My new home for the next month. It’s been a strange, wild couple of days. Romania mannnn. It’s kinda growing on me. Especially since I have now a place to chill and cook and I’m not constantly on the move.
I got here 3 nights early. To couchsurf with the locals. To get to know the city. Little did I know what I was in for.
The first night was ok. The dude I CouchsurfEd with was a photographer. I went there with promises of teaching me to use my camera without automatic buttons and watching movies on his movie projector. But when I arrived I learned we were going out to meet one of his friends. Who turned out to be a girl he met online. Later I learned it was a girl he met on tinder. I tailed alongbonntjeir “date”, not sure what else to do. Letting them have their time. Letting the sparks fly between them. Watching it all go down. It was sweet to watch. He played guitar. She played guitar. He sang. She sang. He was from Romania. She was a beautiful, vibrant girl from Israel. She knew the city better than he did. I liked her. We went to the park and played guitar for a couple hours. The street lights around swirled in the lake below, casting a soft blue on everything around us. We grew tired. It was late. She went home.
The next day he went to work. I left when he did. At 8am. Wandered. Saw the city. I laid in a park and watched the clouds. I went to my hostel that I was to work at to say hello. I saw the parliament building. The biggest building ever. Like for real. The biggest in the world, well 2nd biggest after the Pentagon. but it was huge. Made entirely of marble. Most of the rooms were unused. 80% unused. And most of it was underground. Like an iceberg. It had a huge balcony. It was built by the communist leader, Ceaușescu so he could use it. He never lived to use it. Michael Jackson was actually the first to speak to the public from the balcony.
I also used the hangout option on Couchsurfing and met with a Swiss German dude for a few hours and we drank a few beers and talked of our travels and of life and our thoughts on psychology and romance and Switzerland (did I mention I absolutely adore Switzerland all things Swiss Germann). That’s my new favorite feature on Couchsurfing. Very convenient way to link up with other Couchsurfers while bored.
That night I met back with the girl from the night before so we could go to the Couchsurfing meeting together. “Ass on the grass”. We bought a couple beers and some snacks and met with other Couchsurfers in the park. There were Romanians, Germans, American, Russians… It was beautiful. My host finally came. He never replied to any of my messages. He read them, but did not answer. Even when I asked if he was coming or not. He finally showed up. Didn’t say a word to me. Him and the girl walked off together. Laid with each other on the grass. Meanwhile, I was messaging another CouchsurfEr. I mentioned what was happening and asked if I could stay with him instead since I figured my host was looking to sleep with this girl. It was fine with me. Yay for them. Yay for her. I liked her. We walked back to his place, I packed my bags and wandered off in the darkness to the other guys house at 12:39am. He was waiting with Spanish cigarettes and Italian wine and we talked on his balcony and then slept all day until one. Funny how things work out.
The next day, Thursday, I had yet to find another place to sleep. The hostel was full. The first Couchsurfer, I didn’t want to go back after he ignored me all night. The one from the night before who saved me had an old friend coming to town and apologized that there was no room.
I wandered around more. Took in the sights if the strange, dirty city. I saw the statue of Vlad the Impaler. I saw the ugliest statue ever with a man with a kardashisn butt holding a dog with a wolfs face sewed on and the mans dingdong hanging out underneath. Apparently, it brought good luck if you rubbed it. It was shiny, bright gold color, compared to the darker bronze color of the rest of the body. I heard the story and explanation but promptly forgot it l, distracted by the statues meat rod sticking out there for all to see. I walked by shisha bars and fancy places and fancy buildings and run down buildings. I saw a man playing guitar on the street and was entranced by his voice, crooning “You’re Beautiful” and “”Stand by Me”. I sat and watched. I felt like he was singing to me. It made me feel better. Warm.
I met with other Couchsurfers and we laughed and talked of American politics and gun laws and tipping at restaurants and adventures in South America. We even found a vending machine in a bar that sold books. Two of the titles were (in English), “How to quit smoking” ( it came with a lighter) and “Parenting in 12 steps”. One of the locals finally offered me to crash on their couch.
And then I finally I got to my hostel. It’s not so bad here. I put away breakfast. I take apart and make beds in the morning. Empty the trash. Sweep. Clean the toilets. And in the nighttime I need to be back by 11 so the receptionist can go home and I can help with late check ins. It’s a chill hostel. People chill here. No parties. Not too many people. It’s kinda lonely. I made friends with the receptionist. We have long talks during the day. He told of the days he used to tour with his medieval punk Romanian band. He told of the corrupt politics here today. He told of communism. Of his hometown in the west. I have a feeling we will be good friends. Good brother sister vibe.
I have relied on Couchsurfing to go out and meet others since the hostel is kinda slow. I want to meet the locals. They intrigue me. How they grew up. Their opinions on everything. On communism. On food. On happiness. On America.
Today I met with a guy from Bucharest. He took me to get coffee at a funky cool rooftop bar. It overlooked the city. We sat there drinking our coffee and talking of Romania. He was filled with passion for his country. He loved it, as most Romanians I have met. They love their county. When communism was brought up, you can feel the mood change in the conversation. Mixed, conflicted feelings are sensed in their voices as they talked. But they still talked. No subject was taboo fur any of the Romanians I have met. I can’t imagine. They talked of the food rationing. They talked of working in terrible conditions in factories making food that was immediately shipped forth and no one in their country got to eat. They talked of the lines snaking outside the markets as people waited before working a 9 or more hour day in the factory on their feet to bring home their one load of bread per family per week. You can feel the hauntings of the time period in the buildings around. In fact the rooftop bar we went to used to be a textile factory back in the day. Many of the buildings surrounding were old and semi abandoned. It was surreal.
There was a famous nightclub, Colectiv, in Bucharest. It is actually a block away from the hostel I work at. A year ago there was a horrible fire there. During the night. When the club was bumping. When the club was crowded. It was during a free concert that was put on. It killed 26 people in less than 3 minutes. The death toll rose to 67 as the days wore on and the hospitalized folk never made it out of the hospital. Apparently, fireworks were lit onstage and things surrounding the stage were not quite as fireproof as they thought. The club was also over its capacity, upwards of 400 people showed up that night. That combined with only 2 exits, one if evict had to be broken down since it was stuck shut. This tragedy lead to a huge shut down if clubs and nightlife in the city as safety regulations became more strict.
Anyway, the guy I went to get coffee with got very emotional when I brought it up. Apparently, he was just arriving to the venue that night. He saw the flames coming from the Windows. The charred bodies. The flaming bodies. The terrified people that narrowly escaped that were shaking with fear and the cold late October night air. It was silent except for the screams and the heart wrenching sobbing. Everyone was speechless. In a matter of minutes their perfect night of music and fun and dancing and celebrating collapsed into confusion and terror. Has he talked, his voice started cracking and he kept looking away. He talked faster. He grew more intense. Passionate. I noticed his eyes got glassy. He quickly tried to wipe away a tear that was threatening to make its way down his cheek. I was blown away. Wow. The power. The emotion. I couldn’t imagine seeing what he saw that night. He said his neighbor died. His friend died in the hospital a week after the fire. He talked of the aftermath and how the club scene, the music scene, has been struggling to get back on its feet ever since.
Bucharest is a bizarre place. But, as I said, it is growing on me. And it’s nice to have a stable place to come home to and a kitchen to cook and work to keep me busy. And today I worked and went back to lay in bed and listen to music. Granted there are 5 other beds in the room, so I still have yet to experience my own room, but nonetheless, it is my room (and 5 other people’s). It’s definitely not like my hostel in Cali… Not as busy. Not as lively. No nightly outings or trips to Tijuana or breakfast to be Cooked or dinner to be cooked. No opportunity for me to sit as receptionist and play music and greet guests (tho after 11pm I can….)But I am sure I will get into the groove and find my people. Your vibe attracts your tribe.