Post 50: More of On The Road To Romania
We Made It To Romania!
Romania at last! We again parked at the border crossing, but this time Dr. G seemed nervous. He didn’t go to his trunk, but told me we would wait for his brother-in-law to arrive, a part of the plan of which I was unaware. It seemed like a long wait. I can’t recall where he was coming from, it would have been an eight-hour drive from Bucharest, but maybe he wasn’t from there and only had to travel several hours.
Finally, he arrived, a tall man with brown hair and a pleasant smile who didn’t speak much English. He and Dr. G talked for a few minutes, happy to see each other, and then headed into a concrete office building which was part of a large, dull looking, complex of structures and covered lanes which made up the border crossing. I waited patiently by the vehicles until they came out.
I sensed something was different as Dr. G seemed concerned, but he didn’t explain what, if anything, happened with their interactions with the border staff. Dr. G told me he and his brother-in-law would ride together for a while and to follow them. Map or no map, I was no longer the lead driver, which was fine by me.
At a gritty roadside station and restaurant, we stopped to gas up the cars and eat lunch. I headed down a stone path toward the bathroom, an old, loosely sided, wooden building with a rusty tin roof. As I approached, the smell became worse than many of the campground outhouses I’d used during my many years of camping.
The inside was dim; the only light came through slats of the wooden siding, a small dirty window and the open arched doorway. On the right, poured into the floor, a urine stained concrete trough ran the length of the building. On the left were partitions with no doors. And no toilets. Then, in the dim light, between each set of partitions, I noticed a hole in the floor with a foot-shaped iron casting on either side, toes facing the middle of the room.
I really wanted to move my bowels, but realized as adventurous as I thought I was, I was also quite uncoordinated. Visions of me failing to maintain my balance while squatting over a hole with my pants around my knees, plus seeing no toilet paper, convinced me this adventure could wait a while longer. It turned into a long wait.
We ate and then transferred Dr. G’s suitcases into my car and said good-bye to his brother-in-law who soon drove off in a different direction. Dr. G and I were finally riding together and it felt good to be a passenger, as well as having someone to converse with. We headed east with a marked change in the highway, the terrain and the countryside.
A new, modern highway was being constructed to replace the old, two-lane one, which required frequent detours, lane shifts, and then miles of driving back on the old, rough, original road. We wound through small villages with old women in faded long dresses, babushkas, and sturdy black shoes, using branches and long twigs to sweep the sidewalks and driveways of leaves and dirt.
Frequently, we slowed down or stopped for farmers herding sheep or cattle down the road as they moved them from one field to another, or to their homes for milking. We passed horse and wagons hauling hay, potatoes, or manure. The number of tractors decaying in the fields increased, some rusting in the hedgerows between fields, others smack dab in the middle of a field with tired brown weeds surrounding it.
“Beeal, look at this. This iss what communism and dictatorship did to a beautiful country. Romania was ze bread basket of Europe, for much years it fed most the other countries. Look at this land! How good it iss, how much they could produce! Today they cannot feed themselfs.” Dr. G shook his head in sadness, a marked contrast from the effervescent Dr. G I was accustomed to.
Next week: The Mad Gypsy