SO I BOOK A REST IN BUCHAREST
Trip Start Aug 02, 2009
27Trip End Oct 08, 2009
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Where I stayed
I make friends with a Colombian who’s staying there, pure old school, doesn’t even speak English, traveling the world, even doing business, entirely in Spanish (or not at all), smiling all the way. So he immediately drafts me to his cause. I wonder how long he’s been waiting for this opportunity? Our project for the afternoon becomes one of finding the elixir of youth, apparently a hot product on the free market. To that end we go to a hospital famous for that purpose, no appointment, and manage to see one of their top doctors. He tells us that our photocopy is of a counterfeit product but gives us the website and telephone number of a local factory that supposedly manufactures the real thing. So I call- fun fun- but get hung up on before it’s all over, actually right about the same time. I keep telling Hernando that he should do all this by Internet, but he’s not having it, old school I’m telling you. BTW everything is 'old school’ here, if not ‘nonstop,’ two of the hottest-selling English-language concepts on the market.
"I should see if any of the local pharmacies have the product," Hernando says.
Now he’s talking some sense. I wave my arm out to indicate the rather large pharmacy we’re standing in front of. They have it, both the cosmetic and medical versions.
“Buy your samples here, Hernando,” I advise. That’s all he wants up front anyway. So he does, after some significant bantering with an employee who fortunately speaks Spanish. That’s fine with me. In the subway we met a gypsy woman- sounds corny, doesn’t it- who spoke Spanish and she immediately latched on to Hernando- for what I don’t know- but they traded numbers like old buddies. Now he says he’s going to get her to go with him to the factory tomorrow. Whatever, I’ll be on the way to Iasi, older but wiser.
Gypsies are present in large numbers, apparently doing all the wayward shenanigans for which they are famous, though not always skillfully. Figure the locals would never fall for their tricks, do you? Think again. I saw one young man feigning a dizzy spell, literally touching his forehead while stumbling around in a daze, until he finally falls to the ground. Some locals help him up, but I can’t believe it. Acting like this would not get you a call back in Hollywood, but the locals are sucking it up like candy. I leave before the climax. I don’t need to see the chase scene to know it’s a bad movie. I don’t know how Hernando’s story ends, either. Maybe he’ll e-mail me one day.
Bucharest gets generally fairly mediocre reviews, but I find myself liking it. Maybe it’s the combination Slav-Latino culture. The language DOES seem to carry a code embedded, Noam, red tile roofs and central plazas, the whole Latino schmear. There’s even an Arc de Triomphe here, just like Paris, just like Vientiane. There are even cafes in every park, and of course, smokers in every doorway. The food is nothing special, though, and I figure there must be a lot of stomach problems until I realize that ‘stomatologic’ clinics are dental ones, hence all the smiling teeth on the signs. Bucharest is a bit of a dead end, though, easy to go back to Europe, but not so easy to enter the CIS. Finally I find a bus to Iasi. From there I’ll enter Molodova, my sixth state in the former USSR without even visiting Russia yet.
As I lie in bed contemplating all this, awaiting my morning wake-up call to go catch my bus, suddenly there is a RIP in the fabric of space, a CUT in the tissue of time. GOD HELP ME! You guessed it- somebody in the dorm farted. My friend Gary warned me of this years ago, but I didn’t think I’d live to see it. It’s the old Irish guy; I know it. He claims to be buying timber, but seems to be drinking the profits. Why else would he be staying in a hostel? At least it helps alleviate any feelings that I’m a loser. He and Hernando both are fumbling around patching deals together just like I used to. But for the grace of God, there go I. It’s time to go catch my bus.