Sunday, December 8, 2013

Last day

Today is my last day of overseas living (for now).

It's exciting to go back to Canada, but at the same time, I wish I could carry on.

I have a plan that needs me in Canada for a bit, but who knows what will happen after.

There are so many possibilities.

Nearly 7 years of being away, travelling, working, learning, growing. 

It's been grand!!

But this is not the end.

My life is picking up in a new and exciting direction.

Friday, November 29, 2013


YAAAAY!! I got accepted to the full season farming internship in Canada at Everdale Farm. YAAAY!!! 

I'm so excited! I knew I'd be accepted, but I still had some doubts. I hadn't heard from them for a while, but after checking in with them, they let me know pretty quickly that yes, I got in. 

So now, my plans are in motion, working out, on their way... all that wonderful stuff!

Before I start the farming course, I need to do a Permaculture Design Course (PDC).

I want the foundation of my farming to be permaculture, so I need to do the PDC before the farming course.

I've got February and March to do that, so YAY!!!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I've been going through a lot of personal reflection lately.
First family and roots. 
Then a personal challenge. 
Now friends and exploration. 
It's like a therapy recipe. 
I've written a lot down as well, to clarify it and also make it concrete. 
I'm glad it doesn't sound like crap when reading again the next morning though. 
But everything that has happened has been for a reason, and there's been a lesson in everything. 
Just like on the Camino. 
I'm glad I learned this lesson. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Birthday and other lessons

Ok, another day, another regular day. I don’t see what the big deal is. It means nothing, it really doesn’t. I used to secretly like the attention, but now, no, I actually don’t even secretly want the attention anymore. Really! Last year, yea, it was a bit different for me. I turned 30 last year. And yes, we are talking about my birthday. 

Today I’m turning 31. And I feel a lot of pressure from people to celebrate it. 
To make a big deal about it. 

It’s not a big deal. It’s just another day. I don’t really count my years, my months, my days, my hours… I don’t have a watch. I don’t have a schedule. My phone didn’t work for almost 2 months. I didn’t even know what day it was half of the time. I do know what month it is, though lately that’s gotten a bit unimportant as well. All this is just a fabricated idea of dividing your time up. 

Why would I want to do that? It’s not very natural to me. I find I live better and think better when I have fluidity and fewer restrictions.

Travelling has given me that, fluidity and fewer restrictions.

That’s why I’ve learned so much about myself in these 3 months.

I’m a really strong person. I have determination. I didn’t even realize that before.

For almost 7 years I did a 9-5 teaching job. Completely restricted, especially in such a controlled social environment as Korea, the South, not the North. I could really feel myself fading in the last couple of years. 

I know it was bad for me, but I had to keep going. I had to pay off my student debt. I couldn’t really start my life and live it the way I wanted to, with no restrictions, if I had 300-500 dollars to pay every month for the next 10 years. I would have had to get a job, buckle down, and pay that shit off. 

No travelling, no expanding of my mind and understanding of the world and the people in it, no learning of the diversity of possible ways to live my life, no growing beyond my conditioning as a child, no realizing what kind of living style I need to stay healthy and be satisfied in life, no discovering farming (permaculture) as a real option in my life, no discovery of my life dream and goal of being in or starting an off-grid/selfsustaining/selfsufficient/natural building/artsy teaching eco-community. None of that, and more.

I’m a strong and determined woman. I forgot that.

I’m so grateful for my chance to learn and to live the way I want to.

I am grateful for the people I know, the great friends I’ve been so fortunate to meet, the incredible places I’ve been able to travel to, the wonderful lessons I’ve had the opportunity to learn and the unconventional dreams I have been free and able to nurture.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I cried 6 times on this trip.

The first time when I was phisically and mentally done for the day, then realised I had to walk 5km more to the next town where there was an albergue.

The second time when I got to the to of "Monte do Gozo - The Mountain of Joy", because it was the last climb before Santiago.

The third time when I got to the cathedral, and passed by a person playing the bag pipes, I was tired and sore and wet and cold, and just flew the last 4.7km through the city, and there was the cathedral, the end of my journey.

The 4th time was when I got my Compostella, the old latin document that states you walked the entire way. The recognition of my achievement, like a diploma of personal growth.

The 5th time was the next day at noon, at the pilgrims mass, when the nun was leading the singing, and the packed church was singing along. The priest was addressing the pilgrims and talking about their, our, journey.

The last time when I left from Finisterre, left Maria there on the side of the hill, and now was going back for 1 more day in Santiago with Genie. Then I saw a Camino sign pointing to the path and I just couldn't hold it it.

What an accomplishment, what a wonderful feeling to be done. I am so proud of myself. I am a pilgrim. I am proud of myself. I have done what so many have not been able to do. I am very proud of myself!!

The Camino Teachings

I've learned:

- to let go of things that happened in the past

- to not rely on technology

- how rude it is to be on the phone when together with others

- that when faced with a seemingly impossible task, to just break it down into small managable parts and then everything is doable

- to really appreciate the little things

- to listen to my body

- to trust and stop secondguessing my decisions

- that everything I do is my choice, that I make the decisions and thus have to live with the consequences

- that I have to do what is good for myself

- that being alone is good for my mind

- that being with other people is necessary for my heart

- to be myself no matter what other people think or expect

- that after overcoming a great challenge, it won't be just smooth sailing from there on; there will always be new challenges to face

- to follow my own path and pace

- that I don't need that much food

- that age is not important; it's the mental and emotional growth that really makes a person wiser

- that rest days are important for the body and mind

- that day dreaming is not constructive, but only a distraction from reality

- to trust my instincts

- that I value modesty and a good social ettiquet in people

- to channel my energy towards things I want, not towards things I want to avoid

- to be inspired by people, but not to immitate them

- that I am more alert and energetic in the morning

- that big meals don't help my energy levels

- how important itis to surround myself with people that share similar values as me, but to distance myself from the people that trample all over them

- I am Morning Fire Amazon Ninja

- that everything that happens has a lesson in it; i's not just a bad or good experience

- that change happens all the time, regardless if I rush it or try to delay it; so just enjoy what is happening in the moment

- trust in the way, and it will show itself

Friday, November 1, 2013

Last stretch

Today, Friday, was a day I wanted to give up. I was ready to take the 30 minute taxi ride into Santiago instead of walking the last 30km.
It was raining, it was cold, the wind was blowing and I had no more energy. My heels were killing me, my shoulders were stiff, I was done with the forest and could not appreciate the beauty around me anymore.
But, as in life, one has to go on. I started this journey and I promised myself not to take the bus or taxi and even though I wanted to give up, I couldn't do that on the second to last day.
We were 5km short of our destination, but the 3 of us were wet, cold, tired and hungry. So we decided to stop and find an albergue. When we did, they didn't have the restaurant open, and the next place was 2km up the road.
We walked for another 30 minutes along the dark highway in the rain and wind, but we eventually found it. 
They had a nice fireplace inside. It was really nice and warm and the food was great too.
It was a tough day.
I'm glad I hung in there and made it through that difficult day.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


After the wonderful day yesterday morning, and because I had taken my time, darkness caught me 5km away from the nearest albergue or hotel or hostel. I was not equipped to sleep outside, so, the only option I ha was to take the taxi to the next town where I originally intended to go. I felt real bad, but, I was determined to make it right. I did not come to cheat, to cut corners, to not walk. So, in the morning the next day, I took the cab back and walked those 5km, passed the albergue where I stayed and continued on. I'm very glad i did that. I would have felt guilty about it for the rest of the journey.

You have to choose what you value and then stick to it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Peaceful Moment

I have learned that I can't trust technology. I already wrote 3 beautiful and very detailed and inspired entries, and they all got lost because of one thing or another. So, I am resorting to writing it first on paper, and then writing it here so that if I do lose it again, it's not lost forever. 

Today's walk has been marvelous so far. Compared with yesterday, everything is different. I woke up late, left when it was light, walked alone, walked slowly, stopped to admire the beautiful surroundings, it was not raining, it was not cold, I was not soaked, and the path was pretty easy and mud/water free. 

I found a beautiful edge to sit on as I was walking down between the killer mountains I had climbed yesterday. There was a little river I could hear down below, I saw some deer earlier on, and the birds were singing all around. The Sun was shining and I felt so grateful. 

In those quiet moments, it just strikes me how crazy this is, how amazing this experience is, and how lucky I am to be able to do this. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lost posts

I wrote two great posts the other day, and my blogger app managed to loose both of them.

It's really hard to recapture the feeling, flow and essence of an inspired message.

I tried to rewrite the second lost post, but it sounds forced and disconnected...

Such a sad shame.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I realised that most of the day is spent in pretty mundane thought. Even though I have a lot of time during the day, I don't do very deep or productive thinking. It's focused mainly on the walking tasks.

Don't step on the snail, slug, bug, caterpillar, ants, worms and centipedes.

Watch out for the big rocks and the puddles.

I need to drink more water.

I need to pee. I don't see a big bush or tree anywhere. Is anyone coming?
I'm hungry. I can wait till the next town and get a sandwich.

How much longer to the next town? Check gps and map. How much have I walked? How much do I still need to walk? What time will I be at the destination? Can I make it all the way or will I have to stop before.

I wonder what (insert name) is doing and how far they got?

I hope I get a bottom bunk tonight.

I hope that snorer is not there tonight.

I hope there will be some great food somewhere.

My feet hurt. My heels hurt. My arms hurt.

I'm tired.

Practical stuff

So, here is some info that will help understand the logistics and details of my journey.

Before I started the walk, I had to get a pilgrims passport, which is just a paper with space for stamps on it. I stay at the Albergues, which are a cheaper version of the hostels and which are only for pilgrims, so people who have the pilgrim passport.

In order to finish the Camino, you must have walked at least 100km and have the stamps to prove it.

Each Albergue you stay at will stamp your passport, and so you can only stay one night at each Albergue.

You can also get a stamp from the cathedrals and churches.

I don't have as much space in mine, so I'm only getting stamps from the Albergues.

Here is a photo of my pilgrim passport.

Early Morning

Yesterday I walked only 20km. I was planning to walk 26km, but when I got to the 2nd last stop, I took a break and well, just could not keep going.

I had a very nice break, with good wifi and a decent dinner.

Today, waking up was very fast. I got up and ready in 20 minutes and was out the door by 7:30am. I was very impressed.

It wasn´t cold outside, it wasn´t raining either, but it was still dark. Completely dark.

I stopped by the local bar and had a coffee, and now it´s 8:30am and I´m almost ready to leave. Not fully awake yet, but almost.

I don´t know if it´s really getting easier, or I´m just getting used to feeling pain somewhere.

It´s either my toes, my heels, my knees, my hips, my arms... something hurts at one time or another.

At least I haven´t had a headache, and my back is ok.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Walking sticks

I picked up another walking stick. This one was just a branch, nothing special. It's helped with walking much better.

But now I'm thinking of giving away my beautifully carved wood walking stick, and getting some proper light and smaller walking sticks that will really help.

But today I used them properly, and because they are wood and heavier, my arms got really sore. Which made me think of my arm flabs, and how I'm trying to get rid of them, and this hard work with heavy sticks will probably be better for my muscles and flabbiness.

So, I've decided to keep them.

I've also decided to write a love story about the two sticks. It will be available as soon as I finish it, or get bore with writing it, and then I'll just write a dramatic and/or tragic ending of some sort.

You will just have to wait.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lovely smell

After a day of rest, we walked a long road on hard ground and gravel.

My feet were killing me and my stomach was growling for some food.

We stopped at the Albergue and when I signed in, the lady saw my name in my passport and was immediately happy and surprised and started speaking in Romanian with me. She was Romanian too, somewhere from the Sibiu area, and had been living and working here in this little village with her husband and daughter for 5 years. It was nice to talk to her for a bit.

At 6pm, when the bar/restaurant opened, Hildegard, Dan and me went over to get our pilgrim meal.

It was fantastic. I had the bean soup and a great beef stew with mashed potatoes. A Spanish pilgrim joined our table and we had lots of red win and great conversations until about 9pm when we were tired and walked back to our albergue.

That's when I noticed the smell.

It smelled like a wood burning stove everywhere. It was fantastic. If it weren't so cold and I weren't so tired, I would have stayed out longer just to smell the air.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Camino family

After my nice rest at that Albergue, and the nice massage, I had renewed energy and better feeling legs.

The walk over these 3 peaks through a forest was a great change from the endless fields of this and that. I ended up walking a bit more after I met up with the Canadian couple from Kitchener who I had left behind a few days ago.

When we got to this nice little village, we came across the young German couple who I'd met earlier in this journey. It was a brand new Albergue and being a bit after the designated end point for the day, there were not so many people.

The Germans, Claudia and Eiko suggested we stay in and cook dinner for the 6 of us. Them two, the Canadian couple Hildegard and Dan, this other German guy Peter and me.
It was great. We went grocery shopping at this little local store, got stuff for a soup, a salad and some tasty meaty pasta. Then we headed  ask and started cooking. It just happened that the we, the 3 women started preparing and cooking, but then we made it clear that the 2 men had to clean up after.

We finished everything really quickly. It was very nice to all sit together and after preparing the food to eat together. We had lots of delicious Spanish red wine and some pastries for desert.

The leftover pasta we gave to a dog, and we ladies relaxed while the men cleaned up, did the dishes and put things away.

Now, Claudia and Eiko have taken the bus ahead because they were running out of time, and who knows when I'll see them again.

That's what happens. You meet with people, and then spend some time together, and then they go off or you go off, and maybe you meet again in a few days, or maybe not.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Break time

Today was gonna be an easy 12km day.

It was fine in the morning. Rather chilly but that kept me going. I walked half way, 6km on, and then I took a break.

Again, after that break, my right calf was in so much pain I didn't know what to do with it.

Luckily, I only had 6 more km to go, my feet didn't hurt, my backpack was light, and it wasn't very hot outside.

I eventually got to Villafranca and decided to opt for the 18 euro private room with queen sized bed, instead of the Albergue Municipal with 50 bunk beds for 5 euros. I took a shower, and went to bed to sleep off my pain.

I had booked a massage for 7pm and was waiting for the lady to come by and pick me up.

When she gave me a massage (which ended up being almost 2 hours instead of just 1), she said that my hips were misaligned, and one leg was shorter than the other, which she fixed through some magical stretching voodoo, and then when I showed her the problem right leg, she said it's not the muscle, but some vericose veins that were to blame for my pain.

Thank you useless body!

Somewhere, sometime, I was standing for too long, and got some vericose veins, and now were hurting like hell.

My immediate conclusion was to not stop at all along my daily walk, which was just not going to be possible.

The massage lady told me to stretch a lot before I start and when I take a break, and to put cold water on the affected area.

Well, that hasn't really helped because I have been stretching every morning and break time.

So, I'm going to check online and see what the internet has to say about vericose veins.

Again, thanks body!

In the meantime, I'm enjoying some lamb stew and delicious red wine. Take that evil vericose veins!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pushing through

Today was the most difficult day so far.

The morning was incredibly beauful. I slept well, went to the post office and sent off another 1.5kg of stuff, making it a total of 7.5kg lighter. It was a cool morning and my legs felt ok.

I walked for a good 6km, and then I stopped.

That's when it changed and my right leg started to hurt. The day also changed.

My legs started to remember the hurt from the days before, the sun was strong, there was no shade, the walk was along the highway, it was straight and monotonous.

I was going to stop after 15km, 5km short of Belorado, the days destination. When I got into that little village, it was all quiet, and no Albergue in sight. I had to walk on, another 5km to Belorado. My feet and right leg hurt so badly I started crying.

I was hobbling along, crying and breathing heavily, but through my nose (like my sis taught me).

Then I stopped for a bit and collected myself. I had only hobbled 1.5km and still had at least another hour and a half at this pace.

I plugged in my headphones, cranked them up, and put some heart pumping dance music on.

That kept me going, until a silly ballad came up and I swore and then quickly changed the song, so as not to slow my momentum.

I saw the town of Belorado in the distance, and then saw the first Albergue, 1km outside of the town. I nearly started crying again.

I stopped there. At that point I didn't care about going all the way into town and being closer to shops, the cathedral or the restaurants.

That was a hard day, and I was glad it was over.

I arrived at 6:30pm.

It took me 2.5 hours to walk the last 5km.

The day after

Today I walked 21km.

After I finished 15km, it seemed like nothing, and 6 more km was not going to be a big deal either. It wasn't. Once I got going, it was slow, and painful, but it was completely manageable.

I got at the Albergue at 5pm, with so much free day time I didn't know what to do with myself.

Luckily, the Korean ladies and the German couple were preparing to go out for dinner, so I joined them right away. I didn't even stop to rest my legs.

We had the pilgrim menu, and we also had 4 bottles of wine between the 5 of us, after which we went to mass at the nearby cathedral. It was beautiful but I was a bit too wined up for it. I didn't get a samp, so I'll go again in the morning to get a stamp for it.

I don't have a lot of space on my pilgrim passport, unlike people who started at St. Jean, so I've decided to get stamps from the Albergues and the chuched/cathedrals I visit.

I'm in the laundromat waiting for my laundry to be finished. I hope it will be done before 22:00 when the Albergue closes.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Longest trek

So, today, I walked 30km.

With my new sandals and 6kg less on my back, the first 19km were a breeze.

Then, Susan the Australian lady caught up with me and we walked together. Time and distance went by quicker, but my feet were starting to complain. We were walking much slower and once we got into the town we were walking slower still.

Wow, was it ever difficult.

But the day was perfect for such a long walk. It wasn't hot, it wasn't raining, it wasn't too sunny and the road was pretty even and straight.

Now, we arrived, and the thought of getting up to shower, was my clothes and get something to eat is sending shivers up my spine.

Friday, October 4, 2013

My sister

Well, we were together for just 1 week, and we had a bit of head butting at the begining because we have such different styles and rythms. 

But after a few days, close to her going back to Canada, we finally worked out a pretty good system in dealing with her going faster, and me going slower, and finding a place to eat, and finding a place to sleep, and getting ready in the morning, and washing our clothes, and taking pictures, and buying snacks for the road, and just dealing with each others differences.

I really wish we could have spend more time together, talking more, getting to see each others way of doing things, and understanding each other more.

This was a hard start, not only because of the Camino and my lack of fitness, but because we hadn´t spent any time together for over 3 years, and our sole relationship was over the phone.

I am sad to see her go back and having to continue this journey alone.

I hope we can do this again sometime.

Love you sis!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

4th Evening

We are in Viana now, 11km away from Logroño.

It's been tough, and it will continue to be tough.

After the first day, I sent on to Santiago 4kg of things. Tomorrow morning I'm planning on sending maybe 1 more kilo.

I need to lighten my pack so I don't have so much pressure on my feet.

Today I bought some new shoes. More like sandals really, but still for hiking. The ones I had before were ok, but there were 4 pressure points that have ended up in giant blisters. 2 on each foot.

Left foot: Pinky blister and heel blister.

Right foot: Pad blister and heel blister.

I had to get new socks, new shoes, am wearing shorts the whole time. You get really hot walking all day.

You learn so many things from walking so much.

I've also learned that any (deep) fried food is terrible for energy and endurance. Something to be completely avoided while doing such physical activities. Also, very sweet thing are not good either.

What I did enjoy, was some sausage, a steak, some canned lentiles, lots of apples, and olives. Nothing too overpowering in the flavour department.

The people have been really nice. Met an older couple from Kitchener Canada, Dan(iel) and Hildegard. Met some really nice Korean ladies who made dinner for me and my sister tonight. Met a few more nice people...  Richard from Austria, Thomas from Germany (with whom I shared a funny yet odd mixed dorm experience), Bill from Canada who joined us for the Korean dinner. I'm sure there is more but my brain is no working right now...

To leave you with an idea of foot pain management, after pills and massage failed to relieve any of it...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Locked out

When I made my hostel reservation, I let them know that I'd be coming in at 3am via the train, and that someone should be there for when I arrive.

Well, I arrived at 4 via the bus, and when I got here, it was locked and the lights were out. There was nowhere to go so I just hung out, hoping someone would go in or come out with a key.

And yes, someone did. Some Irish guy was coming back from partying, and he let me in. Noone was there at reception, but I made myself comfortable on the large and cushy sofa until 8am when the check in desk opens.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

First Words

I'm very proud to have said my first sentence very calmly and clearly:

¿Dónde está la estación de autobús?

And the lady proceeded to tell me in Spanish: Just go that way around the building to the right.

And I understood!

Well, not really. I guessed some and understood a little. But put together, I figured it out.

Yay for easy foreign languages!


It's exciting, it's new, it's Europe, is Spanish.

I love it.

Am a bit shy saying anything in Spanish, but I'll get more comfortable in a couple of days.

I found my way to Barcelona Station, and when I got there, it turned out I actually have a bus ticket, not a train ticket. I don't know why I remembered train.

So, I found my way to the bus station now, not too far from the train station actually. Just 2 subway stops away. I still have about 2 hours until my bus is scheduled to leave.

I wanted to buy a train ticket since I was there already, but everything was sold out for today.

Good that I bought something in advance.

Romania airpot

I just went through the Romanian Airport Blue Air gate. I've never seen such rudeness, disrespect and blatant money grabbing in my life.

Towards the end of the line to board the bus that will take the passengers to the airplane, there was one woman who started telling people (only the Romanian people) that they are allowed only one carry on bag, and to stuff their purses into their carry on suitcase. Then, after a few, she started picking people to fit their luggage into the narrow carry on measuring thing. Obviously many of the bags did not fit in, and a great circus erupted, about people not being able to take their luggage, unless they payed 55 Euro to give that luggage to be checked in.


And then she started rushing people that the gate will be closed in 10 minutes and they don't have much time.

A clear strategy to rip people off.

So dissapointed.

Waiting for Spain

I am a mere hour away from the flight that will take me to Spain, where I will start my Camino.

A walk to start my journey.

It is not just a walk, something to fill my time with, or just a break from whatever.

To me it means an end and a beginning.

The end of my previous life and the beginning of a new life.

It's a journey of growth and change (*and if ur growing ur changing*).

It's a journey of self reflection.

It's the right time and the right thing to do before choosing a direction in my life.

I can't wait to start walking and clear my head of all things that are negative or confusing or obstructive.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I was on the train from Suceava to Bucharest to pick up my dad from the airport.

I had started this book a couple of weeks ago and I finally finished it.

What an amazing book.

It deconstructs your idea of humanity and of the world and civilisation and our role on this earth in such a logical way, and then shows us the truth behind it all.


I teared up at the end.

I will definitely read it again.

On the road again

I've been with family for the last couple of weeks. It's been wonderful, relaxing and worry free, but I've felt the itch to move, to travel, to get going.

Today I missed the train, and as unfortunate as that was, I really enjoyed the change of pace, the unexpected, the need to figure out an alternative. I feel bad that my aunt and cousin had to worry. They worried for the three of us. I know that things usually work out, and even if they don't, I can make the best of the new situation.

I'm excited to be on the move again, to travel, to have just a rough plan and to figure the rest out as I go, to have unexpected encounters.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Pickling for the winter

I love this part of Romanian culture.

Storing food for the winter.

Yes, we can buy things in the store now, it's easy and relatively cheap. But why buy things from the store that might be of poor quality, when you can make better stuff at home???

I wish I were here over the winter to try these out!

Tourist in Moldova

After 2 days of work, we went out Sunday morning to see the other side of Moldova and to see a fortress in Soroca that used to protect this land from invaders from across the Nistru river.

On the other side of the river is Ukraine. Over there to the left is the customs building.

And this is the Soroca fortress. There were a few more fortresses all along this river. We were lucky that we came today. It was open. And it was the last day it would be open until next year. It was closing for renovations from the European Union. Moldova is not in the EU yet, but they are looking to join soon. A lot of things would change for these people once they do.

We got a guide to tell us a bit about the fortress. Unfortunately for me, he was talking really fast, with a lot of jokes and sayings, with references from people from old history and never history, and I had no idea what he was saying most of the time. 

All those holes used to have wood beams in them, which would support the floor that was built on it. It would have looked very very different back when it was a functioning defense station.

There are a lot of gypsies in this area, and they've all got GIANT MONSTROUS houses at various stages of building/disrepair/renovation.

And then, it was back to Romania. I slept most of the way. The roads had gotten much better once we crossed the border, so sleeping was a much easier task.

Thank you and good night!

Tomato Juice in Moldova

So, I had the opportunity to visit a long lost part of Romania... Moldova.

Now free from Russian rule, but not free of their influence, Moldova is trying to regain it's Romanian heritage.
People there speak Romanian, as well as Russian. It's much poorer than Romania, and more than 80% of the population are agrarian.

I went with my uncle and aunt to some of their friends, and we planned to make tomato juice for the winter.

First a tour of the area. I forgot to take pictures of the house... but oh well, we were outside most of the time anyways.

And now we're off to the field, picking a variety of tomatoes. Big ones, small ones, oval ones, red ones and orange ones.

My aunt.

My uncle.

My aunt and the lovely couple from Moldova.

They also had a bunch of nut trees, and naturally, like a squirrel, I filled up my pockets.

By the end, my hands were dirty and smelling like tomatoes. It was divine!!

That evening I helped milk the cow. She was not being very generous with me. I think she didn't feel too comfortable with me fiddling around her. 

In the morning, the lady made sour cream with cheese and polenta for breakfast. Very hardy!

Then we got to making the tomato juice.

First, sorting and washing the ripest tomatoes.

Then cutting away any damaged parts and also cutting them into smaller pieces.

 And then running them through a food processor that separated the pulp and juice from the seeds and skin. It was super efficient. 

Then off to get boiled, with some salt and pepper.

Toader checking if it's ready.

You let it boil until the froth at the top dissipates. 

In the meantime, my aunt was washing and prepping the bottles.

And in the juice went.

Then the bottles were set on a blanket, and covered, so they'd cool of slowly throughout the night.

I was free to flutter around and take pictures of everything and everyone. 
I saw this really old and cool wood stove.

Seed saving!!!
From the biggest and ripest tomatoes, we squeezed and cut out the seeds to save for next year. I got to take some seeds with me as well, and have them drying nicely next to the window. Next year when I'll go do that farming internship, I'm definitely going to try growing some of these tomatoes.

Wash, rinse, and let to dry.

They also had tons of grapes over the outside table. 

I got me some and ate them. I gave the chickens some as well.

For a late lunch we made this. I don't know what it is. But it's supposed to be really healthy, and full of good stuff. It tasted great too.

Here's soup, some chicken and sour cream sauce, and then the cereal stuff in the smaller pot.

Delicious sour soup, not complete without some liquor. It was so wonderful to share with this family the work, the conversations, the food and the alcohol.
I got a very nice buzz by the end of the day. I was feeling very happy and warm.

Everyone engrossed in the meal. It was perfect!

And then the main dish, not complete without a shot of liquor and some scrumptious NOT SWEET pickles. 
These must have been the best pickles I've ever eaten.

Washing up now. There was also a really cute tom cat meowing around this lady every time she had a dish in her hand. That cat was smart. He knew who had the food.

Both of the people from Moldova are teachers, and so, the lady took me to her school, grades 1-12, to see how it's like. It was so cute inside.

The gym. 

Romanian royals from the past.

And Romanian famous writers.

I was very impressed with those 2 displays in particular. It showed that the school valued the history and literature of these people, and displayed it in the busiest areas of the school.

Then, in the evening, I helped make some crepes with soft home made cheese and sour cream, and some with some awesome jam.

We also had some tomato soup made with the freshly finished tomato sauce, and with freshly home made noodles. Also not complete without the shot of liquor, and this time onion. The bread is missing from the picture.

It was a busy Friday and Saturday, and by the end, we were all tired and a bit tipsy. Lots of work, lots of food, plenty of drinks, good conversations and lots of radio shows about the Romanian language and the Russian occupation of Moldova. It was a great and productive 2 days.