with wanderlust in high gear, our gang of 6 caught a morning flight to budapest, hungary, and met a lovely driver & his wife for the road to romania~~ destination melissa's apartment in oradea. with bags (HEAVY bags) in tow filled to brimming with goodies for the orphanage, we navigated fiumicino airport (quite possibly the *entire* airport) looking for our ticket counter, our gate & one last buon caffe`.
when it was time to fly, little did we know what a treat awaited us...i am fairly certain our pilot for this air one flight was a former roman taxi driver! before that day i did not know that planes on the runway could take 90 degree turns at high rates of speed nor did i know just how quickly one may approach a terminal & yet still not hit the passengers waiting inside!! really, where it counts for me~ that would be in the air!!~ he was a fabulous pilot (though before takeoff i was praying with more zeal than average!).
landing in hungary, i was hungry (a pun, yes!!) for my first glimpse of eastern europe. i grew up in the days of the cold war & i must honestly say, as a teenager, my travel dreams did not include countries behind the iron curtain...that seemed so far out of reach. but we were there! this is one efficient airport ~ ferihegy...off the plane, luggage right inside the door & *ready* in minutes, bathroom to the immediate left, the all important ATM right beside the luggage conveyor! wow!! i do not speak a lick of any eastern european languages, but hungary is so navigable, the people so wonderful (more on that later, with our return trip & our stay in budapest). time in this airport was short for us (the one part of that day this was true!) because of its efficient layout & because our romanian driver was just outside the terminal & ready to roll. in no time we were passing through the rolling countryside, settled into our 3 hour drive.
the border crossing was met with excitement because it meant we were close to that night's destination & because H1N1 was a very big deal. we were detained for a bit & had to sign health statements, but melissa had warned us of this because we were US citizens & 4 of of our group had just come from the states. they must have liked the looks of us (ie., no one was ill!!) & soon we were entering oradea.
on the drive one misconception was cleared rather quickly for me...so many folks had told me that romanian is very similiar to italian & latin. well, that is true~~ for the written word. the spoken word, not so much. i realized that communicating would be a greater challenge than originally thought. also consider that very few romanians speak any english. no matter, because human kindness is apparent in spite of words & romania's people are some of the kindest i have encountered in travel!...our driver took us straight to melissa's apartment & we were greated with big hugs & an authentic romanian meal prepared by melissa's friend to welcome us. time for some R&R at the end of travel day #1 because the next day would find us unexpectedly on the road again & for a bit longer...a 10 hour train ride through the carpathian mountains into the region of transylvania...to the city of suceava. our plans to help at the orphanage had hit a governmental snag & we were heading to the place where melissa would eventually move. while staying in suceava we spent our days in the village of stroiesti...with our change in plans, melissa found other ways that we could be of help~~ we spent time with the children who were on summer break (melissa had prepared some lessons on Psalm 139 & part of KV's brimming bags included craft supplies that were quickly put to use!)...we helped a pastor of a village church with manual labor tasks...we visited the childrens' families...& we toured the medical facilities & met the physician & dentist that serve these very poor folks...this place was a real eye-opener~~ all water is drawn from wells...there is no electricity, outhouses are it baby!, & the mode of transportation is horse & wagon...we went from a slick post-communism city on the move to a 15th century village in the space of a 1/2 hour's car ride. i truly hope to take a medical team back in the future, God willing. romania is an incredibly beautiful country with equally beautiful people. we felt very blessed to be there & be so warmly welcomed...up next...our journey toward western europe~ more romania & hungary, followed by stops in vienna, venice, & roma!
suceava/stroiesti, romania, guigno, 2009