January 2018
  • Day5

    ski!

    January 5, 2018 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 0 °C

    Skiing in Poiana Braşov was scheduled. I wanted to be there quite early. Took the bus to Poiana, which is half an hour away from Braşov. Went to a shop to rent the skis, Rossignol, and got to the station to buy the ticket for four hours. I put the ski against the wall, as you do it in Switzerland, too and got in line. When I came back my skis were gone. Super. Really gone. Someone had taken my skis. Bad. That’s not exactly how I imagined starting my day. Well, there are worse things that can happen. I waited another five minutes, looked for my skis at different locations, had to realize that they were gone. Next to where they were supposed to be was another pair from the same renting company but a Blizzard and way smaller. I thought that maybe I didn’t remember the name of the brand and went back to the store to ask which number my ski had and if it was indeed a Rossignol (I was sure about that, but how stupid if I were wrong). In the store I explained my problem in Romanian. They said that, indeed, I was right about the color and the brand of my skis, but it was my problem that i couldn’t find tehm anymore and wished me luck. So I returned again to the place already with the idea that someone might have taken my ski instead of the Blizzard. So my ski had number 219, the Blizzard 319. Then i thought that maybe, coincidence, they fit for my shoes and the one taken mine wouldn’t notice since it would fit his/hers, too. Indeed! So I was quite convinced that this is what happened, someone switched them. Now explaining that to the guys at the store. In Romanian. Well, somehow they understood what I tried to tell me and found my explanation logic, too. Finally I could get on the slope and enjoy a wonderful day in the mountains. It was very crowded, luckily not on the red and black slopes so skiing was very good. I returned the skis, number 219 still on the slopes somewhere (I kept looking while being in the line for the cablecar but didn’t see it) and luckily that took a good end. How funny! I got back to Braşov and met Gabi for dinner, one of the woman responsible for the organization I was with in 2006. I spent a wonderful evening with her over soup and cake and enjoyed it so much. Also a lovely, strong woman with a troubled life and still being so cheerful and nice. I know why I really like that country.Read more

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  • Day4

    harman

    January 4, 2018 in Romania ⋅ ☁️ 1 °C

    Of course I wanted to know if that School of Carpentry and Organs was still existing and running well. I contacted the Stiftung back in Switzerland and got in touch with Barbar Dutli, an organ biulder from Switzerland and head of the school. Only for this year because the firm is running on its own with Romanian taken over and the school will be run by them next year. What a successful story! I went by bus to Harman, it’s always a bit out of my comfort zone taking buses here, but it’s acutally very fine. Barbara awaited me and showed me around, explaining the concept, how organs are built and the story of that project. What an adventure. Organ biulder hasn’t been a profession in Romania since 1945. So they opened up a school for a non existing profession! That was of course a big problem. They actually had the idea when they were asked 1996 by an association of a German church in Targu mures to renovate the organ. Then they had another job for renovation, a small organ in the black church in Braşov. Then the people there asked them to clean the big one (4000! pipes). That was made within 4 years and that’s how the idea came up to teach young Romanian how to build and renovate organs. As explained, it wasn’t a profession anymore so there was almost no way to be accepted as school. Luckily with entering the EU Romania was forced to teach more people handwerkliche Professions. And they were working with the University of Braşov before and they were able to get a license to teach adults only. Then they were trying to get support from money coming from the EU to get machines. That needed so much time and effort - and tons of paper work. It took years, every detail had to be correct. It is ridiculous, for example, it takes so many years that the machine they wanted initially doesn’t exist anymore when the money would be there. Then you have to fill out new papers and explaining why you have to get another machine. In the end, they didn’t get the money (150’000€) at all because they pretended that the machine was not standing at the right place! First of all this is a incredibly ridiculous reason and second, the machine is exactly standing where she was planned for from the very beginning! Random. Unfortunately it is highly aleatory who gets the money and where it goes to. Many people in Romania were starting projects, invested money to be supported by the EU, and got nothing in the end because of this randomness. Very sad. Corruption is still a big issue here. People are very disappointed. Paying taxes and knowing that this money disappears somewhere in Bucharest is very frustrating. Luckily the society had money from Switzerland and could survive. Nowadays run by Romanian it is very successful and Organ builder have a good reputation in this country. And since only 60 out of 1500 organs are renovated, there is still a lot of work for a couple of generations to come. The organ in the black church is the best kept in Europe. Being also the biggest, it was built in 1836-1839 in Berlin, shipped to Brasov and rebuilt there, the longest pipe being 11m long. Incredible achievement if you imagine how they traveled back then.
    With lot’s of information I got back to Braşov and went swimming in the Olympic pool. That was renovated, too, it looks pretty now and rain isn’t dripping in anymore. I didn’t take my cap with me, a mistake, it is just allowed to swim with cap. Learnt something again, they still let me swim. In the evening I was again invited for diner at Gica’s. I had Mamalita (a sortmof Polenta) Palinka, Visinate (a liquor) and red wine, everything saute di saute naturale, 100% homemade. Yummie!
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  • Day3

    Brasov

    January 3, 2018 in Romania ⋅ ☁️ 2 °C

    The next day Theo brought me to Curtea where I got a ticket for Braşov. It would be a 4.5h drive through winding roads and mountains. I guess I was the only foreign there, the bus quite old, but we arrived safely in Braşov. I had decided to take a hotel there and not staying at my hostparents since I didn’t know when they were returning from Belgium, where Ana lives now with baby Luiz and husband Mike. So I walked up Strada lunga, long street as I did everyday in 2006. The only things that changed were that the cara are more modern and there are way more of them - and many of the houses has been renovatd. My hotel was at the very end - or beginning of the strada lunga. And it’s really long. I checked in - amd checked with Gica who was at home. I didn’t loose time and walked the street again to my foster home, Strada Lucernei. How good it was to see her again. Amd of course she asked me: Chantal, you hangri? I remembered immediately why I felt so at home then. Wonderful people. As we talked some of my Romanian came back and we were able to have a good conversation, updating eachother about our respective lifes. Vasile was already working and since it was his name’s day they were celebrating at his working place. After an absolutely delicious dinner we went there by cab. Vasile, too, so joyful and nice, I was in a bliss. We stayed for a while and then we called it a day. How good to be back!Read more

  • Day2

    nucsoara

    January 2, 2018 in Romania ⋅ ☁️ 3 °C

    We had quickly breakfast and soon we were heading to Nucsoara. It was just Theo, Mattei, her older son, and me. Adrian, the husband, was again working on the third and stayed with Nikita in Bucuresti. They both work 100% at the National Radio station as well as Ghoerges.
    So we were on the road, the weather being too warm, rainy for that season. We stopped in Curtea, visited the tomb of King Mihai, who just had died recently. We also visited the monastry then headed to Nucsoara. I realized quickly why 4WD were needed since it was a non-asphalt, steep, curvy road up to that small village. Arrived we put our luggage in the tiny but comfy house and went visiting the neighbors which are living there. Again I was touched and impressed how friendly and openminded they all are and in which modest - poor conditions they live. Some don’t have running water. Their home is a room with bed and a room where the kitchen, very small. Sometimes 4 people. Heating is with fire. I felt again ashamed for my luxury life I have back home like I remember feeling when I was working at the children’s home back in 2006. They have so little and manage life. Many of them work abroad, in the forest of France for example and come back for the holidays. When you grow up in a place like Nucsoara, you don’t have many possibilities and choices. Which made me realize again how blessed I am. Just because I coincidentally was born somewhere else.
    We were spoiled with lot’s of homemade cookies and cakes. I tried to follow the conversations but my Romanian is very rosty. It was still a wonderful afternoon being able to catch a glimpse of lifes that are so different of mine. We had some soup, giorba, for dinner and then went to bed quickly. In the house of Theodora there is no running water and the toilet is in a little hut outside. They bought the house when Mattei was little and some more terrain for Nikita. They spend their summers up there, Theodora stayed three month nonstop when Nikita was born. By the way, Maternity leave in Romania is two years.
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  • Day1

    Back!

    January 1, 2018 in Romania ⋅ ☀️ 8 °C

    Since I had two weeks off over Christmas and New Year I decided to fly back to Romania where i stayed for four months in 2006. I’ve been very lucky having the best of the best host family you can imagine. Ana, then 14 and her parents Gica and Vasile made me feel at home right away. And the food. Gica is the best cook ever. I haven’t been back but for a short visit in 2007 so I figured it was time to visit those wonderful people again. I had the plane on the frist day of 2018 to Bucuresti where I would meet Theodora and her family. How I met them back in 2006 came from a coincidence: Every week in Braşov I visited a classical concert. One evening, as I was buying tickets I heard two older men getting tickets in a heavy swiss accented English. As I am I started to speak with them. They actually had or created a Organ and Caprenter school in Harman, not far away from Braşov since there are about 1500 organs in former German churches that need renovation. They invited me to visit the school and there I was introduced to two students, Andreea and Gheorges. We became friends and we spent several sunday afternoons in Harman playing cards and drinking red wine mixed with coke. We visited Bucuresti with them and that’s how I met Theodora, which is Gheorges sister. Since she speaks French we got along very well and stayed in touch until now. So I got picked up by her, her husband and the younger son, Nikita. It makes such a difference when someone is wating for you at the airport! We went to Theo’s apartment, which is in a big, old communist block. She asked me if I wanted to go to their little house in the country the other day. Then I could take a bus from Curtea de Argeş to Braşov where I would meet my host parents. Of course I wanted! So they changed cars since it needed 4WD to get there.
    For dinner we went one floor up to Theo’s parents, where her sister lives, too, with her boyfriend. Gheorges and his wife Claudia came aswell, so good to see them all again and seeing that they are doing well. Andreea, btw, is now in Austria. We had dinner and then soon I was so tired from the short night that i slept deeply next the the christmas tree.
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