Finally, some time to think, a minute to process the whirlwind that the past few days have been. We are still in Romania on the road to Constanta in a white mini van, and I am ready for this 3-hour drive. Outside it is gray and foggy, snow flurries are just beginning and my mind races with Images of what we’ve seen and where we’ve been trying to make sense of it all, trying to put it in chronological order, as our beautiful memories of deliciously colorful Morocco, the blue doors of Tunisia and Istanbul’s luminous Bosporus sit at a distance and are barely visible though Romania’s thick fog. Yesterday, we visited a small town, there, the youth and children smiled and laughed in spite of the situation of their finances. There the children created beautiful art, amazing sculptures and painting, colorful painting uplifting the air around them while the fog lay low and heavy on the ground outside the door. After our Lecture Demonstration and workshop, the youth performed a short program they had prepared for us. It included beautiful Romanian folk songs and gorgeous choral Christian and even Jewish pieces angelically sung. The gift was greatly appreciated; as it was the first performance gift anyone has ever given us.
After that, we were driven to an old winery, high up on a hill but in order to get there, I had to witness (The guys fell asleep) tall oil towers pumping up oil from beneath vineyards, cause here, in Romania Oil and Wine do mix ☹. Our gracious host “ I’ll call him Mister Baker” Treated us to a tour around this “wine House”, and this is how it went. Outside, the place was mystical, if I were to sit out there and write, I’d imaging fairies and goblins. As we entered, the lights were off, no one there to greet us a ghost of a restaurant and we proceeded to walk through. As we crossed the entrance a hall and into a dark room, our host flick the switch and to my surprise, some people were sitting in a corner watching TV, but in the dark. A woman, who turned out to be our waitress, emerges fully dressed in uniform as if prepared to serve. She shows us a small room with some wine bottles and barrels and then brings us room to room, through the facility until we find the one room with any heat in it, a “Game Room”. Light switch goes on and the walls are covered with bear and deer skins o the floor a bar skin with nose in tact, taxidermy is the name of the moment as the beauty of Peacock and falcon adorn the perimeter of the room. The chairs and seats are dressed in white and red satin while the wall bleeds a mint green. The drink suggestion is the house specialty is boiled wine with cinnamon and sugar. We accept. They bring us brown mugs pregnant with the drink and we drink, but the mystery inside our mugs, inside this room and in our location makes our minds go wild. We don’t tell each other what we are thinking but our glances tell it all.
On the 40 minute drive, our hostess “ I’ll call her Rux” told us that she hates the fact that tourists associate Romania with Bram Stocker’s Dracula, and although Ninja brought up “the fact” that we knew a bit more than that, that we knew the history of Vlad the Inpaler, she spoke as if we were guilty of the stereotype and ready to run a stake through the heart of Romania, a sad assumption. However, we proceeded to try to enjoy Romania with it’s rich history, it’s fascinating fairytales and it’s beautiful children. We tired, but every moment she reminded us that she hated Romania, that she loved the US, but hated its gluttonous culture. Hated her birthplace and loving a land where she could hate the fattest people in the world.
So back to the game room, we drink our delicious boiled wine, infused with the blood of Romania, laugh at ourselves for seeing the source of Brahm Stoker’s nightmares in her eyes and proceeded to enjoy the air out here in spite of her blood thirsty smell, (Puns intended throughout). In spite of my discomfort, I must give her credit, ’cause I can never fully understand what it means to have grown up in a communist country. I hope she can one day love her country again.
I thought for a moment I should exclude these details but I want our blog to remain honest and true to what we are feeling at the moment.
So, we continued to try to love the land we are in but on the way back to town, we had a little car accident, no worries, no one was hurt, but this is the second time on this trip that we get into a fender bender, so I suggested we double check our seatbelts for safety. The odds were against us. If not for our Friends Mister Baker and Lucian, the theater director from our little Romanian town with thick fog and colorful children, it would have all been lost.
We then went to the performance space, which our Romanian friend Lucian had painstakingly decorated, before our arrival, bringing soft goods and flats from his own theater to dress up the occasion. Our sound guy was great, the promotion was abundant, the house was packed, the Mayor was present the performance was tight and the youth filled our hearts once more. As if that were not enough, our friend Mister Baker took us to “club steel” where were hosted for dinner and dance. The fish was great and so was the ambiance. Gamal was the gust DJ for the night and celebrated a successful day of great music and new friends. The perfect way to end a day and on went on a 40 minute drive back to Bucharest.
We arrived too early for the workshop, and although the school seemed totally unprepared to greet us, and it seemed they had no even arranged for student to join us, they pulled together quickly and the workshop was great. “Rux” kept telling us that they would not participate that the students were not exposed to interactive events and so we got ready for that. But to our surprise, this group was more present and prepared for interaction than some of the groups we’ve had in the states. The snag, stomped, clapped and embraced the Universes aesthetic with lightning speed. They also shared a program with us as their piano teacher played and they sang Ray Charles’ “Georgia”, in Bucharest ☺. The kids were great and our hearts were filled again.
Later on we went to club green hours for a mic check, but the room was full of customers and we had to return to our rooms and come back later. When we came back for mic check, we immediately understood the challenge before us. First the room was covered in steel and metal, it was shaped like a tunnel and no acoustically suitable for an acapella group. But hey, on we went. The house drizzled in and we gave our all in spite of the fact that we were performing in a tin can with a room full of lovers on Valentines day who only wanted to look into each others eyes and talk to each other while we played the background, but sometimes that’s how it is, and on to the next. Which brings me back to this moment, we are closer to Constanta now, and I am optimistic that we will enjoy some part of it as well. I’m sure the youth will carry the weight of the town as they have done in other towns thus far and the Black Sea will be kind to us. At least I hope. Will let you know from there. We miss you New York.