Planting Trees with Little Effort at Manastirea
The fact that yesterday’s tree planting event seemed at the time to be the only one that I’ll attend this spring made how it actually went even more disappointing, but I was there and did, in fact, plant quite a lot of trees, so I’ll write about it now, starting with the early hours of the day, when I ate dinner earlier, in the kitchen, and got in bed at 3:15 AM. As expected, it was hard to fall asleep at that hour, and I doubt that I had even gotten the briefest nap before deciding to pee again, just in case, just after 4:10 AM. But I did fall asleep at some point after that and slept for more than an hour, and possibly even for more than an hour and a half, before the alarm rang, at 6:15 AM. Then I got up, ate an apple, a pretzel and yogurt with cereals, got dressed, took a Smecta Go, since there had been some reasons for concern from that point of view before going to bed and something still didn’t feel quite right, and left at 7:30 AM, taking some trash, which I dropped off in a bin before jogging to the metro station, having dad’s card. However, I didn’t put on a mask, and it was only when the metro was reaching the next stop that I even pulled up that thing that goes on my neck, to at least cover my nose and mouth with it. And I somehow used the wrong exit at Victory Square, and the time lost to get back to the right one also meant that I had to wait one more “turn” at the stoplights, reaching that parking lot a couple of minutes after 7:50 AM, and we had been told to be there at least ten minutes before the scheduled departure time of 8 AM. But it wasn’t a problem, and it didn’t seem like I had to give my name to anyone, so when a driver asked whether we were there for Manastirea and told us to get in if so, I climbed into his bus and took a seat.
We got moving a little after 8:05 AM and the bus was full, the woman who sat next to me even having her kid on her lap. But at least he was quiet while he was there, and after a little while those who sat behind us offered to let him sit between them and he went there. And, other than confirming that the seat wasn’t taken when she asked, I ignored her completely… Though I found myself unable to ignore the fact that nobody seemed to be wearing a mask, so I still didn’t put mine on either, just pulling that thing up again five or so minutes after we got moving. And I spent most of the time with my eyes closed, trying to rest, though I did notice that we passed through this area at 8:20 AM. The very presence of so many people was making me increasingly anxious, however, and I struggled to keep it under control even while I could still listen to the radio, the feeling returning after we got far enough from Bucharest for the radio frequencies to change and someone else put on some foreign radio, loudly, so my attempt to switch to music just resulted in a cacophony in my ears and I ended up taking off my headphones, making the presence of all of those people even harder to block out. At least looking around after that point meant that I spotted one guy who was wearing a mask, but it seemed too late for me to also put mine on. And I also noticed the colored wristband that was in front of me, on the back of the other seat, making me wonder whether I had missed it until then or somebody had assumed that I was sleeping and quietly placed it there, so I put it on, then wrote my name and signed when the form got to me, and at some later point that woman asked whether I was “still upset” and introduced herself, so I also told her my name and shook her hand, but didn’t say anything else.
What was strange was that the buses stopped on the road for a while, before a driver stopped after turning off that road and seemed to have a rather heated exchange with someone. I heard some comments that the driver was actually the mayor, and now that I looked him up I’m tempted to say that it might have been, but at least after he drove away, at 9:55 AM, the doors opened and we stepped out… And into a really cold wind. And work was being done on the road that led to the planting location, so the dust was also a problem as we walked the rest of the way, which took some ten minutes or so.
Well, when we got there we were surprised to see that many others had been working for quite some time, judging by how many trees were already planted, though at least their speed was soon explained, since we noticed that some workers were doing the digging, with machines, so the volunteers just had to place the saplings in the holes and cover them again. I’m pretty sure that the only time when the holes were already dug was the first time I planted trees, back in 2016, and that is quite a relief when it comes to the actual work… But at the same time it meant that we weren’t exactly warming up, so if I had decided to wear two shirts because I thought that I was going to first take off the jacket and then also one of the shirts, I kept shivering with everything on, and with the apron offered by the organizers on top of it.
Speaking of that, we quickly went to the table where the equipment was handed out, but when the first guy handed me gloves and another one of those things that go on the neck, I just kept the gloves, which I again wore over some rubber ones that I had taken with me, returning that thing and pointing out the one that I was already wearing. And then, after initially taking it, I put back the bottle as well, since I have several of those. I was still hoping to get another hat, but they weren’t offering those anymore, the only other things available being vests and aprons, and we were told that we could take either one, but could only keep the vest, having to return the apron at the end. And the apron is useful, unlike the vest, so I took one and put it on. And then I moved to the next table, where they had bananas, biscuits and drinks, having a banana, a pack of four biscuits and a tea, and also taking a second pack of biscuits and saving it for later.
Then the coordinator called everyone to gather for a quick speech, asking those from that table to stop handing anything out, so people will walk away from there, and he also said that we were the third group to arrive that day, which explained all of the work that had already been done even more. On the other hand, while he did ask who was there for the first time and some hands shot up before he mentioned that he spotted quite a number of hats that indicate people who had attended their previous events, he didn’t really bother to offer instructions anymore, and there certainly was no demonstration of the correct planting technique. But we were planting black locust trees and the saplings were quite large, so maybe they relied on the fact that they could take it if they won’t be planted as well as they should be. And the holes that were dug were also much deeper than what would have been dug with shovels, though he also said that we should plant the trees a little deeper than we normally would, because of the soil from that location. Either way, he also pointed out the fact that we won’t need shovels and told us to form groups of two, four or six and get bundles of saplings, saying that a bundle contained 50 and was supposed to be enough for four people. And he also told those who were from a company that they worked with for that event to go to one side, leaving the rest of us with the other side and asking the stronger men and those who are used to hiking to start from the top of the hill.
Since I grabbed and ate another banana, seeing that they were about to run out, and also took a couple more pictures, by the time I went to the saplings, the coordinator was saying that too many had already been taken and the rest of us should just take some from those, so I climbed the hill and did just that, obviously not caring to find teammates and starting to work at 10:35 AM or so… Only for the holes from that area to be filled really quickly, so even if I searched for any that had been missed or not filled well enough, by 11 AM or so it didn’t seem like there was anything left to do and, after wondering what to do for a few moments and listening to others who were doing the same, I wandered away to look on the other side as well, going the long way around in order to avoid having to climb down the steep hill that was even more treacherous because of the dusty soil and burned vegetation. But at least I used that opportunity to take some more pictures of the area… And being on the top of the other hill allowed me to finally notice that workers were continuing to dig holes on another side of the hill that I had been working on, and other volunteers were gathering there and planting in them, so I went there as well and got back to work… For mere minutes, because at or just after 11:30 AM we were called to gather for a picture, so I finished what I had been doing and returned to the starting location.
It took some time and many calls for everyone to gather, and in the end a few stayed at the top of the hill and kept working, though I’m not exactly sure what they were doing there at that point, but the rest of us were finally brought together at 11:40 AM and the coordinator said that they really wanted to have everyone in the picture because it was their only tree planting event this spring. And the sandwiches had also been brought out, those being the only lunch that was served this time around, so after the picture I took and ate two, and also drank two cups of tea, after waiting a little for more water to be heated. Then I went to pee and got back to work, trying to plant as much as possible in the time that was left, since we had been told that the buses were going to leave at 1 PM, or 1:30 PM at the latest, even though the schedule that had been sent had stated that the work would end at 4 PM.
The problem was that the workers couldn’t dig enough holes for all of the volunteers. The coordinator also complained that they were slacking off, but there were far too many volunteers for them anyway, and in fact some did start digging with shovels, around that starting area, and I planted in a few of those holes at first, before returning to the other area and getting among the crowd of volunteers who were rushing to plant as soon as another hole was dug. So I did plant a lot of trees, but I had stopped counting even before I was done with the first area at the top of the hill and couldn’t even give an estimate with any confidence. 40 seems like a good number, 35 probably a minimum one, but there might have been more. Then again, I might have also overestimated, but that seems unlikely. Either way, it makes the fact that the coordinator said that a bundle of 50 saplings should be enough for a team of four quite laughable, considering how easy it was when we didn’t have to dig and the soil also didn’t need to be broken up before being put back into the hole.
I was still following the diggers and planting when I suddenly noticed that the diggers were pretty much the only ones who were still around me, the noise from their equipment having probably covered any discussions between the volunteers. That was rather startling, and when I checked the time and saw that it was exactly 1 PM I even got a little worried, but a few others were still making their way to the starting location, so I rushed back there as well, and since quite a number of sandwiches were left I grabbed one more and stuffed it in a pocket before going to pee one more time. Then, after taking the last of the pictures, I made my way back to the buses while eating that sandwich, passing a few others on the way but still being anxious, because so few seemed left. And the fact that I didn’t see the buses when I got back to the road even made me start to panic, feeling quite relieved when I turned around and saw that they had moved to another road, so I had just passed by them without noticing.
Two of the drivers were talking when I got there, and I climbed into the bus of the one who was saying that he was just waiting for four stragglers and then he’ll leave. However, after taking a seat I realized that the other one seemed to be the one that I had arrived on, and I also thought that I recognized the driver, so I got off and tried to get on that one… Only to return after that driver told me to do so, saying that it was that bus that was leaving then. That did make me wonder whether I was, in fact, leaving with a first group and other volunteers were staying a little longer, but I hadn’t seen any that were still working when I left and, either way, it was too late to go back at that point. And on that bus I had also seen a girl who was wearing a mask, and it’s possible that the one who sat next to her also did, though I’m not certain, so while that girl had something to eat and drink and took hers off after a little while, I ate that second pack of biscuits and then finally put mine on, no longer feeling that it’d make me stand out so badly. And that bus and another one left at 1:20 PM, nobody sat next to me and I wasn’t prevented from listening to my music either, so that anxiety didn’t return, not even while I was thinking that I should ask the driver to let me off before getting back to Victory Square and trying to figure out where and to work up the courage to do so. But I had heard others ask whether he’ll let them off in a certain place when I got back on that bus and he said that others had asked for the same thing, so I eventually decided to get off there as well if I’ll see a metro station in the area… Which I did, so I rushed to follow those who got up at that point and got off the bus at 2:45 PM.
While more than that would have been hard, I should have been able to write one or two more paragraphs before midnight, but it probably wouldn’t have made that much of a difference when I still had to add the rest later, plus the whole part about the rest of the day, so I ended up only getting as far as the moment when we were called to gather for the picture in what I initially posted, editing in order to add the next three paragraphs before finally going to the kitchen at night, while the rest of what’s above was added right after I ate, since I wrote while eating. That still left the part about the rest of the day, which I finally added before going to bed Wednesday morning.
Since we were dropped off at Sun Plaza and I’ve been meaning to have a look in Cora for a while, I went in and checked out the one from there, but it proved a waste of time… As did searching for the Bebe Tei from there, after seeing signs indicating that one existed, because it’s just a small pharmacy and I couldn’t spot any of the things that I had been looking for while having a look inside and couldn’t get myself to ask. And then some more time passed until I found the way down to the metro station, the total time lost being over an hour in that place, to which I ended up adding the fact that, instead of just switching lines, I went out at Unirii and checked out that Carrefour before returning to the metro station, without getting anything, since there was nothing interesting among the expiring or spoiling products, there were no eggs sold by piece, I still had to go to the one from Orhideea for that bread for myself, and I was quite sure that I was going to find everything else there as well.
I lost a little more time by using the wrong exit at Crangasi as well, then I used the toilet and got what I wanted from that Carrefour. However, when I decided to use the gift card received when I handed over the second batch of 50 RON in coins, the self-checkout displayed the message that an assistant will soon come. I assumed that it was because the total was not at least 50 RON, but when that message went away after a moment, I tried again… Only for the same thing to happen, and for the employee who was monitoring the self-checkouts to ask what was going on and then call someone else over, who said that if I wanted to use a gift card I had to pay the rest first, leaving the exact amount that’s on the card. Then again, that was what I had been told when I used the first one as well, but since that time I had selected the wrong option and then the employee said that there had been an error, I assumed that it wasn’t the real rule, since it makes no sense. But it apparently is the rule, and I’d have needed the coins that had been left in the machine in order to have the exact amount that I needed to pay, and the employee who came to help me had grabbed those, so I wanted to just pay the full amount and get it over with. But she said that I could give her the money and she’ll make it work… Only for the machine to cross out cash payments after she selected the method, so I gave her just over what was needed and she gave me the change and then used the gift card. And when I said that at least those two machines that are supposed to accept cash should actually do so, she said that she’s not given what she needs to keep them working and then she gets blamed for not doing her job, and she opened that machine and told the next customer to wait until she’ll sort it out.
After arranging the purchases and returning to the metro station, I got off at Dristor… After being about to once again use the wrong exit, though at least that time I realized it when I got off the metro and just had to walk to the other end of the station. Then I quickly passed through the farmers’ market, checking the prices of green onions at the few sellers who were still there at that hour and asking one about it, since there was no label, but finding them too expensive to buy any. And I also had a very quick look at the expiring products from that Mega Image, without bothering to use a cabinet, though I did use one when I got to Supeco, mainly looking for cabbage. Only one was left, however, and it didn’t look good, and when I asked an employee she said that they didn’t have any more. And when I weighed the bag of spoiling black radishes that was there I found that it weighed less than what was listed on the label, so I didn’t get that either, but I did get some other things… And, as I was retrieving my things from the cabinet, the guard, whom I had noticed following me around while I was inside and then standing outside when I left, asked who had made my receipt and wanted to see it, and after initially handing it back he asked for it again, and then asked the employee who was there whether she had checked me out, explaining that he hadn’t seen me at the checkout, so that other employee said that I must have been there, since I had a receipt, while I asked whether he thought that I had written it by hand.
At least that didn’t end up costing me even more time, since I wanted to watch the qualifying for the Formula 1 race and I was cutting it close, so I rushed back, though I was still paying enough attention to notice a 1 RON bill on the way, on the sidewalk, and grab it. And I also saw a tiny protest taking place at the entrance to the park, apparently demanding Romania to leave the EU and NATO and adopt a position of “neutrality”, so I gave them the middle finger as I passed by, on the other side of the road. And, when I found that I had a few minutes to spare, I had a quick look in this nearby Mega Image as well, putting just the bag with the purchases from Supeco in a cabinet, without locking it, and then retrieving it moments later.
I got back just in time, a few minutes before 7 PM… And I didn’t just do the day’s squats while watching the qualifying, but did them in an outstanding 2:01, since I also timed them. And I just ate a bag of snacks, considering those sandwiches as lunch, before eventually taking a quick shower. On the other hand, I was disappointed with the day, feeling that I really hadn’t done enough, and to some extent also that the event hadn’t really been what I had hoped for, plus that I had wasted all that time after getting back to Bucharest without having anything to show for it. But I then saw that the other NGO whose tree planting events I’ve been attending will also organize one, in April, so there should be another chance.