Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Romania Continues

While waiting til Monday to actually enter civilization again, we uncovered a website leading us to the Transylvania climbing in the Cheile Turzii (Turzi Gorge?), which was hard to find but even harder to fathom - disgustingly beautiful gorge filled to the brim with Romanian tourists, one woman even hiking the trail in her high heels, and crawling with climbers.
Cheile Turzii
We stumbled upon two local boys, Steve and Constantine, quick to offer their climbing guidance, grabbed the bit of gear we had and headed off to touch some rock. They belayed Chris up an easy climb, told us about the Romanian countryside, paused to consider my request to lead a climb myself, and then let me scale the wall, carrying my rope us as I went, risking life and limb and eventually forgetting (as always) to turn around at the top to take in the view before being lowered back down. These guys hooked us up, offering to show us everything and let us climb whatever we wanted, but we were all tuckered out already. That night we said our goodbyes, escaping a potential night at a bar to eat our rice and beans with a rigged up mini-pot support system and a free campsite, with permission even!
Beer advertisement? No, dinner.
The next morning, we grabbed two bags of water bottles and cameras, trekking back onto the well beaten trail in search of the Hungarian Cave, the largest cave in Romania, so Constantine said. We got lost, clambered up a rock slide, gave up and headed down the nearest trail, only to begin climbing uphill- what's this? - and on to - could it be? - the HUNGARIAN CAVE! Score! It was beautiful and provided cool shade from the sun, which beat down on our dehydrated necks as we brought bottles but planned to get water from a spring we had not reached before turning off the trail. We each downed 500 mL (yeah, that's right - metric system) and then headed back uphill for a view Constantine had also recommended. Tired again, we headed downhill, just fast enough for Chris to fall, scrape, slide, bounce and land on his feet, looking down at a large clump of hair and skin left on the outjutting rock. Gross. We got help from a first aid carrying climber, meanwhile I tried to inquire about where climbing was near the Hungarian Cave only to be scolded for trying to climb without proper equipment (I hadn't even done anything yet). I think that when you roll up with one team member already bloody, people doubt your responsibility.
We ate some lunch in the shade of a fine tree, wolfed down some ice cream and then attempted a dip in the river, which was only half a meter deep (metric!). I promptly sat in the water and rinsed a bit of my four day stench off, while Chris and James sauntered slowly back and forth along the edge of the water, hesitating a bit. We left, much, well a little cleaner, all shirtless as our clothes hung out the car to dry in the Romanian sun. A mega-super-ultra-store later and James had the tackiest sandals ever and I got excited to try Romania's version of Nutella - Finetti. When Monday rolled around, we headed to the nearest city to find an address for this car registration and permission letter to be mailed to. The post office was quick to shut their window as soon as our postcards had stamps, not interested in any other questions from us, so we headed to information. A very very kind Iona, who spoke terrific English, said we could have our things mailed to her, but that overnight would take at least two days. We are passing a week here now, awaiting a package that has yet to be airmailed from the Basque Country, but holds the tickets to the rest of our trip. Its looking like an optimistic Friday or realistic Monday departure from Romania towards the vast Soviet countryside and I still don't know a single word in this language. We met a Peace Corp volunteer here, Jack, and after two days (one very eventful, one rainy) we have returned to Piatreneamt (our post-worthy city) to take him up on his couch offer - maybe even a shower and some cleaned pants?
The area of our two day detour was another gorge, recommended by an Austrian we camped by before hitting up this city, and full of interactions with the Germans we met at the gorge. We sat around a campfire (finally!!) and shared stories with the kind hearted chaps from near Leipzig only to wake up to a rainy Sunday where they had missed their bus. Yours truly took one for the team and wound around these wet mountainous roads, scared of risking not only mine and Leao's life, but also that of the four Germans recklessly bestowing me with their safety as well. We made it to town, one liter of petrol left in the car (~1/3.8 gallons) and I made $15! "Youll need it," the Germans assured me, and I wound back down the twisty roads toward my Kelly-Lieb brothers, realizing on my way that these 40 kilometers were the furthest we had been apart in three weeks.So here we sit, fully detoured and domesticated, hoping for the phone call to tell us our papers are in the trustworthy hands of a Spanish postal worker. Six thousand kilometers does not yet sound like enough for the trip to stop here, so rest assured fair reader, we shall find a way to continue and triumph over the seemingly unconquerable Ukrainian road.

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