I entered Belfast International Airport on Monday morning, June 30, and after a rather extensive post-security search by a geriatric agent — who was awed (I could tell because he held everything up to the light, twisted it, then smelled it) by such things as power cords, contact solution, a digital camera, and other sundries invented in the last century — I ran to my flight and a few hours later found myself wandering in the heat of Bucharest.

By the way, anyone interested in an entertaining flight should fly Tarom Airlines, and pay close attention to the rough computer graphics of the safety demonstration.  At the point of the place-the-oxygen-mask-on-your-children, the ‘actor’ playing the role of passenger, who had grown a 5 o’clock shadow by that point in the safety explanation, reached over to his son.  His son, who was quite a bit smaller in size, looked every bit as old as the adult passenger, including 5 o’clock shadow.  In fact, he was identical, which is funny enough, but he was wearing a woolen, tweed-ish driving cap.  Wha?!?  I laughed out loud before I could contain myself, and to my embarrassment.  I got the Turn-and-Burn, as Romanians in adjacent seats turned their heads in my direction and burned disapproving holes into me with their eyes.

Romania is a very foreign place to me.  I’ve never had the privilege of being here, and I don’t know much about it.  I remember being a young teenager and watching and reading about the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe; I specifically remember the revolution and coup in Bucharest, and the arrest, brief trial, and execution of Nicolai and Elena Ceausescu.  The country has been trying to get back on its feet and thrive ever since.  I entered the customs point at the airport with this in mind, not at all certain of what to expect, and hoping not to encounter any problems (a la Sao Paulo this spring) at the checkpoint.  After a tense minute of waiting while the agent scanned my passport and my face, the crack and thump of the entry stamp immediately evaporated my fears.  Walking away, I looked at the stamp to confirm its existence, and blew on it to make sure it dried in place.

Bucharest is a fascinating city — a clash of old and modern, most readily visible in its architecture.  I am told that people are feeling more and more happy since the chains of Communism broke, but I was hard-pressed to see anyone smile despite my efforts otherwise.

I was wandering around one morning and a very excited man who noticed I had a camera, made me follow him a couple blocks.  He made me take a picture of this, which I understood him to say was a broken aqueduct (which doesn’t readily make sense to me).  Then he quickly disappeared.  And so did I.

Not all the buildings are worn down like this, but I found these interesting.

I’ve met up with my very good friends Stephenie and Travis Carr.  For those unaware, I used to work with Steph (I’m still not used to the past tense nature of that statement) at Oak Hills.  Steph and Travis and one other person are co-leading a team of about 15 youths on a summer-long, leadership-building mission experience, through an organization called Royal Servants.  I am privileged to be able to tag along with them for a few weeks while in Pitesti, and I’m already impressed by them.

They are partnering with a local church and helping put on a four-day kids festival, then an English language course, and lots in between.

Below is one of the students with the pastor’s son, who is every bit the two year old that the twinkle in his eyes betray.

Pitesti has unbelievable parks that everyone enjoys strolling through in the evenings.

Isn’t he cute?

A pickup game of soccer with some of the locals.


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Katie Albert


PO Box 6536
Folsom, CA 95763
July 2008
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