Wednesday, November 7, 2007
A rainy autumn day
Most of my excursions here in Romania seem to involve a rainy day, or at least the threat of rain. I've become accustomed to packing a rain jacket wherever I go.
This past Sunday I went to a nearby cave with Cameron and a couple students from my school. It was a grey, overcast day. We had heard that they would be having a concert in the cave; they do every year. For the past 20 years or so, the location has been host to a symphonic concert, with a rock concert the following weekend.
The symphonic concert was the weekend before, so logically, the rock concert was going to be this weekend. However, it wasn't. Unfortunatley, it took a train ride, a hitchhike, and an hour hike for us to find out. Apparently the organizers considered the weather less-than-favorable, and decided to cancel. Bummer.
On the upside, however, we were the only ones there, and got the chance to explore the entire cave. It was much grander than I expected it to be. It must have extended at least a half a kilometer. There were several small stalactites, and one rather ancient limestone column. There was one room filled with the sound of squeaking bats. There were a few asleep, but I was surprised so many were awake. It was quite eerie to take a minute of silence and just listen to them chattering away...in complete darkness. There was absolutely no light in the cave, except for my headlamp. If I shut it off, I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face, literally.
We left the cave as the sky started to spit. Eventually the spitting turned into a rather steady sprinkle, which in turn became a downpour. I puled out my trusty rain jacket; the others looked at me with disgust (having forgotten theirs).
We walked for a while, till we reached the road running through the village of Romanesti. Not much was happening in town, let me tell you. We were hoping against hope that we could hitchhike, but cars were few and far between, at least ones going our way. Funny how Murphy's law works. Any that did come our way just passed on by, apparently unaffected by the sight of 5 wet and tired hikers.
Just as I was resolving to walk the entire way to the main thoroughfare, my legs protesting the idea, I heard a faint rumbling noise, like that of an engine in the distance. I turned around to look behind, and saw a tractor crawling at a snail's pace around the bend. I thought for a brief second, said, "aw heck," and threw out my thumb. The guy driving was obviously amused by the idea that someone would want to hitchhike on his tractor, and he stopped. He happened to be towing a wooden wagon (caruta in Romanian, pronounced 'Karootza'). So we all jumped into the wagon, and held on for the bumpy ride. The rain had turned the dirt on the floor into a greasy mud. It brought back memories of my chilhood, when I would play with the puddles and mud in our driveway. In fact, that was probably the last time I'd gotten so dirty. It didn't help that as the tractor took off, it's spinning wheels flung bits of mud as us. The driver noticed, and threw us his jacket to use as a shield.
The tractor simply crawled along, and the ride seemed to last forever. But, hey, this had to be better than walking, right? Heck, it was more fun! The driver stopped when we reached the main highway, a place where we would surely be able to get another ride. At that intersection was a restaurant called 'El Pepe,' a name which would imply Mexican food (but, alas, none was to be had). We stopped in there, to track our muddy paws to the bathroom and clean off.
From there the ride back to Lugoj was smooth-sailing. Once we arrived home, we capped off our long autumn day with some mulled wine, here called 'vin fiert.'