A Travellerspoint blog

Reflecting on the Week

Through lots of pictures!

It's hard to believe last Saturday, we were saying goodbye to our work site in Beius and heading to the Bear Caves and Ana's house for a BBQ. In going through all the pictures, I have come up with some of the greats that will sum up our time in Beius:

We started off on Monday morning with introductions on the work site. Looking around at my team, I knew we'd have a great week. I was excited to begin our task of building a house in one week. I was excited to get things started and I think the team was a bit anxious too.
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We then got quick to work and started building doors, windows, and trusses for the roof. All you could hear around the work site was the sound of hammering and power saws.
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By the end of the day, Brett taught Miranda and Ty how to use the power saw and the walls of our house were all raised. It was a busy day with lots of blisters, but no one was complaining.
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On day two at the work site, there was lots more hammering to be done. The OSB Boards needed to be nailed to the outside of the house.
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Greg resumed his position at the power saw and got back to work quickly on it.
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We then became aware of special talents of two of our team members. Fid and Brett became our "monkeys" on the site and were used for any tasks that were high off the ground. Robi especially enjoyed their helped hammering the trusses for the roof.
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Underneath the monkeys, the team quickly became a center of activity as the house needed to be mudded and styrofoam applied. Several different tasks were happening all at once. From the outside, it must have looked like chaos. However, everything was orderly and efficient.
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And then the news media showed up. Fid, Alicia and myself were interviewed for the evening newscast with the help of Emil as our interpreter.
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And then before we knew it, we were raising the tiles of the roof. Ahead of schedule, our team worked together as one unit to get the trusses lifted onto the roof.
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Then, again as one unit, we were able to pass all the tiles onto the roof. It was absolutely amazing to see so much done so quickly!
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Once the roof was tiled, we started dry walling the interior walls and finishing the stucco on the outside.
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Wednesday night, we went to Stana de Vale to visit the waterfalls and have dinner at the resort. To my surprise, the Romanian Hand Ball team was in town for their summer camp and ate dinner at the same restaurant. We enjoyed the outside views of the mountains and the great dinner.
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By Thursday on the work site, Helen learned how not to stay so clean on the work site. It was great to see her and Nelu mudding away at all the dry wall in the house.
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On Thursday night, we enjoyed the traditional Romanian night at the restaurant. We were able to watch the children perform dance routines, sing songs, and practice some of the dances too. Then we had the amazing food -- stuffed pepper soup (my favorite!), mittite (sausage), stuffed cabbage, polenta, and drink some of the local polinka. It was an amazing evening.
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Friday morning, we were back on site doing finishing touches before the dedication at three. It was a flurry of activity again. Some were outside finishing the soffits and the wood shed, and others were inside finishing up the dry walling and the mudding of the walls. The dedication started as planned and was very moving. There was not a dry eye at the work site as the grandmother thanked everyone for helping their daughter receive a wonderful house for their grandson, Andrei. Andrei will now be able to live in a house that will help, not deteriorate, his heart condition. It was very moving.
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And then we were able to nail our plaque to the house as a memory forever of our week in Beius.
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After we sang Happy Birthday to Fid, enjoyed some food and cake with everyone on site, we then left the work site and planned an evening visit to the orphanage in town. It was our chance to act like a kid again :)
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Saturday morning, we went back to the site and painted the interior walls and made our signs for our post. It was a fun day on the site, a little less stressful than trying to get everything done for the dedication, but also a little sad as it was our last day on site. I was happy when Emil pulled out the cement maker and I got to grab a shovel and mix some dirt!
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Then, we said goodbye to our work site and enjoyed our last night together in Beius. We went to the Bear Caves, saw an old wooden orthodox church, visited the antique museum, and then had a wonderful barbeque at Ana's house (where we built last summer). It was a busy week, but a wonderful week. Here's a picture of the last crew on the work site.
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Oh we also had a little fun on the work site too - I began my campaign for Emil for Mayor 2012. Although he doesn't want the job, he will take the job as "Godfather of Beius" willingly.
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Of course this is not all of the memories or all of the pictures from the week -- If I did that, I would have to write a book! This was just a quick glimpse of our week all in one post!

I know this has been said numerous times before, but I want to thank my team for the amazing week we shared together in Beius. Fid, Lori, Brett, Zach, Helen, Alicia, Greg, Ty, Miranda, Joel, and Manuela - I thank you all for the hard work, sore muscles, and lots of love you left in Beius!

To Emil, Robi, Claudiu, Nelu, Marcel, Mihai, Ionut, and Emil P - we thank you for all your patience, love and help on the work site!

(ps... thanks to Emil Popa for the use of his pictures for this walk down memory lane!)

Check out Habitat for Humanity Beius on Facebook, Twitter, and their webpage (www.habitatbeius.ro) to follow their progress on future builds.

Until next year, I am signing off!

Posted by gooberkn 09:20 Archived in USA Comments (0)

So Long and Goodbye to Budapest!

An entry from the Airport

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As I am sitting with my coffee at Budapest airport, I can only reflect on this summer's trip. Perhaps it is the teacher in me that must reflect and take notes on things to do differently or the fact I am sad to leave my summer home, either way my mind is lost in thoughts. I think back to my first questions as I waited to board the plane at JFK: will my team arrive safely? (yes) will there be any injuries? (no) will my team nembets enjoy the experience? (yes!). I am so grateful for my team and the experience we had.

However, most of the great experience stems from my wonderful extended family in Beius. I have grown up so much there. I think about my first team when I was only 24 years old and now at 32 years, it is a big difference! I went from the immature American party girl to one that knows how to balance everything and can handle herself on the work site. I didn't need instructions anymore of how to mud the walls, apply stucco, or cut dry wall. I could do it myself. I didn't have to go out every evening til past midnight, I could be home before then. I could have intellectual conversations about life with Claudiu and Robi and their future plans, but also crack immature jokes while screwing in the dry wall. In a way, I have grown up throughout my summers in Beius and hope to continue evolving each year.

I thank Fid, Lori, Helen, Alicia, Miranda, Manuela, Zach, Joel, Ty, Greg, and Brett for their love and hard work on the site. You left much more than just your name on the plaque of the house! I thank Claudiu, Robi, Nelu, Marcel, Mihai, and Ionut for being wonderful teachers on the work site and friends off of it. I thank Emil Popa for his translations and helping me learn Romanian to all the wonderful pictures so we can remember the 10th build forever. I thank the Garvas for welcoming me so warmly into their home as if I am their daughter. And I thank Emil, the godfather of Beius, for all his time and patience in making my trips special each year and for the great friendship that has developed over the years.

As Emil wrote on my tee-shirt, "10 is not enough" I certainly do agree! What will happen during my next ten trips?

Here's a look at our house and group at the beginning of the week:
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And at the end of the week - what a change happened in me and with this house!
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Posted by gooberkn 02:21 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Another Excursion from Budapest

This time to the town of Szentendre

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Last night's final farewell celebration with the team was amazing! We had a private 2.5 hour boat cruise and dinner with live gypsy music. After dinner, the team enjoyed the sights of Budapest at night while enjoying the perfect summer evening weather. My team managed to surprise me as well with a habitat tee that everyone signed, including my Romanian friends. It was a very touching moment.
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As the boat docked and we made our way up to the castle district, I became lost in thoughts for a bit about the wonderful time I spent in Beius and missing my good friends from there and tomorrow would start to miss the great team I had this year. It's amazing how close you can become with complete strangers after building a house with them for a week. To my 10th team builders, you will always have a spot on my team in years to come and a place to stay if you are ever in Connecticut. (go UConn!)
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Today I said goodbye to many of my team members in the morning. Fid and Lori left Sunday afternoon to head to Vienna early, Brett was leaving early in the morning, and Helen, Ty, Greg, and Joel later that day. I then headed out of town by commuter rail to Szentendre, a small town about forty minutes away from Budapest. Manuela and I packed our cameras, sunscreen, and wallet and figured we'd find our way when we got there. we arrived at the train station and walked down the busy road to a cute restaurant for cappuccinos. To our joy, our waiter was very nice and told us the spots to visit plus the quick walking directions. After about a ten minute walk, we reached the beautiful city center. Cobblestone streets only for pedestrians filled with lots of little shops and cafes created the perfect recipe for a quiet relaxing afternoon. By late afternoon Manuela and I stopped at a little cafe along the Danube River and enjoyed a nice glass of Hungarian white wine while reminiscing about the trip.
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We then headed back to the train station and the big city of Budapest. We met up with Zach and Alicia (heading to Belgrade by train later that night), and Miranda and had a nice dinner at Anna's Cafe on Vaci Street. Miranda and I walked Manuela to her hotel and said so long yo her - shes heading to London in the morning. Miranda is heading to Prague and Frankfurt on Tuesday and I head back to my home in Connecticut on Wednesday. I am excited to sleep in my own bed again, but will definitely miss my Romanian summer home with my large extended family!
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Posted by gooberkn 01:42 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

So Long Summer Home!

It was a great week in Beius!

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I'm back in Budapest after a long day of traveling. It was so sad to leave Beius and as we pulled out of the city in our van, I had several tears streaming down my face. When I come to Beius in the summer, I feel like I am visiting my family. It's an emotional day leaving but iknow I will be back next summer.

So what has happened over the last two days? On Saturday we headed to the work site for our last day. Our entire team went into the house and sanded all the walls of the house. Once done, one crew went to paint boards outside, another to finish the wood shed, and finally a large crew painting the interior walls. Fid, Lori and Helen took one bedroom and Manuela, Joel and I took the next one. I was in charge of painting the ceiling although I think I got more paint on myself!!! With iPod music playing in my pocket and lots of laughs with Claudiu and the painters, the morning went by quickly!
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We worked through till noon and then went to lunch. Before we left though, Miranda and I got to break out the shovels and mix some cement! I have now mixed cement on all ten trips! We also painted the background color on our street signs (mine read "Connecticut - 4462 miles"). After lunch, we came back to the site, finished our signs, and nailed the signs to the post, took some last pictures, and said goodbye to the site.
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Later that afternoon, we visited the Bear Caves, an old othodox church from the 1700s, and the antique museum. We then went over to Ana's house - the house we helped build last summer. It was great to see Ana and her three year old daughter Armina. The house looked wonderful too! Her mother and a few friends cooked us a scrumptious barbecue of mittite (sausage), cabbage salad, egg plant dip, fresh loaves of bread, chicken legs and potato wedges on the grill, cucumber and tomato salad.... you get the picture! It was amazing! Plus, her mother made us the "cheesy bread" as I call it for dessert that we had all last year on our coffee breaks. Ana is doing great, she loves her new home, and even had my thank you card of pictures that I mailed to her after the trip last year posted on her wall. Ionut and Nelu from the site joined us too. Amazing evening!
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Then the goodbye celebrations began. We met Claudiu, Robi, and Mehai at the new bar in town and had a few cocktails with them. After lots of dancing, we finally said not goodbye, but see you next summer.

Sunday morning, we woke up nice and early, packed our bags, and headed to Principesa Margarita for our last breakfast in Beius. After filling out our evaluations and a few last minute final trip details, we boarded our van and left town. We were all very sleepy on the van ride!
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Tonight we have a beautiful celebration on the Danube with the team. I can't wait. It's hard to believe that the trip is almost over already. But I have made some great new friends and reconnected with my Romanian friends (and family :) ). So it's so long Beius, but we will see you next year!

Posted by gooberkn 08:05 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

The House is Dedicated!!!

It's been an amazing week in Beius

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How to start off today? We began with our usual breakfast of triangle eggs, thick bacon, cucs and matoes (cucumbers and tomatoes), granola and coco puffs cereal, bread, and peanut butter. We started to hear the same music over and over and over with the chorus "lovers in the sand" or something like that. After the fourth time we heard the same song, we all thought it was a practical joke on us. I quickly tried to use my best made up Romanian words to ask our waitress to stop the repeat of the same song. She helped us out and we were all relieved. That proved to be our only struggle for the day.

The work site was bustling today with people rapidly trying to get the house in perfect condition by the dedication at 2:00pm. Of course we still had to have our coffee break and quick lunch as scheduled, but we had a plan in the beginning and wanted our house finished nicely for the dedication. A few people even tried to stay behind during lunch to finish dry walling the bathroom, but we were chased out by Emil who suggested that we all must eat so we have strength for the afternoon.
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After lunch, the intensity level increased dramatically. People were painting boards, installing the walls of the wood shed, finishing the dry walling and mudding the walls, finishing the soffits, taking down that scaffolding, and preparing for the dedication. Helen and Manuela snuck around the house to finish up our thank you cards for all our teachers on the work site. The grandmother and little boy Andrei came to the site as well as the ministers and representatives from Habitat, the town of Beius, and other special guests.

Everyone on the team was given special duties to preform before, during, and after the ceremony. Whether is was giving the bible, keys, and flowers to the family, nailing our plaque to the wall to commemorate the event, giving speeches during the ceremony, or thank you cards to all our new friends, everyone on the team was misty-eyed and appreciative of all the hard work we accomplished. The most touching moment was when the grandmother thanked us over and over again and could barely speak through her own tears. It is such an amazing feeling to know that you have helped this three-year old little boy have a safe, healthy, and beautiful house to live in for now on. The grandparents have struggled to give a decent shelter to their children and grandchildren and now they are able to do that with the help of Habitat for Humanity and my wonderful team here in Beius this week. Words can't possibly express how grateful I am for my team this week - their energy, love, and passion for our project was contagious and admirable. I will forever hold this team, my 10th to Beius, in a special place in my heart.
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The day wasn't complete on the work site without a wonderful meal prepared for us by the family and a special birthday cake for Fid's 50th birthday. Emil and I surprised him with a chocolate cake from the coffee shop and the team had all signed a birthday card for him, including our Romanian friends. The Americans sang him Happy Birthday in English and then the Romanians did the same in their own language. It was yet another touching moment during the trip.

Tomorrow we head back to the work site for a half day to finish painting the rooms and last minute touches on the house. It will be a sad drive home from the work site at the end of the day.

My Romanian friends during dedication have suggested that they might find me a Romanian husband for next year's trip. Although that might not be true, I will definitely be coming back to my summer home in Romania in 2012.

After we showered and rested, we met for a quick visit to Casa Josef, the orphanage in town. The eight girls have been together since they were in diaper. Now, at ages eight and nine, they are bright and energetic girls with so much love. After playing with them for a half hour or so (including lots of monkey bars, splits, cartwheels, etc), we took the kids out to pizza for dinner. Another great evening!
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Posted by gooberkn 07:33 Archived in Romania Comments (1)

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