Happy Birthday to you, James William Welle!
Today Jamie turns 28 years old on the 28th of October, which makes this his golden birthday! Normally the golden birthday celebrant should enjoy an entire day filled with gift opening and cake eating, possibly topped off by a gigantic blow-out party in the style of MTV’s “Sweet Sixteen”.
However, we are in Giurgiu, Romania today, so there will be no blow-out parties or gift opening sprees. Instead Jamie’s celebration will involve a trip to the grocery store to pick out some Haribo gummies, a Romanian cake, and anything he wants for lunch and dinner (it must be cookable on the gas stove, of course). We also took some documentary pictures of Jamie at 28 for future reference.
Jamie is very lucky that we’ve rolled into a town with a real supermarket on his birthday, which will make his celebration feast possible. Giurgiu is the first place we’ve found a supermarket since Belgrade, Serbia. Grocery stores up to this point have been small mini-markets that stock just a few basics, which in this part of the world means canned and tubed meats, bulk waffle-textured wafer cookies, candies, and various pickled vegetables. Also, all the food in the Romanian mini-markets is kept behind glass counters. To buy anything you must ask the cashier to get it for you which is frustrating for us because we can’t say the Romanian name for the thing we want so we are reduced to pointing and then saying “No, no, no, no…” until the cashier points to the correct thing. As soon as you walk into a mini-market you are subject to the cashier’s unwavering steely gaze. She expects that you know exactly what you want, will order it promptly, and get out. I am not familiar with the types of things they sell in Romanian mini-marts so I always want to look around to see what the options are, but the language barrier and intense cashier-gaze always fluster me into giving up my browsing dreams. That plus the limited selection of goods means that we have a very monotonous diet. For breakfast we have yogurt and muesli. Lunch is bread and cheese. Dinner has been pasta, canned tomatoes, and canned beans. Every few days we find apples that are not shriveled up. It seems like most people grow their own produce rather than buy it in stores, so the selection is usually pretty bad.
Here’s Jamie with his birthday cupcakes and goblets of apple juice plus fizzy water.