Terrible journey from Budapest to Sofia

Trip Start May 16, 2006
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Trip End Aug 16, 2006


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Sunday, June 4, 2006

First, I forgot to mention a quite interesting fellow I met in the hostel and hung out with for a couple days, Ernest. He was very smart, funny, kind, and generally together. This all made his past, which I eventually got him to disclose using a combination of tact and curiosity-induced rudeness, all the more surprising. His life story goes roughly as follows...

Age 15 his family moves to Phili, he is suddenly in public instead of private school, he is not accustomed to the new environment, he starts doing drugs, and almost immediately climbs the ladder to cocaine, heroin, etc. His life is about drugs, he goes in and out of school and jail, and eventually does a year for heroin possession at the age of 17 or so. The guy in the cot next to him is a known molestor, and when said guy nears Ernest in the night, Ernest stabs him in the face with a fork, his only violent stint ever. Later, out of jail, he goes back to drugs, can't hold a job, is generally miserable. This gets worse, he eventually decides he wants to end it all. He manages to acquire enough heroin to overdose, finds a place to sharpen his rusty needle, and prepares to do the deed. The needle breaks off, so he slits his wrist and tries to cram it in direct from plunger thing. He fails, wakes up the next day, chooses not to get his methodone, and commits himself to rehab (which he has been in and out of before). This time, though, he essentially wanted to quit, and he does. He now is 26, has a degree, job, wife, and kid on the way, and is still entirely free of drugs and alcohol.

Puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

Anyway, onto the quite eventful journey from Budapest to Sofia.

I showed up the day before yesterday to board my bus, only to find that THEY MOVED IT TO THE NEXT DAY AND DID NOT TELL ME. Great. So I wander around in the rain for 2 hours trying to find a hostel.

So, last night the bus actually runs, but it is basically miserable. I have a smelly bulgarian next to me, who decides he is entitled to 2/3 of our 7.3 inch wide pair of seats. I get the very front seat, which puts me about .53 inches from the front coolers and things for the driver and (completely useless) crew member. So no leg room for the, possibly, tallest person on the bus. Oh, and when I discover that propping my legs on the very high table thing that is in front of me is, strangely, a bit comfortable, the driver decides to smack at my feet and angrily tell me something in bulgarian. Luckily, though, it's only a 16 hour trip... wonderful. Oh, and the volume of the 2 movies played are nearly muted, since there are bulgarian subtitles, but at about 11pm when they stop playing movies, the driver decides it's okay to blast obnoxious bulgarian pop music, thus obliterating any miniscule chance of sleep I had. Side note: I have no idea why 2 kitchen knives rested upon afforementioned table, unused and ignored the entire trip. Smelly next to me is lucky I am not the stabbing type.

Oh, and also there were the 2 times were were completely dead-ended on narrow 2-lane mountain roads, queued behind a line of semis stretching beyond vision. The first time, the driver pulls off the most miraculous turnaround EVER. Picture a 50 ft bus turning around in a 4 inch wide corridor, but the instead of walls at its edges, the corridor drops off steeply and abruptly. So, we backtrack, go somewhere else, and (I later discover) go through Serbia. And then get stuck in a nearly identical manner. 2 lanes, very narrow, no shoulder, nowhere to go. This time, though, we wait it out, and whatever wrecked and blocked the road eventually got out of the way, and we made it to Bulgaria, and eventually Sofia.

I hungrily devoured some 10 am late dinner McDonald's, got directions to my hostel, and have now spent a very tired and braindead hour or two at this internet cafe. Goodbye, all.

ps- I do not respond to each comment, but I do appreciate them all, and i want everyone to know back home that I miss and love them.
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