Friday, December 28, 2007

"Oh The night, here it comes again..."

My eyes are heavy like 5:30 a.m., and they get even heavier when I ask what time it is and I hear 4:30 a.m! At this point, my exhaustion of being awake for the past 24 hours nor the bitter cold of a Budapest morning in mid December could ruin this moment. I am drinking a bottle of wine, out of the bottle, with people who were complete strangers one hour ago on the banks of the Danube River. The city's morning commute is coming to a crawl and if not for the Gothic clouds above, the sun would be rising. What a way to spend my first 3 hours in Budapest! Budapest is an extraordinary city, with an abundance of culture and warm people. Even though the sun did not shine once the whole time I was there, the endless holiday decorations, hot spiced wine (red & white) and a visit to the natural hot springs made up for it. Going from village life to Budapest was a complete 180 degree turn, but Budapest was just the beginning...up next the 12 hour plane ride back to the States for the first time in 7 months!
A window seat has never felt so good. With sounds of the captain saying "blah, blah...Amsterdam direct to Detroit, MI...blah, blah" I got really excited thinking about heading back to the States for the holidays and what my life will be like over there while I am home. Then, I also got really excited about thinking back at my last 7 months in Romania and all that has happened, been accomplished and all that is my life over there. Finally, I just smiled...about life in general and how much I really love what I am doing and what I am doing with "my life." The old Scottish man seating next to me took his eyes from his novel and asked me what I was smiling about. I chuckled and replied, "where should I begin?" His interest grew even stronger and then asked, "Where are you from and where have you been?" Again, I laughed and replied with a proud smile, "Where should I begin?" After he closed his book and removed his glasses he simply said "how about you start at the beginning?" He was a bit confused at how I started the year 2007 living in downtown Detroit, working at a bar to now finishing the year 2007 teaching english in a tiny village in Northern Romania. But what really threw him for a loop was when I described him the village I live in with the wood burning stoves, fresh cows milk, the Clausius on my hands from chopping wood, my daily meals of pig fat back and being the one and only english speaker, all with a sparkle in my eye. He is mystified that one, I would volunteer to leave the United States for a tiny village in Romania and two, I actually enjoy it. I ask for a glass of sparkling water as he demands a lemon with his pepsi light (diet pepsi) and I continue on with my endless accounts of new experiences. It seems he is genuinely interested and inquires about my favorite part of living in Romania and I respond rather quickly without even having to think about it..."top 5 in no particular order, my village, the landscape (mountains etc.), the food, the culture and the horlinka." Obviously, he wants to know more about the horlinka, but I tell him words won't do it justice so I wont try, just know it is Delicious! The old man comments, I speak very passionately about my experiences and my new life in Romania, I agree and ask if he is going to eat his bag of peanuts because I am absolutely starving. The food on the plane was quite nice, luckily I went with the pasta and boy was I glad, I peaked at the lady's chicken in front of me on my way to the restroom and it looked a bit like a piece of cardboard, we even got ice cream for dessert, it was chocolate...but that is neither here nor there. So, just as I grab my headphones and my ipod the old scot asks me what I have learned from my time and experiences in Romania thus far. I put the Ryan Adams on pause and listed of few things that come to mind...patience, flexibility, open-mindness, love, perseverance, not being afraid to fail, confidence, how to dig up potatoes, to make hay, drive a horse and wagon, simplicity, serenity, make cement, self reflection, to chop wood, speak Romanian, trust strangers (but not just any stranger), adaptation and a new culture just to name a few. He nods approvingly and I begin to hum "La cienega just smiled" when I lean over and say "Oh ya, and I have found I'm much happier when I'm living my life with passion for what I am doing and with a smile on my face."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Detroit, Metro airport in the United States of America...local time is blah, blah and customs this and customs that..." It feels good to be home...

- Peace & Love in the New Year -

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Heart of Life is Good

Its 20:01 (8:01 p.m.) on a cold November Wednesday and I am raising my glass while everyone around me is yelling "To Many Years!" with a great eastern european accent. I have just had yet another cross-cultural the village when ever you drink a shot of horlinka or alcohol in general you always say "La Multi Ani" which translates directly to "To Many Years." One of the gentlemen at the table asked me what Americans say when they drink whiskey, because every American drinks least that is his persepective, and I tell him that "cheers" is a common expression. But then I tell him and the others at the table that "La Multi Ani" translates to "To Many Years." I wrote it down for everyone to see and together we repeated it out loud 10 to 15 times, They loved it! As you might imagine, everyone at the table was very excited about learning an English expression that relates to drinking, so we practiced and practised, but naturally we could not practise saying "To Many Years" with empty glasses, we had to make the situation as real as possible! My lesson was a complete success, 100% participation and everyone passed with flying colors. As I left the group for bed, everyone in the room stood up...some faster than others, and in unison they let out one last "To Many Years." It is 6:03 (6:03 a.m.) the next morning and it is even colder than the day before. The wood burning stove next to my bed still has a bit of warmth glowing from it but the cold breeze outside is making it difficult to get out from under the covers. I make a dash for my slippers and a sweatshirt and luckly there is still a bit of hot water left over from last nights fire. As I wash away the haze from last nights lesson plan I think about the day ahead... my mission, go to the city and pick up a package from the post office...easy enough, right? In general there is one van that leaves from the village to the city on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it generally leaves at 6:40 a.m., generally being the key word. I skate my way up & down the frozen ashphalt to the center of the village where the van generally leaves from. 6:40 comes and goes, but at least there are others waiting with me, so I know the van is coming, sometime. 7:05 a.m. the roar of the cold, tired motor comes to a scretching stop and I pile into the red van behind the rest of the group, I'm going to the city! The fact my fingers and toes might be frozen does not bother me too bad nor does that fact that my nose is a driping focuet, my main concern is that I don't think my eyes have blinked since I left the house, they might be frozen open...oh well, ce sa fac (what are you going to do?) As I make myself comfortable on the bench (well, two sacks of potatoes with a blanket over them) I over hear the many conversations passing by me. I am able to pick up bits and pieces from a couple of them...the two old men to my right are talking about last nights futbol (soccer) match, but I did not catch the score. The three middle aged women in the corner are discussing the latest and greatest village gossip..."Maria and Ion's pig is bigger than last year, what are they feeding it, it can't be natural!" Meanwhile, the two men directly accross from me are staring at my hair sprouting from under my knit hat, one saying "Do you think he just can't afford a hair cut, I know he is a volunteer, but you would think he would have enough for a trim" and the other responding "That must be it, maybe we could all chip in and help him out, poor guy." I smile under my lips and pretend not to know what they are saying, watching the white clouds from my breath disapear. The frost covered window is starting to let in a ray or two from the rising sun, when I am asked why I am going to the city. I tell the spectators that I received a package and I have to pick it up from the post office in the city. "Where was it sent from and who sent it?"...It was sent from America but I am not sure who sent it, it will be a surprise. "Is it filled with money?"....ha ha, no I dont think so, but that would be a nice surprise. "Is it a bottle of whiskey? I bet it is because everyone from America drinks whiskey."...Maybe, and if it is, I will bring you a glass of it. "Are you married?"...Umm No, no I am not married. "Well I have a daughter, a neice, a friend of my daughter and a cousin of my aunt's sister's friend who are all very nice girls and would love to marry you!"...Oh well thank you, ummm but, well ya, thats nice, thank you, oh it looks like we are here!
It is just approaching 9:59 a.m. and I am the first in line at the special area of the post office where you pick up packages. In the neighboring courtyard I see a troup of men chopping huge tree trunks into nicly organized piles of fire wood, they are going to have to hurry because the sun will be on its way out of town in about 7 hours and they have a lot of work to do. As I keep myself occupied watching the axes slipt the wood, a line is forming behind me and I overhear a murmor "I think he is here to pick up a package of money from America." The doors to the special package office open just after 10:17 a.m. (record time)and I get invited in by the uniformed dressed, stoned faced customs officer. I smile and make small talk with the officer, but it is a one way conversation, I open the box to show him what is inside and he looks disappointed...just a hunch but I think he thought I was getting a box of money from America too. I gave him a handfull of candy my cousins the Hunt's from Colorado sent and that seemed to lift his spirits a bit. As I walk out of the office everyone is trying to get peaks inside my package and one man mumbles, "Did you see it, it had to be at least one thousand if not two!" and as I make my way in search of a cup of coffee I crack a huge smile and laugh out loud. As I wait for the van to leave from the city back to the village, I take advantage of the internet cafes and pizza the city has to offer. I write an email to my parents telling them about my Thanksgiving dinner at the US Ambassadors house in Bucharest last week and how much fun it was. I write my sister and brother-in-law to see how my newly born neice, Emily, is doing and to tell them the pictures they sent of her were great. After this, I write an entry in my blog, which I have not had a chance to do in long while to tell all my friends and family about how great my life is going over here in Romania and especially the village. There are new challenges everyday but more times than not those challenges lead to new adventures and I would never trade those challenges in for certainty, even if I could. Also, I will tell them that I will be home in MI for Christmas and then I will be heading to Las Vegas after the New Year to meet up with my best buddy Fever. Then, from Vegas we will head south down to Phoenix, AZ for a our good buddy Nick's wedding and where we are getting the band back together.

"There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how the play the game
It's easy

There's nothing you can make that can't me made
No one you can save that can't be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It's easy

Nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.

All you need is love
Love is all you need"
- The Beatles

Thursday, October 18, 2007

There is more than one way to peel a potato!

I hope these words find everyone well and good! The fall is just about over, here in the village, there is a heavy frost every morning as a make my way to school. The knit hat is out, the winter jacket is being worn and there is a fire in my wood burning stove every night. Luckily, the sun shines all the time here or so it has for the last 2 or 3 weeks, which makes the bitter temps a little more bearable. I am a bit concerned as it is only the middle of October and winter is on the doorstep...what are November, December, January, February and March going to be like? I have to take a moment and give much love and respect to anyone who has been a teacher, is a teacher or will become a is very difficult. Each day presents new and difficult challenges and just when you think your lesson is going they way you want it to, Ion in the back of the class is releasing a paper airplane from his hand on a straight line for Oana's head, some things are universal I guess. As the seasons have been changing so does the food, work and lifestyle in the village. I have never eaten so many potatoes in my life, trust me I am not complaining but I never knew there were so many ways to prepare potatoes...fried, baked, mashed, in soup, grated etc. Everyone is in a hurry to get all the fields cut and the grass up on a feeding posts, but you will not find that many people roaming around outside before 7:30 a.m. now-a-days...until the sun starts to warm things up and melt away the early mornings frost there is not much that can get accomplished. Also, with the days getting shorter you will hear the hooves of the horses and the wooden wheels of the carts being pulled, coming back from the fields not much later than 5:00 p.m. It is guaranteed that a walk outside as the sunsets will fill your nose with a refreshing scent of wood burning fires. I never knew how good food tastes when cooked on a wood burning stove, even tea and coffee have a much more natural flavor than if prepared on a gas stove..who knew? The family I stay with is done with there field work for the year, so I have been spending my free time chopping wood for the winter and helping other families bring in their crops. Also, with a bit more free time on my hands I have been working on reading "Don Quixote"...100 pages down and 800 more to go, but so far it has lived up to its hype... and playing a lot of guitar. My hair has grown considerably since I arrived in Romania in May and is finally serving a purpose keeping my ears warm on those brisk walks to school in the morning.

Peace & Love - Alexandru :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

La Multi Ani!!

Where to begin...I am still recovering from my first Romanian wedding this past weekend and I started my first week of school on Monday. I'll start with the wedding. What a celebration, I am telling you these people in the Village know how to work hard but I think they know how to party even harder! A daughter of some friends of mine in the village got married on this past saturday. The day started off around 2 p.m. where I was invited to walk with the father of the bride and friends to the god parents house of the bride where we drank and ate a full meal. After this, we paraded through the streets with a violin, guitar and drum to the house of the parents of the bride. I felt very privileged to be apart of this procession because it is a very traditional part of a Romanian wedding. Once we arrived at the house, the bride was sat next to her two sets of god parents, almost guarded by them actually, and we of course ate another full meal and drank more horlinka (moonshine brandy). There was a lot of singing going on and a lot of traditions that I did not fully grasp but it was very nice. Oh and the cake that was served was baked by the women in the village and I am telling you it was the best damn cake I have ever had! Around 4 p.m. the groom showed up to the house with his family and wedding party and he is greeted by the brides god parents and then finally the parents of the bride. The bride is protected by family and close friends until the very last minute, it was very interesting. After more singing and offerings of horlinka by the grooms party the bride and groom finally go arm in arm from the house to the church, about a 5 min walk, with all the guests behind them. The church service seemed very similar to the ones I have seen in the States, it was very nice. Then after the church service around 5:30 p.m. close friends and family jumped on a bus and went to another city, about an hour and half drive, to a restaurant and had what we would call the reception. At the reception there was a band playing traditional Romanian music and of course endless supplies of food, beer and horlinka! The eating, drinking and dancing lasted until 6 a.m.! Even at 6 a.m. when the bus departed back to the village, there was a pitcher of wine getting passed around and a bottle of horlinka! Needless to say I had a blast and was very very tired on sunday!
This brings us to Monday, my first day of school...actually the first day of school for every single school in Romania. The school in the village is quite large, two stories, for only a total of 80 students (Classes 1-8). Anyway, the first day was more of a celebration than anything. The priest came and sprinkled holy water on all of the students and teachers and in every classroom. After this, the kids went home and I got to meet the other teachers, a total of 9, and tried to figured out when and what I will be teaching this school year. I know the Australians made the expression 'no worries' popular but I think the Romanians are not far behind, at least in the village! After a couple of pots of coffee were drank and I showed off my decent knowledge of the Romanian language I found out I will be teaching grades 5-8 monday through thursday. The kids are great and very eager to learn english. There are a couple of students who can speak a little bit of english but for the most part they are all very basic will defiantly be a challenging year, but a lot of fun as well. I blew the kids away, when I gave them a high five when they responded well!
I have continued to help out with the field work after school and even a little cement work with some neighbors if I have time. I hope everyone is having fun with whatever they are doing and I will talk to you all soon!


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Down by the Sea Side

Only a couple weeks before school starts and field work is on hold for a couple weeks, so what a better way to get mentally and physically prepared for a long school year and harvest season than a trip to the Sea Side...the Black Sea Side that is! After the combined 21 hour journey (15 hrs to Bucharest then another 6hrs to the coast, all by train) I finally arrived in Eforie Nord where another volunteer from my group will be for the next two years, that sand bagging son of a bitch..Literly! The beaches were very nice, with the exception of all the cigarette butts, and the water was very warm with small rolling waves. Not big enough for surfing, which I am sure makes my mom very happy! Luckily, the weather cooperated for the days I was there and I was able to tame down my wicked farmers tan I got working in the fields. My buddy Adam and I chilled at the beach during the days drinking cold Romanian beer for super cheap and snacking on salami, bread and potato chips...they have Lay potato chips over here but they have totally different flavors than the ones in States, such as paprika! Yes, the rumors turned out to be true, a lot of women go topless on the beaches in Europe! However, it is not always a good thing, but it was different that is for sure.

Now I return back to the Village life, which I miss terribly. Always worrying about pick pocketers, cars running over you and how much money you are spending gets old quick. School begins in a couple of weeks and there is a wedding in the village the weekend before school starts! When someone gets married in the village the guest list is automatically 1,000 people (well now 1,001) and they tend to last all night and into the next, drink, drink, drink, dance....drink, drink, eat, dance! Needless to say it should be an experience and I will be dancing whether I want to or not! I really feel at home in the Village now...most everyone knows me by now and I talk to everyone I can as best as I can. They are beginning to realize that I am not just a tourist staying for the summer and they are feeling more comfortable with me.

My parents sent me a package with a Frisbee, Tootsie pops, gummy bears, flour tortillas and a bottle of salsa. While my friend Mary (another volunteer) was visiting we made the family I live with chips and salsa. We just cut the tortilla chips into triangles and fried them in some oil. I can not tell you how much they loved them, we made two batches and they eat them all up. They could not really understand what salsa was but they sure did love it! As for the Tootsie pops and gummy bears, I think every kid in the village swung by the house to get some candy from America, even a few grandma's stoped by to see what all the hype was about...word travels very fast in the village! I wish I had a camera out for every ones reaction when they bite down on the Tootsie pops for the first time and found the Tootsie roll center, it was truly priceless! The kids loved Frisbee and now they want to play it every night, after soccer of course. Who knows, maybe I will start the first ultimate frisbee team ever in Romania!

The purple and yellow plums from the endless number of trees in the fields have been taking priority over the nectarines and peaches as of late. All the apple trees are getting a little heavy but they are still a bit too sour, give them a month and they should be perfect...all this according to the grandma in the family and I defiantly believe her! I think I have eaten the family out of pickles for this summer...they are so damn good I can't stop when I start. They just sit back and laugh, never thinking something so simple as pickles would be my favorite...its all about the little things in life!

Hope everyone is having fun with their life and all that comes with it...Keep Smiling!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Village Living

I am now in my Village, officially here for one week. In this time I have worked the fields, making feeding posts for the animals and painting a fence! Life here is much much different than anything I have ever been used to. There is no such thing as a watch or a clock, just when the sunrises and when the sunsets. During that time you must make the most of it to get all of your work done otherwise you work in the dark. The roosters wake me up every morning at sunrise then moma cow really wakes me up at 8 am. I do not have internet access yet at my house but the mayor keeps promising me it is on the way! Right now I am in the mayors office using his computer and he has no problem letting me use it but it would be easier to get it at my house. No one here expects me to help them in the fields or paint fences but in reality there is not much else to do and I have enjoyed my time working with the people. Because I am American they dont think of me as a worker and every 5 min they ask if I am ok or need a break...I just smile and laugh and keep working. I have become fluent in the workings of a pitch fork and one day I hope they will trust me with an ax but as for now grandma wont let me use it! I go on a lot of hikes in the hills and to neighboring villages and the people I have met are wonderful and friendly. None of them can understand why I would ever leave the States for Romania to not make any money but at the same time I think they respect it and me for it, especially when they see me walking the streets with a pitch fork over my shoulder coming back from the fields! There is one small store in the village that has all of the essentials, beer, chocolate, chips, bread and Cognac! For anything else I have to travel to other villages or cities which is not always that easy to get rides. Thus my legs are getting strong and my waist line thin but it is a great way to practice my Romanian. I do not speak english at all unless I run into a French tourist who speaks a bit or sending text messages to some of the other Peace Corps volunteers, needless to say my Romanian is getting pretty DAMN good! I wont lie, it does get a bit lonely here all by myself, but then I go for a walk and get invited into every persons home for a shot of horlinka...moonshine brandy that is at least 120 proof and considered good for the digestive system and some bean soup and sarmarle, cabbage rolls! It is impossible for your perspective on life not to change living with these people, working hand in hand and communicating in their native language...I have only been here a week and it has already begun to happen! Such a simple, hard work, church and laughs aka horlinka!

La Multi Ani...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Training is coming to an end!

My 10 weeks in Ploeisti, Romania and training are coming to a rapid end! As long as I passed my language exam today, which was a 30 min. conversation all in Romanian, I will be leaving for my village on Sunday and will be there for the next two years. Friday will be a swear-in ceremony where I will become an official Peace Corps Volunteer. The US Ambassador to Romania will be the person who swears us in, so that is pretty cool. Life has been very good here in Romania, although it has been extremely hot! It has been in the low to mid 100's everyday for the last week and half, and obviously air conditioning is not at all common in homes here. There have been a lot of heat related deaths all through out Romania and the Government has placed the south of Romania on a "code red" alert, I am not to sure what that really means but it is pretty serious, especially for the elderly and young baby's. So needless to say, I am even more excited to make the 14 hour trip north to my village and hopefully to some cooler temps. One part of my Peace Corps experience is coming to an end and a new one is just getting ready to begin! I hope to have Internet access at my house in the village, however I am not certain when that will happen so I may be out of contact for a while, but please continue with all of the great emails, I will get them eventually and I love hearing how everyone is doing back in the States!

"Keep Smiling..."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"It is easy in the world to live after the worlds opinion, and it is easy in solitude to live after your own. But a great person is a person who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect Sweetness the independence of solitude"

Monday, July 2, 2007

"We will figure it out...."

I knew the Peace Corps would be a great fit for me but it has proved to go above and beyond my wildest dreams! These past four days have been amazing! This past weekend myself and 5 other volunteers from my group hiked 5,000 feet to the highest cabana, cabana Omu, in Romania! We started the Saturday at just under 3,000 ft. and ended the day just under 8,000 ft. It took us about 8 hours but we made it to the top where we camped out on Saturday night. It by far was my best weekend since I have been in Romania! At the top on Omu was a cabin where they had a small little kitchen and we enjoyed the best bowl of soup and cup of tea I have ever had in my life. Luckily, we had great weather and everyone in the group made it up and down the mountain safely. I think that offering of water last time would prove to be helpful somewhere down the road! There are many more hikes planned down the road before I leave training for my permanent site.

With my Mountain climbing high, still in full effect, I found out today where I will be living for the next two years. I will be way up north very close to the Ukraine border in a small village called Poienile Izei! It will not be on many maps but it is in Maramures county north east of Baia Mare, all of which is in the region of Transylvania. It is a village of about 1,000 people. I do not know any of the details except that I will be the only english teacher in a school of about 80 students, it is a large tourist attraction for the holidays and the closest train station is about an hour away! I will be visiting the village...about a 12 hour train ride from where I am now, next week where I will meet my counter part as well as the rest of the village. From what I have heard from my host family and my directors, Poienile Izei is supposed to be one of the most picturesque places in all of Romania. Also, the Carpathian Mountains are not too far way, which means I can continue to feed my hiking addiction this summer and fall and maybe get some skiing in this winter. I am soo excited for the opportunities I will have and realize too that there will be some major challenges ahead. I was looking for this kind of small village experience when I decided to join the Peace Corps and now it is about 3 weeks away!

"Aint No Mountain High Enough..."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

There's only one way to the top of a Mountain...UP!

Life is great here in Romania! The weeks seem to be flying by...I have been here now for a month, which blows me away! In typical Kuch fashion I have been on the go every day especially the last two weekends. Last weekend, I spear headed a group to Brasov, Romania, which is about a 2 hour train ride north from Ploesti. It is a great great city! All of the travel books consider it the new Prague. It is very Bohemian, with a lot of young people, a beautiful downtown and a very chill vibe. We explored the town and found some great hole in the wall bars with friendly patrons & bartenders. Also, while in Brasov, I climbed my first mountain. It was not very high (we climbed about 1000 ft) but we stole some beautiful views from the top. I even found a guitar shop and purchased a classical guitar, which I have been playing any free chance I get. All in all, Brasov is a great city that I will frequent during my next two years in Romania.

This past week we started our "practice teaching" training. Myself and 3 others had a class of 11th and 12th graders for the week. I was responsible for 3 hours of lessons. The kids were incredibly bright, creative and talented. They blew us away with their maturity and english speaking ability. I have to say my lessons went very well...especially one on Public Speaking! The kids really got into it and had a lot of fun, which is not always the case when speaking in front of a group in a language that is foreign. This week I will be with a class of 7th and 8th graders, so I will get the other side of the spectrum.

This weekend, a couple of friends from my group and I ventured north a bit to a city called Busteni. It is smack dab in the middle of some of Romania's largest and tallest mountains. We hiked up about 3,000 ft before a thunder storm chased us down the other side of the mountain. I had a great time and am planning on making a trip back very soon! The hiking community is very close and friendly here in Romania, we meet people from all over this past weekend, all of whom offered their words of wisdom and friendliness (not all of which could be interpreted but its the thought that counts!) On our way down the Mountain we came across a group of Romanians who spoke English and were charging to the top dispite the storms. They asked if we saw any fresh water up where we were because there supply was running low. I told them no and offered them the rest of my water supply since we were heading home, they were very appreciative...I figure this offering is good Karma for the Mountain which is never a bad thing!

My language is really coming along, I am not such a stranger in a strange land anymore and I love having Mountains to play in! I hope to find out my site for the next two years in the next couple of weeks, which I will let you all know ones I find out and I am planing more trips to other parts of Romania...Black Sea, Mountains and more!

"...Just Living the Dream!"

Monday, June 4, 2007

Habitat for Humanity Trip

This weekend was my first official trip outside my training city! A group of us went to a neighboring city to help out at a Habitat for Humanity site. We took a train from Ploiesti to Bucharest, then another train from Bucharest to Pietsti. Pietsti is a great city with a lot to do and a beautiful downtown area. We even found a Guinness Pub, but oddly enough they were out of Guinness! I spent Saturday morning and afternoon hammering nails, using a table saw and digging ditches at the Habitat for Humanity site. They are building a Bloc style apartment complex and barn. Are group was in charge of the barn...I think this was on purpose, because it is pretty tough to screw up a barn!...but anyway we were able to pretty much roof it, divide it into 10 separate rooms and put doors on each unit. It was great to get some fresh air, sun and dirt under the finger nails! Sunday morning I woke up early and took the first train to Bucharest (the capital city of Romania) and did some exploring. It is a very large and busy city with a lot of concrete. With in the city, you can find many museums, fashion shops such as Gucci & Lacoste, pizza huts and coffee houses! Unfortunately, not many of the stores or museums were open on Sunday but it was nice to in a large city. The Parliament building, which is the second largest building (square footage, I think) next to the Pentagon is very impressive! Naturally you can see it from all over the city! Bucharest is very modern with a lot of young people and the traffic makes New York look tame! The Rolling Stones will are coming to Bucharest in a couple of weeks and naturally I am trying to gather some troops to head down and check out my first European concert experience. It was a great weekend after a long week of training and language classes. Now that I have the train system down I plan on taking full advantage of it and exploring new areas of this great country in the near future!

"Love the Madness..."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

My first week!

I have been in Romania for offically one week today! It is a beautiful country and I am having a blast. My host family is very nice and and cannot speak a word of english, except for "cool!" You can imagine our conversation the first night! The wife makes food 24/7 and the food is amazing. The meals consist of a lot of meats, potatos, tomatos, cheese, garlic, meats, cheese, bread and did I mention meat & cheese. They live in a huge apartment bloc left over from the communist era. The apartment itself is very small, yet very comfortable and very clean. I am able to walk to my training site, where I have four hours of language training in the morning and then fours of cultural training in the afternoon. The training site is a middle school where the Peace Corps has rented a bunch of rooms from them. Many of the kids in the hallways speak excellent english and are always saying "Hello" or "whats up." My Romanian is coming along but I still have a long way to go. Despite being an eight hour flight away from America there is a McDonalds & KFC right in difference the KFC over here has a garlic mustard sauce that is to die for that is not in America. All of the youngsters in town dress very similar to the younsters in America and a normal pair of Levis are $250 over here! American pop music is everywhere over here...Akon & Nelly Furtado seem to be the favorites. There are plenty of internet cafes in town so computer access is not a problem at all. I will be here for the next 9 weeks so pleace keep in touch! Peace & Love

Nuroc - Alexandru

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I am here in Romania, my new home for the next two years! It was a long trip but well worth it....I got to drink a couple german lagers in Frankfurt at the airport and mingle with people from all over the world. The food in Romania is amazing, alot of pork, cheese and potatoos. Everyone is very friendly but look at us like we are different, which I guess we are! I meet my host family tomorrow who I will be staying with for the next 10 weeks! There is a lot going on in Romania right now...they just had a refrendum today on whether or not they should get a new president or keep the current one they have. I start my language lessons on Monday, I am very excited to learn the language because not many speak it around where we are, so communication is a challenge right now. Driving from the airport to the city we are in we past many homes that look much like one you would see in the foothills of Tucson, AZ but right next to them are literal shacks with no roofs. I also saw people walking bulls down the road, now that is something you don't see that everyday in the states! But the USA is never too far away, there is a KFC and McDonalds right next to our hotel!

Peace & Love - Alex

Monday, May 14, 2007

Oh Well

I leave for Romania via Philly in about 6 hours! I am so excited words would not do any justice, so I won't try...."Has anyone ever called you crazy?...Life is calling, how far will you go?"

Shake Up The World

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Preparing to Leave

As you all know by now I am joining the Peace Corps, going to Romania to teach English. My date of departure is set for May 15th! As you could imagine I am extremely excited to get over there and embark on my journey. For the last two years I have been living in Detroit. It has been an eventful two years to say the year in Law School and the other year spent grinding it out working at the State Bar. It has been great being back in MI close to my family & friends from high school as well as meeting some great new friends through out my adventures in the city. However, I cannot kid myself any longer, too much grass is growing between my toes here in MI and I must go see the rest of the world and satisfy my craving desire for new challenges and experiences. ( Not that living/working /socializing in downtown Detroit was not new & challenging, but you know what I mean!)

Before I leave the country, I will be going to Las Vegas to meet up the greatest friends a person could have, for one hell of a "hello/goodbye farewell tour." We will be spending a week in sin city and then another week road tripping it to a little place called heven aka Tucson, AZ with stops along the way in Phoenix and possibly more. I miss all of my friends from UofA dearly and I hope to see as many as possible on my Farewell tour...the saying "you don't know what you got till its gone" is so true. That's it for now!

Peace & Love