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Planting Trees at Videle – II

A week after the first time, I went back to Videle to plant more trees, the same NGO organizing the event, this time in partnership with Auchan. In fact this had been the first scheduled event, initially supposed to take place on March 24 and rescheduled due to the weather, this causing some confusion at first, since I initially got messages about the next event from both, the NGO stating April 14 and Auchan April 21, before it was made clear that the April 14 event will be in partnership with a bank and a week later they’ll do the one they had originally planned together.
I must also be fair and say that Auchan really did put some funds and efforts into this, since on top of having transportation covered, tools, gardening gloves, water and coffee available and breakfast and lunch provided, which had happened a week before as well, they also offered windbreakers and caps, as you can see in the pictures I took, and some Coca Cola and Fanta, though those seemed to have been mostly finished early during the day. Also, the sandwich offered for breakfast was a lot bigger and croissants and some cheese-filled pastries were also offered alongside it, while at lunch, alongside the individual portions, there were large trays, I guess the idea being to have one per table, filled with fresh vegetables, olives, cheese, and either something that might have been bacon, likely boiled, or vegetarian meatballs and schnitzels. And there was plenty left over at the end…

But I’ll get back to the previous evening now, when I took a shower after getting back from the Botanical Garden, which is something I’m yet to write about, and then got in bed some time after 10 PM. Since the washing machine was running, had to wait for it to finish, which I guess happened a little before 10:30 PM, or maybe even closer to 10:20 PM, before I could have any chance to fall asleep, but that was all in theory anyway, since I couldn’t sleep at all and just tossed and turned in bed until 12:30 AM, when I finally decided I had wasted enough time and got up to eat. After that, though it’s hardly the best idea to sleep immediately after eating, I got back in bed and actually did manage to catch a nap. I know it was 2:50 AM when I checked my phone, so I was in bed clearly before 3 AM, but it was well after 3 AM, likely around 3:30 AM, maybe even a bit later, when I finally fell asleep. And since I had set my alarm at 4:45 AM, I got just over one hour of sleep and had to function on that for the rest of the day.

At least I didn’t have to rush in the morning again, as I spent more time than intended on-line yet still left on time. Still ran most of the way to the metro station, getting there in only 11 minutes and then waiting for three or so more before the next train got there, and when I reached the parking lot where we were supposed to gather, no later than at 7:25 AM, the first bus was already leaving, but the second one, which I got on, only got moving at 7:48 AM. That also meant I could calmly change the shoes, since I had left wearing them, with my boots, which I had glued back myself and was worried about, especially since it didn’t seem like I had managed to do much about the heel of the left one. But they held just fine over the course of the day and I saw no reason to change again at the end. Admittedly, didn’t wear them when I ran in the morning and didn’t dig that day.

The trip was even more annoying than the week before though, even if nobody actually tried to talk to me. The team leader, or perhaps the main team leader, was also full of energy and wanted to get everyone in the same state, but she gave up soon enough, so I just gave her some nasty looks then and some even worse ones later, when she was stressing that we should look around and talk to people and make friends. The bigger problem was that, though nobody had taken the seat next to me before we were ready to leave, so the guy who I guess could be called the secondary team leader, who also said it was his first such event and kept being pushed by the other one to get more involved and talk to people more, sat there and after just introducing himself didn’t try to talk to me again, he soon got up and left the seat free for the rest of the trip.
Well, that didn’t mean that I was left alone, but that a girl I recognized from other such events, and who had stopped by the Botanical Garden the previous evening as well just to tell the organizer that she couldn’t stay, just suddenly appeared there and spent the rest of the trip talking to those sitting behind, one of them being an older woman who had also been at the Botanical Garden the previous evening. So she didn’t talk to me, but she just kept talking, about volunteering, at some point about pets, so nothing annoying in itself, but just never shutting up and being so infuriatingly excited and positive. When we were approaching our destination and she apologized to those she had been talking to for ruining their trip in case they wanted to look out the window or just rest, before launching herself yet again in a rant about how much she enjoys just looking out the window and seeing the places we pass through on such trips, I actually wrote “annoying babble next to me” on my phone, in the message I was saving, with the few notes I wanted to remember. Don’t know and don’t care whether she saw or not; been trying not to strangle her for over an hour at that point.

The next thing I wrote in that message was that we arrived at 9:37 AM. Then we gathered around the tents and tables, picked up the windbreakers and caps, which I used to make really sure I won’t get sunburned again, with the windbreaker’s hood pulled over my own cap and the one I received worn on top of it, backwards, and had breakfast. I for one grabbed a Coca Cola bottle and drank it all right away, to help myself stay awake, and was eating the cheese-filled pastry and still holding the unopened sandwich when our secondary team leader, as I decided to call him, came to see whether anyone from the green team was still there after they had shouted for us to gather around them a couple of times. But I hadn’t even picked up a croissant yet, so I finished the pastry, grabbed one of those as well, a guy standing in line letting me go ahead of him in order to do so, and then walked to the tables. Not that there was any rush, since I could finish eating before we were all called to gather to listen to a few instructions and then teams were sent one by one to their designated areas, the green one being among the last. And our team leader did show that she was serious when she said, on the bus, that she’ll lead a warmup before we’ll actually start working, after reaching our area.

Back to the moment when we were all gathered, I of course didn’t have teammates at that point, and we had been told to form teams of three this time. But as I was just ignoring the issue and taking a few pictures, a guy came to me, introduced himself, pointed to the girl he was with, and asked whether I wanted to be the third in their team. And I must say that they were great to work with, Giorgian digging, Luiza planting, really taking care to do it right while still being quick, and me chopping up the soil he was digging out and separating the part with the grass from the rest, so we’ll put it back on top, after pressing the rest around the sapling. At first it wasn’t quite so well separated, since he was digging but also chopping up to some extent, so I was also bringing some saplings and pulling the soil back into the hole alongside her, but after a while he really got into a rhythm, digging large chunks out and ending up several holes ahead of us, I think even eight or nine, and she had me just focus on chopping up and separating behind him while she planted on her own behind me. Eventually, before lunch break, he stopped digging and all three of us focused on planting in the existing holes, possibly also in a few made by others as well.
Since our secondary team leader said he was there to bring us water or anything else we needed, they sure made use of him in order to sustain that level of effort. I just grabbed a bottle of water and that was all I drank while planting, but think Giorgian asked for, and drank, a few liters of water over the course of the day, Luiza had a bottle of Coca Cola brought at one point too, and at one point they asked for coffee as well, leading to a somewhat tense moment when they were told there was none left, which only got worse when they were asked to wait for water as well. While still trying to rush the guy, he made a joke of it, but she rather lashed out, there was a somewhat angry little exchange, and when I muttered that it had probably been too much she asked what else did that guy do, reminding me that he had told us himself that he was there to bring us stuff, so he had to bring us stuff, it wasn’t like she was sending me, who was actually working. Then she said that “you must take advantage of people”, which both me and Giorgian reacted to, though neither of us actually said anything else.

Though lunch break was supposed to again be at 1 PM, as that time approached we heard team leaders say that it had been moved to 2 PM. In the end, Auchan employees who also took part in the event were the ones to go on break at 1 PM, while the teams of volunteers were called after that, I think also somewhat separately, to prevent overcrowding. It was still not quite 2 PM when we had our break though, at which point I grabbed the bread and beans and salad and left my teammates again, just finding a free spot for myself at a table.
Hadn’t spotted those large trays when I grabbed my food, so was quite surprised to see them on the tables, also wondering whether they had been placed there from the beginning, which is actually quite possible. There seemed to be two on the table I sat at, one of them empty and the guys sitting there poking at another, which was a vegetarian one, but not seeming to want to eat more from it. They were also almost finished with their portions when I got there, so they were asking each other what to do with that tray, deciding to just take it back to the tents without asking me whether I wanted anything from it… But I did want to eat from a tray too, since it was there and I was making effort, and on so little sleep too, so I looked around after finishing my portion, spotted a table with a covered tray left on it, one of those with meat, alongside the rest of the food those who had sat there hadn’t finished, and despite feeling quite embarrassed because of it, I just dug in until I felt I had really stuffed myself.

After lunch, the teams were rearranged, so those who had finished or were about to could help others who had more work left. It came as something of a surprise to me and my teammates when our team was listed among those which didn’t have much left to do on their designated area and were supposed to finish quickly and then help another, since it sure seemed like there was a fair bit still to do when we had a look, but we did indeed finish quite quickly and then moved on to help with the areas around ours. That wasn’t too easy for me, since I was so stuffed and was even worried I’ll throw up when moving or sitting in ways that upset my stomach, but I managed to hold it all in and get back into a rhythm, mostly planting on my own, close to my teammates, since there were plenty of empty holes.
Not that we had much time left to work after lunch. I heard our team leader ask for confirmation that we were supposed to stop around 4 PM and appearing to receive it, but it was only 3:30 PM when we were all told to just finish planting the tree we were working on at the moment, then bring the tools back and get ready to leave. At that point we, as in the green team, had just been led away from the entire planting area, to one right next to it, where other trees had been planted before, possibly in 2016, according to the guy I asked, and many hadn’t survived. Not sure why our team leaders wanted us to do that when there were still some trees to plant in one or two areas, and since I had spotted that when I had a look around I headed there at first, assuming that’s where we’ll be taken, before my teammates called me back, but either way we pretty much only got to be told that we were supposed to pull out the dead saplings and replace them, because that call to get ready to leave came just as we were getting started.

When I got back to the tents, to take back the gardening gloves, I saw plenty of two-liter water bottles left, saw a few people with Coca Cola bottles too but couldn’t spot any left to grab, but there definitely were large bags of bread that I saw a couple of people make supplies from, at least two piles of portions of beans, with lids on so they could just be grabbed, I think three trays with lids on and one with it off, probably with whatever had been left on trays at the end of the lunch break piled on them, and I believe also some sandwiches in a pile at the back of the tent. If those would have been set alongside the rest, I’d have grabbed one, but wasn’t sure I could just walk in and grab one from there and couldn’t get myself to ask, or to try directly. And I also couldn’t get myself to grab anything else, though I somehow felt a bit hungry again even though I had only stuffed myself about an hour earlier and had been feeling too full just minutes before, so would have wanted to grab another bread and at least some of those vegetarian schnitzels I saw on that open tray, and quickly eat them before leaving.
Team leaders even told us to grab water before heading back to the buses, but even though plenty of others were doing just that, I hadn’t seen any small bottles left and a two-liter one seemed too much to me to just take, especially since I couldn’t have found room for it in my already stuffed backpack and would have had to carry it in my hand. Did consider to get back to the tents and see whether I could persuade myself to grab food after all, but couldn’t even get myself to try, so I ended up being among the first back on the bus and waiting for the rest.
Didn’t even take more than a glass of water on the bus, feeling like shit to even ask for that much when our team leaders were walking with bottles and plastic cups and asking everyone whether we wanted some at the start of the trip back, saying they had five large bottles or so and nothing else to do with them. The woman who ended up sitting next to me, since her seat had been taken by someone else, said she had been given an entire bottle and asked whether I wanted some more a bit later, but even though I was thirsty, which is odd for me in itself and only shows that I had pushed myself a bit too hard, I just couldn’t bring myself to accept. So I just kept that plastic cup in my hand, hoping she’ll ask again and I’ll manage to bring myself to accept, but she didn’t.

Getting back to the start of the trip back, while a week before our team leader had called the names we had written down after leaving Bucharest, to make sure that everybody was there and back in the same bus, as required by law in these cases, this time this wasn’t done and some didn’t even listen when they were told to make sure they got back to the same bus and seat, some even complaining out loud about the request. As a result, when we got moving, at 4:10 PM, there were three people in our bus who were standing, as there were no seats left for them, and soon enough the buses stopped so they could move to the other… Though when the door opened, four people left instead of three, so I’m not sure what happened in the other bus, whether there was room for all of them or not.
In addition, the certificates were messed up as well. I had spotted someone filling some there on the spot before leaving, at a tent next to the one I had to take the gloves back to, but when I asked whether they hadn’t been filled in before she said, with a pretty thick French accent, that there was no point in filling in some that won’t be used, then looked at me and asked whether I was there with Auchan, telling me the certificates for the volunteers were already at the buses and will be distributed on the way when I said no. Some, including the woman sitting next to me on the way back, apparently just had her fill in theirs as well, likely because she couldn’t know who was there as a volunteer and who was from Auchan, since I saw that they had them, but the rest of us were largely left without.
There were certificates on the bus, but they seemed to be for the people who were supposed to be in the other one, as those of us who had gotten back to the right bus couldn’t find ours but a guy who had switched buses found his, as well as that of someone else he knew who was on that other bus. Then there were also some calls between our team leaders, those on another bus and the woman with the French accent, apparently about three people who should have received their certificates from her and were thought to have ended up on our bus, but which seemed to have actually gotten on the other one. And in the end our team leader told us to send her a message after we get home and she’ll either meet with us to give us our certificates or tell us when to go and pick them up from the NGO’s headquarters… But when she replied to my message she said our certificates had been left back there at the tents and we’ll get an e-mail when we’ll be able to pick them up, and so far I didn’t get it.

Either way, we were back at that parking lot at 5:55 PM and I was walking through the door at 6:33 PM, finding it locked in a way that would have indicated that my parents were probably about to leave, but not finding them. What I did find was the kitchen TV on, a hot pot on the stove, though the stove was off at least, smoke in the kitchen, dirty dishes everywhere… Knew my mother had gotten back here to go to the dentist, so that explained where they were, but not why they had apparently left in such a hurry, and definitely not why the door had been locked that way. But by that point I was quite a mess, and hungry and thirsty, so didn’t think much about it and threw my clothes to be washed, grabbed an orange, made myself tea and ate a large bag of corn puffs, therefore using up some of the “reserves” I had here instead of stuffing myself there with stuff that was left over anyway, and feeling even worse because of it. As for my parents, dad explained when they got back that he meant to just take her there and come back, but then stopped to talk to someone in the parking lot and never did get back before he had to go pick her up again.

At the end of it all, I’m happy that trees got planted, and quite grateful for my teammates this time around, but after having pushed myself so hard, both in terms of physical effort and of being around people, and with one trying to talk to me and another babbling endlessly next to me and others being too energetic, or infuriatingly cheerful or positive, or simply being there, too many, too close, too long, I was completely drained. Yet didn’t even nap that evening, didn’t even want to try, only going to bed at the usual time in the morning. And the next day, while my digestive system cleaned up, which resulted in having to take a shit five times, the last one after eating at night even though I hadn’t even made myself a salad, I could finally go through the previous week’s first post again, since I hadn’t until then, and then write the one about the April 14 event. And Monday I was feeling sufficiently recovered to go buy some stuff… But that’s a matter for another post, which will also need to include the part about the Botanical Garden.

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