Post 46: Installment of – On The Road To Romania
Who Needs A Map?
We didn’t take the exit. Dr. G never slowed down or changed lanes, but zoomed right by the signs and off ramp. I grabbed the map. I felt sure there was no other direct route, but thought maybe I missed one. Studying the map draped over the steering wheel, at one hundred kilometers per hour, I easily concluded there was no other direct route to Bucharest. In fact, we were now headed east and by my quick calculations, would be in Poland in about three hours. A place I wanted to visit, but not on this trip.
I gunned my car up close behind his and flashed the headlights several times. Dr. G looked in his rearview mirror, gave a big smile and waved as if we were long lost buddies. After several miles of me flashing and him smiling and waving, I pulled up alongside him and motioned for him to pull over. He stopped on a high speed exit ramp with me right behind him. Onthe ramp! We literally stopped in the middle of the exit lane, nowhere near the shoulder.
“Beeal, what iss wrong? Are you OK?”
“Um, Dr. G, we missed the exit. Back at Brno I think we were supposed to follow E65 and now we’re on E462. We’re headed east, but we needed to go south.”
“Beeal, I don’t think so, I know zee way. Let’s look at your map and I show you.”
We leaned over the hood, trying to study the map as it flapped in the wind. After a second car swerved madly around us, horn blasting, Dr. G decided we should get out of the exit ramp and seek further advice. We followed the exit onto a smaller road only to find no town or service station at this interchange.
Down the road, about a half mile, we noticed a heavyset man in his front yard, leaning into the engine of an old car, his pants drooping and his white butt cheeks gleaming in the bright afternoon sun like two half-moons. We parked (on the shoulder this time) and walked up to him as he slowly stepped down from a greasy wooden box and hitched up his pants.
He didn’t speak English, Romanian or German and we didn’t speak Czech. After lots of gestures and all of our fingers jabbing and moving over the map—sort of a tower of Babel experience—he threw his hands in the air, talking loudly. We obviously didn’t understand his sign language or his shouting. After several repetitions of this, with him getting redder in the face each time, he grabbed the map away from us and, with only his fat greasy finger on the map, slowly traced the route, pointedly showing the exit we missed: E65 South, back at Brno.
“Beeal, we missed zee exit, we half to go back and go south,” Dr. G excitedly exclaimed. Like it was a new revelation to mankind.
I quickly jumped into my car and floored it, going around Dr. G as he lurched into gear. I sped onto the expressway, driving fast, forcing him to follow me. After we negotiated the interchange back onto E65 south, I slowed down, thinking he would pass me to retake the lead. He didn’t, so I pulled into the next rest stop and nervously parked, worried I offended Dr. G by tearing around him and forcing him to follow me. I needn’t have worried.
“Beeal, you OK? I think you do such a good job, you should lead!”
“OK, thank you, Dr. G.” After all, I did have the map, and no intentions of giving it up.
“But, when we get to border crossing, we park and you stay with cars. Only I go in,” he added.
“That’s fine,” I said, wondering why. So we took off, this time with me as the designated official leader. Except at border crossings.
Next Week: Tolls & Border Crossings