I was born here in Galati. But I am not a Gălăţeancă. I don’t speak with the East Romanian (“Moldovan”) accent and I’ve also never been extremely attached to this city. There’s a distinct smell as soon as I came near the city. The smell of years and years of steel production, from the combinat Galati is known for. I’ve tuned out the smell now, but the industry in this city is undeniable. I’m pretty sure there’s heavy metals or something in the water. The pollution and feel of the city is similar to Bucharest. Nothing you’d call elegant or grand in any way. Not quaint either. Just kind of blocky, busy, dirty, and a bit sad. There are a few buildings with classic Baroque architecture, but they are few and far in between. I went through lots of little streets today, wanting to get lost, and I kept remembering places, street corners, even some shops are still the same. I lived here only a short amount of time and visited a bit last time I was in Romania but memories keep springing up, it’s very emotional at times. Most of the poverty I grew up with is gone, but there are little remnants, a few people trying to sell random wares on the street, a few beggars (so far I’ve seen two).
I have little pity for most of the people living here, and my heart goes to these adorable dogs that people abandon. Some of these dogs have little clothes on. I assumed they were lost and not strays, but apparently not. Several dogs rubbed up against my boots for just a little bit of warmth. I’ve seen dogs and cats cuddling together underneath trees, with no animosity whatsoever. They have the biggest eyes and it seems that every dog has a distinct face, while every person looks the same, cold and lacking that Romanian tandreţe I once felt. After a skinny orange stray rubbed up against me, pleading me with eyes as big as the sea, two women walked by, in their fur coats, hair extensions, huge earrings and leather boots talking about some Jenny Craig diet. I really have trouble seeing the “recession” these people are in. They consume so much and I know their income is low but they definitely don’t act like it. They do not respect the life around them nor do they respect themselves and litter needlessly. I have not seen one angry or rabid animal yet. In fact, every single animal that has approached me, came with it’s head bowed low, and tail between it’s legs. They look at me with their beady eyes and tremble in the cold. There is nothing I want more than to start a shelter for these animals, help neuter/spay them and try to curb the overpopulation. It is not necessary to make them all suffer like this. On the bus I saw a sign “Shar Pei puppies for sale 600RON”. 600 RON is roughly 200 USD, more than a month’s rent here in Romania. There is a negative attitude towards strays as it always has been here in Romania. I know at least one third of them are pure-bred or look pure-bred. At the point where most citizens can obviously afford expensive fashion, silly energy drinks, so much food they become overweight and have to pay for a diet, you can afford to take care of your animals.
I know, I am so American. Unapologetically. Forever.