Hexes and Bad Food

First things first.  This is a post about the food.  However, I would be remiss without noting that I think I was just hexed.

Having disembarked from the 7B bus at the 5th stop from the hostel, I crossed the street.  With the morning sun beating down, I began to make my way up to the church where the rest of the group was, and I was stopped in my tracks on the sidewalk.  A stumpy old man with leathered and wrinkly skin, capped in a fedora and toting a thick brown cane, approached me.  What then?  He stopped, stabbed his cane into the sidewalk, lifted his free arm, and began proclaiming things in my direction that I only wish I understood.  It was like the little guy in front of me was channeling Gandalf at his most confident – spewing the incantation that prevents the fire-breathing dragon from devouring the little hobbits.  Was I just hexed?  Did he think I was a dragon?  I continued to walk past, only for a split second betraying my shock.

Last week, again waiting at a bus stop, a little old lady (notice the old people theme) in a houndstooth skirt, matching hat, sunglasses from 1982, and a billowy fuchsia blouse, approached the stop to wait for a bus.  Of all the free real estate on the sidewalk, I was a little discomforted by the proximity to me of the spot she chose.  (She was so close; one might say her parking spot was still in my “dance space” and therefore, not free real estate.)  Even more discomforting than her proximity was the direction she was facing (right at me), and her posture (akimbo – with a fist on each hip, and scowling).  It wasn’t long before she said something.  I looked over, and from her sub-five-foot frame, looking at up me, she pulled a fist from her hip, tapped her head, threw her hand in the air, and parked it back on her hip.  I explained I didn’t speak Romanian; she ignored that and repeated the gesture.  Thankfully her bus arrived soon after.

If the fascination with my bald head in parts of Africa is more amusement and entertainment (let’s-be-shocked-and-have-a-good-laugh sort of attitude), my baldness here is much more aggressively responded to.  It’s almost as if the condition inspires anger and outrage, and fascinating.


A couple mornings ago, I found myself walking up to the store from the small church we’ve been parked at a lot of everyday.  My mission: yogurt.  After days of bad Royal Servants food, I decided a splurge of yogurt and granola for breakfast was in order.

Royal Servants teams pack their non-perishable food in a couple dozen boxes and pack them with them as they travel.  The food is bad.  It’s not even exotically bad, or interesting-but-disgusting – like nshima with a side of goat brains or toasted caterpillars, kapenta, or chicken hearts – it’s the boring kind of bad.  With the exotically bad, there’s a bit of a thrill getting the awfuls of a goat past your taste buds and down your gullet.  The same kind of thrill-horror combination cannot be induced from starting at a plate of “noodle boodle,” a horribly proportioned mixture of mayonnaise (“satan’s pus”), noodles, and smelly chicken from a giant can that makes a wet “thwock” sound when you out it.  It cannot be induced from consuming faux-chili, the generic kind in a giant can.  (Which by the way, tasted even more disgusting that imaginable the last time it was served, because all of the spices and seasonings ended up in a large, sketchy, slimy mass on one of the student’s plates.)

Anyway, on my walk up to the little hole in the wall store, I passed the small funeral service place across the street.  Just as I was strolling past, two men got out of a grey van and struggled to carry the heavy cargo out right in front of me: a coffin.  A bit morbid, but it seemed that they approached their job with enthusiasm.  As I walked passed the van, I read all the writing on the side of it; obviously it was in Romanian.  It said something that might’ve been translated, “Non-stop Funeral Service.”  Next to that was something that looked like “Parasite Restaurant.  3 Stars.”

Hmmm…  It was all I could do to keep walking and try not to think about it.  One thing I will try to avoid to the best of my ability: entering a restaurant with this name.  That and Royal Servants food.


3 Responses to “Hexes and Bad Food”

  1. 1 Paul Albert
    July 18, 2008 at 5:58 am

    Who are these trolls who are so confounded by a hairless head? A head with no hair, I no understand!

    To paraphrase a bible verse, if you had chutzpah the size of a mustard seed, you would whip out your camera and take a picture of these trolls. Besides, I think I can speak for all of your blog’s readers and say I am dying to know what these people look like… your thoughtful descriptions not withstanding.


  2. 2 kalbfly
    July 20, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Thanks Paul. There aren’t enough giga-bytes to capture all the fixed eyes and mouths agape.

  3. 3 Brittany
    October 24, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    haha! I never noticed what was written on that van…hmmm:P
    That sketchy glob of seasonings ended up on my plate…it was pretty disgusting…and I think all of the RS food is a little sketch…:?

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Katie Albert


PO Box 6536
Folsom, CA 95763
July 2008
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