It's been a day for new experiences.
First, the strange: I went downtown today to get something for my ingerasul (secret Santa) and while walking, a little girl came up and tried to sell me something. I wasn't really paying attention so it wasn't until I was about ten feet away that I turned around to see what she wanted, at which time I discovered she had a little piglet in her backpack. Did a double-take, realized it was actually a baby goat. Life continues to be strange.
But let's be clear here. It wasn't weird that she was selling a goat in the city center. I get that. I mean, where else are you going to go to do your selling except to the center of commerce. Fair enough. But I never expected it to be so clean and cute and hanging out in a little girl's backpack. Which was purple on the front. (**UPDATE** Apparently this is a New Years' tradition I was completely ignorant of. It's explained in the comments, but you touch the goat to have good luck in the new year.)
And tonight we went caroling, and let me tell you, having never done anything like that in my life, it was really really wonderful. We were out four or five hours and it rained (lightly) all but about ten minutes, during which it got cold enough to turn to almost-snow. The carols here are wonderful. Some of them are the same tune as ones we have but with entirely different words, others I'd never heard before. But they're beautiful. Some of the words from my favorite:
Cant Osana, cant Osana,
Cant Osana rege-al regilor
Cant Osana, cant Osana,
Cant Osana lui Isus
Parasiti turma voasta-n campie
Alergati uimiti la el
El va e singura bucurie
(They) sing Hosanna, Hosanna
Hosanna, king of kings
Hosanna to Jesus
Leave your flock in the countryside
Run amazed to him
He's your single joy
At first the whole thing reminded me a little of Halloween because after you sing people give you fruit or candy. Or money, but we didn't take any. But people seemed so happy to hear it. We'd climb to the top floor in a bloc and then as we went back down to leave, other people would open their doors, cry sometimes even. Actually, funny thing--one old lady was so insistent we take the money and we were so insistent on not that she ended up sticking the money inside one guy's clothes. Oh, and also! It seems wherever I go in Romania, whether it's hiking or this, there's always a dog that appears out of nowhere and accompanies us the whole time. So this time as well. I baptized him Petrisor :)
So I have come to discover that caroling, even in the rain, even in the cold is just about the greatest thing I've gotten to do here yet. (The oranges they gave us aren't so bad either.) And we're going the next two days as well. So hopefully there'll be more to write about...