. A significant percent of Romania's population lives in Bucharest and I spent the first few days of my trip walking around without saying hello to strangers on the street and hearing people speak english while waiting for a bus or coffee. Bucharest has a metro and people with tattoos and piercings. I am not the only person in Bucharest who doesn't know how to get places as evidenced when I was asked multiple times how to get to a certain park or piata.
After being reminded in Bucharest that Romania is a modern country, I got on a train for the black sea. There are multiple beaches on Romania's black sea coast. The first beach me and another Peace Corps friend tried was Costinesti, known as a youth resort - a youth resort full of young families whose naked babies played in the surf. The shore was full of sunbathers and school groups and venders selling grilled corn. The beach seemed relatively tame in the daytime, but at nightime it exploded. Where people were sunbathing in the daytime, a large tent had been constructed and was calling itself a club and advertising Russian go go dancers. Sitting on the second floor balcony of a restaurant, we people-watched the shops below us selling sunscreen, sunglasses, beach toys, juice and souveniers. Every few minutes one of two jeeps would drive by, blasting music while the dj, sitting on the frame of the jeep, would tell all who could hear about how such and such a club was the best club to go to and the partying at his club doesn't stop until dawn. A couple minutes later, the jeep advertising the other big club would drive by and blast out the same thing. At one point, the jeeps met beneath our observation perch and had a good-humored exchange of words about whose club was better. So Costinesti was loud and fun and relaxing.
The next day we met up with other colleagues at Vama Veche, which is known as the hippy beach of Romania. And for four losing-track-of-time days we stayed in tents 20 feet from the seashore, played on a giant inflatable banana in the black sea, refused to pay the 5 Lei for a shower and instead got nappy hair communaly, played cards, danced on the sand and made little bonfires every night. Every restaurant run meant a bathroom and running water and we would take our toothbrushes and soap with us. One day we walked across the Bulgarian border and had a drink to say we had a drink in Bulgaria. Vama Veche is filled with free-spirited romanians and other Europeans, even a few Australians. It was like being in Bucharest without the business clothes and bus schedules and time constraints.
The other sides of Romania were fun to see and experience, but I'm so glad I'm back to my farming, talk-to-everyone-you-see village.