Ramblings of loneliness

Sunday, May 4, 2017
Bucharest, Romania

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”— Confucius

Every master was once a disaster.” — David T.S. Wolf

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. – John Wooden

Don’t overthink yourself out of something good! – Akosua Dardaine Edwards

Don’t overthink things. Sometimes you can convince your head not to listen to your heart. Those are the decisions you regret for the rest of your life. –Leah Braemel

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.— J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

 

I’m in a bit of a funk lately.
Too many things are going on and it is a little overwhelming and hard to keep my head up.
I have been in Romania quite awhile off and on.
I still do not have a grasp on the language
People keep telling me that they know of others who learned it in one month.
That just makes me feel worse
Unable
Stupid
And we go to meet people
And they are courteous
polite
“Hello! Buna! How are you?”
And that is about the extend of the conversation most of the time
I say I can understand some of it.
I say I am trying to learn.
I say “No problem, go ahead and talk in Romanian, I can kinda follow along”
But I can’t
I do for awhile
I get the gist of the conversation
But then my mind focuses on one word or phrase
forgetting what it is
and my mind searches for what it means
and I lose track of the conversation
And I stare at the sky.
at the people walking by
Trying to not look bored
Trying not to look as alone as I feel
Left out
Isolated
I don’t want them to speak entirely in English
That would be an inconvenience for them
I am in their home country
They are speaking their mother tongue
I take lessons
I do the apps
Answer the questions right
And then when it comes to conversation in real life
My mind blanks.
What did they just say?
What am I supposed to say back?
And the visa
I finally turned in the visa this past week
And now I wait one month to see if they accept or reject it
If I have to leave or if I get to stay
If I get rejected should I to hire a lawyer and fight to stay?
After waiting in the lines for hours
With impatient, rude people
standing
forever
talking to the people behind the desk 9 times
My translator talked to the officer for what seemed like an eternity
And when we left the counter
I got a one sentence summary of the 20 minute conversation.
i need another document
another document
each time
waiting in traffic
stressing out my boss
Creating tension at work
i am scared I am too much work
Wishing she never hired me
due to all the headaches of this visa
leaving my classroom and coming back mentally vapid
not able to concentrate on what was going on
going home to cry
And am so exhausted I nearly pass out at 9
because I messed up
I didn’t know the new rules
Count backwards 180 days.
it doesn’t start over.
It was my fault
I could feel the heaviness
Disappointment from others
And I revert back to the days of pasT
When I was truly believed I was a burden
Unwanted, but invited out of obligation
It is my fault I am slow at learning
that’s just how I am
All the people I meet here
Must think I am so boring
i hope they don’t think I’m a bitch
Or stuck up
because I barely talk
I have so much I want to say.
I want to show them me
but they just turn to other friends and share stories
and laugh
in Romaninan
And I am left
Alone
Though sometimes they remember I am there
and translate a story
or respond in English to what someone asked in Romanian
and I jolt back to reality
they are talking to me
my heart soars with happy
I feel like I am pulling away
Regressing
Not putting as much effort as I should at work
the gym seems overwhelming
getting out of bed to go to meet people is difficult
No amount of sleep could cure the tiredness I feel
I love people
I hate inconveniencing people
I hate being a burden
And I noticed that I have been backsliding
Focusing on the negatives when I look in the mirror
As they talk and talk
I notice more and more wrong with me
My white thighs glowing in the sun
flattened out and huge as I sit in the chair
The scars on my arms from days long ago
The bags under my eyes that won’t go away
My hair, frizzy beyond belief
My silhouette makes me cringe
My stomach.
The liver transplant scar
a big indent in my belly
creating a soft roundness above and below
fat
no bikinis for me
I tried
I got down to 86 pounds long ago
I still had a soft round belly
I get more and more disgusted every time I look in the mirror
why did I decide to wear this tonight?
no wonder people don’t want to talk to me
I feel boring
all that time of listening to them talk
and sitting there
feeling awkward
not sure if I should intervene,
“Ce faci!”
“Nu înțeleg”
But I don’t
I don’t want to be a bother
I try to follow
then space out
lost in my head
all the thoughts
monsters don’t live under the bed
They scream inside your head
but not all the time
don’t worry too much
things still make me happy
the soft rain before the downpour
as it gently lands on my skin
a slight tickle from mother earth
laying in the grass with the sun shining on me
warming my body
Bubbles
and many other things
it is easy to spiral and forget
but there are many things that keep me here
But I have been longing more and more for going back
To Portland
To Santa Cruz
where I can understand people
Where I don’t feel detached
But would that be giving up?
Running away?
Should I power through and take 2 lessons a week?
Could I fit in here?
Your vibe attracts your tribe.
I feel part of a tribe sometimes
but then they slowly revert back to Romanian
laughing
talking
reminiscing
and I have no idea what they are talking anymore
because at one point I space out
too much in my own head
I need more things here
I need to change
I need motivation
But do I belong here?
Is this the life I want?
Do I want to go back to what’s comfortable?
Or do I want to step out of my comfort zone and zoom forth
I have always felt a little ostracized
all my life
On the fringes of groups
Along for the ride
A little odd
I’m used to being the me that they know
silly, bright and sunshiny
but I also come off as flighty
as dumb
and I am not
not many people know the real me
all the things I went through
The people I lost
the people that hurt me
the people I hurt
My stories that made me who I am
the good and the bad
No one asks anymore
and then there are some people I connect with on another level
and I adore them
and I feel wanted when I am with them
and I laugh
and feel warm inside
happy
But I can’t remember the last time I laughed
genuine laughter
where your eyes well up with happiness and silliness
I miss that
I need nature
I need a friend
I need the beach
I need to stop thinking that everyone is thinking negatively of me
I hate it
because that’s what teenagers do
I’m 31
I should be over that by now
Strong
Independant
Etc
But no
Because right now I feel deflated
discouraged
empty
lost
alone
But i still have the flame of hope
Deep inside
still burning
waiting for more fuel
for me to believe wholly
that I can do this
that things will get better
I just need to get out of my head
because life is beautiful
I’m living in Romania.
I am in charge of 17 of the most beautiful, sweet little 2-3 year olds
I have a good job that pays quite well
Someone who believes in me
and keeps me going
i have plans to travel in the summer
music festivals
summer is coming
i need to get back to that me
that me that said “yes” to everything
That had no problem talking to strangers
I have people that say I am beautiful
And check up on me
I’ve been here before
i know my mind is just messing with me
i’ve been here before
i can get out
get out of my head
and into my heart
And in these next week Is will start the process
of becoming a butterfly
starting by smiling from my heart
because I am strong
and I am worth it
I just need to work on believing it
mantras on the mirror
mantras by the bedside
little reminder that life is beautiful
of who I am
I will find my way

The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” – Unknown

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. ― Abraham Lincoln

True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Legally Illegal… again

“One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.”
~Jiddu Krishnamurti

April 29, 2017
Bucharest, Romania

 

So… It turns out that the 90 out of 180 days thing isn’t so simple… I left Romania December 20.. had to wait 90 days to come back and was 100% sure that it had restarted and had another 90 out of 180 days.

Not true
Not at all.

I am still waiting for the paperwork from home to come through to get the volunteer visa. My dad paid (and I am slowly paying him back) $131 to have it shipped within a week but it never came to the school. It was addressed to me and then underneath had the housing complex where the school was.  The post office sent us updates… it flew from JFK… it arrived at the Bucharest airport… it was cleared through security.. it was ready to deliver.. and then nothing.
The school headmaster called and called and argued that it is there and that we have proof and gave them the tracking number but they claimed there was nothing there. By the end of the next week it arrived back at my parents house.
So we tried again.. and since I had a 2 week break during the last two weeks of April we agreed to not pay the absurd amount of money and have it delivered when we got back from break, May 3. We all were gonna be enjoying our vacation anyway.

No problem…. or so we thought.

I went back to Budapest for 3 days to visit my old hostel and my volunteer friends…. more on that later…

I arrived back to Bucharest April 26. I always get a little nervous at the any border, just because,… and last time I was at the Romanian border they claimed I had to leave the country for 5 days cuz my 90 days wasn’t up until then.
Of course, I started crying. I was SURE I was allowed back. I had plans to go to work. To see my friends. I didn’t have the money to go anywhere else.. after not getting paid since the beginning of January and on the move… paying for gas, meals, hostels, drinks, airplane tickets.. my money dwindled quickly.. along with that one time I got fined on the tram in Budapest (I had the ticket with me, I just hadn’t validated it and they made me pay an absurd amount of Forints all the money I had left,.. and I still had a week there.. but thankfully friends pitched in to help me get through)… I had pretty much negative money. Luckily, I had done my research before and emailed the Romanian Border police first and had it in an email… in writing.. from their boss… that I was allowed in on that day…. after about an hour of waiting and trying to calm myself down, they let me wait in the international terminal for 6 hours until I finally could go home at midnight.

Anyway, here I was, April 26, weak, sick, tired (I had just had a bought of 24 hour food poisoning and hadn’t been able to sleep or keep anything down since 2 nights before) and ready to go home to my bed.
I stepped up to the booth and handed over my passport. I never know what to do at this point. They take the passport, click on their computer or scan or whatever it is they do… but it was taking too long.. fear gripped my heart… I scanned my brain to think of why it was taking so long… was it cuz I stayed late in December? over the 90 days? I paid the fine.. I was let back in last time..
Finally, he looked at me and asked how long I planned to stay… (at least a month to figure things out, I said…cuz I thought that of the 90 days I had left that started on the 20 of March I knew I had at least a month left and it was a safe number to stay)
His eyes squinted a bit and his face tensed and asked what I was doing and who I was staying with (I am visiting friends, traveling and working on getting a visa)
He sighed.. no response.. got up from his chair and walked out through the back of the booth, I assumed to talk to a higher up.
I was used to this by now. Being left at the customs booth… its not a fun feeling.. everyone knows there’s some problem with you.. they stare.. “What did she do?”   smirks.. some looks of pity..
After about 5 agonizing minutes that seemed like an eternity he told me to come follow him to the back of the booth.
“You have to leave in 3 days” he said.
WHAT???
“No, no, that’s not true. I started here in September.. I stayed 90 days then left for 90 days and came back March 20 and have 90 more days! Check again!” I said, I could feel the tears filling up and slowly trickling down my face. My voice quivering. This couldn’t be happening again!
He took me into the booth and showed me on his computer and it said it,…. that I had been here 88 days and had 3 days left.
“How can that be? I just got back!? I have 90 days of 180 starting March 20!”
“No, not anymore. Go to immigration. Go to the immigration office.”
I tried to comprehend what was going on. I slowly walked to the arrivals room where my friend was waiting for me.  Partway down the longest hallway in the world I leaned against the wall and and tried to regain my composure. Wiped my face clean of tears. Settle my ragged breathing. And I walked on.
He couldn’t believe it either. We looked up everything we could and everything we read said 180 out of 90 days.
We went to the immigration office. I was weak. I was tired. My stomach was once again in knots and swirling around. 3 days! No. I have to go back to my school. I have to all those music festivals this summer. I have to go to the hippie beach at Vama Veche. I have to see the Merry Cemetery in Maramureş. Hike the mountains.. see the mud volcanoes… kayak the Danube delta…  I’m just learning Romanian.
Of course there was crazy traffic due to the taxis going on strike against Uber. So we took the metro. Once we finally got there we learned it didn’t open for another 2 hours. I couldn’t wait downtown for that long. I knew I needed to. But my body was breaking down. I was falling asleep. I had no energy. I was zapped. My head was spinning.
So went home and slept. and slept some more. and woke up the next morning to make the long journey back.
Where we explained the situation. Handed over my passport. And waited. and waited. In a tiny room. People kept going through the doors, but no one stopped to pay attention to us. As the time went on, my fear grew and grew.
Finally a man in full Romanian Police uniform came out with my passport and a white sheet of paper with all kinds of calculations and confirmed my worst fear.
Yes I now had 2 days left.
He tried to explain that rules changed a bit ago and there are a lot of calculations involved. About counting BACKWARDS 180 days to count the 90 days… My mind went blank. I spaced out. I froze.  I was in shock.
So he turned to my friend and explained it to him in Romanian.
After we left that awful place, I called my boss and we decided to try to get what we had of the paperwork and bring it in. A long, slow blur of a day of collecting the paperwork, waiting for an email of an updated document we needed, driving to a different immigration office only to find they closed 3 hours before. And the next day they were closed.

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I tried hard to hold the tears back. What do I do now? Do I leave the country tonight and come back when the documents arrive from the US and hope I am allowed back into the country? Where would I go? It was already 3:45… I doubt there would be any affordable flights out of the county this late. Maybe I could get a ride to Bulgaria and chill there for a week… they have a beautiful seaside I hear.. and I’ve heard rave reviews about Sofia.. and what if they don’t let me back in?

My boss talked to the one lady left behind the desk who was in charge of a different area of immigration. She assured us that all I needed to do was stay in the country, come back when the paperwork was ready, pay a fine for staying over the limit and turn the papers in.

So we deiced to do that.

But I can’t help but be anxious… I already stayed late once… would they let me again? Since I did stay over and was illegally here (its a 3 day weekend and the last day for me is Saturday and I can’t pay the fine before and I can’t go in Sunday or Monday) would they still let me turn in my paperwork? Would they make me leave the country immediately that day? Would I have to leave until the paperwork was done? Usually you are supposed to turn in the paperwork 30 days before your last day.. but I had no Idea of the new rules! I thought I had 90 days!

So my friends took me to the beach for the day to help me get this off my mind.. for some sun.. some sand.. some salt water (much too cold to swim but I definitely put my feet in. And because maybe that would be my only chance to see my beautiful Vama Veche and the Black Sea.

 

Version 2

Constanța, Romania is quite an interesting town… lots of abandoned looking buildings and some interesting street art.. It was the first time I saw the seaside since summer (though I was at the ocean in Cali…) so I was super excited..

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Constanța. Even though it was the last weekend in April… a 3 day weekend… the weekend most people come to party at the seaside.. the “beginning of summer”,, it was pretty chilly and empty… though it was only Friday when we went…

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An abandoned Casino right there on the sea in Constanța.. there are guards there and ropes strung up to keep people out… though all my friends have snuck in there at one point.. and I plan to as well… all in good time… its absolutely majestic in there… and the chandeliers and everything are still in place from its heyday.. built by King Carol back in 1900… and if those walls could talk… all the fancy parties with Europe’s elite…

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Constanța… I had to climb over the rocks to get closer to the sea :)))

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Vama Veche, Romania. 🙂 A little hippie-ish village down near the border of Bulgaria. Of course the day we got there there was a thick shroud of mist engulfing the whole area.. leaving it looking a tad bit creepy… intriguing…  empty…

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The waters here are absolutely stunning! A beautiful icy blue nearest the shore and then fades into deeper shades of blue… though I couldn’t see too far out because of the crazy weather..

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Vama Veche… Black Sea… beautiful 🙂

IMG_9761Vama Veche. I had to dip my toes in the water even though it was 10 degrees C and the wind was whipping. (When we first drove over the weather said 17 and so I put shorts on… not the brightest move.. but thanks to living in Canada, it takes a lot to get me cold so I was fine)

Home Sweet Home…

“I’m homesick all the time,” she said, still not looking at him “I just don’t know where home is. There’s this promise of happiness out there. I know it. I even feel it sometimes. But it’s like chasing the moon – just when I think I have it, it disappears into the horizon. I grieve and try to move on, but then the damn thing comes back the next night, giving me hope of catching it all over again.”
— Sarah Addison Allen (The Girl Who Chased the Moon)

January 4, 2017

I have been in the USA since the 20th of December… It is currently the 3rd of January… and I cannot quench the desire to go back to Romania… to go back to Europe…
I never really had a home here to begin with… hopping all over the country… from one seasonal job to another… making friends that I still keep in contact with, but they are spread all over the country…
I made connections in Romania.. I felt stable for one of the first times in a looming while… stable like I could remain there for quite an extended period of time.. I was comfortable there.. my job.. the gym.. my friends.. the occasional weekend outing to Transylvania..
And now I am here.. the first week and a half were rather rough… full frontal barrage of family visits.. old family friends.. one after the other… day after day.. being bombarded with questions of my life.. inquiring about whether I ever planned to settle down.. to have kids.. what was I doing with my life… “When I was your age…” etc etc.
And then to my parents house.. way out in the middle of eastern Washington.. a town full of Washingtonian rednecks complete with deer antlers in restaurants and cameo as the standard gear and plenty of Hunting and other “outdoor activity” magazines (though none of them included rock climbing or hiking or kayaking or any of the outdoor activities I take pleasure in..)
So I ran away.. first to my aunt and uncle in my birth town, Walla Walla, WA. A Beautiful little town.. their kids.. I used to babysit them many years back.. now they are all grown up and in high school or college.. they taught me about their 30+ chickens and guinea fowls and ducks and we went on a beautiful little hike around a dried up/iced over lake 🙂
Then to Portland… my favorite little town..
Visiting friends here and there… but I still feel so disconnected from everything.. everyone..
I thought I would have a blast visiting people.. my friends… visiting my heart homes.. the PNW…
But my heart and my head are distracted with Romania.
With a yearning to go back to to where I felt wanted..
I do not enjoy American coffee anymore…
IPAs, yes.
Tacos, yes.
Siracha, yes.
My car, yes.
Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier and Seattle and all the vast and varying nature this area provides… yes.
But many of the things I used to LOVE… kinda lost their luster after being in Europe… People seem so distant…
I hate this feeling because I feel like I am being a snob, talking about my adventures in Europe and the differences I encountered between this place and that place and USA..
Don’t get me wrong.. I still love my friends here.. love being here.. Portland.. All of Oregon and Washington and California…
Just something in my heart feels slightly off…
I even ran south to Northern California to visit an old friend who always used to give me comfort.. We spent an afternoon wandering the hills near the Klamath River and finding quite a spread of bones.. a place where coyotes go to feast and leave only the bones.. as well as lots of beautiful quarts and what seems to be opal…
It was a beautiful couple days.. but cut short due to a crazy snowstorm that was coming and I had to leave before I got stuck… Though now that I am here, the thought of building a snowman and having a snowball fight sounds like a winning situation 🙂
And yes, visiting did make me feel warm and happy ,… but at the same time even more restless and confused and lost.. they had their shit together… I am still floating..
I have yet to visit a few more friends here… constantly searching for that comfortable feeling I used to feel with them…
But I find more comfort in hiking in the woods or wandering the nature alone.
What is wrong with me.
I want to go back.
And I talk to these people… with houses… with some form of a “real job”.. with families.. deep friendships… stability.. trust in each other.. plans for the next week or the next month or the next year.. the way they look at each other… connected through laughter… connected through touch… and I feel slightly broken and quite alone.
I am not part of the lives of my friends here… and I am no longer a part of the lives of my friends in Romania…
I seem to be stuck with the infinite unknown
And that is terrifying
Will I ever be able to do that too? Will I constantly wander? Will my racing thoughts.. fear of the future.. the unknown ever slow down?
When I was in Romania… I thought I had things down pat. It was slow to come at first.. a day at a time.. a week.. a month.. by December I had things planned at least through September.. with possibility for longer..
Now that I am so far away… it is so far away.. it is so long until I can go back…  And the time difference and time between me being there and now makes communication difficult… And the mind can be a terrible place in those hours where theres nothing to distract it…
Will they all still remember me and like me when I come back?
Where should I go in February?  What should I do tomorrow?
Do I belong here or there?  Will I ever be able to learn Romanian so I can actually talk with people there in their own language? Will I ever be able to have kids… a family.like all these people back here?
Infinite Unknown.
Terrifying.

 

Romania, My Love

“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” – Bill Bryson

December 20, 2016

Long time, no write…
Soooo…
My life has taken an interesting turn since I last posted…
I ended up getting a job… making some good friends.. and getting invested and involved with some people and things dear to my heart…
What a beautiful life this is….
Romania..
Who would’ve ever thought that would be the place that I would find my people.. my job.. my heart.. Fall in love with such a foreign, quaint and quirky yet beautiful country…
I honestly went there on a whim… the hostel in Bucharest was one of the first ones that messaged me back saying they wanted me to help them for the month… and it was out of the Shengen area so that meant that I could stay in Europe beyond the 3 months I had in the Shengen… And I knew nothing much about Romania… why not check it out.. I tried asking people about it.. no one had anything good to say… not necessarily bad.. but lots of warnings.. of stray dogs and thieves and conniving gypsies and left over communist attitudes and cold people and ugliness..
But I found no stray dogs… not once was I stolen from, in fact, people went out of their way to help me on multiple occasions.. I stayed at a gypsy camp and was greeted with nothing but curiosity, interest and the need for them to share their ways so I could share with others,.. beautiful people.. beautiful souls.. sure the sides of the roads are littered with trash and cigarette butts and empty cans.. its got its charm… beautiful architecture… one of my favorite jobs, teaching little ones and playing with them in the woods.. love…
Romania is in the EU, but not the Shengen..
What a fascinating country… what fascinating people..
How different they grew up…
I love learning about the culture.. the food.. the music.. how they grew up.. their thoughts on USA and everything else…
And everyone I have met pretty much knows a good amount of English.. much mores than any other country that I have visited…
I could pour out my heart… all of the people that have helped me through and opened their arms and their hearts to a crazy American girl… one in particular.. and my job… at an International Forest School/Kindergarten.. the most beautiful 2 year old classroom I have ever encountered.. Playing in the woods.. the snow.. the leaves.. the water..
Just wow..
And visiting Transylvania.. hiking in the mountains..
Getting more and more involved in people and things in Bucharest and beyond…
So when December came.. I realized my 90 days were almost up (as an American citizen, with my passport, I have the same deal as with the Shengen area… 90 days in a 180 day period). I reached out to my job.. my friend(s)…  Everyone did what they could to try to help me stay there/come back sooner… but due to miscommunication and misunderstanding, when I came back to the USA for the holidays…. I have to wait out the rest of the 180 days before I can return. I emailed and called the Romanian embassies all throughout the USA and all of them said the same thing… there was nothing I could do. I could’ve easily dealt with it when I was in Romania.. If I would have known…
But I am not the best at details… I am pretty good at putting things off until the last minute (“hmmm… I came here in September… I should probably look into how long I am allowed to stay in Romania and what I should do to stay longer… maybe tomorrow…”) So I take full blame…
But, here are some pictures of some of my favorite times and favorite people and most beautiful places I have encountered during my 3+ months in Romania (yes, I did stay past the 3 months, but went in and paid the fine so that I could officially be a “legal illegal alien”)

Make a wish 


Saturday October 1, 2016

Day 131

Bucharest, Romania 

My favorite nights are long talks with beautiful strangers. Working at hostels is my absolute favorite. So many people coming through. So many stories being told. So many hopes. So many wishes. 

So I made a wish jar. We had one at my other hostel. I ask people to write wishes on a slip of paper and place them in the jar. I promise them I will take them to the sea, put them in an empty wine bottle and send it off. And I plan to. 

The looks on people’s faces when I tell them to write a wish… Ranging from bewilderment to surprise to incredulous to speculation. But they all write something. Late at night I peek in the jar. It fills my heart with happy to see what people wish for. Some wish for things for themselves. Some with for other people. Some wish for many people. But they all warm my heart. 


Hostel life. People come. People go. You connect. You talk. Make memories. Stay up drinking and talking. Adventure in the days. And they leave. But each and every one still has made an impact on me, some more than others. 

We had a lady come the other day. She is 37 and slightly off… She was on a nudist cruise but left in the middle of the cruise… She never explained why. But she’s caused some havoc and headaches around here. I stayed up with her one night because she was quite drunk and falling over and the receptionist had to leave. Working at hostels you get used to taking care of drunk people. She was speaking straight Russian to me. I had no idea she spoke Russian, nor do I know any Russian. But I helped her. Talked with her. Was a friend. 

Later, my two (current) favorite people came back from their night out. An older guy who can speak all the languages ever, very charismatic and charming. A sexy Steven Tyler kind of vibe. And his girl, a Romanian girl I didn’t know too well. The guy went to bed and I sat and talked with the girl for a couple hours. Deep thoughts. Philosophical. I felt an instant connection. Positive energy. My soul sister. I wrote notes so i could look back on then later. I have copy and pasted them below. Interesting thoughts. People never cease to fascinate me. 

Today the receptionist at the hostel and I had a long conversation with an older guy from Turkey about life, love, spiritual beliefs and God. 

It’s fascinating to talk to people from different cultures. Backgrounds. Beliefs. 

Yesterday I hung out with more Couchsurfers. We started out as 3 and by the end of the night we were at least 15. My best friend who used to stay at my hostel was there. Germans. French. Romanians. Australians. I made paper airplanes and threw them across the table right there in the restaurant terrace where we were sitting. And I took them with me to watch my Romanian friends band. I adore live music, even if I don’t understand the lyrics. It’s interesting actually, not understanding the lyrics. You hear songs in a whole different way. 


“USe the brain, not just the heart 

Balance / battle between the brain and the heart 

Feel your brain. 

Don’t get eaten by the heart eaters 

Love. 

Somebody else is waiting for you. Close the circle if you can’t help them. Someone else is waiting beyond. 

When you drink you are Vulnerable to people who use the brain more than the heart and we are hunted. 

Drink with the people who bring you light. 

Ask yourself:

1. What Do i want? 

2. After I know exactly what I want. I will do it. Systematically. Slowly. In a way that is smart. Algorithmic. Knowing All the probabilities. 

It’s a New era of living. 

Everything happens for a reason. 

Ask others. Don’t be afraid. Ask for help. Let people help you. Never be afraid of anything. 

Dont be afraid to give. Give. Give. And don’t expect anything in return. Do it from the heart.

Don’t keep the pain. Feel it. Accept it Let it go. Don’t get stuck in the pain. 

Smile from all of your organs. Give your whole body the smile. And you will glow.”

“Everything is not as you see.”

“Your American Dream is our Romanian fantasy”

“I don’t want to believe in God. I want to believe in people.” 

“Send out white energy from the heart. Heart to heart connection.”

Hostel life 


Monday September 26, 2016Day 126

Bucharest, Romania 

Wow. What a difference this past week has been. 

Glorious things have happened. I am glad I last posted. 

The night I was at my worst, the saddest and most discouraged is been for awhile, I was happily surprised to learn we were having 2 bands stay with us. From Finland! Wow! But they wouldn’t arrive until late. I sipped some vodka and talked with 2 of my friends that had been here at the hostel with me awhile. 2 Americans (one of them being my friend who was sleeping in the bunk above me, who, after talking with him these days, is now my best friend here) and an Australian. We talked of The shit show that America is. And how beautiful it can be. Of our travels. Our conquests. Our triumphs. Our failures. Of Australia and how no, not EVERYTHING is out to kill you. 
Finally at 1:30 the doorbell rang. In came 6 scraggly, dirty long haired dudes. They stared at my leg. They pointed, “THAT’S THE GUITAR FROM STEEL PANTHER!!” They exclaimed. I greeted them with some of my vodka (I had half a bottle, between the 6 of them, their “welcome shots” cleared the bottle as they put the bottle to their lips and chugged) and a short tour of the hostel. They took turns heading to the shower and showing me their music videos. Shortly after, the other band came. Beer runs were made. Talks were had. Laughs were shared. Stories of snow and crazy ways to fill up the long, cold days of Finland. Stories of traveling with bands. I learned some Finnish. It was quite an experience being the only girl with 11 Finnish metal boys and 2 American boys. It was a bizarre experience. A night none of us would soon forget, staying up til dawn and exchanging beautiful, yet crazy conversations. Actually, 2 of them were Croatian, the driver and one of the band mangers. They told stories of growing up during the war in the Balkans.. Wow…

Anyway, the next day, their room was a shitshow to clean. Beer and vodka spilled everywhere. Empty bags of chips lay crumpled behind the beds with crumbs scattered everywhere. Something brown was smeared on the wall (they swore to me it was chocolate)… 


My days are filled with making beds. Cleaning the kitchen. The bathrooms. The floors. Some days I have 2 beds. Some almost 30. Totally worth it. 

I then utilize the Couchsurfing “hangout” app to find other lost travelers looking for friends. 

The other day I took Daniel with me as we met up with 2 Germans. We were supposed to go to a beautiful park. It was the first lovely, sunny day after a string of rainy, gloomy days. As we talked in, of all places, Starbucks, we noticed a guy in the corner kinda looking our way occasionally. He seemed interested. I recognized that look. Of being an English speaker in a foreign land and you hear being spoken at the table next to you and you want so desperately to talk to them, but at the same time you’re just happy being able to understand. It turned out he was an American from Oregon and was just wandering the city. Still new. Never heard of Couchsurfing before. Perfect. We invited us into our group. Shortly after, we noticed a local Romanian on the app was available to hangout too. We had him meet us. And when he got there, we knew we were in for an adventure. He decided we were to get beers. The park was too far away for him. He was very amusing. Super funny. Quick with jokes, quips and comebacks. His sarcasm was on point. We all fell a little in love with this dude as he took us to some beautiful bars with tree branches as canopies in the courtyard so it felt like you were actually in a park. He recommended the best local beers. He took us to a restaurant so we could get done authentic Romanian food. By this time we were 12 people. It was glorious. Everyone chatting. Friendly banter. Teasing. Making fun of our countries or others. Australia. Germany. Egypt. Romania. America. We ended the night at a shisha bar. Ohhhh how I missed shisha. :)) 

I, again, was the only girl there and was delighted to be “one of the guys”. I adored it. But, By the end of the night they were all passing around pictures of girls they had slept with on their travels. It was cute at first but then they got a little crude and I decided it was time to get out of there.

I had had enough of guys talking of girls they wanted to sex. It happens more than a few times on this trip. “Send me some Ukrainian hookers.” “Asians are where it’s at man.” I tended to hang out with guys more often than not and listened a lot of this kind of talk. Sure, it’s a thing. Sure, it’s normal. But wow. I am certainly not hott. Not sexy. Or pretty. Little boobs. Big belly due to the scar that I hate so much…. The guys all talk with me about their ideal girls. Always physical characteristics. Or the favorite girls they’ve met. And it’s usually related to something sexual or physical. I realize how far from ideal I am in every sense of the word, but at least I can be “one of the guys”. But still. It leaves me cringing everytime I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Sure, I’ve had my share of guys say I’m beautiful, but it’s all from drunken old men on the streets who give me a wink and a nod and try to invite me nearer to them. Daniel said, at one point, “You’re a girl. You have boobs. Of course any guy near you will be willing to sex you.” Hmmmmkkk. 

Anyway, I always come back by 11pm so the receptionist can go home. The past long while there were some Romanian opera singers. All of them 18-23. They would drink Rose wine and stick in their own group. One night they all piled into one of the rooms upstairs. They turned up their music. It was nearing midnight. There was a hospital next door that always complained or called the police if things got too loud. I trudged upstairs, hating to be the party pooper. But I politely asked them to keep it down. They apologized and promised. Ten minutes later, the music was even louder. This happened 4 times. Eventually Daniel and I heard the THUD THUD of people jumping above us. The chandeliers bounced above our heads. I looked at Daniel and begged him to come up with me. I reminded him that there were a bunch of Romanian girls up there too he could try to work his magic with them. He was about to go out clubbing, but agreed to come up with me for moral support. We climbed the stairs. We heard them jumping. Dancing. Laughing. Singing. I opened the door that led to the upstairs “chill out” area and saw them all having the time of their lives. As soon as they saw me, they scrambled into one of the rooms except two dudes. I reminded them to take it down a notch or three. One of the guys laughed and said I needed to lighten up a bit and needed some wine. He pressed a plastic cup of warm Rose wine in my hand. They laughed. I sighed. I was NOT uptight. I was NOT square. I wanted to defend myself, but instead complimented them on their singing. Their dancing. Sweet talked with them. The other dude was staring at me hardcore. Finally he asked what my story was as he poured me another glass of wine. Daniel stood nearby, trying to peek into the room to get a glimpse of the young Romanian opera singer girls who week huddled in the dark, giggling. I ended up befriending the two dudes and chatted with them for an hour. The girls all ended up going to bed after about 5 minutes of us talking (it WAS 2am after all..) and Daniel scurried out to catch the clubs, promising to tell me stories of his night (which, by the way, consisted of bumping night clubs, sexy dancers, failed attempts at talking to girls, hookers trying to kiss him for Money in dark alleyways and gypsy kids running about at 4am). 


It turns out they were a big bunch of college kids participating in a festival/contest. There were students from different levels and a few teachers. The dude who was staring at me before was 19. Never smoked. Never kissed. Never been with a girl. The wine during this trip was his first and he only had a cup or two. The other guy was louder, more flamboyant. Animated. The next night I hung out with them too. And a couple others. I invited them down to the main hangout room. They played guitar and sang with their angel voices. I was impressed. After most everyone went to sleep but the 19 year old, one of the piano specialist and some other guy. We talked a bit of this and that. And the piano guy asked the 19 year old to translate for him. He was speaking English just fine before. He asked the poor kid to ask me if I would sex him. Or suck his dick. I was a bit disgusted. I apologized to the poor kid and headed off to sleep. 

There are 2 older guys here. One is Australian. One is Romanian. They are loud. They are big. They take over the room they are in. They demand things from us. They have been here since I got here. But I’ve friended them too. In fact, the other night they invited me to dine with them. They had fresh tomatoes and some of the most delicious cheese I’ve ever tasted. They talked of their travels. Setting up businesses. Of Australia. 

The other night the Australian had a diabetic seizure. His friend brought him to the main room. It was 5 in the morning. I could tell the friend was agitated at being woken up. The friend was contorting. Screeching. I opened the front gates of the alley so the ambulance could come through. It turned out his insulin was at 45. He was confused. I sat down next to him and held his hand. His eyes slowly focused. I was gentle. I spoke softly and firmly that he needed to answer the questions or they would take him to the hospital. He had said he didn’t want to. Adamantly refused. Slowly he came back. He looked so sad. So ashamed. So tired. He just wanted to sleep. I told the other guy to get some sleep. I let the other guy eat the rest of my Chinese food. And the chocolate I had saved to help get his sugar levels back up. We talked until dawn. He is a sweet man. I didn’t mind staying up to help him. 🙂 

There are always beautiful talks with beautiful strangers to be had at hostels. 

Beautiful people. 

Everything happens for a reason. 

And I think I’m slowly finding my reason to be here. 

More to come….

I want to go home. 


“Soon you’ll realize that many people will love the idea of you but will lack the maturity to handle the reality of you.” ~Reyna Biddy 

Tuesday September 20, 2016Day 120 

Bucharest, Romania. 

I am getting very discouraged with this place. I don’t understand this city. These people. 

Maybe I’m too naive. Disillusioned. Maybe it’s the weather getting colder. 

I have met up with quite a few people here. Via Couchsurfing or friends of friends and occasional tinder. 

Apparently people just want sex here. I don’t. Not interested. 

There’s a guy in the bed above me. Literally, his first words to me were, “Hello! I’m Daniel! I’m just here to drink, smoke, party and fuck.”

I met with another guy the other day and he said he was taking me to a cafe. Little did I know that, although the name of the place had “cafe” in it, it was a pay by the hour hotel room. I walked out on him. 

Another guy had promised to take me to some cool spots in the city. We walked a bit. Talked. I was excited to have a friend. But then we got to a park and within ten minutes of sitting down he started trying to reach up my skirt. I pushed him away, “What? Here in Romania it’s normal. You are not a whore if you fuck freely. We are free people here.” I left him there and walked back to my hostel. 

Dude. 

That’s not my scene. 

Am I that weird? That I want friends? Memories. Human connection. Beautiful conversations with beautiful minds.

Where did my beautiful strangers go? 

Did I make a mistake coming here? 

I went to a premiere of a snowboarding movie the other night. It filled me with a yearning to go far away from this place. It made me want to go back to the USA. Back to Mammoth Mountain. To the snow. To shred gnar. To play in the snow. To my people. To taco Tuesday. To my happy. 

I am over this place. I’m ready to jump ship. But I can’t leave Europe on a bitter note. I want to leave with happy memories. And this place so far is not that happy for me. 

Things better change. I just want friends. I’ll give it one more week. If this continues, I don’t think I can last a month.  

Sure, it’s a free place to stay. Cheap food. But that’s not why I travel. 

Tonight, the hostel is booked with two huge groups of Romanian travelers. I think they are doing opera or something. I tried to talk with them. Engage in conversation. They either pretended not to hear or not to know English. They just smiled and nodded and waited. And so I let them do their thing. 

Tonight I will dye my hair turquoise. A change. Something to do. Hopefully better things await me in the days to come. 

I am out of words.  I am out of thoughts. I am drained. I need sunshine. I need something to remind me I am where I am supposed to be. 

Bucharest, my new home…

Saturday September 17, 2016

Day 117

Bucharest, Romania. 
My new home for the next month. It’s been a strange, wild couple of days. Romania mannnn. It’s kinda growing on me. Especially since I have now a place to chill and cook and I’m not constantly on the move. 

I got here 3 nights early. To couchsurf with the locals. To get to know the city. Little did I know what I was in for. 


The first night was ok. The dude I CouchsurfEd with was a photographer. I went there with promises of teaching me to use my camera without automatic buttons and watching movies on his movie projector. But when I arrived I learned we were going out to meet one of his friends. Who turned out to be a girl he met online. Later I learned it was a girl he met on tinder. I tailed alongbonntjeir “date”, not sure what else to do. Letting them have their time. Letting the sparks fly between them. Watching it all go down. It was sweet to watch. He played guitar. She played guitar. He sang. She sang. He was from Romania. She was a beautiful, vibrant girl from Israel. She knew the city better than he did. I liked her. We went to the park and played guitar for a couple hours. The street lights around swirled in the lake below, casting a soft blue on everything around us. We grew tired. It was late. She went home. 


The next day he went to work. I left when he did. At 8am. Wandered. Saw the city. I laid in a park and watched the clouds. I went to my hostel that I was to work at to say hello. I saw the parliament building. The biggest building ever. Like for real. The biggest in the world, well 2nd biggest after the Pentagon. but it was huge. Made entirely of marble. Most of the rooms were unused. 80% unused. And most of it was underground. Like an iceberg. It had a huge balcony. It was built by the communist leader, Ceaușescu so he could use it. He never lived to use it. Michael Jackson was actually the first to speak to the public from the balcony. 


I also used the hangout option on Couchsurfing and met with a Swiss German dude for a few hours and we drank a few beers and talked of our travels and of life and our thoughts on psychology and romance and Switzerland (did I mention I absolutely adore Switzerland all things Swiss Germann). That’s my new favorite feature on Couchsurfing. Very convenient way to link up with other Couchsurfers while bored. 


That night I met back with the girl from the night before so we could go to the Couchsurfing meeting together. “Ass on the grass”. We bought a couple beers and some snacks and met with other Couchsurfers in the park. There were Romanians, Germans, American, Russians… It was beautiful. My host finally came. He never replied to any of my messages. He read them, but did not answer. Even when I asked if he was coming or not. He finally showed up. Didn’t say a word to me. Him and the girl walked off together. Laid with each other on the grass. Meanwhile, I was messaging another CouchsurfEr. I mentioned what was happening and asked if I could stay with him instead since I figured my host was looking to sleep with this girl. It was fine with me. Yay for them. Yay for her. I liked her. We walked back to his place, I packed my bags and wandered off in the darkness to the other guys house at 12:39am. He was waiting with Spanish cigarettes and Italian wine and we talked on his balcony and then slept all day until one. Funny how things work out. 


The next day, Thursday, I had yet to find another place to sleep. The hostel was full. The first Couchsurfer, I didn’t want to go back after he ignored me all night. The one from the night before who saved me had an old friend coming to town and apologized that there was no room. 

I wandered around more. Took in the sights if the strange, dirty city. I saw the statue of Vlad the Impaler. I saw the ugliest statue ever with a man with a kardashisn butt holding a dog with a wolfs face sewed on and the mans dingdong hanging out underneath. Apparently, it brought good luck if you rubbed it. It was shiny, bright gold color, compared to the darker bronze color of the rest of the body. I heard the story and explanation but promptly forgot it l, distracted by the statues meat rod sticking out there for all to see. I walked by shisha bars and fancy places and fancy buildings and run down buildings. I saw a man playing guitar on the street and was entranced by his voice, crooning “You’re Beautiful” and “”Stand by Me”. I sat and watched. I felt like he was singing to me. It made me feel better. Warm. 

I met with other Couchsurfers and we laughed and talked of American politics and gun laws and tipping at restaurants and adventures in South America. We even found a vending machine in a bar that sold books. Two of the titles were (in English), “How to quit smoking” ( it came with a lighter) and “Parenting in 12 steps”. One of the locals finally offered me to crash on their couch.  


And then I finally I got to my hostel. It’s not so bad here. I put away breakfast. I take apart and make beds in the morning. Empty the trash. Sweep. Clean the toilets. And in the nighttime I need to be back by 11 so the receptionist can go home and I can help with late check ins. It’s a chill hostel. People chill here. No parties. Not too many people. It’s kinda lonely. I made friends with the receptionist. We have long talks during the day. He told of the days he used to tour with his medieval punk Romanian band. He told of the corrupt politics here today. He told of communism. Of his hometown in the west. I have a feeling we will be good friends. Good brother sister vibe. 

I have relied on Couchsurfing to go out and meet others since the hostel is kinda slow. I want to meet the locals. They intrigue me. How they grew up. Their opinions on everything. On communism. On food. On happiness. On America. 


Today I met with a guy from Bucharest. He took me to get coffee at a funky cool rooftop bar. It overlooked the city. We sat there drinking our coffee and talking of Romania. He was filled with passion for his country. He loved it, as most Romanians I have met. They love their county. When communism was brought up, you can feel the mood change in the conversation. Mixed, conflicted feelings are sensed in their voices as they talked. But they still talked. No subject was taboo fur any of the Romanians I have met. I can’t imagine. They talked of the food rationing. They talked of working in terrible conditions in factories making food that was immediately shipped forth and no one in their country got to eat. They talked of the lines snaking outside the markets as people waited before working a 9 or more hour day in the factory on their feet to bring home their one load of bread per family per week. You can feel the hauntings of the time period in the buildings around. In fact the rooftop bar we went to used to be a textile factory back in the day. Many of the buildings surrounding were old and semi abandoned. It was surreal. 


There was a famous nightclub, Colectiv, in Bucharest. It is actually a block away from the hostel I work at. A year ago there was a horrible fire there. During the night. When the club was bumping. When the club was crowded. It was during a free concert that was put on. It killed 26 people in less than 3 minutes. The death toll rose to 67 as the days wore on and the hospitalized folk never made it out of the hospital. Apparently, fireworks were lit onstage and things surrounding the stage were not quite as fireproof as they thought. The club was also over its capacity, upwards of 400 people showed up that night. That combined with only 2 exits, one if evict had to be broken down since it was stuck shut. This tragedy lead to a huge shut down if clubs and nightlife in the city as safety regulations became more strict. 


Anyway, the guy I went to get coffee with got very emotional when I brought it up. Apparently, he was just arriving to the venue that night. He saw the flames coming from the Windows. The charred bodies. The flaming bodies. The terrified people that narrowly escaped that were shaking with fear and the cold late October night air. It was silent except for the screams and the heart wrenching sobbing. Everyone was speechless. In a matter of minutes their perfect night of music and fun and dancing and celebrating collapsed into confusion and terror. Has he talked, his voice started cracking and he kept looking away. He talked faster. He grew more intense. Passionate. I noticed his eyes got glassy. He quickly tried to wipe away a tear that was threatening to make its way down his cheek. I was blown away. Wow. The power. The emotion. I couldn’t imagine seeing what he saw that night. He said his neighbor died. His friend died in the hospital a week after the fire. He talked of the aftermath and how the club scene, the music scene, has been struggling to get back on its feet ever since. 

Bucharest is a bizarre place. But, as I said, it is growing on me. And it’s nice to have a stable place to come home to and a kitchen to cook and work to keep me busy. And today I worked and went back to lay in bed and listen to music. Granted there are 5 other beds in the room, so I still have yet to experience my own room, but nonetheless, it is my room (and 5 other people’s). It’s definitely not like my hostel in Cali… Not as busy. Not as lively. No nightly outings or trips to Tijuana or breakfast to be Cooked or dinner to be cooked. No opportunity for me to sit as receptionist and play music and greet guests (tho after 11pm I can….)But I am sure I will get into the groove and find my people. Your vibe attracts your tribe. 

Puro romaneskoes 


“The day I broke up with normal was the first day of my magical life.”
Tuesday September 13, 2016

Day 113

Romania. 

–random, unedited rambling on my short time at gypsy camp–sorry it’s so long and all over the place-

The bus rolled along. Up the Transylvanian mountains. Around curve after curve. Climbing up. Cruising down. I looked around. Everyone was asleep. Their heads rested back against their headrests or leaning on the window. I looked out the window. Vast stretches of green. Mountainous hills. Stretching on and on. The road had the occasional pothole that sent people temporarily bouncing off their seat. The sides of the road, where the weary asphalt met the patches of grass were lined with garbage. Wrappers. Cups. Cigarette butts. Beer bottles. Soda cans. 
We drove by sheep herders, taking their sheep to another pasture. Cow herders, ushering their cows along to a new greener field. One time, a cow walked up onto the road. The Shepard ran up onto the road with a stick and started waving it around, appearing very angry and yelling something at the cow. 

We drove by a few gypsy camps. You could tell it wasn’t an actual village. The brick houses were falling down, patchy, missing bricks or even complete sides. The roofs were mismatched. Some were thatched with hay. Some had tiles. Some buildings were tilted. A few had little rounded grass-like huts instead of brick. There were fences. Most were made of rotting wood. Missing connectors. Missing slats. Garbage was littered everywhere. Clothes were hung out to dry on tree limbs or strung up rope. Little kids, completely naked or shirtless (both boys and girls) happily walked about or soaked in giant tin tubs in the sun or ran about in the grass. Goats meandered just to the side of the houses. Just beyond them were parches of uneven cornfields and other various plants. 

I wanted the bus to stop. I wanted to enter their world. I wanted to see how they lived. I wanted to see how they loved. How they hated. What they loved. What made them laugh. What made them cry. What filled their hearts with joy. What broke their hearts. 


I was at a hostel the past two nights. I brought up gypsies a few times, as well as in my travels in Croatia. Everyone stuck up their noses. “Don’t bring anything valuable.” “Never trust a gypsy. They just want to use you.” “They are dirty, sneaky, thieving beggars with sick hearts.” 

It made me sad to hear all of this. Gypsy does seem to be a derogatory term. But I find them to be quite fascinating. All of the resistance and hard times they faced. The hatred for no reason except they were different

And struggling to survive. Most of them having nothing except family and their rich culture filled with traditions and music. 

I told the bus driver where to drop me off. Valenii. The village where the Gabor reside. It was a string of houses. All of them long, extending back to side gardens where chickens roamed and flowers bloomed. There was a solid Stonehenge beautiful iron walls between the houses, lining the road. Making it seem as there was one huge wall connecting all of the houses. 


I followed the directions… Past the tiny shop and to the corner house with fancy iron gate and a well in the diveway. I opened one side of the gate and saw some kids playing by a garage. I heard English off to one side and saw 3 girls there in there mid twenties. Two were sitting next to each other on a bench and one was behind a sewing machine. She was dressed with a colorful, sparkly head scarf and a flowy, flowery blouse and a long, pleated, colorful, shimmery skirt. I was in the right place. 

The two girls were other travelers, from Austria. They had been camping or “tenting” as they called it the past long while, traveling about. 

They had seen gypsy palaces on their journey through Romania and asked about them. The girl shook her head and sighed. 

“No one lives in them. They are just for show. Because their neighbors had one, so they wanted a bigger one.” She explained that some gypsies had money and decided to build elaborate palace like structures. Most of these gypsies got their money from bumming in big cities. Pretending to be poorer than they were. Getting pity money. Then they would go home to their gypsy palaces. 

We all sat and talked as the sun went down. The Gabor girl was chatty, even while dutifully sewing skirts and aprons. She explained she had two kids. Was divorced and living back with her parents, but she didn’t mind. She sewed to keep busy and make money. All of her cousins, and her sister, were trying to get her to see their clothes for free. 

Her younger sister came a bit later, apparently she was the usual host. Both of their English was spot on. Not much of an accent at all. The younger one, 14, told us she wasn’t in school anymore. Most of her friends were married, pregnant, their childhood taken away as early as 12. Her parents were more lenient. She had a cell phone. She walked places alone. She didn’t start wearing the traditional dress until she was 12, while most girls started at 7. It was mandatory dress for women. 

A pleated, wrap around skirt that reached the toes. They were colorful, light fabric and when you spin, they flowed out into a huge circle. I adored them. They were bright colors with lace, rhinestones, sequins, ribbons and shiny material. There was a secret pocket, a money pocket in the middle that was covered by an apron. Their clothes were worn loose, baggy, but fitted at the waist to show off a womanly, voluptuous hourglass figure. Young women had their hair in two braids, with a red ribbon woven through each one. Once they got married they had to wear a colorful headscarf over their braided bun. Even if they were divorced. I was entranced. I was enchanted. I wanted their skirts. They were absolutely gorgeous. 

The men and boys worn more westernized style. Though they tended to still keep all their skin covered, it being indecent to show any skin. Where the ladies wore brightly colored, flowy dresses and skirts, the men dressed in dark colors. They also sported thick mustaches. The women were looked upon as a symbol of the family status and there more elaborate and beautiful her outfits were, the more wealthy and pure the family was. 

The Gabor gypsies are in the upper caste of the gypsy caste system. They didn’t steal or beg. They were noble gypsies. Still very traditional in their ways. 

The younger sister took us to our guesthouse. It was a bit away from the village. The Gabor are typically a closed society so it’s unique and cool enough we get to hang out at a locals house… Even have dinner!! 


I hadn’t eaten since 8:45 that morning due to hiking in the morning and talking to people at the hostel and losing track of time and realizing the time and booking it to the bus stAtion. The Gabor family we were visiting had all their cousins over. Lots of kids ran around in the front. In the dining room, the men sat around the table, eating sausages, bread and pickles. The women gathered around the coffee table and ate the same. Their talking was loud. Animated. At times I couldn’t tell if they were arguing or just talking. 

The smell of the food made my belly grumble and the sight of it, within reach made me dizzy with want. They were eating first though. Us three girls say on a couch and watched everything around us. It was quite like a theatrical production! I loved it! The younger sister explained that they were just having a conversation. No argument. And if Gabors did fight, they “maral le mosa”, fight with their tongue not their fists. They just say angry, mean things and that’s about it. The kids wandered in and out of the house, occasionally doing something to show off. They watched us with the corner of their eyes to make sure we saw. The ladies talked and giggled. The men talked and occasionally turned to stare at us. 

There were pillows piled everywhere. They were huge, fluffy pillows. I was told they were a throwback to the times they were nomads. Easier to travel with and super comfy. 

There was a big Roma alter that displayed all kinds of dishes and plates covered in silver, gold and delicate paintings. Beautifully painted ceramic pots lined and copper cups were in a line below. It reminded me of my mothers china cabinet where she kept her Moms fancy dish wear and trinkets. I was told this huge elaborate thing was an altar of sorts. It displayed the wife’s dowry. 

Finally, the cousins filtered out. I was kinda sad though, they were very entertaining. The three of us were given a plate with freshly fried potatoes and five giant sausages. The potatoes were from their garden. The pickles were cucumbers from their garden. The sausage was from local pigs. It was delicious. It was filling. It was wow. I finished all of mine plus one of the other girls extra sausages. And my full belly and full day hit me hard. I was sleepy. 

The three of us wandered back to our guesthouse, or wobbled due to our food babies, in the dark. The stars were glimmering. Dogs barked here and there. The geese and chickens were quiet. The stench of manure still hung heavy in the air. 

…the next day… 

And I walked up and up the path. It was lined with great green bushes and trees. Some sporting berries. Some flowers. The dirt and mud soon became overridden with grass. The path grew slimmer and the bushes grew thicker. And then I came upon a great vast clearing. A gently sloping hill, thick with grass. Wild. Untamed. Beautiful. I caught a glimpse of a another overgrown trail off to the side. It intrigued me. I wandered down. It rounded the corner of the hill and I looked up. There were graves. An old gypsy gravesite, high up on a hill. I was flooded with feeling. Intrigue. Cautiousness. Wonder. Awe. And a little fear. 


I had spend the morning pouring through books on gypsy sorcery. It was filled with superstition. Legends. Beliefs. Charms. A lot of them focused on the dead. 

I wondered if it was a good idea to be here. My curiously got the better of me and I continued. I saw crickets madly jumping about. Chirps and rattles all around me in the grass below my feet. I vaguely remembered someone saying snakes were rampant in the area. I continued, stepping a little more cautiously. Most of the graves were unmarked, overlooking the village high on a hill. Dead flowers were laid gently on top of mounds. I heard rustles in the bushes around me. 

This would certainly be a good place for someone to jump out and end my life. Was I supposed to be here? Was I going to get cursed? Was this a stupid idea? 

I tread carefully on. Hyper aware of the sounds around me. Dogs barked like mad in the distance. I heard the district clink of a bottle somewhere nearby. More rustling in the bushes. An uncomfortable feeling fell over me. I turned around. Slowly making my way back. I felt it was time to get out of there. 

I went back to the clearing and walked along until the bushes cleared and I got a good view of the village below. I scoped out the ground for a place to sit. 

It was peaceful. It was beautiful. The sun was shining. I took off my pants that I was wearing under my dress in respect for the Gabor’s conservative ways and let the sun warm my bare legs.  

Bugs and spiders used my legs as a playground, crawling up and down and all around. I let them. 

This village was rustic. Wild. There was bare minimum electricity, but no running water. Some roads wee asphalt. Some were gravel. Some were mud and dirt. Some houses were stone and some were crumbling brick. Some had balconies and some were tilted to the side, as though the ground had shifted below it. Some had cars. Some had horse drawn wagons. They all had gates around them. Some enclosed chickens. Some held back mad geese. Some held equipment. I saw very few people on my walk. A couple villagers came out to the road after I passed by to watch me walk from afar. It was bizarre. 


After reading these books on gypsy sorcery, I was desperate to learn more. To hear from an actual person. What did these people actually believe? Did these people actually tell fortunes? I had read in the guest house that you could buy Tarot cards but they asked you to not bring them into the Gabor house. What does that mean? Do the Gabor look down on tarot cards? 

Pixey-led. To be led astray by fairies. Like when you lose your way. Get distracted and take a less direct route. Story of my life. I suppose I’ve been led by pixeys many times. I don’t mind. I thank them, I don’t blame them. 

As wild as a gypsy. That was how I felt most myself. In the woods. In the wild. Bathing in lakes. Sleeping, curled under a tree. Weaving crowns out if wildflowers. Munching on berries and wild fruits growing in the forest. 

Puro romaneskoes (in the old gypsy fashion) 


I have always been a believer in magic. In signs. In people and things coming together at the right time. Everything happens for a reason. In the moon. Live by the sun, love by the moon. That the sun loved the moon so much, it died every night so his lover, the moon could shine. Or that the sun was forever in love with the moon. And forever will it be chasing its opal glow, never able to touch it. I believe in spirits and ghosts. In things holding power or luck, whether it be a gemstone or a lucky pebble or lucky “I’m gonna get laid tonight” panties or a lucky guitar pick. I want so badly to believe that they are true… And most of the time it works out for me. I ask other people and they scoff.

“MAgic? Nooooo. I believe in facts.” Most say. “There is an explanation for everything.” 

Facts. Yes. I believe in those too. But how can one not believe in at least a little magic. What a boring life that would be. 

I went back to the guesthouse after a long while. Geese cackled and roosters crowed as I walked by. Gyspies in their beautiful outfits walked carrying big baskets full of vegetables. The rolling hills with hay and corn were far off in the distance. So much better than the city. 

One older lady with a little boy stopped me at one point. The little boy had big sad eyes. His face smeared with dirt. His shirt ripped. She babbled on in Romanian. I had no idea what she was asking. I had two peaches with me. I gave them one. I gave the little bit a toy motorcycle I had in my bag leftover from a kinderEgg. She continued to babble, moving her hands around. I silently hoped she wasn’t putting a curse on me. I continued walking, apologizing. Eventually, up ahead I saw 5 people on the road. One in gypsy garb and 4 in pants and backpacks. More travelers. Perfect. 

I spend the afternoon talking with the 7 other guests and playing with the 2 year old gypsy daughter of the older sister. Actually, most of it I spent with the little one. Coloring with markers. Face paint. Marbles. Glitter. Stringing beads for a necklace. I adore children. It we beautiful. 

I went for a sunset walk with one if the travelers. A French dude. We talked of France. Or traveling. Of how happiness is only real when shared, but solo travel is essential and being lonely only makes the time with others even more special. We walked by huge dogs that were guarding a field. They looked mean. They snarled. They barked. The came at us. We walked back to the gravel road and sat in the grass. The colors of the sky changed as the sun went down. Off to the side, the sky flashed as lightning and thunder in the distance came closer. 


We walked back to the guesthouse. Just in time. The beer had arrived and the rain started. There 8 of us total. Two Spanish (a couple traveling for 3 weeks). Two Austrian girls (another couple, from the night before). A girl from Chile who lived in Berlin (visiting here while her boyfriend hiked through the mountains) and another couple that met while traveling (the French guy and the girl he met, another German girl). 8 people from all over the world. All came together at a gypsy guesthouse in the middle of nowhere in Romania. Drinking beer out of a 2 liter soda bottle. With lightening. Thunder. Rain. All around. It was beautiful. I heard tales of far off places they had been to. Mongolia. Albania. Patagonia. Bulgaria. Russia. 20 days on the Transiberian railroad. Chile. Voting in Spain. My soul yearned for these places. These experiences. How little I know of this world. 


I thought this trip would settle my soul. Help to get this nomadic lifestyle out of my system. Help me be able to settle down. But it instead fuels my need to see more. Experience more. Learn more. Meet more. 

One last thought. Prost. People normally say that as cheers in Poland and other countries. But in Bulgaria abs Romania, “Prost” is “stupid” so here you say “cheers” or “noroc “… Good to know…

I am not ready to settle. I don’t want to settle. Not yet. Even at 30, there are still people traveling. Exploring. Learning. Experiencing. I am still young yet. Not as young as most people I’ve met, but there are plenty of people in their 30’s and older I’ve met that are still figuring things out. There is magic out there. In the form of people. In the form of experiences. In the form of nights and days and moonlight and secrets uncovered and discoveries. 

The next day I had to go back to society. I decided to hitchhike. I had a cardboard sign saying “Barsov. Varong!” (Varong is please)Why not. The first car that went by stopped. A young man was at the wheel. He said yes he spoke English then demanded to see how much money I had. I showed him the 12 that I had. He waved me away, “Not enough. Sorry. Bye.” And he rolled up the window and drove off. 

5 minutes later another car stopped. An older man behind the wheel. He spoke little English. But we were able to communicate on and off. He worked as an installer. He had a 6 year old daughter and was going to pick her up in Brasov from her mom’s house and take her back to Targu Mures. He was a sweet old man. He kept saying “I love America!” He gave me a beer and a pack of lemon wafers. I offered to pay him. He waved the money away. I left him with ten anyway. 

The next leg was from Brasov to Bucharest. I found a ride from a couple that spoke little English. They were sweet too. They gave me a bottle of water and set me up in the backseat. I napped most of them he way to Bucharest. They dropped me off at the bus station and I made my way to my Couchsurfers.

People never cease to amaze me. I am a true believer that people are inherently nice and do care for others. 

#bestdayever

Romania…


“Once again… Welcome to my house. Come feely. Go safely; and leave some of the happiness you bring.” ~Bram Stoker, Dracula Sunday September 11, 2016

Day 111

Brașov, Romania 

Romania is absolutely gorgeous. A wild, untamed, dirty, old time, run down kind of beautiful. Charming. It won my over in no time. 

I arrived at 11am after being on a bus since the day before at 3pm. I had restless naps on the bus, but the sunrise riding through Romania was wow. The Transylvania mountains were highlighted in the misty morning light. The little rustic villages we passed by. Wow. A whole different world. 

When I did arrive to Brașov, I was half awake, on little sleep, dropped off at a lonely bus station just outside the city. I had no idea what to do. I had no idea how to get to the city. I had made no reservations for a hostel. I had no idea who how common English was. I wandered into the building. There were 2 tiny shops selling baked goods, cigarettes and booze. I asked them how to get to town. They shook their head, “No English” they replied apologetically. 

I wandered outside. There was a place to buy bus tickets. 

Ok… So maybe this is how to get to town… I looked at the fliers. The boards. All in Romanian. I wandered and sat down on the curb, trying to wake my brain up to figure out what to do.

“Do you need help? Are you lost?” A guy in his young twenties with a thick accent stood there staring at me. 

I looked around, trying to figure out who he was talking to. It took me a minute to realize he was talking to me. 

This beautiful stranger. This kind soul. He helped me buy my ticket, gave me a quick overview of the city as we rode the bus, pointed out a few places to eat and find groceries and other beautiful things about the city and walked me to a hostel. He explained he just was visiting the UK and had gotten lost quite a few times and had turned to strangers for help. He was simply paying the world back a favor. 

The hostel was chill. You got a coupon for a free drink. They give you a map and blah blah blah. It is a welcoming place. When I entered my room, there was a couple in there packing a day bag. Immediately they said they were going to Dracula’s castle and invited me along. I was tempted but decided to stay back and take it easy due to lack of sleep. 

I wandered the streets. Found beautiful scrawlings on the walls. The architecture was intriguing. The city was surrounded by heavily forested hills, one of them with a glaringly white, “Brașov” sign, similar to the “Hollywood” sign in Cali. 


There was a pedestrian, tourist heavy street that ended in a huge, beautiful, spacious square. Just beyond was the Black Church. It was huge. Dark grey, not black. Apparently, there was a fire long ago. But the church was solid stone. The outside didn’t burn, but roof caught fire and caved in and created the biggest oven in Europe. If you look up on one side there’s a statue of a boy. One of the apprentices that helped build the church.. He was so good at what he did that his boss was jealous. He Askedthe boy to make sure the edges of the roof were straight and while the boy was on the edge, leaving down to do as he was told, his boss pushed him down. Off the side of the church. All The way to the ground, the boy fell.He died. But people loved him, and they created a statue in his memory. Forever gazing down at the ground, mid work, at the top of the church. It is the biggest gothic church in Eastern Europe.  


Brașov also boasts the smallest/narrowest street in Eastern Europe (3td narrowest in Europe). A street originally created for firefighters. A shortcut for then, just wide enough for one man and two buckets if water. In English, the translation is Rope street.

Most people come to Brașov to find Dracula. Dracula’s Castle resides nearby. It is also known as Bran’s Castle, as it towers over the village of Bran. The Castle and Village were overcrowded with tourists. It was underwhelming and the 35 it cost to get in was quite a lot considering the little amount of castle you were actually able to explore. The views from the windows were quite stunning though… I can only imagine what it would’ve been like to live there back in the day. Queen Maria decorated it quite nicely. It was cute inside. Not scary at all. One corner of the castle. The top bits had boards about Dracula and Vlad the Impaler (who Dracula was themed after). There was a “secret passage” and lots of twisty, spiraled staircases. Stunning views… and littering the grounds below were all kinds of booths with “authentic Romanian” food, clothes, souvineers, etc. interesting to walk around. 


My favorite was the gardens around the bottom of the castle. No one was there and I felt like it my very own. 


Here’s a short bit in Dracula…Vlad was the son of the ruler and was sent away during his childhood as a hostage. His father joined the secretive “Order of the Dragon”. He was known as Dracul and his son, Vlad, was Vlad Dracula, or son of the Dragon Anyway, growing up, he learned his favorite way of killing people was by impaling them. Basically, you stick a stake up someone’s Anus. But you have to be careful not to hit any major arteries because you wanted your prisoner alive for a few days… A slow death… They even gave their prisoners water to keep them alive, painfully, longer. But, Vlad was still a national hero to many people. He got rid of all the “bad guys”. It didn’t matter how rich or poor they were, if they broke a law, they were dead. It got to the point that even if someone dropped a coin and left it, the coin would still be there in that spot days later. No one picked it up for fear that they would be considered thrives. Anyway, there’s a whole lot more to his story if you are interested, it’s quite fascinating.  

Bran’s castle just happened to be one that most accurately fit the description in the book. Therefore, Bran’s castle became Dracula’s Castle. Dracula, aka Vlad the Impaler, didn’t even live there though. He was held there as a prisoner a few days but that’s about it. 

Peles Castle though. That one was absolutely luxurious. Gorgeous inside and out. I took the bottom level tour and got to see a few rooms. All of then intricately decorated and carved and engraved. Gorgeous shimmering chandeliers. Tall mirrors. All the weapons and armor on display. The castle was wow. It sits up high on a mountain. A village turned ski resort. Definitely worthy of a look. You will NOT be disappointed. 


We also stopped at a fortress with another breathtaking view. Râșnov Citadel. I was way too distracted by the Dino park we walked by. It looked like Jurasdic Park in real life!! There was also a festival going on below the citadel. Children were dressed up in old time, authentic garb and danced and sang Romanian tunes. Sausage grilled on and old grill in the back and beer flowed from spigots. It was quite an experience!!! I’m so happy I happened upon it!! 


Here are a few things I picked up on in the short time I’ve been here: Romanian people I found to be quite nice. Very friendly and warm. They really do the cross on themselves when passing a church. Very religious. Very superstitious. Very family oriented. Apparently they also eat pig skin. The roads are quite bad. Lots of twists. Turns. Potholes. Missing road bits. Pretty cheap to eat and travel. A lot of their food is heavy with garlic (just fine with me❤️)

Tomorrow I head a bit north to a Gypsy camp…. A bit of a top secret, exciting adventure I set up. Everyone I talk to all around the world, especially here in Romania share a dislike of gypsies. I bring the word up and they are already turning up their noses in disgust. I find them intriguing. I want to know what makes them laugh. What makes them sad. Their way of life. I want to discover and share the good that I know these people have. 

More on that in the next couple days ❤️❤️