Wednesday 17 July 2013

Watch Out For The Horses

So it's only kind of funny that right after we posted about how awesome the WiFi is here that the Internet was down for 24 hours!! We're back up and running again and we've been keeping pretty busy and have lots to update you on.

The staff and volunteers for the teen camp (Tinerii Exploratori) arrived yesterday and all of a sudden PDF is bustling again. We've really enjoyed the quietness during this past week and we're a little sad to be losing some of our privacy for the next week (we're sharing 'public' bathrooms with several other people now). The Max Bike camp ends tomorrow morning and the teen camp begins tomorrow afternoon, so there really is no break in between the programs. We're hoping to be able to get away for one day soon just to have a day off as a family and visit some interesting places in the surrounding area like the Bran Castle (it's the one known as Dracula's castle).

This week Jerry has been extremely busy with the Max Bike camp: they've had one 3-hour block of free time all week and instead of writing a blog post, we decided to take a nap (a decision we definitely don't regret)! The bikers were away all day Tuesday and Wednesday on a multi-day bike tour and have had shorter day-long rides on every other day this week. They are leaving for their last ride as I write this. 

In order for the group to begin their bike tour on Tuesday, we had to drive them about an hour away from here to their starting point. I was appointed one of the drivers, which made me a little nervous, but I took comfort in the fact that it would only be a "quick little drive" as one of the Romanian leaders informed me. I should have known that this comment is akin to an Austrian person saying we're going on a "little hike" when what they're really talking about is climbing an entire mountain for hours and hours. It was certainly not a quick little drive... We drove the group several valleys away over crazy mountain roads and through quaint little villages at a speed I'm definitely not used to driving (especially over roads in the condition these were). Another complicating factor of the drive was all the horses on the roads. Many people here still use horses and carts, especially in remote areas, so dodging these while driving certainly makes the trip interesting. Romanians are also known for being a little crazy (maybe daring is a better word) behind the wheel, so dealing with all the high-speed passing and weaving in and out of oncoming traffic was interesting as well.

Andy (Ebbe and Elke's son) and Deborah hopped right in the back with Miriam when we were about to leave! I was fortunate enough to be able to drive the little Skoda instead of one of the big vans:

A good shot of the 6km gravel road between PDF and R√Ęsnov:

To give you an idea of the area and the roads (unfortunately we don't have many pictures of the worst parts since Jerry was too busy talking me through the drive to snap photos):

This week Miriam and I also got to go help with the shopping for the kitchen. We went to Metro, a Costco-like grocery store here and helped Elke buy the groceries for the week. It was fun trying to read labels and signs in Romanian and there were many words I recognized because of the Romanian language's connection to Spanish, French and even German. 
For example:
Carne = meat
Lapte = milk
Legume = vegetables
Fruct = fruit
Apa = water
There are so many cognates of these languages in Romanian which is very helpful when reading the language but it doesn't help a lot when listening to a Romanian person speak. Romanians speak SO fast...faster than many other languages I've heard and so it is very difficult to recognize familiar vocabulary words when listening to someone speak. We're trying though, and it is getting a little easier every day. Fortunately, the non-Romanian staff here speak Romanian a little more slowly so it's easier to understand.

Yesterday the group did the ropes course here at PDF. It seemed to be a great (and some what terrifying) experience - Miriam and I watched from the ground and took photos:

The participants make their way from platform to platform embarking on various challenges and eventually end at a zip line though the forest. Eric, the only other North American here, is in charge of the ropes course.

The participants are briefed and fitted with equipment before going up:

Ebbe at the beginning of the course:

Our friend Elvis doing the first part with his eyes closed:

Costi, one of the leaders:

Other parts of the course:

Jerry going through the course:

Jerry and Jonathan, Ebbe and Elke's oldest son:

In the afternoon yesterday the bike group did a timed obstacle course. Miriam and I watched (and cheered) and Jerry came in second!

After the group was finished, we let Miriam take the obstacle course for a spin:

She totally rocked it.

Other than tagging along with the bike group when they're doing non-bike things, Miriam and I have been spending time with the other volunteers here: Lisa (from Germany) and Bianca (from Bucharest) are volunteers here to help with housekeeping and so I try to help them out when Miriam is napping. During their off times we often sit outside in the shade and we even went swimming this week in the swimming hole that was built here this year, even though it's full of frogs and tadpoles. Miriam really enjoyed pointing at all the little creatures in the water and even tried to grab at the frogs.

It's just about time for lunch here, so we'll try to post again soon!

PS: for anyone who wants some European chocolate (or anything else for that matter), give us your order soon!


  1. Your posts are so interesting to read, thank you! It looks like they've done an amazing job with this place, I've never seen a ropes course like that! Crazy heights! Also, very impressed with the kind of drive you did :) So thankful for the connections you're making and the influence God is giving you there...what a great adventure God has taken you on!


  2. Looks like a ton of fun!!! Hope you guys are enjoying the experience!!

    - Christine & Justan