The random events that occur on my trip never cease to amaze me. But I’ll get back to that in a minute. First, let me recap my blog situation. I have no spelling/grammar check. So don’t expect perfect English in every sentence. If we are not Facebook friends, you can still see all the pictures I’m taking on Flickr. I think you just have to search for my name. Which is Brian Cosey. Maybe with my middle name: Gregory. I don’t know. I don’t caption any of them, so just admire the beauty of my perfect photography. Also, occasionally it seems in good taste to be a bit vague with my posts. This is because not every one of my adoring fans needs to know specifics, but if anyone close to me (Angie, this means you) reads it and wants me to elaborate, just ask. And finally, if you are reading this because Facebook posted it on my page, then you may have missed some. It only seems to annouce every other blog post on Facebook. So go back and read them all again to make sure you didn’t miss anything!
I think that covers most of my disclaimers. I left off last time before boarding my train to Iasi. The last train I took, from Belgrade to Bucharest, was quite possibly the worst experience of my life, and certainly of my trip. Additionally, everyone in Romania for years has called this the “Hunger Train.” It technically goes from Timisoara to Iasi, but I was boarding at the halfway point, in Cluj. Still, the name wasn’t promising. So I did what anyone in my situation should do: I drank a bunch of vodka before boarding. That, and ate a bunch of junk food (it’s all they had at the train station at 0130). Well, the train ride wasn’t nearly as bad at the one INTO Romania. AT LEAST I GOT TO SIT DOWN. Besides the incessant smell of urine, the train was pretty average. The lady next to me exited about halfway through the trip, so I had a chance to stretch a little and even took a nap. Comparatively, it was quite acceptable.
I arrove in Iasi at 1023 and headed for the bus station that was about 2km away. Or in fact was right across the street but Google maps was being a jerk again. So after 4km I found myself back at the train station. The train to Chisinau didn’t leave until 0300. I somehow found a bus station across the street (it was fairly well hidden) and just missed the previous bus. I would have to wait a little over an hour for the next one. Or so I thought…
While sitting on the bench I was joined by a rather attractive girl whom I believe was Italian. Her and I confirmed that we were waiting for the same bus (okay, it was actually a van) then continued to wait. Several minutes passed in the hot sun when two men approached and started talking a foreign language with the Italian. Finally she got up and walked away with them, and then one of them turned around to me and, as if surprised I was still sitting there, “come, we have car.”
Uh, shit, why not? I followed them about two blocks, then the guy (who was the only one of the three that knew English) asked “you like beer?” I sure do! So we went inside a small convenience store and he bought beer and sausages. A lot of sausages. Upon exiting he realized he bought NA beer, and had to return to exchange it. Then we got in a car and headed to Chisinau. I popped open a beer with him in the back seat and that’s when it hit me: damn, I am in a car headed to Moldova drinking a beer with people I just met ten minutes ago. This is something that I would never consider doing in the States.
The drive there was scenic. I think I passed out for about half an hour, but the 2.5 hours it took to get there was half the time it would have taken the bus. We stopped at a Bankomat so I could take out some Moldovian money and pay the driver (150 Lei, about $8) and then he dropped off my new friend and I in the center of town. Ciprian turned out to be a life-saver. This town is so hectic and incredibly dissimilar to anywhere I’ve ever been, it may have been a bit overwhelming on my own. We met up with his wife, who was shopping for the new baby they are expecting in two months, then ate some lunch at a diner. Chisinau has a bunch of these eateries that remind me of cafeterias. You grab a tray and order anything that looks good and they weigh it and give you price stickers that the cashier at the end of the line adds up. And damn is this country cheap. So far we’ve been to two, and I’ve eaten my fill (and then some) twice, each for about $5.
After lunch we went back to his house, in a little village called Malcoci. He is building this house on his own, which is quite admirable. However, it’s still in the early stages. The patio isn’t finished, so we enter and exit through a ground-floor window. The shower and toilet are outside. Drinking water is drawn through a well a bit up the road. I do believe it was the first time I’ve ever drawn water from a well. It’s all quite rustic, but also quite enjoyable. We had a BBQ with the sausages he bought in Iasi, along with a giant beer and a bottle of wine we split. The Moldavian countryside is quite beautiful.
The next day Ciprian and his wife Stela left for work about 0800. I slept in. I caught a bus (van) to the city center about 1200 and walked around for a bit. It is incredibly hectic and crowded, with people selling anything and everything you can imagine. I met up with them about 1400 and we went for some lunch. Then Ciprian, who works with Herbalife, helped host an outdoors fitness party which I attended. Afterwards we came back to his house and had dinner with his wife and two kids. It was oddly comforting to eat dinner as a “family.” We had cheese (with local honey!) that a neighbor with two cows living in her front yard made for us, Mexican fagioli soup, pomodoro with salt and olive oil, and bread. So much bread in Europe.
Finishing dinner, I decided to shower. Okay, at 2200 in Moldova, it isn’t the best idea to shower outside with well water. Alhough I can say that it was quite refreshing if not a bit odd to shower under the stars, it was also a bit chilly. Not really too bad, but cold enough that I kept it to a quick rinse.
And now, as things warm up and return to normal size, I’m contemplating the future. I’ve made plans, but now I’m not so sure. I’ve experienced such an unfathomable amount of random happenstance in this trip that I almost want to take the same exact trip next year just to compare. Unfortunately, that experiement would work. I’ve made too many European friends and would spend all my time with them instead of making new ones as I’ve done this trip. However, I’m still curious what would happen with the same itinerary. Not exactly the same, but visiting the same countries or cities or areas. I naively feel that this trip has been too spectacular to ever top. The people I’ve met and the things I’ve experienced; how could that ever happen again? How could occurences that seem so random ever happend twice? Or even work out better than they perfectly did once? I guess, in traveling, I’m just a beginner. Three months does not an expert make. So from now on this will be my only goal in life: travel. Not only to new places, but to see old friends. I think next year I want to spend more time outside of the United States than in it. After all, I’ve had more fun in the past three months than in the past three decades. I just want to be a citizen of the world.