Thursday, May 28, 2015

New experiences in Romania

We left Hungary this morning and headed to Romania, which is the first country where we have had an actual border stop and had to present our passports to the officials. It was an easy crossing, but there is always a bit of a pit in the stomach of a foreign travel when they must physically hand over that most precious of documents. On our drive, we finished up the audiobook of "Dracula," and it was so cool to be hearing descriptions of the country and looking out our windows to "see the movie version," as Jeff so eloquently put it.

The new experiences did not end at the border. Our home for the next couple of nights is a little more, um, rustic than any of the other places we have stayed on this trip, but definitely full of character, and we are thankful for the experience. We are in a tiny village, in a travel trailer (caravan), in someone's backyard. The property is beautiful, and the trailer does have electricity and running water in the sinks. But, alas, the water is not for drinking and there is no working toilet. Instead, there is an outdoor bathroom area, with a composting toilet and shower water that is warmed by the sun, when the sun is shining, which isn't today. We knew this was going to be the case before we decided to stay here, so it's not like we are surprised, but it is certainly a new experience for us. And, my boys were just pretty pleased to know that it is not only o.k. to pee outside, but required.

The kids spent the afternoon frolicking around the large property and feeling like they were in Heaven. They took a particular interest in catching millions of snails, which we learned are just past their season. Apparently, this is one of the few places in the world where snails are collected in the wild and then packaged up and sent to France as escargot.

The family is providing meals for us, and tonight they prepared an amazing chicken and dumpling soup and a casserole of chicken, potatoes and peas, which was served over a deliciously flavored cabbage dish, along with homemade bread made by the man, who we knew from previous contact to be a passionate baker. The chicken for the soup and casserole was given as payment to the woman from one of her students, to whom she walks an hour up into the mountains, after being dropped off by the school bus "where the pavement ends," to teach English to, regardless of the weather. For dessert, they served what they call "pie," which was custard and raisins, layered between something like pie crust. Every dish was so delicious! They said if we'd like to have milk for breakfast, we could let them know and they would ask their neighbor, who might be able to get some from his cow. I promise you, I am not making any of this up, and they are not putting us on.

After dinner, the 18-year-old son of the couple offered to take us down to the public spring (a quarter of a mile) to fill up bottles with drinking water. It was a lovely little walk, though I admit to being fairly shocked that this is an actual thing. I mean, who walks down to the spring to fill up water bottles with drinking water?!

our first Romanian home

the outdoor bathroom

one of our neighbors

a lovely view

right next door

enjoying berries from the garden

snail hunting

Max thought probably by the time we get to France,
these guys would be on a plate waiting for us.

collected from just one tree

smallest snail hunter

my caravan cuties, ready for dinner

chicken and dumplings

So much yum!

And for dessert...

The Alb River, on the way to the spring

watching the water bottle filling process

Ruth filling up our bottle in the spring

the first bridge to cross to get to the spring
(It's a little more rickety than it looks!)

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