Week 2: First time volunteering
Wednesday 16 August
The second week of my journey has just passed and I would like to share some experiences and moments with you again. After almost a whole week of wandering around Romania, looking for a wi-fi connection and searching for a host, I finally found some peace and quiet. It’s been a week of my first volunteering, and If I shall summarize it in a few words, before I arrived I had had quite weird, mixed feelings and can’t say I felt too happy about the place and the circumstances, but in the end, in a way, I got attached to this place and, believe it or not, now it doesn’t feel so easy to leave.
Don’t expect anything, be open to everything
Especially when you go for something new, you always have some expectations. Even if you say you don’t expect anything, you always, at least a bit, wish and want things to work out in a certain way. It’s true that I tried not to have any expectations in terms of what I can learn, gain, experience, what it can bring me, but my one and only intention to go to Romania was to get some peace and quiet, relax as much as possible, take a rest from anything else happening in my life, people, rush, and last but not least computers. So I thought there was no better way to do it than to find a quiet place in the nature, somewhere in the mountains ideally, spend part of a day helping manually at a farm, household, in the garden, or something similar, and enjoy the rest of the day relaxing in close touch with the nature. I wanted to find such a place and stay there for a month at least, or even two. This didn’t happen, though. You know, life is hardly ever as you’ve planned, but if you are open, flexible and adaptable, it doesn’t mean that it works bad for you. I’ve contacted a couple of hosts, but either they didn’t answer at all, or they couldn’t accept me. I was already in Romania, but didn’t know where I was going to be the next day…
Yes, I can say the first week was a bit too much adventurous and spontaneous, and rather tiring for me, but I don’t regret at all. I’ve seen lots of new places, met new people and experienced some adventure. And all in all, it actually didn’t cost me that much money.
My first volunteering experience
Anyway, I wrote about my adventures in the previous post, now I want to tell you a couple of words about my experiences from the second week. It’s been a week of my first volunteering experience. I have to say that I really enjoyed it and got used to this place, and it’s not going to be so easy to leave.
I’ve spent some 10 days here in Hosman, a village located 25 km east of Sibiu. I’m going to leave tomorrow and move on a bit again. I’ve been helping Gabriel and the family at their handmade roof tiles kiln.
And what does my typical day look like and what do I actually do then? I make my breakfast at 9 am, enjoy eating it outside in the garden with all the animals, mainly dogs, around and go help with whatever is needed. After the noon, usually quite late, I prepare my lunch, take a short rest and continue helping for like 2 hours. My official volunteering help is around 5 hours a day. After we finish I’m free and have time for myself, and I can rest and enjoy the quiet accompanied by Gipsy music coming from the village 😀 Or just go on some hike around. In the evening we eat dinner together and chat. Before I go to sleep I enjoy my time sitting on the terrace of my cabin/hut watching stars and petting dogs. It gets a bit cold at nights, though. My new dog friend Luisa always comes to defend me from the crazy guard dog they have or anything else 🙂 By the way, they also have one dog, who is totally obsessed with food. Food is her whole life. I was warned the very first day about her, but of course, the next morning I didn’t close my door properly and came back just after like 30 minutes and the door was fully open, the door of my fridge was fully open, everything was out, and my quinoa salad was eaten. You greedy dog!
As mentioned, Gabriel is running his own roof tiles and bricks kiln, a small manufacture where the tiles and bricks are produced hand made, thus in the best quality. It’s really nice and interesting to learn something new and different from online marketing and the digital world as such. And it’s also great to see that there are still people who do what they do to keep the tradition. The whole production process is, perhaps surprisingly, not so complicated, but it’s all a very hard work with lack of human resources for such kinds of work, in such areas. But I would like to write more about all that later.
I’ve been helping with various tasks related to the kiln. For two days we were carrying burnt, ready bricks out of the oven and stocking them on pallets to be ready when a customer comes, one day I could experience how to load such bricks directly onto the customer’s car, and also how all these villagers cooperate and help each other regarding transportation, delivering, unloading etc. We also went to another village to deliver tiles, and visited another kiln in this part of Transylvania. From Saturday, I’ve also had a companion and teammate (greetings to Sofia :-)), another Workaway volunteer from the UK, so I’ve also tried out how a teamwork in a roof tile kiln works, taking, carrying and stocking the tiles.
Very basic, but cosy place to sleep
For a few first days I was staying at sort of a garden cabin. Very basic indeed, but if you get used to hundreds of annoying flies, a couple of spider webs and gigantic ants building a highway behind your fridge, it’s actually quite cosy. On the weekend, however, I left the cabin to the new volunteer and moved to a more than hundred years old hut, an old traditional Romanian wooden house from the Maramures area, which my host saved from being burnt down. This house is even more basic, just a bed and a table 😀 And a temporary light. But it keeps such a nice temperature even during these hot days! And so quiet, no stupid flies or mosquitos! I like it.
One day trip to Medias
I was free from work on the weekend, so I decided to go on a trip to Medias – another medieval town (yeah, there are really many in Romania) in the neighborhood. Of course, as I already got used to it here in Romania, even though Medias is actually pretty close to Hosman, without a car, using the public transport is, as usual, quite challenging, and since it’s a weekend, it becomes even more complicated. But I’ve decided to get there anyhow.
I’m leaving the house in the morning at 10:30, there should be a bus from Hosman to Sibiu at 11 o’clock, so I have some 20 minutes to stop someone, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll take the bus. I’m heading to the bus stop, which is at the road leading to Sibiu, just outside the village. It’s 10:40 and as I walk the street towards the bus stop, I see a bus passing by without stopping. Hmm, okay….so hitch-hiking today again 😀 Well, I would understand 5-10 minutes, but 20 minutes earlier? I mean, why do we have a timetable, right? Well, it doesn’t surprise me at all, on the other hand….
I stand at the bus stop for like 15 minutes, it’s a Saturday so the traffic is not that big, but there is no bus anyway, so I just need to be patient. Then, someone finally stops. Looks like it’s a car with Gipsies going to the city for some shopping. Now I’m a bit afraid, You know, I would never do this in my country, but they look quite peaceful, so I get in the car. For like a half of the ride, everyone is staring at me like meeting a random Czech volunteering hitch-hiker is their best life experience 🙂 When we arrive at a petrol station in Sibiu, we all get out of the car and I realize this Gipsy family didn’t belong to the driver, but they were just other hitch-hikers going to do some shopping.
So I made it to Sibiu, but “surprisingly” the next bus to Mediaș leaves in two hours, at 13:30. And the last one back leaving Medias at 4 o’clock, so if I wait for the bus, there actually won’t be enough time to see the city. So…hitch-hiking it is again. I’m walking through the city center to the other side, to the intersection with the road connecting Sibiu and Mediaș. I’m sure I’ve found the local spot for hitch-hiking when I see like 10 people with full shopping bags aligned along the road, with their thumbs up. And they say hitch-hiking is officially forbidden? 🙂 Hmm, okay, I obviously can’t fit in between them, but there is a bridge and if I cross it, I will definitely get to the perfect spot for Medias and get rid of the competition.
After a few minutes a car stops and I get a lift. Another crazy driver speeding through every village, but I’m finally brought to a shopping mall, in the suburb of Mediaș. I get out of the car, but so does the guy asking me in Romanian-German-Hands-And-Legs language to pay for the ride. Oh, now I remember first time I was her I was told that in Romania you usually pay for a lift, but since it has never happened to me before in fact, I forgot. But the guy is not that nice and he could also have told me in advance, couldn’t he? I give hime a few Lei, and letting him complain behind my back I leave for the bus stop to get to the center. I’m lucky because the bus arrives in a few minutes. Of course, no ticket machine, I don’t even ask the diver because they don’t usually have the tickets available with them, I just got without, whatever.
The city center of Mediaș is bordered by a wall, yeah, a typical medieval town, just as mentioned. It’s very nice, but actually quite small. I may even manage to catch the last bus back then. But I don’t want to rush again, so in the end I opt for walking throughout the city properly and stoping a car to get back to Sibiu later. I will share more about the city later on my website.
I didn’t need more than two hours to walk around and see the city quite well. Now I’m slowly heading back thinking…should I take a bus back to the Kaufland, it’s outside the city already, it may be easier to hitch-hike from there. Let’s see, there should be a bus coming at this time. Two minutes, three minutes. I don’t see any bus. Ah, screwed this public transport here, let’s stop someone. There is a competitor, of course, like at any spot by the road going out of the town, but I believe that I look more trusty with my backpack and a sign of Sibiu. Yeah, two cars pass but the third is stopping next to me. Two very nice people, even trying to converse with me in English. This time I don’t have to pay, the guy even tells me himself, and I’m brought all the way back to Sibiu. Alright, enough of hitch-hiking for today, this time I alerady take the bus to Hosman, on which I actually bump into the other new volunteer going by the same bus.
Not that easy to leave
Though I wasn’t too psyched about coming here, now I feel like I would even stay here longer. The Hosman village is not really in the mountains, but it’s surrounded by hills from all the sides, and if you look apart from the noisy gipsies in the village and their wild music, it’s actually also a quiet place, in a way. And the view of the idyllic village with the Fagaras mountains in the background, from the hill just behind the road outside the village is absolutely stunning! And I’m definitely gonna miss the dogs (well, yes, also the greedy one :-)), but mainly Luisa – the nicest dog I’ve ever met, who would always stay all night long protecting me in front of my door!
The Lesson I’ve learnt – My Message to You
Naturally, there were many questions in my mind before I came to this place. Will that place be that quiet? Where will I sleep, won’t that be too cold/hot? Won’t that be too natural to me, like sleeping on planks surrounded by ants, bugs, mosquitos or so? Won’t the host be an idiot using me as a slave? What will I eat there on my diet? And, of course, many many others….this is how your brain just makes your life much harder. But I came to Romania with only one intention – to find more quiet and relax as much as possible, and with one belief – no matter what comes and happens, I won’t think about it, try not to get disappointed if things don’t work the way I wish, and will always follow and accept what my life brings me, no matter how it looks like at the moment. And this is the most important message I want to share with you and hope it will help many of you in the future.
It was only one week, two weeks on the road in total, but I’ve learnt a lot already. I learnt about new places, I learnt about the village life in Romania, I learn about the whole process of production of root tiles and brick, from searching for clay, looking for people to help, to looking for customers and delivering the products to them. But the biggest lesson this adventure has given me can simply be expressed in a few words: “BEST CAN BE DECEIVING”. And this is what I will try to keep in mind whenever things don’t seem to work the way I wish. I know many of you now think I’m in a philosophical mood here, because I have time to think :), but think about it for a while….How many times in your life you liked something and you wanted it so badly? Remember the last time run into a good looking job offer, nice guy/girl, a place. Anything. Remember the last time you really looked forward to something. It’s happening in everyone’s life all the time. Now remember how you felt when you really got that? Be honest with yourself, was the feeling really that good? I’m sure in most cases you felt much better and more excited before it actually became reality.
If this feels confusing to you, think the other way around. How many times in your life you didn’t look to something at all, probably an event, new place, meeting someone, anything. Now try to remember how many times it was eventually that bad? Based on my own experience, I’m sure in most of the cases not only it wasn’t as bad as expected, but you were actually glad that it happened, that you participated, that you were there.
Have you ever felt sad about not being hired for your “dream job” and later you heard from someone how it sucked there and how much the employees hated it? Have you ever found your “dream partner” and later you met a friend of a friend who told you they were the most hated person in the town with debts and a few criminal records (for example:-´))? Have you ever felt sad about missing a “great” last minute deal for an apartment by the sea, and later you ran into some of your friends telling you they took the last minute offer but left the vacation earlier because the accommodation was terrible, while you felt bad about having to pay a bit more from your pocket, but came back happy, psyched with lots of experiences, or even a life change?
Alright, let’s keep it simply. How many times in your life the option you wanted to go for so badly didn’t worked out and you had to make a peace with that and accept an alternative, and in the end you told yourself I’m actually glad that it went this way?
Best is deceiving. Sometimes it may be difficult to see it (at first sign), but bear this in mind and things will finally work for you 😉
Moving on to new adventures
Now I’ve found sort of a last minute host, and again I’m going to this place basically because I have no other option anyway, which, however, has also its good side because then you have nothing to think about. Frankly speaking, I don’t really feel like going there. Although this place wasn’t perfect, I got used to it and there are things I’m definitely going to miss. Feeling a bit disappointed that the other places I liked didn’t work out, now I have to wander again with my backpacks, climb to the mountains and that do work which seems too tough to me. But I’m going to stick to what I just said. Best can be deceiving, let’s respect and accept what you get and you will see. You don’t know the reality.
I’m leaving tomorrow for Balea Lake and the Transfagarasan road, a stunning place I wanted to visit two years ago but then gave up due to bad weather. After that I plan to stay for two nights in Brasov and head to my next host in Magura in the Piatra Craiului.
Talk to you soon again!