I haven’t completely abandoned this blog. I honestly have some many pictures to up load. Unfortunately, my battery stopped keeping a charge just as I got to Sighetu and so most of my experiences are recorded on other people’s cameras. I am still waiting for pictures from them but fear I will never get them. Some pictures are probably still on the road being hitchhiked around Romania.
I arrived home Saturday and I have been trying to adjust my sleeping patterns to make up for the 10 hour difference between my home and Romania, plus the 36 hours of travel time.
I started in train leaving Suceava where I met a very nice couple who lived in Spain for over 10 years. They were on their honeymoon and had so much to say and ask. They spoke perfect Spanish, better than I do, and were great conversation. I actually slept some on the train to my surprise considering it stopped what felt like a thousand times along the way. When we arrived I got out and immediately looked for the metro station. To my surprise I could not find the ticket booth anywhere. Frustration began to settle in. So I ascended back up tot he train station and asked information how to get to the airport. She told me to take bus 780. When I asked her where I can buy my ticket she pointed behind her and said the “casa…bilet”. Great, so I went around the corner and I found it! Only it was for the train tickets only. I asked the next person in my best broken Romanian where I could buy a bus ticket and she said she didn’t know, only that I had to take bus 780. Then I asked, well, do I pay the bus driver? Now before travelers and Romanians snicker at me – I want it known that all bus tickets in Suceava are paid directly to the collector on the bus and not at a bus station/ticket booth. This woman actually told me, “Yes” and I went out to the bus stop.
When the bus arrived I happily hopped on and looked for a collector only to find locals effortlessly swiping magnetic cards on fancy little boxes. I looked for a slot to insert my 5 lei bill in vain and when I realized I was on this bus with no pass I was embarrassed! When we arrived at the airport I jumped out and tried to hand the driver my 5 lei bill while explaining I didn’t know where to buy a ticket. He looked at me, winked, and blew me a kiss. I was humbled and grateful and reminded of all the wonderful, kind-hearted people I had come across on my trip so far.
After nestling in on a chair at the gate I missed the announcement regarding my gate change. Lucky for me a kind gentleman I met at the airport woke me up to let me know. I made my way to the new gate groggy and confused only to find I lost my boarding pass. In a panic I retraced my steps, first the ladies room, then the old gate. My new friend rushed around and tried to help me look, never leaving my side. I rushed to the counter where they were boarding and rudely cut in line to breathlessly ask if anyone had turned in a lost ticket. The man looked up at me and smiled. “I remember you, he said.” He was the same person to check my HP Backpack that I totally could have brought on the plane with me. That is important because there is a story about that pack later. He pulled my ticket up, scanned it and told me to get on the first bus. I smiled with my hand over my heart and thanked him.
Upon arriving in London, I saw my new friend and we chatted a bit more. He lives in London and was studying medicine in Constanta, Romania. He took down my facebook address and I thanked him for his help and kindness. We gave a quick hug and I was on my way to my gate for Dallas. Once we arrived some of us were given “express transfer” passes which were meant to ensure we would get through faster in order to make our connection. I went through customs, and picked up my HP Backpack, which was small enough for the plane. But I thought to myself, “Heck, why not recheck it so I can just relax? I never check bags, plus this was checked for free!” So I drop my bag off at the re-checking station, perfectly in tact. Little voices were now saying, “But you’d be able to go straight home from the gate, Edlih!” I shushed them and skedaddled on to my gate. A bumpy ride and some 20 micro naps later I arrived. I was one of the last off my plane and walked out thinking my husband was probably downstairs picking up my backpack that very minute. Instead I see tall, broad shouldered hunk stand up with a sign: Love of My Life. He wins me over every time. We kissed, hugged, yada yada and moved on to get my bag.
Downstairs at the luggage belt we stood until it stopped moving. My heart sank. The few gifts I could manage to pack were in there. My asthma medicine, inhaler, thumb drives…arg. My regret instantly settled in. Whose law was it…if anything will go wrong it will? “It was put on flight XYZ for arrival tomorrow morning, ” he told me at the AA counter. What?! It was a small bag, why wasn’t it put on my plane? Why did they hold it?! He explained it didn’t say why and that upon arrival they’d deliver it to my home.
Fast forward to today: the bag arrives. I was ecstatic but the minute he put it in my hand I blurted, “Why is my front pocket open?” He didn’t even look back to yell “I don’t know” and he skidded away. Confused I began inspecting my bag. One of my locks were missing! I open the pockets and find a note with my broken lock telling me they inspected my bag. F&^%$#rs! They kept my bag almost 24 hours just so they could cut my locks and rummage through my bag. As if it were suspicious in any way – my small HP bags whose contents were dirty laundry, a zip loc bag of clean underwear, school books and oh, yeah, ceramic teaspoons, delicately painted eggs in clay pottery, magnets, keychains, and small wrapped cakes. Yes, suspicious indeed. There was a dire need to do what they did. In fact some ceramics were broken, they mishandled the clay pottery, and left my HD video camera lens cover open and it was exposed to get scratched. I was offended and furious. Screw the patriot act on this one, there is no defense. A simple scan of my items would prove it didn’t contain anything dangerous or illegal. And this, folks, is why you never check your luggage with any airlines. All those little voices where my own, from past experiences telling me to do what I’d always done, premonitions of what happens when you entrust your luggage to a country and company that simply doesn’t care. They were silently telling me, “I told you so.”
It’s okay, I’ll just pay another two grand to visit Romania and pick up new one of a kind, locally produced products that can’t be bought online. No big deal. Jerks. On the positive side I have the best husband ever…and going back next year kind of sounds like a good idea.