Friday, December 10, 2010

Arriving in Tusnad

Thursday 11:00 p.m.

Well, after a 6-½-train ride from Cluj, I have arrived in Baile Tusnad. I was met at the train station by Enco, the local coordinator who will be telling me what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks.

She’s got long wavy red hair and I can tell her spirit is as fiery as her mane. Even late at night, her eyes had a sparkle.

We lugged my suitcase up hill in the rain and walked on the street, avoiding cars, to the home where I’ll be staying. Ilanka works at the care home where I’ll be assigned and her husband; Zolton apparently was the Mayor of Tusnad for 12 years. He now works in the nearby truly unprounceable town of Miercurea Ciuc.

Enco had texted me while I was on the train asking if I was hungry and I said yes, a little something would be good; but sadly, no stores were open by the time my train arrived so I noshed on a few peanuts still left in my bag.

I have my own room and my bathroom is in the laundry room. I washed my face with cold water because I couldn’t figure out how to get the hot water to come on. I hope it will be a little different in the shower.

The bathroom is quite chilly but my room has a wood burning stove to keep me warm from the cold outside. The gusty rain earlier has turned to snow. Don’t know if it will still be there when I wake up in the morning.

Enco will be returning to go over my schedule. She hitchhiked home in the rain 15 km. I just texted her to see if she got home safely and she thanked me for worrying about her. I guess we all feel like orphans now and then.

I will have breakfast and lunch at the care home and then I can cook my own dinner or go to one of the local restaurants. Apparently there are also a few markets in town to buy food.

I’m told Breakfast will be bread and jam or a meat spread and lunch will be soup and something else. I may be stocking up as best I can at that grocery store as I find my stomach growling as I lay here in the very firm makeshift bed.

Enco told me I can use the internet at another group home which houses 100 kids where there’s been an American running the house but he is leaving to go back to the states in a little over a week.

I thought they’d reformed the institutionalized orphanages; I wonder why there are 100 kids in that facility.

She did mention that in the mornings I would most likely be going to school and helping the teacher with English language.

I am already starting to fall asleep.

I wonder if I’ll remember where I am when I wake up tomorrow.

So, here I am and the process has begun.

9:00 a.m. Friday

I did manage to sleep okay, although it did get quite chilly and now is downright cold in the room. I have not been able to get the hot water to come on, so I’ll try again this evening after my room has warmed up at least.

There is a light blanket of snow on the ground and it is currently flurrying lightly.

Later –

I met with the English teacher, Enit, who I will be assisting on Tuesday and Wednesdays. I will also be spending time in the care home interacting with the kids and walking two of the younger ones to and from school.

Enco and I met up with Peter, the one who runs the St. Francis group home, which is where I am currently, using the internet.

Because it is a private foundation, the Romanian Government rules of smaller populated group homes don’t apply. Peter shares a dorm like space with 10 boys who sleep in groups of 5 on loft platforms above the communal living space. There are adults designated for each small group of kids. There are more girls in this home than boys.

As I’ve been writing, a young boy came in holding his cheek, obviously a toothache. Peter explained the boy lost a filling, and while there is a dentist in town, he is not compensated by the government for any dental work, therefore it’s unlikely the little boy will have the filling replaced unless the pain becomes an emergency level. Peter gave him an aspirin.

Tomorrow I will be going to the group home to meet the kids.


  1. Rough arrival! And I know those meat spreads...they're commonplace in many places in Europe, but it doesn't make me like them any more. Is it possible your water needs to be heated in a tank before coming out of the faucet? That was the case with the apartment we used to live in in Hamburg. You heat the water and then you pour it in the sink.

    It sounds like arrival has been chilly, but I trust that you will find things to enjoy once you get to know people and settle in. Keep posting! I'm anxious to hear your stories.

  2. My heart broke when I read about that little boy with the toothache. I hope he is going to be looked at by the dentist - what a shame that poor thing will have to be in wrenching pain before his needs will get addressed :((

  3. Alicia, that meat spread is gross - it's like the spam of Europe I suppose. Thanks for looking into sending stuff, but it is pretty pricey and I imagine quite slow.

    Sadly, I don't think the kid will get to the dentist, but I'll ask Peter when I see him later.