Romanian Reception Preparations and the Big Day!
Trip Start Jul 25, 2009
23Trip End Jul 25, 2013
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Where I stayed
Buni's House and Ballint's House
What I did
A busy bride and groom!
So what can I tell you about my last couple days in Mediaş? I'll begin by saying that even though I didn't feel very well the last two days, I formed excellent memories with my big brother and little sister-in-law, nephew, and new friends from older acquaintances, and am so thankful that my brief time in Romania was such a great experience! The morning of Friday the 23rd, Ioana, Dan, Vlad and I headed out into the town of Mediaş to run some errands for the reception
That evening, we met Tom, an American who Dan and Ioana knew in Denver, who made the long trip out to Romania for the reception, and even though I enjoy being immersed in other cultures, it was a bit of a relief that Dan and I weren't the only foreigners present
Ani took Tom and I to her and Ioana's grandparents' house, in the "Communist Block:" a bland apartment building that was built during the Communist reign, in which her grandparents lived with another couple for years. It was not very inviting on the exterior, and the units themselves were also rather drab, but their grandparents took sufficient pains to make it as homey as possible, and it served well as a place of nostalgia for Ioana and Ani. It's amazing to think that, even with such an evil government as Romania had not too long ago, people still managed, and made do with what they had. The Romanians that I met were much more humble than the average American, proving the age-old recognition that the difficulties we face make us stronger.
Not quite knowing what to expect, I awoke the following morning to many new cultural experiences! Today was the day of the reception, which was more elaborate than the one they had in Denver this past December! It was like they had just gotten married, and Dan and I headed out in our suits (mine was borrowed since I didn't think of brining one) to Ioana's Uncle and Aunt's apartment. We entered the unit to two men playing very eastern-sounding wedding music with their saxophone and accordion, which was very unique, and the cameramen took staged pictures of Dan getting ready (did I let the cat out of the bag?
After a few aperitifs at Uncle Gigi and Aunty Dana's house, and following the custom, we then headed tot he next destination: Dan and Ioana's Godparents' house. I rode with Ani and her boyfriend Ballint, along with his twin sister Blanca (pronounced like "Blanco"). They are Hungarian, though they grew up in Mediaş, and were very delightful people to be around. We had more snacks and (of course) more drinks at Niku and Ellie's, their Godparents', house, and the narrator gave another speech among more attendees. Next stop: Buni's house, and as we approached in our caravan with balloons and streamers, there were many gypsy children outside wanting to join in the festivities. I felt very bad for them and their mother, who was very smiley and congratulated Dan and Ioana. It was heartbreaking because I had nothing to give them, but I hope that things are better for them than that which it seemed.
Here, at Ioana's mom's house, Dan finally saw his bride again, all sparkling in her wedding dress for her special day amongst her family and childhood friends who couldn't make it to her American wedding. She glowed as the narrator gave his final speech in Buni's family room, and the mood was loving and bright. Here ended the traversing houses, and everyone once more got into their vehicles and headed out, this time to the Natural Gas Museum (I know! Different yeah?) to take the actual wedding pictures. This part was just like it is in America, except for that Dan and Niku and the entourage got roped out by a few innocent gypsy boys as they giggled that they would not let the wedding party in until someone paid them (I guess). It was touching, and they eventually gained entrance (don't know if they paid the necessary "fee," but judging from later witnessing their generosity to the street kids, I'm sure they made a good deal).
After the photo shoot, it was finally time to head to the reception hall, which was the icing on the cake regarding new and unique experiences.
The hall was beautiful, the company was fun, and Dan and I became celebrities as so many folks wanted to meet us throughout the night. After the initial entering into the hall, during which everyone got a glass of champagne, I witnessed for the first time the slamming of the champagne glasses on the floor, and I felt bad as I forgot to wear my yarmulke. I sat with Tom and one of Ioana's good friends, along with many other family members at a table near the center table reserved for the bride and groom and their Godparents
After Dan and Ioana's first dance, the first of a series of traditional events took place as some children stole Ioana's shoes, to ransom them back later for a fee. Ioana stood laughing as I snapped photos of her bare feet, and I'm sure it was a relief to get those high heels off (I can't imagine wearing them in the first place!). This event was followed by dancing, which I thankfully participated in (I gotta admit that it takes a lot for me to muster up the courage to ask a girl to dance, but I did ask Blanca, and believe it was very successful as she, thankfully, accepted). One unique thing was that the individual dance quickly turned to a very energetic group dance, as everyone pranced around in a circle while holding hands and making simultaneous "opah-esque" yells at various beats in the song playing as they rapidly closed the circle. Have to say it, but I felt as though i was in a movie: "Fiddler on the Roof" meets "My Big Fat Greek Wedding?" (I know I know, neither of those are Romanian :)
After the dance and much, much more drinking things that I wouldn't have thought the cilia down my throat would survive through initially, a fanfare played as the room quieted down
And how about this for something different? I was summoned to accompany Niku as he revealed to me that the beloved bride, Ioana, had been kidnapped. She was taken away in secret by some captors, and as was tradition, the Godfather had to go and ransom her back. So he and I, along with one of Ioana's cousins, walked down to a local pub, where we found her, gagged and tied up, with a gun pointed at her head by none other than her own brother. Okay, she actually was sitting freely, laughing and drinking a martini or something, surrounded by her kidnappers, who were joking around and making light of this kidnapping tradition. Niku's job, again, was to negotiated her return, and sly as a fox, he made the deal, which I didn't quite understand while in the pub
Interestingly, that was not the only body-snatching that went on that day. Not too long afterwards, I was summoned again to watch as Niku negotiated the release of another prisoner: this time my dear brother, who was taken away by his new female aunt, cousins, and sister-in-law. Cigarette to his lips, collar undone and with a sneer that meant business, Niku stood at the table, around which his new Godson's captors sat, and cooly made a swap: Dan for . . . me. Thankfully, upon such a strange deal having been offered them, I guess the vixen kidnappers decided to just let him go, as after a bit of Romanian jibberish, we all laughingly headed back tot he reception hall (Dan wasn't quite as fortunate as his new wife: he was missing both pinky fingers. They've grown back since :).
Oh, how the night went by, interspersed with more and more unique events
So off I headed back to Ireland for the evening of the 25th, to fly out again the next morning. My last photo of the European continent, in which I had so many amazing experiences and such a wonderful time hanging out with new friends, old friends, and especially with family who I love so much and with whom I'm so close, and those who I now know much better, who I long to visit again and to spend more time with whenever and wherever chance and planning take us, was of the beautiful sunset from my Dublin Travelodge
But this is not the end! For my travels still had not come to their conclusion on leaving Ireland, even though I was through with my great big Europe trip. As was planned, the next stop would be none other than Southern California, in which I was very fortunate to meet my brand new beautiful niece, Erin Colette Sullivan. I was fortunate enough to spend a brief, but lovely time with Dennis and Tracey, and to have dinner with Brian and Kaitlyn, Michael, and a friend Elizabeth in Coronado, San Diego, and then meet up with Michael's beautiful fiancee Randi later on. What a joyous thing that I was able to see so many family members and congratulate Michael and Randi in person on my way back from such a great trip! I've enclosed some photos of Dennis, Tracey and Erin as we barbecued on Tablerock Beach in OC one beautiful evening. Just like old times, with the dad at the flames with sausages, just as we grew up with our Dad, and the mom with child in hand on a beach chair, as Mom had done so often many moons ago. And the photos turned out great, as we created many beautiful images with glowsticks.
My first full day back in Hawai`i, I awoke very early, and headed out to Diamond Head surf break to take more pics as the sun was on its way upward