As we sit at our dining room table staring out at the block building across from ours, we watch Romanian women shake rugs, tablecloths, mops, and cigarette butts from their balconies. This is great entertainment and we watch this dance every day and secretly wonder what the inside of their apartments are like. . . behind the faded draperies, aluminum foil and hanging laundry. We know rich people live in some of these because, we're told, only the rich can afford air conditioning. We sometimes make eye contact (or so we think) and we're sure they wonder why we watch them (sometimes with binoculars) and what kind of kick we could possibly get out of this daily practice! Most of the 2 million people of Bucharest live in 'block' buildings like these. This city is Europe's most crowded capitol with over 8,000 people per square kilometer (that's less than a square mile). It is 10 times more packed than Paris! The blocks were built by decree of a Communist dictator, Ceausescu in the 1960's to house the poorer people as he bull-dozed a fifth of the city to make way for his Parliament buildings and wide boulevards. The blocks are made from concrete and lack any hint of architectural design. Fifty years later, these buildings are grey and crumbling. We call our block, "HOME".
A rug shaker in action.
It has turned very cold here and now we're understanding the scarf mania that started two months ago. Romanians are good at bundling-up because they practice for two months before the temperatures go below freezing. The high humidity and wind brings back memories of shivering in the fog of San Francisco, only colder! Well, it's Christmas time. It's supposed to be cold!
Christmas is in the air! We've had carollers at our door and have plans to do our share of the same.
We meet with the head of the Peace Corps tomorrow and plan to uncover possible projects for next year. Our 250 wheelchairs arrived in Constanta last week and after the first of the year, we'll be busy with the distribution process. This is an exciting and fulfilling work. Wish you were here!