Diary up till SUNDAY MAY 30th 2010
We have finally arrived in Romania – 24 hours late, but safely here. The reason for the delay happened in Jersey on our way to the boat on Wednesday morning, when without warning the electric passenger window would not go back up making it impossible to secure the vehicle. We got to France and Phil spent several hours stripping off the door panelling to get the mechanism to see what could be done, saying various things along the lines of “Women and electrics are unreliable and unpredictable”!!! He then decided he did not have the tools to repair it so we went round till we finally found a small garage near St Malo able to repair in on Thursday morning. So finally we got on the road on Thursday afternoon instead of late morning on Wednesday.
Because there is now a hefty charge for our aid lorry to travel on the French peage (toll) roads we had decided to test another route avoiding the tolls – cutting up across the north of France and through Belguim, Germany, Austria, Hungary, then Romania. Up until last year the toll companies very generously gave us exemption as a charity (saving us between £400 and £500) and that is a lot of money, so we want to find an alternative route.
It was a somewhat frustrating though very enlightening trip. Once we crossed into Belgium we were amazed and quite shocked at the poor state of the roads – Phil commented that our shock absorbers must be red hot for what seemed a long time. In Germany there were road-works, road-works and yet more road-works! Very good that they are maintaining the state of the roads but rather infuriating as I think at least 50% of the German motorways we travelled on were under repair and go slow areas.
On the road from Budapest we saw a difference. When we first went to Romania 12-14 years ago there were numerous prostitutes looking for business along the road from Budapest to the Romanian border. Recently we had stopped seeing any. But today we saw 5 – undoubtedly a sign of the difficult economic times.
Remembering how dry Jersey was – and still is I believe – we saw that Hungary was flooded in places and as we crossed into Romania we saw the same was true – crops submerged under water. (Later we learned it has rained every day for 6-7 weeks – they believe it is linked with the volcanic ash. And as we went to bed a thunder storm started and it rained some more).
We arrived in Romania and went straight to Cefa arriving 20 minutes before the planned distribution of food parcels and clothing for the sponsored pensioners. It was so heart warming as most the pensioners recognise us and came to greet us – we were well kissed and blessed! I tried to take photos of each pensioner but somehow Alex’s list and my numbering system parted company so it is going to be a case of manually matching them I think!
Afterwards we went to the pensioners’ home Casa Mabel for a meal. There was a new pensioner lady there who is very friendly. Those who were there at Christmas recognised us and greeted us warmly. Of course we saw Flori and the “girls”. Flori’s health has not been so good but she was delighted to see us. She may be going for more surgery before Friday (when we go and stay in Cefa) in which case we will not see much of her which will be disappointing. Her hair is falling out due to the drugs and she has shaved her head and now wears a headscarf all the time as she finds her wig too hot. She needs a kidney transplant quite desperately or her life expectancy is short.
Before leaving Alex took Phil to see various sheds etc and when I finally joined them he was saying how he urgently needed a pick up truck as they were using the minibus for carting wood, sawdust (for the hot water and heating system) and other building materials. As we drove away through the village, it suddenly struck Phil that our friend Den was scrapping such a vehicle. A quick phone call to Jersey told us Den had not yet scrapped the vehicle and also clarified what needed repair. A phone call to Alex and we could tell him we had got a suitable vehicle and could also explain what would need fixing on it too. “Praise God” said Alex “that’s an answer to prayer”. A further call to Jersey this time to George told us there is a possibility there may be space on the July trailer – we have left it that George will go and measure the vehicle and then decide.
We finally arrived at Geo and Simona’s – it is good to see them. Like Alex they are deeply concerned about the economic situation of the country. From June 1st all government employees take a 25% reduction in salary and an enforced month’s unpaid leave, at least until December. The pensioners all lose 15% from their salaries. Costs are rising, more goods are being taxed or about to be taxed. A general strike is called for Monday. The comment we heard was: First it was Greece now it is Romania in serious financial problems.