Travel & Romania Day 1 – “The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round”…and Round

June 2, 2019

There are long days.

And then there are LONG days.

My entire day consisted of driving.

Twelve. Frickin’. Hours.

I started the day bright and early with breakfast at 7 AM.  I tried filing up then because I only had a few snacks to last for the whole trip.

At 8 AM, all the Western students met at the front of the hotel and paraded to the Metro with Dr. Frankie West and Dr. Szabo.  We got some weird looks, but that makes sense considering that about 25 college kids were walking around with a bunch of luggage.  Fortunately, it was a quick trip to the US embassy.

The only problem was that we actually had to walk a little further to get to the bus.  Along the way, some old Hungarian guy made a comment to a group of the American girls.  None of us understood it, but it must not have been the nicest thing because the older woman with him started swatting him with her papers.  Then she turned to the girls and said something in Hungarian.  I think she was apologizing.

Either way, it was definitely a bizarre scene at 8:45 in the morning.

Getting on the bus wasn’t a problem.  I was blessed and didn’t have to put my bag on the trailer behind the bus.  I also got to sit with Ashley instead of some random person.

It’s the small victories in life.

Now, the bus was supposed to leave at 9 AM, but some non-Western people got lost looking for the bus.  One girl didn’t show up until 9:30 AM.  This same girl also couldn’t find her passport at customs.

Let me tell you, that was stressful.

When we finally got on our way, the ride itself was beautiful.  The air was fresh and clear.  Everything was green.  There were even whole fields of yellow, red, and purple flowers.  Honestly, I wished Fresno looked more like this.

Some of the most interesting things beside the nature were the towns that we drove through.  They were so small and quaint.  They were also packed rather close together, and every home had its own personal garden.  Every single one.

For those of you who enjoy gardening, I think you would have admired the beauty of these home gardens.  Not only were they beautiful, but they were full of practical plants, too.  Since many of these villages were so far from major grocery stores, I wouldn’t be surprised if they supplemented their food intake with the produce that they grew.

Fortunately, throughout the drive, we made quite a few stops.  If we hadn’t, I would have gone crazy.  I’m also grateful that we stopped often because the roads in Romania were curvy and kind of haphazard.

Now, I don’t mean that they weren’t well maintained.  In fact, these roads were smoother than some of the major freeways and highways of the US.

No, what I mean is that the roads from Budapest to Romania were not a straight shot like most highways back home.  It was like a toddler tried drawing a straight line from point A to point B.

Seriously.

Like, I would see a village way off to the side and think “Oh, that’s pretty.  I wish we could see what it looks like, but I doubt we will because it’s so out of the way”.  The next thing you know, we’re driving through that exact town.

To add a little more perspective, once we got into Romania, it took us two hours to get 40 miles from the border.

Finally, after it felt like the trip was never going to end, our bus made it to The Hinto, the place where we will all be living for a month.  We arrived shortly after 10 PM and were greeted by the rest of the faculty leading this trip.

That’s when rooms were assigned.

Katie K., one of the people leading this field school, tried to assign rooms without shouting since it was so late.  However, with a group our size, it was not going to work.

Clearing her throat, Katie K. began calling names and rooms again – but let me tell you, I’m pretty sure The Wombat back in Budapest knew I was sharing room 12 with two other girls.  It was also funny because she started giving random names accents… Even though they didn’t require them.

I’ve heard some stories about how zany Katie K. can be.  I look forward to seeing this in action.

After everyone was settled, we were given homemade snacks by the Hinto owners.  There were small sandwiches and these fried pastries that were almost like donuts.  Everything was really good.

Especially since the last time I had eat anything was a few Paprika pringles at like 6 PM.

Along with the food, the owners served Polinka.  Since it was an alcoholic drink, I only wanted to taste it, not drink it.

Polinka…

Hmm.

How does one describe it?

The red Polinka tasted like cherry NyQuil.

The white Polinka?

Rubbing alcohol. 

Nail polish remover.

Death.

If you couldn’t tell, it tastes absolutely disgusting, but it would be good for removing paint.

Polinka

This drink is like Romania/Hungary’s equivalent of moonshine.  Apparently, it’s made from fermented plums and contains 30% alcohol.

A shot of Fireball is 33%.

Yeah.

For as painful as the bus trip was, I can’t believe I’m in Romania!  I made it.  I never thought this would happen.  Not in a million years, but here I am, getting to do something amazing.

Thank You, God.

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