The next morning, driving into Deva gave me my first look at Romania, and it was basically like a lot of places I’d seen in Latin America. Plenty of trees on those hills, but one had to wonder how long that would last, if industry and commerce and most of all capitalism blew into this town.
Then I was told Transylvania means “Land Beyond the Forest,” so maybe there was a chance. . .
First things first: find a real place to stay. The best hotel in town—which wasn’t saying much, the elevator was tiny and kept sticking—charged us four dollars—yep, four dollars!—for three nights. Even 25 years ago. . . you just gotta lie back and let that sink in. Yep, it’s true, not lying.
Second order of business: find a local in need of cash who will do my laundry.
Finally in the afternoon—nap time after the train and lumpy overcrowded couch—I got my first glimpse of downtown, and I actually did manage to dig up a couple of old photos taken once the rain stopped. Yes, that’s me posing like someone pretending to be cool in front of a giant sign that said Romania, as well as the guy on the right over the Transilvania sign.
Other adventures included getting a haircut and shave—with a straight razor—getting stopped by a hot blonde in front of a wedding store, and being given a chance to choose the music played at the dance club that night. My selections, awesome as they were, proved to not be popular with the locals, so I had to find another way of entertaining myself those nights.
One way was chatting with one of the few people who knew English, who happened to be a friend of the hot blonde from earlier. The most memorable exchange, apart from finding out how many words in Romanian are the same in Spanish, was when he said he loved the blonde, but platonically.
“But Plato was wrong about everything!”
“This is true.”
“Maybe you love her Socratically.”
The last part that was fun was walking back to the hotel at two in the morning, with my superior night vision. People claimed they didn’t actually believe in vampires. . . but they didn’t walk alone at night either.