Nearly two years ago Jake and Jessie Stimpson moved to Bucharest, Romania with their four children. A year ago they talked about their joys and fears moving to a new culture and a location thousands of miles away from family and friends. You can read that interview here. Now, after many more months of living in Romania, they have composed a Top Ten Favorites list. Today Jessie, due to deliver their fifth child any day, discusses her five favorite things about living in Romania. In Part II Jake shares his unconventional list of Top 5 favorite things about Romania.
Romanian culture mystifies me at times. At one moment, I feel not much different than when in the States, but in the very next I can be either completely amazed or totally frustrated. But to focus on the good…Here are my five favorite things about Romania (so far).
1. It is an absolutely beautiful country. On one side you can find Black Sea beaches (some more clean and remote and some more crowded and dirty), but travel a few hours to the center of the country and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a place that looks straight out of The Sound of Music with jagged, snow-capped mountains and valleys filled with wildflowers. We still haven’t made it to see the Danube Delta region, where birds come from all over the world to rest and mate during their long migrations. Nor have I seen the picturesque rolling hills of Maramures with its famous painted wooden churches. There are castles, fields of sunflowers, and forests that I’ve yet to explore. If you look past the ugly apartment blocks in the cities, you find the beauty of Romania.
2. This one is a bit superficial, but I love many of the new foods I’ve discovered here. There are gogosi (Romania’s version of the doughnut) and covrigi (the soft pretzel that can be stuffed with fruit, olives, cheese, chocolate, etc.). And, though it’s technically not Romanian food, I discovered a deep love for saorma (shawarma in English), which is flat bread filled with French fries, specially cooked chicken, cabbage, spicy ketchup, garlic sauce, and pickles. I also love ciorba cu perisoara (meatball soup), mici (Romanian grilled sausages), cremsnit (a creamy dessert in flaky pastry), and all the various street foods you can find everywhere. Maybe it’s because I’m nearly nine months pregnant while writing this, but I really love the food here.
3. Passionate people. Whether it’s about football (the real football—soccer), the public transportation police trying to ticket someone on the bus for not paying correctly, the corrupt politics, or being proud of their Romanian Orthodoxy, people here are passionate. You will hear two guys having a conversation and think they’re arguing, or someone getting really vehement sounding on their cell phone and feel a little nervous, but people just get passionate in the midst of conversation. I like it.
4. The laid-back approach to schedules. Okay, this is one that is equally frustrating and likeable to me. On the one hand, I like people sticking to their word, being punctual, and keeping appointments. On the other hand, I like the freedom of being able to be late (being pregnant and having four other children, this is bound to happen) and know that I won’t offend anyone. I like not stressing about returning phone calls immediately. I like taking my time and not feeling rushed, because everyone else is having the same attitude.
5. I really admire the loyalty of friends here. Many have told us that it is difficult to make friends with someone; you have to earn their trust and overcome suspicions, etc. But once you are good friends with someone, they will stick with you through thick and thin, and will likely be a lifelong friend. In America, people seem to quickly make and drop “friends” like it was nothing, but friendship is a serious business here. Even though we’re still outsiders, being American, we have friends that showed up at our apartment within a couple of hours to help us move at a last minute’s notice. We had one friend leave his meal with friends to travel all the way across town to help translate for us and our landlord. I could go on and on. Definitely good to have friends like this when so far from home.