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..."