Friday, 20 December 2019

July in Romania

Summer sunset over La Mola from Sabadell.
The outskirts of Sabadell - not all factories.
Montserrat seen from Sabadell - closer than you think!
April was over and so was the Easter Break - but all things must come to an end, even the good things. Although I was back at work, the feeling that I was left after visiting the Czech Republic was still there and making me feel so glad that I was there. Knowing things end helps you cherish good moments when they happen as well as being able to let go of bad things when they happen. Finding happiness is not always about being in one 'happy place,' but having found little places along the way that add up to a happy state of being. Before I knew it, May had come and gone and the end of June was on the horizon too - time really can fly! I'm not even sure what I did in these 2 months other than work and keep my head down, looking forward to Summer and Romania. I managed a few small walks around Barcelona as well as Sabadell before I left my my usual summer camp gig in Romania for July, as although I was coming back, it would be a little and when I did come back, I wasn't sure where I would be living. I used the late sunsets and warm sunshine to walk around the outskirts of my city, walking by myself and making my own way, find paths here and there, not following a route, getting lost and finding myself again. The best way to explore. Sabadell may not be be most beautiful city, the best place to live, but it does have something and I like being here. I not a needy or greedy person and need very little to be happy most of the time.

Colourful fountains in front of Parliament.
Sunset in Bucharest.
Chilling in Bucharest.
Rabbit in Sabadell.
The end of June came quickly, work was finished, and flights were booked for Bucharest once again. This would be my third time in the country, working as a teacher at a summer camp for Romanian kids. Some people ask me "Why Romania?" and although it's not a bad question, the answer is simply "Why not?" For the most part, Romania is an undiscovered country, there aren't many tourists and it generally feels fresh, untouched and a little bit like a trip into what Europe was like 50 years ago - all in a good way. Where else can you see a horse and cart trotting down the road, people farming and collecting hay by hand in the traditional way and the real village life - and it not being a museum or actors dressing up for tourists in fabricated town. The school I work for there is good, they look after me and I enjoy working with the team and the teachers, as well as the great kids that come every year. There is that side of it, but apart from that there is the fact that I'm in an absolutely stunning part of the World. I always enjoy my time in Romania and I feel that working here at this cam is very much an all-inclusive paid for holiday (although I do work hard!). I landed in Bucharest at a reasonable hour this year, the first year I landed at around 2am due to lack of flights and delays, so it was nice to get picked up at the airport (yes they provide a driver too), whisked away to my hotel room to chill and change before going out for dinner with my teaching buddies. I've been to Bucharest 3 times now, so to be honest, there isn't much more to see that's new to me, but there is always something different. I got the chance to wander around a huge green space in the city centre, the Parcul Natural Văcărești. This vast area is 190 hectares of wetland not far from the main part of the city - it was originally meant to be a water reservoir during the Ceaușescu era, but now there is a basin with sloped concrete sides and everything in the centre is just green. Around this area there are tall apartment buildings, but there is a path that you can walk on right through this city green space and there is supposed to be a lot of wildlife and plants to see, but I didn't have the time unfortunately.

Rasnov Fortress.
Home away from home in the Romanian mountains.
Simply stunning!
Beautiful no matter the weather.
Before I knew it, our time in the capital had come to an end and it was time to drive North to the mountains and the summer camp. The drive isn't anything special, and there is usually a lot of traffic too, but the destination was exciting. This would be the 2nd year at the same camp, but I was happy as the views are spectacular there, the hotel staff are friendly and the hotel itself backs onto forest. It's quiet, beautiful and as relaxing as you're going to get with 60 kids running around. The traffic was horrendous on the drive up, party due to an accident, maybe also made worse by horse and carts on the road, but mainly because there isn't any sort of highway North, only a small, single carriageway road. The only real highway is from the capital of the country to Constanta on the Black Sea coast, sadly not north into the mountains even though there should as many people spend holidays up here and is popular with tourists (Bran castle is up here). We finally made it, driving through the town of Siniai along the way, past Rasnov fortress, then up the small, gravel road that leads all the way to the hotel. It was strange being back, the familiar feeling of it, yet I was very happy to be back, to get my old room and the view of the mountain that I would be looking at every day for the next month. A home away from home. We were greeting by the hotel staff and the hotel dog Gressie, a monstrous Carpathian Shepherd Dog who is as friendly and good with kids as she is big and lazy. We settled in, had dinner and relaxed with a beer or two and watch the sunset from the terrace. The kids were coming the next day so it was nice to have some 'adult' time. I knew the coming 4 weeks were going to be busy, with 55 odd kids a week, classes, reports to write, outings on buses and taking lots of photos of the day-to-day life on camp, as well as breakfast lunch and dinner with the kids. I love it.

The evening show... no need for tv here.
Ever changing and never dull.
The hotel dog Gressie.
Romanian traffic jam.
The work was going well and the kids were fantastic too. My mind still boggles at these Romanian children and how they speak so much English! They communicate freely with us, about their lives, ask questions about ours, grasp new language and accents as well as talk about the bigger picture in life. It's not just about English, these kids are so mature and sensible, so aware and interested in the World around them (thank you parents!) that you can't help but have a good time here and enjoy teaching. As good as all this is, when Saturday comes round and they leave (always a bit sad), it's time for some 'me' time and to do some hiking and get out of the hotel and away from people. Last time I did this last year, I walked right into a storm and rescued 3 kittens from drowning in a river. What was in stall for me this time? I packed my bag with some water, some snacks and my camera, jumped into my boots and headed off alone to see where my feet would take me - the sun was shining and the weather warm... perfect. I hiked along the ridge behind the hotel, admiring the pure beauty of this place, even though I'd been here and done this part of the walk many times. Romania in Summer is just bursting with life and colour all around - bees and flowers, lush green grass and fat cows munching, the berries on the trees and he warm breeze. There is nowhere like it. My walk took me past where I'd gone before and along some small, gravel roads and up to the next ridge, past old and crooked wooden houses, yards with goats and chickens, and very, very few people. I was happy, taking photos and walking in silence. There is nothing to fear here, no worries of getting lost, being chased off someone's land, falling or anything in this soft rolling landscape. The only worry is coming across a not-so-friendly dog. This can happen and did this time - I stood my ground and he charged over at me, barking his warning, but was pulled back and apologised for by a young shepherd girl. I continued on my walk, watching people making hay piles by hand, milking animals, just like it has been going on for decades if not centuries, all the while surrounded by beautiful countryside and the ever-present mountain. I headed downhill, towards the town, aiming to meet up with some friends for a beer after a long and hot walk. The town, Zarnesti, isn't exactly on the tourist trail, and is very quiet, yet still beautiful that only Romanian towns can do. Every house is painted brightly and has large, decorated gates which lead into well-tended gardens, the streets were void of traffic and bustle, with only a few cars and carts, and all along the street were pretty lampposts. You can always see a church or two in Romania, no matter where you are, and here was no exception. Although the town isn't much to see and is quite small, it was very pretty and nice to walk through.

Breathtaking views everywhere.
On top of the ridge.
Zarnesti and the mountains.
Time was ticking away and before I knew it, the camp was nearly over. The weekend weather hadn't been great to be honest, and apart from that one hike, I wasn't able to do much. I did revisit Brasov, my favourite place in Romania, and also take a drive to Sighișoara and spend an afternoon there, but like always, there isn't enough time for all the things you want to do, especially when you also have a job to do. I consider myself very lucky to get the opportunity to come here and work in such an amazing place - not to mention live and work in Spain. I sometimes wonder how life could have been different - if I'd never become a teacher, never came to Romania or met the people you meet along the way. What if I'd stayed in Australia and worked and lived a 'normal' life? I never regret what I've done, and that's the way it should be, but I am always excited about what will come in the future, yet I also try and live as much as I can in the moment to enjoy the 'now.' Plan and prepare for the future, remember and cherish the past but live in the present.

Car pooling, Romanian style.
The most beautiful view in the World
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UncleTravellingMatt. July 2019.

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