Monday, January 16, 2012
I am currently updating my blog from somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Romania. Clearly this won’t get posted until we finally get somewhere with a high speed internet connection (please, please, please have high speed wifi, hotel), but I’m working on it! I’m trying not to get bus sick as this is the most twisty-turney, up and down drive I’ve experienced, since Romania doesn’t have highways. I’d also like to add that as of time of typing, we are in our 15th hour of our drive. We’ve only gotten semi lost twice which is an accomplishment for us…. WOW. I literally just typed that as our bus came to another dead end area. hahahaha. So make that 3 semi lost stops.
I have our individual guesstimated times of arrivals for about half our team to see who wins. We hadn’t quite decided the stakes, but it was something along the lines of a few euro, a drink, or some chocolate for the winner.
So we are headed to Bacau, Romania for a CEV match. And Romania becomes the 6th country I’ve played in now. Since my team plays in the Middle Europen Zone Volleyball League, we head to a few different eastern European countries for matches. We’ve played in Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary, and Bosnia. I for one am quite proud of all the stamps I keep adding to my passport!
However, traveling to many other places has also made me realize how fortunate I am to be from a well developed, thriving country. Now, I can’t say I am an expert on any of these places, as most of what I’ve seen is a few hours of scenery from a bus window, the inside of a restaurant, and the inside of a gym for each location. If we’re lucky, the team has taken a stroll through a town/city area before the match just to loosen up our legs and move around before we have to get serious.
But seeing some of these countries is a very eye opening experience. Literally having miles and miles (kilometers and kilometers) of nothing. There often is a big stretch of plain expanse and then we’ll drive through what some call ‘a village’- just a really small town- and then be back in nothingness. The houses and buildings are old and small. Sometimes they are just outright falling apart. Everything feels dated. It probably doesn’t help that most days we travel are overcast and dreary, but even a sunny day couldn’t hide the state in which some areas are in.
The highways- if there are any (none in Romania and few in Bosnia) don’t have lots of exits with shopping and fast food available. There will be a few rest stops and maybe some gas stations here and there, but nothing like the development we’re used to in America. No hotels or motels. No chains of restaurants or lodging that you could be familiar with. It’s a very different world.
Seeing some of these countries that look like the belong in the 1930s, or that looks like a bomb went off and people didn’t think to clean up or rebuild after it, it can really add some perspective to life. I’ve mentioned this before, but daily I am reminded how thankful I am to be from America. Now, we’re not perfect, and our country along with many others are going through and will continue to go through different types of struggles, but I am fortunate to have lived in a well developed, prosperous country.
(At the end of this post- it is now 12:08 am, 16th hour of driving…. no end in sight)
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20 full hours on the bus later, we made it to our hotel. NO ONE expected it to be that long. The trip was longer than longer than all of us had guessed. The measly 1:30 am guessed ETA is now scoffed at. Unfortunately we have to do it all again in about 36 hours. I consider this cruel and unusual punishment.
Anyway, we also took a walk around the are of Bacau and I took some pictures to show you. Here are some observations to go along with them-
-In addition to not having highways here, they also don’t have stop lights, even though these are pretty busy streets. Crossing he street was scary.
-The buildings, if you just look at the first floor, all seem relatively normal. It’s the second you look at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on stories that the buildings seem to be falling apart.
-If it was sunny out and during the summer where the trees actually had leaves on them, it would not look so bad.
-The random piling up of building supplies and trash is so strange to me.
-I am SO grateful that most clothing stores now only use mannequins without heads. In the stores here, as well as in Bosnia, the mannequins all had the creepiest heads with strange faces and even worse clothing. Thank you to whoever realized that was strange.
-At lunch, they had pitcher waters on the table for us. I poured it into my glass and then was informed to pour it back. It’s not safe to drink the tap water here.
-According to Wikipedia, Bacau has a population of around 177,000 and is the 12th largest city in Romania. Just for some perspective.