Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Cheese and Cranky Canines

There are quite a few random experiences I've had here in Eastern Europe that I want to write down and preserve for posterity.  Some of them funny, some of them a little scary, some of them frustrating.  I'll start with a culinary experience.  I am generally willing to try any reasonable-sounding food at least once, so when my friend N said to me something like "Hey I have some chocolate-covered cheese stuff in my fridge that I can't eat (due to allergies).  Do you want to try it?" I said yes.  I love chocolate.  I love cheese.  How bad can it be?  Turns out I like it a lot.  It is similar in size and shape to a small ice cream bar and the cheese inside of it has a consistency kind of like ricotta.  I actually bought a few more when we went to the market.  Now the mystery meat that seems so prevalent here, that's another story...

Now for the scary.  I am a dog lover - we have two mutts at home.  There are stray dogs everywhere here.  They roam the streets, sometimes alone and sometimes in packs of three or four.  They sleep in the underground tunnels and on door stoops.  Most of them look like they get a decent amount to eat and seem generally healthy, which is all that keeps it from being heartbreaking to me to see them wandering around.

They usually keep to themselves and don't look the least bit menacing.  Last time I was in this country I became really accustomed to just walking by them - we have mutually ignored each other.  Well, last week while Rob and Bou were on the playground I decided to cross the street to take a photo of a church, and apparently this was the wrong move!  A medium-sized shaggy black dog who had been curled up on the dirt suddenly jumped up as I passed by.  He came running at me, barking wildly.  At first I wasn't too worried but then he started trying to nip at my heels.  Two of his medium-sized buddies heard the commotion and joined him.  My inner redneck snapped to attention.  I took my bag off my shoulder and started swinging it at them, kicking my feet in their direction, and yelling "You better GIT outta here!" and "Go ON!". The people nearby watched me with trepidation but did not move.  Finally the dogs backed off - they may be of Eastern European descent, but clearly they understood that a Southern woman with a handbag and boots is a force to be reckoned with :)

Here's another kind of frustrating but mostly funny story.  I have been fighting an upper respiratory virus since the day we arrived in country.  By the time we had our first orphanage visit, I had lost my voice and was a little worried that they wouldn't let me in for fear that I may make Isabella sick.  It didn't seem to be an issue at all though.  After we left, I commented to my translator (in my raspy whisper) that I was really relieved it hadn't prevented me from seeing her.  She replied, "Oh that's because I told them you were nervous and under psychiatric stress about seeing your new daughter and it caused you to lose your voice.  That's why you got in."  That's nice.  So when I still had no voice three days later, I imagined that as I walked in, the staff were probably saying to each other "Hey, that crazy woman who sounds like Darth Vader is here again."

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