Back in Iasi

I’ve been back for three days and am just now feeling coherent enough to post. If you’re just joining us, this previous trip, the longest leg of my road research, was tough. I knew it wouldn’t be a cakewalk, but I didn’t expect it to test the limits of my physical, mental and emotional endurance.

The sleep deprivation hurt me first. Even with the assistance of an herbal sleep remedy, slumber was elusive and filled with dreams/nightmares about car trouble, forgetting to stop in cities and even prolonged, unpleasant dreams about cities that don’t even exist. Everyone has work related nightmares, but I’ve never had them hit me so fast and frequently. I think it says something about the intensity of the work.

Then there was the car accident and huge out-of-pocket payout I was backed into with threats to take away my driver’s license, detain me and haul my ass into court. I never really got over that.

The state of the roads made driving slow and wrecked even more damage on my delicate car. I had to get the muffler re-attached, replaced the bolt that holds the hood down (twice) and buy a new tire.

My run in with the authorities didn’t stop there. On my last day in Sighetu Marmatiei, in northern Maramures, I got a parking ticket. I never thought it possible that I’d get a parking ticket in a country where available parking space is only limited by the scope of one’s imagination. I still have no idea what the offence was. I was parked on a regular street just like 100 other cars. And to be honest I was over 50kms away before I realized that the slip of paper I found on my windscreen was a ticket. It was just a piece or regular Xeroxed paper, very unofficial looking, with the word “Invitation” at the top. At first glace I thought it was an ad and between my failing lucidness and my haste to hit the road, I just tossed it in the passenger seat and squealed off. I didn’t take a close look at it until later in the day and saw the word “police” and realized that the ‘invitation’ was for me to go to the police station that afternoon or else face a fine. Still have no idea why this was necessary or what the violation might have been. If I went, would they have waived the fine? Totally in the dark, but this is where I find myself after just about any encounter with Romanian authorities, so that’s nothing special. So, it goes without saying that I didn’t turn around and drive 50kms back to Sighetu Marmatiei so I could piss away the afternoon in a police station being reprimanded for some arbitrary offence that was probably made up on the spot when they noticed the out-of-town plate just to fill some beat cop’s ticket quota. In the end I’m not worried. That car is still the official property of that shyster that sold it to me and if the cops wanna chase him down to talk about the no-show at the police station way up in Sighetu Marmatiei, more power to them.

The last 200kms before Iasi took me six hours to traverse. The route was primarily through icy, twisty, pot hole riddled mountain roads in the dark. All the makings for a disaster. I drove extra slow because it was either that or die. Of course this opened me up to horn honking, shouting and finger abuse from all the people violently passing me, having no fear of plummeting to their deaths in northern Romania. I was also screamed at and possibly threatened with violence by a countryside truck driver who, in a typical bout of Romanian driver short-sightedness, pulled up directly behind my car at a gas station, rather than go to one of three open pumps, and proceeded to get irate when I spent an extra 30 seconds inside the station to buy a Snickers. I was feeling so frustrated, abused and crazy with exhaustion that it took every fibre of my being to not drop into a wild rage, drag him out of his truck and feed a tire iron to him.

I’m still feeling very sensitive to everything about Romania that annoys me (that being all things bureaucratic and car related). A typical run-in with a postal official this morning has had me seething all day. Rest is really the only answer. I’m not planning to even look at my work for another few days. My trip to Moldova will commence in the second or third week of April, depending on the success of several bureaucratic hoops I have to jump through before I can leave, including finalizing the purchase of my god forsaken vehicle so the next time some deranged idiot swerves in front of me, I don’t have to pay his bill on the spot.

And now for something a little more positive.