This was summer 2007. Bad, bad times at my grandma’s house in RO. So bad, in fact, that I decided to pack a few things and run off to Sulina for a few days. I left the crib at 4:30 or 5 in the morning, took a cab to Gara Obor (the ghetto train station) and got some tickets for the Bucharest-Tulcea ride. It was still dark outside as I waited on the steps at the front entrance, trying not to think about anything, in a state of protective numbness that was in my habit to enter before a particularly long journey. And this one was going to be quite long. In more ways than I knew.
By the time the train had arrived and I had made my way to my compartment, dawn was already breaking. We were barely a few minutes into the journey when the sun rose, and the moment was so glorious I just had to jot down a few words in my diary (which I don’t keep anymore, and which was in French at the time). Here is a sample: “Il est bientôt six heures du matin. Je suis dans le train. Je pouvais plus rester à Bucarest.” As I was seeing Jah glory in the morning sun and writing in my diary, I heard a sharp giggle from my right.
“Hihihi, why are you writing in French?”
“Because I feel like it.”
I turned to face this female presence and instantly noted she had interesting features, and I would learn that she also had a very overwhelming personality. Trains in RO can go as fast as 160 km/h, but to be honest, I never measured their velocity. What I knew for sure was we’d be travelling extremely slowly this day, because the heatwave had dilated the tracks, and it would be dangerous to proceed at a reasonably normal speed. The 278 km journey would take seven hours. And then I’d have to take a one-and-a-half-hour boat ride to Sulina.
But what’s a horrible journey without a talkative fellow traveller? C… told me many, many things about her and even insisted we leave the compartment and move into an empty one, possibly prompted by the creepy guy in the corner who kept staring, and probably also by the manly odor emanating from my body.
In the empty compartment, C… proceeded to “get sleepy” on me, turn the conversation towards sex and place her inquisitive hands in such a way as to ensure the instant formation of rock in my pants. The rock also began speaking to me, telling me rocks belong in caves, and I felt the urge to act on its advice, while knowing that, if I tapped this biech, I would hang myself with my trouser leg after. What gladly saved me was the repeated disturbances occasioned by the creepy guy in the other compartment, who kept asking for lighters and other trinkets just to get a chance to stare at us. Oh, and there was also the smartly dressed 12 year old kid smoking cigarettes on the hallway, using a kind of language on his little sister that was shocking even to my ears.
Later on, the desert landscape (which had been fields before the heatwave, I suppose) changed into marshland, a sure sign we were getting closer to Tulcea. In a desperate attempt to steer the conversation away from sex, I said:
“Hmm, I bet there’s plenty of frogs around here”
With an excited look on her face, the lady traveller replied:
“You know, I really like to eat frogs!”
This enthusiastic exclamation, coupled with the woman’s interesting features, made up such a tableau as to remain forever etched in my memory.
We stayed in touch briefly after the train journey. Then I bailed from the country and that was that.