Gordon:  Last night we were ambling about the town of Caracal when we chanced upon an Orthodox Church that was open.  The churches are generally locked, but this one was being straightened up following a wedding.  The priest came out and gave us a tour in French and English, and then invited us to join he and his family for dinner.  Following our rule of never declining an invitation, we accepted.

The priest drove us to a large home that the parish is constructing to house needy members of the community.  His wife and three children were there, as were his brother and several other friends.  The meal was a special event traditionally held six weeks after the death of a family member, in this case the priest’s mother.  We were given the seats of honour at the head of the table and plied with a variety of delicious foods and beverages.  The three children, aged 12, 17 and 19 (?) spoke excellent English, and we passed the evening in lively and entertaining conversation.  The bright and serious middle child, Sofia, sat across from us and provided translation, when necessary, as well as well-informed commentary.  Upon learning that we are Canadian, the priest’s eccentric older brother, a fan of classic rock, told us how much he admired Leonard Cohen and Rush.
At the end of the evening we were given gifts of food, including buns with candles that are traditionally lit the following morning.  The priest drove us on a tour of the town, highlighting the beautiful Victorian mansions, the drab communist era blocks, and the flamboyant mansions of the wealthy Roma (a rare but noteworthy demographic).
We feel deeply honoured to have been included in this traditional family event.  It is experiences like these that are the best moments in travel.  Sofia is now Facebook friends with Ruth, so we will be able to maintain some connection in the future.

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