Right now I am doing exactly what my thoughts over the past hour were telling me not to do. I'm sitting in a relatively dark room with my eyes attached to a screen.
Summer has arrived in the Jiu Valley and I spent the majority of the day taking part in what Dom Ilea considers Romania's national sport, a face plaja (to lay in the sun). I decided to couple the inactivity of laying in the sun with a hike to make for a tiring yet memorable Saturday. In my bag I had all necessities, water, sun screen, a book, a towel, a knife, tomatoes, cheese, and cucumbers.
The hike from Petrosani to Petrila was a rather quick hike as stopped only to pick a couple of flowers and to take a couple of pictures. It started on the road next to my block which points straight up hill. A path cuts off the road up to Lake Stiut where there were many people of all ages swimming and laying in the sun. From there the path continued strait up the hill to an old building which controls buckets which bring stone from the mine to dumping sites outside of Petrila. The dirt road from there passes by the Petrila garbage dump site and continues down to the Jiu East where we laid out in the sun listening to the water flowing and children playing.
Over the past few weeks I have reached a point in my service where I feel integrated in my community. I know that there are a lot more things I can do to be better integrated but overall I feel comfortable here and I'm starting to feel like Petrosani is my home. Integration was by far my biggest fear as my group and I prepared to leave the comfort of our American friends in PST to arrive in foreign communities. As the weather has gotten warmer the sun has been shedding light on this city helping me to not only see the beauty that lies around me but also how I have viewed my life here in Petrosani. Rarely a day goes by that I don't appreciate this beautiful part of the world and the part I play here.
I've been on a bit of a country fix lately and John Denver's Country Roads has been one of the songs involved. I had a country roads experience on my way home from Petrila today. Flowers, fields, hills, grass, water, and dirt roads only minutes from my block took me back years. I heard the sound of crickets chirping and birds singing rather than the sound of wheels on ashpalt and the muffled sound of car exhaust. I saw yellows and pinks from flowers and green from the grass rather than the brick and cement from the blocks and city sidewalks. I felt the crumbling of rocks and dirt under my feet rather than the cigarette butts and plastic bottles kicking around. The beating sun combined with a light breeze to bring a sensation of freedom to any exposed part of my body. Simply going for a walk I realized that I was reliving some adventures of my early childhood. I remembered the few days spent at Uncle Bernard's farm or the trails through the woods behind Grandma and Grandpa's house. As in John Denver's hit single, today country roads took me home.