Monday, December 20, 2010

Pizza In The City

Monday December 20, 2010

On Saturday I took the kids into the town of Miercurea Ciuc, which I can kind of pronounce now. It’s a half hour away by train and where locals in Tusnad would travel if they want to buy fresh meat or poultry. Many of the families in the smaller villages slaughter their own animals and in fact, Saturday was the day many of them killed the pig. When I saw Enco Sunday afternoon she was complaining of how sore her arms were from making sausages and cutting up the meat from the pig.

The morning Nevelok helped purchase the train tickets once the attendant finally arrived at the window after my loud rapping on the glass. He seemed to be having words with the Nevelok and I was getting the translation from Enco on the phone that he didn’t want to allow Ishti and Mozes, who are five and entitled to ride for free, to board without paying for a ticket. So, we all got tickets and waited for the train, stomping our feet in an effort to keep the circulation going.

Lorika, the fourteen year-old, had been into town a few weeks prior, but the younger kids seemed pretty fascinated with the passing landscape from the smeared train window that brought us into town.

Once there we waited in the train station for two local students who would act as translators for us. Barni and Ishti chased pigeons while Mozes became curious about the two homeless men slumped over a radiator. We walked to the main square of the city and went in to a very small indoor shopping area, reminiscent of a flea market set-up with various vendor stalls, to warm up before going back out to look at the large decorated Christmas tree.

The translators seemed a bit bored or unenthused about being there and I had to constantly ask them what the kids were saying and kept reminding them this was the only time I’ve been able to understand what they were saying, but I think my plea fell upon deaf ears.

The kids entertained themselves with the small shop windows displaying toys made in China or playing with either of the two cameras before we headed to Bandido’s Mexican restaurant for pizza.

I was finding myself a little moody both from the lack of translation from the students and from the thoughts of my return ‘home’, whatever that looks like now. I’ve been in a protective bubble here, far away from pain, but I can’t stay here forever and I’m having some anxiety about returning. Reality has even invaded my dream world, the peaceful sleep I’ve been having has reverted back to the dreams I was having before I left for Romania.

The patient waitress took our drink order of coca colas and hot chocolate. When Mozes’ hot chocolate was set in front of him his eyes grew big and through translation he said, “Is this all for me?” It was in a big glass and topped with inches of whipped cream, something they don’t see at home I’m sure. I ordered several salads for the table to share knowing that they don’t get many fresh vegetables in their diet. They devoured the greek salad with the exception of the black olives.

The pizza was delicious and the kids ate half a pizza each plus extra slices from a whole pizza I had ordered. After we finished, the younger ones were starting to get restless and I was running after them as they ran through the restaurant, stopped and stared at other tables and played with the automatic hand dryer in the bathroom.

After managing to get them all back to the table I asked if they wanted desert and Barni said, “If you really want to pay for it, we’d love to have it.” They all wanted ice-cream and we ordered four for them to share in pairs of two.

The bill for ten people having sodas, hot chocolate, salads, pizza and desert was 179 Lei equivalent to $55 U.S. dollars. Not a bad way to treat ten people to lunch.

Snow was coming down heavily and we playfully got back to the train station where the translator helped navigate the ticket sales. This time Ishti and Mozes got to ride for free as they should.

We sat in a couchette with a hole in the window where snow came in on the beat up train and listened to songs on my ipod. Barni is the tech gadget kid and has found more features on my phone and camera than I ever knew about.

Back at the house the kids had little patience for a jigsaw puzzle. I was exhausted from the day and headed back home. I’ve become used to the crunch, crunch, squeak, squeak of my footsteps in the snow. I notice how the sound changes depending on how fresh or compacted the snow is. My thoughts keep turning to Thursday when I will begin the journey back home and I wonder how I will say good-bye to these seven children I’ve become so fond of.

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