Sophie told me how she was going to teach all about conservation and the environment. Richard and Emily had bought loaves of fags as a necessary priority. They also had seven boxes of aid which people had donated. We waited at the airport, twenty six degrees at six p.m so it was hot enough on the bus to the hotel where we had a lovely supper of bread, tomatoes, cucumber and fried cheese. Having avoided the overwhelming loo on the plane I had no choice but to experience the hotel loo. It was alright if you could manage to hover the right place in the pitch black. Beer was presented with a flourish outside on the terrace after supper, and we were all absolutely amazed how acceptable it was. Then we discussed which groups were going to which camps. There were seventy of us and we volunteered to go to Galati.
Gerry Sarah Gail
Millie Sarah Jo
We found where we were going to sleep where we met Bee Cornell who had already been in another Camp for three weeks. She fore-warned us of things like the shits and such like. She had had a brilliant time at a Camp very close to Russia’s border in the north. We lugged our sixty three boxes from place to place until finally we dumped them in our room. They were luxury villas, dorms of fourteen in each room. Newly painted bunk beds and one tap for all of us to share, seventy of us from the plane plus thirty who had already been doing Camps for three weeks. Everyone enjoyed the beer. Next morning some left for their camps at four am so their bus journey would be cooler but we left the station at 1.50 pm.
Bucharest is full of crumbly tumble down sixties cement efforts. Broken glass, rusty iron, trams. The occasional ‘fashion’ shop with fashions almost as cool as Valentine’s in Crieff. Most people wore western clothes jeans so they looked BOILING. There were queues for bread on street corners. We were all bright red had hot having lugged all our rucksacks, boxes and trecked three hundred metres. We heaved them onto the train and set off towards Galati.
There were lots of broken down trains and railways a bit like Burnt Island. Rusty, with weeds growing on the railway cows, horses and carts in the fields. Sunflowers, maize, grass. It was lovely and sunny. Tomatoes, bread and peaches for lunch. Mmm, Lovely and refreshing. Me baking hot before, but now at an O.K temp. We talked to Corinne who explained about the negative equality of communism, her situation before and after the revolution. Sleep. We arrived in Galati and managed to squeeze our stuff into a miniscule truck the size of a small dingy.
We walked to the hotel up the road. Everyone stared at us and spoke to us in Romanian so we replied to them with blank faces, smiles and shrugged shoulders. It was so hot and sticky, what a relief to have an icy cold shower of yellow water. There were three rooms of four. I shared with Gail, Robert and Jo. Supper of fried cheese, fried egg, tomato, very greasy but at least it was food. The bottled mineral water was deliciously refreshing after the luke warm Cola and Orangeade on the train. After supper with the intention of changing english money into Romanian we went for a walk into town.
First stop was the Post Office that was open at 8 p.m. Dangling naked light bulbs, nineteen twenties telephones and three ladies behind large wooden counters. After that we wandered past the university to the Danube. We passed a monument erected in the memory of those from Galati who had died in the revolution. Old trams passed, shady streets due to trees. A strange combination of things from the west, and old Romanian buildings, the former being so ugly it made you feel ashamed to be western. Nevertheless, the Romanians date on anyone from the west.
A large ship was anchored at the riverside as a restaurant hardly like the Bateau Mooches. No one knew much about Romanian politics and Ceaucescu so our attempt at an intellectual debate on these matters did not get very far. We sat in the bar opposite our hotel and someone lent the barman a Betty Boo tape which he put on making the scene very British touristy etc which went well with the barman’s flashing red lights on the window. We talked philosophy whilst Jo danced to her tape. It was really nice, everyone chatting together and introducing themselves again. Back at the hotel, Robert was swatting all the mosquitos with his book, a real connoisseur, ho ho.
Next morning an egg and marmalade bread for breakfast then as 8.20 am approached there was a sudden mad dash. Train leaving at nine am and we had to get all luggage on train, time was moving on. The truck had not arrived. At 8.45 am it arrived. Chuck, chuck, chuck went the boxes and rucksacks and priceless camera equipment. Run, run, run we went, Helter Skelter to the train. Anyway you get the gist of the situ. We got onto the train, lug, lug went the boxes! We were on the same carriage as the kiddies. We had thought they were all kiddies but when one chap of fifteen who looked twenty two had ‘Kiss me baby’ and lips etc all over his cut off jeans, we all said ‘Bags not me to teach them’ because we thought they would be out of control. However, as time wore on we were proved to be wrong, they were v cooperative and disciplined it was over this discipline which we wanted them to break away from. Sometimes they were so obedient we wondered if they ever thought at all and if they just did as they were told like robots. We wanted them to think. When we got to the village we were helped with the baggage onto the bus that took one and a half hours to the camp.
At the camp, as we drew up in our bus there seemed to be hundreds and thousands of wee boys all filing out of huts like chickens. Half of them turned out to be girls, but as these orphans heads were shaved you couldn’t tell. Everyone stared at everyone else. We looked about and were shown our accommodation one room, fourteen beds, windows. Jo said she found a flea in her bed. I didn’t believe her. Actually it is pretty good. The only thing which aren’t so hot are the loos. Water ,we hope, was all over the floor which I nearly splattered into. The mixed showers are communal, open, cold, mm and we put people on guard while you have a shower.
We hadn’t expected the orphans. Unfortunately the middle class kids we have do not warm to them. However, we will make their attitudes change hopefully. We waited until four p.m. for lunch which was sumptuous. My previously ravenous appetite seemed to evaporate surprisingly! Everything is so cheap here but since the bureau de change would not take anything but dollars, I am sponging off everyone else. for mineral water 10p, Beer 30p. I’m not drinking the latter simply because I have a sneaking suspicion that it gives you the You know whats, which luckily I haven’t got YET.
Our lot are all pretty up on everythings. Their English keeps you on your toes, pointing out every minor mistake. It seems they are so capable that we weren’t sure whether it was worth teaching them, and that it could have been more worth while looking after the dejected orphans. But as Corinne pointed out, Romania must concentrate on getting just the more privileged thus capable ones to be successful than getting relatively nowhere by putting efforts into children who will only be unemployed or destitute. You know what I mean anyway.
My Boots camera is exceedingly natty. I am the equivalent of a Japanese man in St. Andrews as my camera and I are joined at the hip. I have attached it to my belt, the flesh coloured money belt that is ever so attractive, but I keep my T shirt covering it which is splendid.
They are mad on music but Richard has made it his duty to wean them off Mettalica onto something more sympathetic to the ears. Now that we have heard Mettalica, he is obliged to do just that. I braved the shower for the first time. Well done me, I’m nice and clean and I feel so much more refreshed. The others will shower in time I am sure. Emily and I vaguely planned the next days lesson. Then the loo pitch black blocked up drippy smelly even worse than anything ever experienced. Och well, only twenty one days to cope with it. We were assigned fourteen kiddies, the youngest lot. We learned peoples’ names by chucking the ball around and shouting our names, then Simon Says, Stick In The Mud, making labels, a puzzle, then lunch and after that we played Rounders.
Peter Tulbure turned up and changed a tenner for me. He chatted to us and spoke at the children. He then gave us words of encouragement before leaving. After supper we played Volley Ball and then I taught them to play Netball without letting them know it was a girls game in Britain. They’re so sweet, really chuffed with the Baseball bat, they kept saying ‘WOW’.
Someone got their guitar out so I asked him to play something. He obliged and played ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles, he knew all the words. The funniest thing is my Boots camera, it really has come into its own. All the orphans rush up and make signals indicating the camera. It really has come into its own. They either want to be in a picture or they want to take one. If they take one they put their fingers all over it so I’ll probably have some curious photos.
The midges came out in their thousands tonight. Between making people badges and doing Rock ’n Roll the midges were in their element. The older fifteen year old orphans gave me the creeps a bit. You smile and say ‘Hello’ and the next thing you’re surrounded by twelve of them all asking questions, some of them in Romanian. You begin to wonder what they really say sometimes especially if they keep laughing and you haven’t uttered one word for the last minute. The midges are too much to bear. Must go in, the kiddies keep appearing with pieces of paper for address or messages. It isn’t as if we’re leaving, not for another three weeks anyway.
We played number games, Pelmonism and Grandmother’s foot steps, What’s the time Mr Wolf? and drew pictures of animals which we will make into a collage later. Corinne had had a major blow up with the kitchen staff because the food was so shite. Her and Danielle were so sweet by giving us goodies like tomatoes. In the afternoon, I got out the Monopoly which went down so brilliantly thanks to mum! We played from three till six and then had a reasonable supper at seven after an hour of waiting. This is the turning point of the day. The light bulb in the loo now functions. Oh bliss! Oh joy! We decided to get out so we all went for a walk, a wander OUT of the camp for a change. We saw the teeny weeny orphans aged three to four coming back from a walk. They were so starving for attention with all their hands outstretched and saying the words ‘Cool!’ and ‘O.K.’ and ‘Hi!’ which they had picked up somehow. Their eyes were so much older than any other four year olds, so smiley and sweet.
We wandered on, beer in hand towards the monastery. Soon we saw it, a little monastery set in the hillside surrounded by the forest to the back. To the front there was a medieval atmosphere. We peered in through the iron gates to see haystacks and then we saw a couple of nuns drifting between the trees. It was twilight and so peaceful. Their world was so extraordinarily different and removed from ours. Their side of the gate so timeless and beautiful and our side, the opposite as we stood on the dusty road outside, cameras in hand and peering in a them in an obscenely intruding way.
On the way back we saw a glow worm, bright green! Then as we could not go back through the woods due to wolves and bears we went by the road. We were then collected by a white car because apparently the gypsies are pretty dangerous. Talking of creepy things, the older orphans of fourteen to fifteen are unreal and creepy. Most are sweet, but sometimes you speak to one and then about twelve others surround you. Fine, but then they all close in and gradually you get the impression that what they are saying is not entirely what shall I say? Then laughing pushing, you have to steer clear even though they always linger. These older ones are obviously hardened. It is the only way they can survive when they get beaten up if they cry. I just hope the sweet little ones will not turn out the same. We arrived back from our walk to be welcomed by screams as there was a power cut.
Naturally I produced my candles and torch. Another uplift once the electricity returned ten mins later was Danielle and Corinne arriving like saints with Romanian hamburgers bread, peaches and biscuits and jam. This jam sorry Granny is the best I ever tasted. ALSO I got a warm shower this evening. Gosh, wonders never cease. I just remembered what someone said this morning at breakfast as an indication as to what the food was like. ‘Tomatoes taste like sorbet’. A large topic of conversation since we have been in Romania has been on the personal level. Bowel movements and discussions relating to whether people have been or not have been extremely funny. Millie was the last to go when she succeeded on Sunday morning.
This morning we went to the monastery to see the service. The nuns sang praises while we watched, the church was beautifully painted. We came back boiling hot after the steep treck back up the hill. Then we had lunch. Boy what an improvement. The old cooks have been sacked thanks to Corinne. After lunch we went about one and a half miles to a big river to swim. I swam after much hesitation about whether to or not because of the grey water. Oh well, I’ll soon find out if I’m about to die. It was boiling hot on the climb back. Then after supper I did my washing though the whites are more like browns and played Scrabble. What a day off! I’m zonked. When we had a conversation about food today nothing sounded more appetising than a good bowl of Alpen with icy cold milk and a hot buttered piece of toast, mmm. I am saving my squashed malt loaf and mango nectar until a time of great need in the last week when it will be demolished in the half sec by us I’m not sure I can wait that long!
Romania is far more beautiful here than the impression I was given on the train. The forests are amazing but unfortunately, as the yellow water shows there is much pollution. The countryside and way of life is like england four hundred years ago if you omit the few evidences of mechanisation lying rusting where they have broken down.
Today we made the collage from the drawings we drew yesterday. It was great and we hung it up as a jungle scene. Lunch was great delicious. Now our hopes of losing weight have been dashed as the buttered potatoes are piled high. There was only one caterpillar in my soup. At least it wasn’t a wedge of wood like Millie had in hers. My brain is sometimes so crummy and I have to think so hard about their names before I speak. Must be the weather. In the afternoon we played an ace game of Rounders. Our team won naturally because I was in it. Ho ho, only joking. That was brill but it was so hot I had to have a brown shower to cool off! The fruit juice in the shop is delicieux! However, you have to be an expert on judging when if at all the shop will open. After supper there was a strange presentation, then disco. After that we experienced some Romanian fold music. A good beat, clapping and jigging about. Some had had bottles of vodka for 50p and although it was fun I decided to make a sharp exit after a while. There was a squeeze box and singing la la la it was so jolly, no that’s the wrong word. It was lovely and atmospheric and I truly felt I was in Romania as we sang under the star lit sky.
The Evelyn Waugh book is a great read whenever I have a spare moment. The water has been turned off again so no shower tonight. We frantically try to swat the mosquitos before we go to bed. In fact, touch wood I have very few bites. Poor Guecry has a horrendous cough as she sounds like she is choking. There is an adorable little orphan who has taken to living almost in our room. Hen is eight but only two and a half foot at a guess. He looks like a four year old and blethers to us in Romanian. He drew pictures of his mum and dad and told us how once they came to visit and this info was received through an interpreter. He told us it was his birthday yesterday but this is unlikely as the orphanage does not celebrate birth days they don’t know.
We get down to some hard work with nouns and verbs and progressing into adjectives and adverbs, writing down in their books. Then to finish off we did the Hokey Cokey to lighten things up, they loved it! The Romanian orphans are extraordinary in that they insist on blethering to you in Romanian even though they know you don’t understand one word. There are so many orphans and some of them have been sprayed with purple spray on their cuts like sheep or horses.
We worked and then played ladders and finished off with the Hokey Cokey, they love it. In Emily and my group there is:
Alex Roxanne Robert Dan Corinne Alexander
Alan Sorinne Bianca Greg Patricia Louisa
After lunch we went down to the spring to collect water.
At first there were only five of us but it turned into a sort of pilgrimage as about twenty of us eventually went. Richard did a bionic stunt fall down the step hill. One orphan has a real crush on Emily which is quite amusing. She is not quite sure what to do or what to say since there is the inevitable communication barrier, uh oh. In the afternoon we flew two of Rob’s kites in the little breeze that there was. After that on the way back we heard about a hundred and fifty voices. The orphans were posed in a semi circle in front of Gail’s movie camera. It was amazing. They will do anything if it is in front of a camera or video. They always point to your camera and say ‘Posa!’ There were not many activities because of the TV so it will have to be moved sometime.
The director of the camp is a tyrant who calls the orphans handicaps and gets annoyed the whole time. Mettalica is on again. I have still not been converted surprisingly enough. Being here is like being famous with everyone saying ‘Hi’ and studying your watch, camera, hair tie or whatever. The food is a lot better apart form this morning when they thought we would like salami and pate for breakfast. Corinne has been a saviour by going to buy us goodies which she came back with today. Cheese, peppers, raisons, tomatoes, choc spread, yum yum. The children are so hungry for games. They are constantly coming to our door saying,
‘Please give me er… a game.’
This happens constantly so in the end there are very few games left to play. This evening I played volleyball and darts. Unfortunately I just heard that some stuff has been nicked from the classroom, sticky tape, magazines, felt pens. It is really weird when they watch telly or videos. Howard’s Way was on the other night. The TV is outside and everyone crowds round, all avid fans. To think they love that and Dallas kind of crap english is weird. When they watched Pretty Woman the woman narrating over Julia Roberts in Romanian sort of made the whole thing slightly different to how it was intended.
The orphans like being twirled like in Scottish reels. The only problem is that the more wealthy children are a little resentful that we spend so much time with the orphans and not with them. On Thursday we attempted to talk on British things: postcards, maps, pictures and photos, for their age group they were only semi interested. Old Mac Donald, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and finally the infamous Hokey Cokey jollied everyone up. In the afternoon some went to the river while we did artistic things with leaves and paint. After that Richard and I went to visit the little orphans sitting in the field. Emily and Millie had been the day before and had raved on about how beautiful it was. I personally have never been so horrified in all my life. About ten clambered all over you while others stood a small distance back making crying noises but with no tears. Their arms all came at you. They all want hugs, we went after about fifteen mins.
The thing which amazes one is that I appreciate Marmite. It actually tastes delicious now. I keep forgetting what I was going to write and this is becoming a bit of a ramble ramble ramble. Today was weird and wonderful day. The morning was spent doing spelling and other things like that. In the afternoon we chatted to poor Gerry who is now thankfully slowly on the road to recovery. I think I forgot to mention her illness. She had chronic tonsillitis and is on twenty four pills a day. Then she and I went and chatted to the orphans. Only this time it was different. They were in small groups, sitting in rows outside. This was far better. There were more faces and they listened to my watch, tick tock. Then the parents of our children began to arrive unexpectedly to me. With them came bountiful and plentiful amounts of the most incredible food. Biscuits, cakes, fruit and Corinne’s parents gave us a traditionally Romanian dish of vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice. Oh yes I forgot to mention, last might we had a party for Adriana and Micky because it was their birthday. Adriana cried with emotion and then we played party games, Musical Statues.
There is a sweet smiley woman who does the cleaning around here. She has this old towel which she sloshes around the bath room on the end of a long wooden pole. She walks for one and a quarter hours every day to get here.
I have been trying to learn Chess but to no avail. I still seem to find this game along with Cricket, one of the most mind bogglingly boring games of all time. In the evening I went with Bianca, Robert and Patricia all of who are in my class down to the spring to get some water. What a merry little outing it was too. Tomorrow morning we will be getting up at the obscene hour of five a.m. We are going on holiday, back on Sunday night.
Hello, good evening, we have just returned from our voyage and it is nice to be off the road. We left in two coaches at 6.45 a.m. and at 7.15 a.m. arrived at a monument erected in memory of the thousands who died in WWI. We went inside to see hundreds of dimly lit tombs. A big issue was made about how heroic all these 11,000 men were. It had inevitably cost a bomb to build. It was quite sombre and ugly from the outside, but the arches etc inside were pretty though quite claustrophobic. Low ceilings in this circular building. The Romanian flag is blue yellow red or red yellow blue I’m not sure which, then onto the bus again. At 10.30 am a stop for breakfast, starving, cheese and ham readily received.
The sun started to shine and soon so did we as the temperature in our little bus crept up surely and the engine began to feel like a brewing kiln beneath our feet. We were on the back seat, Me, Emily and Richard all collapsed on each other like dominos in attempt to grab a wink. At lunch time now north beyond Bacou we stopped in a city for an hour. We spent this time escaping the heat in a department store. This was more like a warehouse with the goods spread scantily over the work tops. We visited all of the five floors in amazement that this place was actually the Romanian equivalent of Debenhams or Harrods. All the floors sold the same things, piles of shoes, rows of stockings and the occasional bar of soap or wooly jumpers. It was more like a tenement flat with no people in it: no customers, no goods when all we wanted to buy was loo roll.
As the hour drew to a close we dashed to a cafe and gulped down some ice cream before facing the bus sauna which had tripled in temperature since we last sat in it. We sat panting and just waiting for the bus to move, pick up speed and blow some warm air on to our red faces. At about five p.m. we were in beautiful countryside. We couldn’t think of a more imaginative word than beautiful or nice having left school. The bus heaved us up through a canyon. The river has eroded a precipitous gorge where old, old conifers grew or cliffs or bone rock were exposed. We sang ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music’.
At the top of the road lay the Red Lake. A hundred years ago a mud landslide blocked the valley at one end so a small river formed a lake behind this naturally made dam. Consequently now, looking at the lake, the trunks of the trees which once grew there still litter the lake. We back walked down the Z-shaped road, passing tourist shop huts at various intervals. This all took about two hours, then we went back to the city with the department store. We guzzled a meal of chips, cheese and cabbage in literally three mins. What an appetite! This food tasted like nectar, a cliche I know, but it did. Then back to the bus where we drove to a camp.
There was an ugly Grange Hill type playground with four blocks of sixties derelict monstrosities. We slept in one of them. There was no water but we survived as we were in good spirits as always. The kind doctor came into our room of four Emily, Gerry, Millie and I. He gave Gerry and Emily some drugs for their awful colds. It was the most awful nights sleep I’ve ever had but the refreshing cold shower in the morning set me up for the day! After an extravagant breakfast of three mugs hot chocolate, eggs, cheese and bread at the hotel where we had supper the night before we looked around The Royal Court. It had a nice atmosphere but was nothing special. The music playing in the garden below by a brass band of men in military uniform performing in a band stand on hard wooden benches looking expressionless in their mustaches. Once more onto the bus on our back seat. Two hours later went to a monastery and I was enthralled by the guided tour in Romanian.
I sat under a shady tree nearby admiring the architecture, appreciating the blue sky and good company, when all of a sudden I found my thigh the victim of a brutal and vicious BITE. ‘Yowch!’ I yelped as I sprang to my feet shaking my leg furiously to the amazement of the nuns and priests and tourists looking on. I turned round to see what it was I had sat on. There was a seething mass off angry ants charging about in an army. Phew! I was thankful it was only one bite I had since it felt like ten. Ever efficient and organised, I went back to the coach half running and hopping where Anthisan was applied generously. On the road and back again to the hotel where the food was good. Lunch was not ready at 2.45 p.m.
Outside were a group of fifteen year old students. I was casually chatting to a couple of girls when they presented me with two paintings of the Royal Court. They were so sweet and I’m going to frame them for sure. Two mins later they were desp to exchange addresses. You could tell that all they wanted was to get out of Romania to Paris, London or wherever. But as usual expense is the big hazard. After lunch RAIN in bucket fulls. The muggy air cleared and all was fresh and cool. Woops! I just realised this diary is all in a muddle. This is how it happened breakfast, Royal Court, lunch, monastery, home.
In the bus we laughed with exhaustion. The day before because Emily’s cough was so bad I had tried to teach her breath control that oddly enough we found seam splittingly hilarious. Emily has vowed to stop smoking forever, yeah I bet. Actually so has Richard, and now only a few hours on he looks a little in need of a fag. We arrived back at 8 p.m. but I had stayed awake to soak up the countryside. It had been a weekend with a difference which we had enjoyed but were thankful to get back to base. I washed my smelly shoes and other grubby T shirts, very scintillating information for my diary.
Bank holiday in Britain no holiday for us! Perhaps we should amend the rules. Anyway, lessons in the morning were gun. Er psinyrf. Emily and I were slightly bemused to find that our class had diminished and dwindled the true meagre sum of nine; where is everybody? Oh well, it was they who missed out in all the fun of mixing blues and greens and making mucky hand prints and composing stunning arty sunset landscapes. We hung all the pictures up which brightened up the hall way. We got them to write down primary and secondary colours. Sometimes I wonder myself if what I tell them is actually correct. I hope no one checks their books. In my opinion black and white are not colours. I wrote it down in large capital letters in Robert’s book so I hope I’m right! At lunch time Claudio’s mum came to collect him. He was a Monopoly fan, I liked him but evidently we aren’t good enough. He said he missed his computer. What are we, failures? Is a piece of plastic modern technology really more exciting than the combined wit, intelligence and company of twelve genius english folk?
It was thundering this afternoon so hopes of another Rounders tournament were dashed. Instead, I wandered outside where I found poor Emily swamped with orphans. I sat down for about half an hour and wrote names in bubble writing. Then older orphans began to close in, all demanding. The atmosphere was industrious and good until one wrote something which I could tell from the faces surrounding was not exactly wholesome. The illustrated picture told all, I didn’t know how to react to their laughter and tried not to respond.
Today we did The owl and the pussy cat and I think they enjoyed it. Then words with Shhh, Ch, Oooo, Eeeee noises and the Hokey Cokey to finish off with. In the afternoon after a discussion as to the disappearance of glue, sticky tape, actually about four boxes of stuff which had slowly gone Walkabout. We tidied everything up in the classroom and the bedroom to restore order. Some of us, not me went around the rooms and managed to salvage about one box of felt pens etc. We noticed that the orphans have suddenly in the past two days changed their attitude towards us. Only the nasty older pervy ones like yesterday seem to be about. Our wee, cute, lovely, gorgeous friends have not been spotted for days. They no longer charge up to us with arms out-stretched to give you Five or say ‘Cool! or ‘OK!’ The place is deserted generally of nice people and we fear they have been bullied by the older gits.
The Rounders match this afternoon was highly competitive and everyone began to shout at everyone else about the rules. Meanwhile I watched the little orphans a little distance away. A sunny meadow, blue skies and green trees fit for a post card. Little boys playing happily to the casual observer. Some played Tig, but what’s fair about that when He carries a stick? One boy discovered new found power as he stalked around huddles boys at his feet, playfully swiping his truncheon. He preferred his position to theirs but enough of that, we’re off to have supper. It was egg and chips so we had seconds. After supper things suddenly looked up and back to normal a bit more. We discussed things with those responsible about the orphans, and from now on we are officially allowed to see the orphans.
Atmosphere was throbbing on the disco floor. Belinda Carlisle and Michael Jackson were the preferred music and I felt I should have had my hand bag with me to dance round. Instead I decided to opt for cola and vodka upstairs with yummy biscuits. Like the night before, we lay in a heap on the balcony. Oh yes, that night, Gail had came back from a twenty four hour sleep over in Galati laden with some yummy champagne.
When I went to bed I had a bad feeling and couldn’t relax. Something was up and I didn’t know what. I sensed danger, dum dum, then heard a buzzing noise. Where was it? Somewhere near my head it seemed. I lifted the pillow and shook various things hoping it must be the imagination. I lay down again to buzz, buzz, and a hot and cold sensation of alarm. It was getting louder now, but where was the source? I didn’t want to wake the sleeping beauties nearby so lay down and then felt my hair move! Without delay, I shook my hair on the pillow and a beast this [————————————–] size fell onto the pillow. It started to run under and away, hairbrush, hairbrush! Beat, beat, beat, whack! The shell crunched, I stopped beating it, but my heart continued frantically from the shock. This thing had stinging powers greater than a bed of live ants I’m sure.
We sat under the tree and played Scrabble, Who Stole The Cookie From The Cookie Jar, ALIENS and then we watched a video of Gail’s which she took on the trip to the canyon. At lunch we were hungry since breakfast had consisted of fromage fort and a splat of something brown which at a push could have been described as meat more like mushy cat food, with the texture of school chocolate mouse, moose or whatever. After lunch we did team games in the meadow. It was quite good actually because Sarah, Rob, Clare and I just sat acting as posts which everyone had to run, hop, jump, skip and run backwards around; my kind of sport. Then Rob went and got his kite which was a major success. All the little orphans who had been sitting a small distance away all began to clap and when they got bolder, charged up to us in amazement at the kite. They managed to grab the string and pull it down. It takes so little to make them happy and we stayed with them for a while. They all called us mum and dad and wanted to be picked up. We had an early night at 11 p.m. thinking we were getting up at five.
Alarm clock, Sarah, Emily and Jo all put their clothes on. We can’t be bothered to move and anyway we can’t hear the children making noises yet. At five thirty am still no noise and Corrine comes in to say that actually we’re getting up at 8 am. Grr, we were annoyed but had absolute hysterics at the situation especially because Sarah was packed, ready, dressed and she had made her bed. At 8 a.m. we left in two buses. On the back seat we were given breakfast of a hunk of bread, a tomato, a green pepper and a tin of pate. Can opener anybody?
Well as you know by now, buses are hot experiences. This one was no exception and it was a delicious experience to escape to the city of Ploeisti to eat ice cream and sit under shady trees watching men with their beer playing chess. By this time it was their beer playing Chess. As a result of the long hot journey we could not go and visit Sinaia. We had planned to go there on a day trip, but seeing this was impossible, we went to a salt mine nearby. After a cool orange juice in the bar we went to the museum. It was cold when we realised saw the tiny two metres squared lifts. The system operated by the man at the top ringing a bell to let the men two hundred metres below know we were coming. Singing the Hokey Cokey we plunged into the darkness emerging dazed at the bottom.
The sheer size was absolutely gob smacking. It was a huge cathedral of salt, smooth and the biggest. Spot lights shone on the walls so you could see the grain. The sedimentary layers were like the grains of wood. There were statues of poets and heros in salt, a little out of place I thought, but you could hardly take them up in the cranky lifts I suppose. There were about six great halls all joining up in this sort of layout. It was freezing as a lovely change from the heat outside and I have my souvenir of a lump of salt, whoopee! After that we found ourselves at a really incredible hotel.
It was the Romanian version of Connachan but what was even more incredible was that it only cost 110 lei when there are 600 lei to the pound. We had a yummy supper and played Kick The Can, then sang along to Bogdown’s guitar with My Eyes Are Dim and Beetles songs. I slept so well in lovely clean, fresh sheets. Gerry had been feeling very ill but felt better in the morning. Oh yes, the night before, how could I forget, after the sing song we played Captain Pouf. Brandy set our throats on fire and Richard practically slept under the table, but we all went to bed in a capable state.
Richard was definitely in a state of bleary incompetence. After breakfast the bus took us up to Ceaucescu’s palace at Sinaia. The king who built it loved it because it reminded him of his homeland in Austria and I can understand why. It was set in the mountains with Heidi hills making it altogether very aesthetically pleasing. From the outside it looked like something from Walt Disney we decided. The detail of the interior, however was UNREAL. All the rooms was so ornate it was almost sick but you couldn’t help but marvel at it. There were a lot of hard wooden panels but they weren’t ordinary panels with copious detail. In one drawing room it had taken three generations of six sculptors to finish carving the walls.
There were rugs which had 1,000 knots per square inch which made the children who made them go blind. There was a dinky theatre! There was a sliding stained glass roof! In the room where the king used to receive guests, Richard went and SAT on one of the tapestry chairs…! After sight-seeing we had a drink and went into the village to change money to bumble about a bit before we set off home. The children cooked poached maize on the cob on little fires when we got back.
Lessons as usual. It was boily hot. We got them to write a paragraph on their grandparents for Gail’s survey of the elderly followed by a viol of the happenings Gail had filmed of the day before.
Not feeling too hot today so basically did nothing, some kids went down to the river.
Oh yes! I keep forgetting things because I’m not the one who writes my diary every night. On Saturday we decided to have an official Saturday night feverish disco. There had been one every night but not all of us english bods had boogied that feverishly because of the music. We decided to enlighten them with dance music instead of the usual Madonna, Michael Jackson. We all got dressed up in a bit of party gear, you know… Then we went down and after half an hour there was still hardly anyone dancing. I think our style must have repelled them! Actually it was good fun when we got going an hour and a half later.
Most nights we sat on the balcony, a one and a half metre wide splodge of concrete from where washing hung. It was really nice to sit and chat, but most importantly consume lovely food etcetera which Corina unerringly failed to provide. We did not expect or take this forgranted, but were overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity. Though they have so little they give much, knowing that we could never repay all their kindness. Daniella was so sweet with sweet gestures bringing cups of Earl Grey tea and marble cake.
The directors are still to be avoided at all costs. There are two of them, the fat pervy one and the cruel warty faced one who beats the orphan children. Back to Sunday and as I said, it was not good, I read and finished a Dick Francis and took some Paracetemol, mmm how interesting. On Monday I woke up feeling hellish with boiling hot swollen glands and there you have it, my health report.
We spent that morning playing Kick The Can, made a collage with leaves collected from the woods and felt better. In the afternoon it was SIZZLING boily boily so postponed the BIG RACE that Milly and Gerry had arranged for 3.30 p.m until 4.30 p.m. I was in charge of Pictionary among eight games like Ducking for Apples, Pass the Ball, the Obstacle Race, Scrabble and the String Game. Eight teams played games for four mins each for the most points. Balloons and crepe paper were around the trees and it was festive! Robert helped me with Pictionary which was great and he is so sweet when he calls me FRANSEE.