Friday, September 18, 2009

Vânători-Neamţ - Eyes Wide Open

Ever see those late night commercials asking you to donate "only ten cents a day" to help feed and clothe children in desperate circumstances? 

Yeah, I was there.

The place is a Roma Village in Vânători-Neamţ, Romania. It's located somewhere between Comanesti and Hell on Earth.

Our Office Staff made the journey to volunteer here for a day to help build Habitat Houses for this disparaged community who's members live in absolute filth and squalor. During my stay I realized that if you don't immediately numb yourself to your surroundings, you're going to become engulfed with heartbreaking emotion. Now, instead of describing this place in great detail and reliving all these intense emotions, I've decided to just share a few photos instead.

A place like this really reminds you just how lucky you really are.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

The ever popular Comanesti City Daze Festival is where I stake my claim

Fantastic food, delectable drinks and magical music abound

Thousands upon thousands gather in the middle of nature just to “get down”

Did I mention this festival is seen only once a year in this town?


The night is young, the vibe is sweet, the beer flows like wine

The air is crisp, the music is rich and everyone is having the best time

Obligated to entertain volunteers from all over the world, making sure they have fun

We share a few drinks, things get a little crazy and our night has only just begun

With all the songs we're singin and all the fun we're havin- it’s hard to ask for more

But little did we know, we’d be part of the show

We simply have no idea what’s in store

Invited on stage by the Mayor himself- oh what a nice guy

Our group attempts to help sing the final festival song before the fireworks take to the sky

When, much to my disbelief the mayor’s face turns in utter disgust

I start to move my dancing feet with the beat

And as I enter the front of the stage- as the mayor becomes so enraged

this is no story, do trust..

25,000 strong go absolutely wild, oh what a sight!

Everyone's screaming, laughing and cheering with such delight

Oh, I really can’t believe what I did that night

Now as I walk through the town, many people know me and everyone waves, saying "hi"

Hey! I know you, I’ve seen you, you’re that crazy ass dancing American guy..

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm Not Dead I Swear..

Just busy as hell..

I've accomplished an unspeakable amount this past month in which this blog has been neglected..

Here's a taste:

-Hosting a Global Village Team of eleven wonderful people from Northern Ireland for a couple of weeks. We worked hard and played even harder. Too much fun!

-Running 3-4 miles with stray dogs and chickens every morning at the Comanesti Soccer Stadium

-Making appearances at several BBQ's in gorgeous settings

-Volunteering at the local orphanage

-Washing several loads of laundry in my bathtub.. hey, at least it's not the river!!

-Visiting several Habitat Affiliates all over Romania to help solve problems and increase efficiency.. all while seeing more of this amazing country than most people ever do

-Meeting and making new and exciting friends, including the Richest guy in Moldavia.. He lives in a house equivalent to the Romanian Playboy Mansion repleat with a huge pool, 2 helicopters (isn't 1 enough?) and tons of other toys.. not exactly sure what he does but pretty sure it's illegal

-Taking lots of Romanian Language Lessons

-Frequenting the Disco, Club 69, until the unfortunate and fatal stabbing incident last weekend.. yikes

-Booking a trips to Greece, Poland and Serbia

-Visiting the homes of several Habitat Candidates to help in the selection process and to see just how awful some living situations can be

-Playing tons of tennis on the town's only clay court with my friend Bogdan.. a college student from Bucharest living in Comanesti this summer.. ranked 23rd in all of Romania two years ago.. he's got one hell of a swing.. We pay the purveyor in cheap jugs of beer and he lets us play as long as we want

-Pushing our construction team to get on schedule after being over 1 week behind.. we want these families moved in by x-mas!!

-Experiencing some of the most memorable and touching moments of my entire life.......

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gorgeous Woman Asks for MY Number Today..

Ha! That's right! There's a first time for everything I guess..

Today, I went to our "farmer's market" to buy some vegetables to make chorba- a delectable, Eurasian tomato-based soup. I had almost procured everything on my list when I happened upon this breathtaking, knock-out, slap-me-in-the-face perfect 10 and she's selling peppers.
I mean, this woman was absolutely stunning.
Our eyes meet, we exchange smiles and I grab a couple of her peppers. I hold them up and ask, "Cât Costă"(how much)? After making my purchase I proceeded to make my exit, kicking myself for not knowing more of the Romanian Language... I really wanted to talk to this lady. She stops me and proceeds to ramble on unintelligibly. She asks me if I know the language, I say no.
Her English is terrible.
She motions to this guy to come over- apparently to translate. He approaches and asks, României? Française? Español? Having known some Spanish, I chose the latter. So we start communicating in Español for the next several minutes! He translates everything this lady asks. I tell them about myself, why I'm here, my interests, etc. He translates everything into Romanian for her and she seems quite interested. She asks for my number and I give it to her with little hesitation. I leave the market with the biggest smile on my face.

But now I sit here wondering- how in the hell are we going to talk on the phone?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Life in Mexico...

..The Mexico of Europe that is.

Wow, what can I say? I wanted to travel somewhere off the beaten path and sure enough, I find myself here in Comăneşti, Romania (pronounced co-man-esht) working for Habitat for Humanity International.

My role is planning/managing the construction of several different apartment complexes located in the nearby town of Lucasesti.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Two words.

Language Barrier.

I mean, it takes 10 mintues to order a cup of coffee in the morning and I am supposed to help manage several construction sites all day?

Three Words.

Sink or Swim.