Thursday, September 25, 2014

Buna Ziua! (Good Day!)

Flew from Paris to Frankfurt then to Bucharest, Romania. From up in the air all that could be seen was clouds, a thick heavy blanket if clouds. No land until we got to Bucharest. It was raining when we landed, poring actually which I'll say was His blessing for the start of my next adventure. Going through customs was easy, it took maybe 2 minutes tops. My bag was the seventh one to come out! It was a lucky day, indeed. I continued through the arrival hate where I met Alex, my greeter, who recognized me before I him. Took 90 minutes to drive to Brasov. Crazy drivers here, I must say. I saw over 10 road kill victims just during my drive. 

Brasov is beautiful! So many trees!!!! The city is in the center of a fortress once inhabited by the Saxons during the 13th century. It has a lot of German and Turkish influences, mostly in the architecture and cuisine. My house is located just under the Brasov sign in the mountains. The Brasov sign is just like the Hollywood sign in CA. I'm hoping to hike up there before I leave. The house is 500 years old, but in very good condition. I was greeted by my host mother, Rodica. She only speaks Romanian but I'm getting used to talking to her in sign language or using body gestures. My room is very big, fitting three beds, three shelves and a wooden table where we eat. I met one of my roommates, Christina, who's from Norway and is volunteering in one of the orphanages. She is very quiet and so sweet. She invited me to an organ concert at the Black Church that night where we'd meet our other roommate. 

The Black Church is only a 5 minute walk. It is an old gothic church that was once called saint Mary's church until a fire took much of the inside of the church. The foundation is still there as well as some of the articles inside. The concert ticket was 10 lei which amounts to about $3. My other roommate, Harriet, is from Australia and is quite eccentric. She is teaching drama at the high schools and day centers. We all hit it off instantly. 

At dinner we had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fish fingers, vegetable soup and pickled vegetables. All made from scratch by Rodica. 

My supervisor is a salsa teacher here in Romania. Her school is very prestigious and has traveled to many different countries to perform and compete. I took one of her salsa classes last night and am going to a 2 day salsa convention with her this weekend! What a surprise! I'm teaching a workshop to her students on October 11 where all the proceeds will be donated to the local orphanages. 

Started my first day teaching at the orphanage today. It houses 12 girls and 12 boys. The boys are very eager to learn and are very respectful and love to play. The girls are more reserved. It's a little hard because they speak romanian and just a little English. Not even a little, just yes and no. We did hand motions and a few basics then played futbal. I walked the boys to school, well actually they walked me, but I supervised. They're ages 8-11. Very good kids. They love to hug you and hold your hand and are always happy despite all of the tragic experiences that they've gone through. I'm very excited to be working with them every day!  

Thank you for all the support! I would really love to hear your feedback, even just a short comment! I like to see that people are reading! 
Pictured is the centre or square of Brasov and a view of my room. More to come! 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The difference

It took me a while to write this entry. Everything is happening so fast and it's been hard for me to put into words my experiences. When I would finally be able to sit down and blog nothing would come out. 

Coming from Spain to Paris, France was quite a culture shock to say the least. As one of our tour guides in Barcelona said, "The Spanish has the second largest life expectancy in the world because of siestas, olive oil and good wine."  He later went on to explain how the Spanish mindset is. They let things run it's course, no deadlines do no stress. Such a beautiful concept unknown to the western world. I'll have to talk to Mr. Obama about implementing siestas in our day, but time is money as they say, and lost sleep is a shorter life! 

Paris reminds me of New York City; the constant, untamed traffic, the feeling of always being lost, the not always very welcoming locals. But nonetheless, Paris is one of a kind. It is crazy to see so much history and culture everywhere you turn, unlike home in the Silicon Valley where everything is new or being created. Amazing to think of the people that dedicated their life to the monumental works of art displayed around the city. Upon my first day in Paris, we visited the Tour Eiffel and the Louvre. The Eiffel Tower is massive! What a sight to be seen. I was able to take a selfie with Mona Lisa herself, which was smaller than I expected but more beautiful too. The sculptures were my favorite. They were so lifelike, ever dimple every crevice, the textures portrayed in solid rock, magnificent indeed. 

On our third day, my family went home. It was really hard for me. This is the first time I've ever been away from my family for this long, let alone over 6,000 miles away. Granny called me at the hotel because she thought she had free long distance, but she doesn't, so she'll be expecting a pretty high phone bill for the month. She and my aunt were also able to send me and iTunes gift card to purchase movies on my phone because Netflix doesn't work in Europe. Probably one of the worst things to find out when you're a teenager alone in another country. Just as a warning, most restaurants not in touristy areas are closed on Sundays. So I took a 45 min metro making 3 Line changes and over 25 stops to a Chinese take out place. I was too tired to make the trip back so I took a taxi that costed me 20€ which amounts to about $30. Fun. Another warning for you all. The maid service in hotels don't knock! I was in the middle of changing my clothes when the maid barged in with her garbage bags in hand. I definitely screamed and she quickly found her way out. And I thought knocking was universal! 

Anyways, off to Romania I go! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A common language

This entry is dedicated to my hula 'ohana back home.  I miss and love you all.  'Eo Nā Wai Ola, Kū! 

Today was incredible to say the least. 
You don't know what it is like to be a hula po'e (hula person) and not dance for 2 weeks. It feels like a part of you is missing, like someone ripped out your heart.  Hearing the ipu and feeling the mana flowing through you is truly an indescribable feeling. I feel whole again. 

Today we taught a great group of haumana (students) in Barcelona. Some spoke a little English, but some none at all, our common language was hula.  Let me tell you, once you get the mana flowing through you, there are no barriers.
 It was so refreshing being able to share with people that love dancing, the culture and the mana (energy, spirit) of hula. Our hosts, Keanu and Tiare, were very welcoming and grateful.  I am looking forward to our lunch on Tuesday. E Hawai'i 'Akea was the kahiko chosen to teach as Mark has been trying to premiere the movie, The Haumana, in Barcelona for some time.  The 'auana taught was Hawaiian Rhumba which was choreographed just before leaving home for the combined group competing in November. 

I am grateful to have represented Hālau Nā Wai Ola as our lineage is shared and spread across the world.  

Me ke aloha,


Visited the beautiful Andalusian palace of Alhambra (the red palace)  in Andalucía, Spain that housed sultans and religious figures alike. The flawless architecture has Muslim, Catholic and Jewish influences complete with intrequetely molded plaster adorning the walls and perfectly symmetrical hand carved wooden doors and ceilings. Gardens are elegantly placed and flaunt the cultures early technological enginuity with fountains connecting to the fresh water aqueducts, thus, all fountains on the grounds are drinkable.  It was easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I want to live in this palace even now in the 21st century. After a day in Málaga my journey continued to Barcelona, where I am now.  Yesterday was spent exploring Old Town Barcelona where the Roman Gothic Cathedral pictured below was a highlight and the alleyways once walked by religious figures and ancient Roman columns still reside.  More to come. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

American soil

In just a few hours I'll be on a ship for Spain. These are my last hours on American soil. 

All yesterday I was thinking really hard about what these weeks mean to me. What I'm trying to find. What my motive is, I guess. And after conversations with my mom she was able to put my thoughts into words. I want to discover what makes people do things... How they seem to thrive in all corners of the world... How they bring meaning into their lives... If and how they are really happy and fulfilled. 

On American soil we can be whoever we want and live the American Dream... Well, maybe if you have a 4.0 gpa become a CEO and never see your family or you can go another route and become a famous actor that parties every night or a super model with self image issues and a deadly disorder.  I want to prove that there are other ways to make it in this world and truly be happy and to do this we have to take a risk. 

In no way do I want to create controversy, but maybe just an interesting conversation at the dinner table tonight. 

Here's a challenge for you all today.
Do something that makes you truly happy whether it be sitting outside reading a book or going on a hike or even taking a nap. 

I want to see you being happy! Take a picture of you in your happy place, tag me and hashtag #18andabout on Instagram or Twitter. Or send me a comment telling me what you're doing. 

We need to indulge in our little pleasures every so often. 

Hope you all have a great Labor Day weekend.