Monday, April 16, 2007

Romania I: Cornu

We arrived in Romania on Monday, surprised to find sun and warmth—a relief after the cold rainy days in southern Spain. Vlad, Andrew’s Romanian friend from business school, met us at the airport; some time later, three Spanish friends arrived as well.

Vlad’s parents welcomed us to the family’s country home in Cornu (about an hour outside of Bucharest) with tuica—a traditional, fiery liquor, homemade from the plums and apples grown in the backyard, served from a label-less plastic Coke bottle. We were given homemade wine—to me, as rough as the liquor—and hard-boiled eggs that had been dyed for Easter. We cracked the shells by hitting two eggs together, saying (in Romanian) “Christ is risen.” Then on to the meal—a local cheese and fresh, sweet tomatoes; spinach and lamb spread; lamb soup; lamb steaks; spinach with lamb. Vlad’s parents couldn’t have been more hospitable; this is the third group from Andrew’s school to make this visit to Romania, and they seemed so pleased to have us in their home, and in their country.

Cornu is more village than town, a place where many well-off Romanians have their country homes. There isn’t much to do; but we took a walk, seeing some pretty churches and houses, as well as a “horse-drawn cart crossing” sign with an illustration that could have been from the Wild West. In every backyard were grapevines, and lots of plum and apple trees; one backyard was full of heavy cooler-like boxes—bees. There were chickens in some yards, and dogs everywhere.

At night, we watched a television station showing only homemade music videos—tremendously poor quality, with lots of scantily clad women idly dancing. In many videos, men tossed money—literally threw bills into the air. The songs dealt mainly with money and status, and one was even titled (in Romanian) “Dollars, Euros, Pounds.” Vlad said this is the Gypsy music station, and that the Gypsy singers are often paid huge sums to sing at Romanian weddings. We even saw a video with the Gypsy who, Vlad said, started this kind of music—a midget who calls himself Adrian the Wonder Boy. It was all very strange, and captivating.

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