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Africa 420 – Romania 1

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Su Shi

270 vizualizări

Turcia/ Turkey – Bulgaria - Romania 30/07 - 02/08 

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Ca de obicei cand ne-a placut un loc, am stat la taclale pana tarziu, desi a doua zi aveam de taiat Turcia de-a lungul, din Cappadocia pana la tarmul marii Egee. Dimineata a fost panica. 

Intra in scena Ceaiul Turcesc, solutia lichida anti-somnorosi.

We knew the drill. We had a killer time. We came, we saw, we hung with the people, we went to bed late, we forgot to stay with the programme. Next morning our mission was to cut across central Turkey, from Cappadocia to the Aegean coast. Too tired, man, I gotta hit snooze, again. 

Enter the Turkish tea, a perfectly brewed solution for the un-frisky.   

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Intre Nevsehir si Kayseri se merge pe fostul Drum al Matasii, dar nici drumul, nici hanurile nu mai sunt ce-au fost, asa ca am tras tare pana in Konya. A fost o zi lunga. Cum am reinceput sa urcam pe podisul central, peisajul a devenit mai dulce, dealurile mai rotunde si albinele din florile soarelui mai zumzaitoare.

The road from Nevsehir to Kayseri was once dotted with Hans (travellers’ rest houses) and was part of the Silk Road. It doesn’t look that offerable today, so we pushed on to Konya, the most conservative Turkish city. It was a long day. As we started to climb the central plateau, the landscape became sweeter, the rolling hills rounder and the bees on sunflowers buzzier.

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In Romania ne-am saturat de legumele ‘turcesti’ fara nici un gust care umplu pietele. Dar asculta la mine, mancatorule de salata, rosia pe care o cumperi in Bucuresti sau Cluj, nu e rosia la care a plivit taranul turc, si nici cea pe care turcul o mananca. Am vazut taranii trudind la camp, asa cum se cuvine. Iar in Afyon le-am incercat roadele. O gustare modesta de rosii, masline si smochine proaspete. Toata lumea din oras era la coada sa-si ia painea pentru cina de Ramadan. O paine traditionala, plata, formata cu mana. In Afyon lipia asta are vreo 80 de cm, la fix pentru o masa si jumatate.

In Romania we are fed up with the tasteless Turkish produce that have been flooding the market. Listen to this, my fellow salad munchers, do not mistake that sorry-ass tomato you buy in Bucharest or Cluj for the real thing. Which is what the hard working Turkish farmer grows, and what the Turkish man eats. We soaked in the images of peasants caring for their crops, tools in hand, like they’re supposed to. And in Afyon we lunched on their tasty yield. A simple snack of tomatoes, olives and figs. Everyone was lining up to get their freshly baked Ramazan pidesi for the fast-breaking iftar meal. This traditional flat bread with a characteristic grid of puffed up pockets of dough is a staple of Ramadan. The Afyon variant is 80 cm long and super thin. A hefty compliment to our meal. 

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Pentru ca si climatul variaza semnificativ, fiecare regiune agricola din Turcia este faimoasa pentru anumite legume si fructe. In curand ne-am trezit in patria visinelor, dar cum le trecuse sezonul, am luat visine deshidratate la soare de la o taranca cu ochi verzi si naframa alba. Uneori experimentele noastre culinare ne duc catre si mai interesantele povesti care se afla uneori in spatele celor de-ale gurii. De data asta nu am investigat, ne grabeam sa ne gasim culcus pentru la noapte.   

Turkish produce is regional: we rolled into the sour cherry country, so we bought a handful of organic dried fruits sold streetside by a green-eyed lady. Sometimes our foodie ‘compulsions’ push us to the more interesting stories that food so often tells. Frankly, after so many food-centric reports, this time we couldn’t be bothered. It was about time to find a decent camp spot.   

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Punct ochit, punct lovit. Putin fler si ceva indrazneala, si am nimerit cum nu se putea mai frumos, intre doua culmi care bateau direct in vale, un fel de saua Dichiului, dar a lor. 

It was a home-run. Our free-spirited attitude landed us in deer country. 

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Am inhalat briza domoala, am strans soarele urias sub pleoape, am stiut ca era din nou o clipa dintre acelea curate, pe bune, cu care natura ne rasfata de atata timp.

We felt the soft wind on our face, saw a giant sun set behind the hill, knowing it was again one of those raw, unfiltered experiences we’ve grown accustomed to feed on. 

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Odata nomazi, am devenit liberi. Sa ne alegem unde punem capul pentru o noapte, sa SIMTIM energia care misca totul, sa fim cu ploaia, vantul si cu soarele. Nu ne-am simtit nicicand mai vii, mai prezenti! Pe dealul acela, cu iarba aceea aurie mirosind a vara, cu nevazute lighioane nocturne scotocind fara ragaz in jurul cortului, nu mai aveam nevoie de nimic pentru a fi pe deplin fericiti.

Apoi au venit zorii, si a inceput numaratoarea inversa. Planul era sa facem ultima etapa – Turcia, Bulgaria, Bucuresti – in intervalul pisca-ma-ca-nu-cred de o zi. Asta ne mai ingaduia o ultima zi in Asia, deci ‚hai sa gasim ceva interesant de facut’, am propus, stiind cat tine Ana la asta. Uneori insa, lucrurile interesante te cauta ele pe tine.

Mai intai ma ajuns in Izmir, cu gand sa dam o raita prin Çesme, dar pentru ca infrastructura turceasca e ultra-moderna si noi ne orientam pe o harta rupta dintr-o agenda, pana i-am dat de cap ne-am decis ca nu are rost sa batem atata drum pentru un oras.  

It has been incredibly freeing to move across vast distances for months. To claim our spot for the night, to FEEL that energy that keeps it all together, to experience rain, wind and sun. We’d never felt so alive, so in the moment! On that hill, with those golden grasses shedding smells of summer, and with those unseen beasts scavenging for food throughout the night, we needed nothing more to be happy.

Morning came, and a countdown started. Plan was to do the final leg to Bucharest via Bulgaria – within the pinch-yourself parameters of one day. That would leave us with one more night on Asian soil, ‘so let’s find ways to pipe in some adventure’, I promised, knowing how important that was for my girl. Sometimes, though, adventure looks for you as much as you look for it. 

First, we arrived in Izmir, and because Turkish infrastructure is so complex and we were using a map taken from a notebook, finding the right exit to the seaside town of Çesme was an overkill. 

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Orazul Izmir ne-a placut: curat, modern, aerisit, un loc fain pentru un popas de soare pe promenada. 

Cu mintea la cine stie ce, trebuie sa fi aratat cam pierduti in trafic. Ceea ce i-a facut pe doi baieti pe un scuter sa ne intrebe daca suntem ok. Bafta noastra. Pentru ca nu aveam nevoie de ajutor, dar nu puteam refuza invitatia lor la Adana kebap. No, kebap stie mai toata lumea ce este, dar varietatea asta, care vine din sud-estul Turciei, e speciala. Carnea se toaca manual, se modeleaza manual. Jumatate de ora mai tarziu verificam cele de mai sus pe un esantion de patru bucati, in biroul lui Mehmet, impreuna, desigur, cu amicul lui, Tümer. 

Izmir itself looked neat and trendy, a nice place to stop and sun-gaze. Which we did, along the waterfront. 

Nerding-out on the enlightening thought of the day, we must have looked a bit lost in traffic. Not a bad look, I’d say, because it led to good stuff. Two dudes on a moped approached us and asked if they could help with directions. We were fine, thanks. Shouldn’t we all celebrate that fact with some lunch? they said. Adana kebap? Kebap is nothing special – but this south-eastern Turkish variety most definitely is. Hand-diced hand-sculpted, juicy. Half an hour later we were all dissecting our respective samples in the laid back office of Mehmet, together with his buddy, Tümer. 

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Am aflat ca Mehmet e mecanic si pasionat de enduro. Candva speram sa-l incurajam in Romaniacs. Sau macar sa-l avem aici la o bere. Am petrecut cateva ore in atelierul lui: si el si Tümer sunt oameni de miloane, dintr-o bucata; ne-am descoperit multe in comun. Mai multe poze aici.

It turned out that Mehmet is a mechanic and enduromaniac. One day we hope to cheer him as ‘Romaniac’. We spent a few hours with the guys: both totally into bikes and totally in sync with what we dig as well. Check out more pics here. 

Turcii ne-au intrebat cum m-am schimbat ca motociclist si cum ne-am schimbat ca oameni. La prima intrebare e usor de raspuns, pentru ca indiferent de ce motoare am avut si cate wheelie-uri am facut, azi drumul pe care vreau sa ma dau nu e de asfalt. A doua intrebare imi place la nebunie: am putea scrie o carte pe tema asta. Dar nu o sa incerc sa fac asta aici. Acum doi ani jumate strada de langa casa era murdara de benzina din motorul meu, iar eu eram in ambulanta. Acum paisprezece luni ne aflam im mijlocul unei autostrazi din Italia, cu o masina fara distributie, dar incarcata cu Yamaha noastra si prea multe bagaje. Viata se intampla repede. Suntem fericiti si recunoscatori ca am putut duce la bun sfarsit acest trip. Nu m-am putut gandi la nimic altceva multa vreme, chiar daca uneori ne indoiam amandoi ca il vom face. Daca visezi la aventura, fa-o, nu va fi niciodata un moment mai bun ca acum.

‚Gata masa. Hai sa mergem’. ‚Dar n-ai nimic de mesterit la mobra?’ si-a dat o palma peste frunte Mehmet. Ba bine ca nu, Heidenaul spate e praf. 

They asked how have I changed as a rider and how have us both changed as human beings. It is easy to answer the first, because no matter what I’ve done before, how many wheelies I’ve pulled and what bikes I rode, the great outdoors has had the biggest impact on what I can do now, and what I want to do next on two wheels. The latter question I love: we could spend days answering it. But I’m not going to do that now. Two years ago the sidewalk near my place had petrol from my Yamaha all over it, and I was taken by ambulance. 14 months ago we were stuck in the middle of an Italian highway with a broken car filled with my Yamaha and too much luggage. Life travels by so quickly.  We are both so happy and thankful that we were able to complete this journey. It was all I could think about for a long time and something once we both couldn’t dare to set out to do. If you too dream of adventure, do it, there’s never a better time than now. 

Lunch done, ready to go. ‘Do you need anything done?’ said Mehmet in a classic ‚why the hell didn’t we think of that’ fashion. Why not discard the shredded Heidenau?

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Am asudat siroaie pana l-am dat jos de pe janta: caldurile din desert l-au facut una cu metalul. Alti motoristi, amici sau clienti, unii doar in trecere, s-au bucurat de ocazie ca sa intre in vorba si sa dea o mana de ajutor. 

We ended up sweating buckets just to pull the tyre off the rim: that desert heat had baked it well. More biker friends and clients showed up, everybody wanting to participate, because people are so friendly here that any small detail like this is just a reason to stop and chat and make friends. 

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Cu parere de rau insa, era cazul sa ne vedem de drum. Multumim din inima, prieteni! Pe data viitoare!

Time to leave these lovely chaps and hit Foça. Thank you from our hearts, guys, see you next time!

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Foça e un orasel linistit asezat in capul unei peninsule. Din cauza ca e la Marea Egee, albastrul incepe chiar de la pontoanele pe care localnicii o ard la o baie sau o barfa. 

Foça is a quiet little town sitting on the tip of a peninsula. Because of the Aegean Sea, deep blue stretches up to the pontoons of Eskifoça (Old Foça), where locals gather daily to bathe and hang out.  

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Multe dintre insulitele care se vad in golfuri sunt de fapt extensii ale muntilor de pe uscat. In aparenta cuvantul ‚arhipelag’ desemna initial chiar aceste insule si Marea Egee!?

Many of the islands dotting the bays and coves are actually extensions of the mountains on the mainland. Apparently the word ‚archipelago’ was originally used for them and the Aegean Sea!?

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Zona e chipurile protejata, dar plajele si toata coasta sunt pline de gunoaie, asa ca pentru spectacolul apusului ne-am intors in orasul vechi. Soarele si marea ne-au amintit, ciudat, de desertica Namibie. ‚Oare ce-or face acum amicii nostri Himba? Cu cine bea Jagermeister Vital? O fi tare frig in Sossusvlei?’

We found the small beaches and the coastal area too dirty for something that is supposed to be under some sort of environmental protection, so we went back to the old town for the sunset. The sinking sun made us think of Namibia, where we had experienced the most glorious skyscapes, and we wondered ‘what are our Himba pals talking about right now?’, ‘who is Vital drinking with?’, ‘is it cold in the Namib?’.

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Pentru cina ne-am indreptat catre portul pescaresc. Care noaptea parea si mai romantic.

It was time to feed ourselves. By night, the old town is even more romantic. 

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Tavernele pline de oameni, multi turisti, meniul simplu, dar bun: calamar pane si midii umplute cu pilaf, ca deh, asta mananca ei in fiecare zi.

The fishing harbor had filled with people, mostly tourists, who strolled  about and dined on the local staple: deep fried calamari and stuffed mussels. 

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Pescarii isi gatisera si ei un peste si il mancau tot pe barca, si zau daca nu arata mai bine decat ce aveam noi in farfurie. Un nene a tras langa noi o toneta cu ceva de rontait neidentificabil. Am gustat si ne-am edificat: migdale crude, cu gheata. Imediat dupa asta am mers sa ne intindem cortul pe o plaja plina de cioburi si capace de bere.

The fishermen were also enjoying their meal right on their boats, and I must say that looked more tempting than the regular seafood joints. A man was selling some unidentifiable snack on ice: fresh almonds! The last bite before pitching camp on a glass’n beer caps littered beach. 

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Ai vazut ‚Cosmarul de pe strada Elm’ cand erai pusti? Intr-unul dintre filmele seriei e o scena in care mana lui Freddy Kruger sfasaie cu lamele ei de cutit tapetul, si odata cu el granita dintre real si imaginar. Dormeam bustean cand vantoasa a devenit cosmarul nostru, iar un bat de cort mana lui Freddy. Supra-tensionat, batul s-a rupt, a perforat foaia de cort, si ne-a trezit. Vantul a reorganizat instant calabalacul dinauntru. In prima faza eram prea somnambuli ca sa gandim limpede, si ne-am amagit ca tine sa proptim cortul cu pietre. Normal ca s-a rupt in alta parte imediat. A doua miscare a fost sa scoatem toate betele si sa incercam sa dormim cu cortul peste noi, ca un pled. Dar nu  fluturatul panzei la un milimetru de fata a fost insuportabil, ci fasaitul. Asa ca ne-am tras saltelele afara, si am dormit pe plaja, ca in adolescenta in Vama Veche si Costinesti. 

Have you watched ‚A Nightmare On Elm Street’ as a kid? In one of the installments of the francize, there was a scene when Freddy Kruger thrusts his arm with blade-covered fingers through wallpaper, nullifying the threshold between real and imaginary. We were sound asleep when the wind became our nightmare, and a snapped tent pole our Freddy. The pole ripped through the outer layer, waking us up. Wind took over. First we were too sleepy to think clearly and we tried to keep the tent in place with rocks. It only caused another part of it to break. Then we tried to remove the structure and sleep inside as it was. The noise itself was more unbearable than the feeling of fluttering fabric against our face. So we pulled our mattresses out, and slept like we used to on the Romanian seaside during our teenage years.

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In plan secund sunt trei rulote imense, in fiecare dintre ele locuind cate un pensionar italian. Dimineata a fost minunata, doar eram pe plaja, nu? Pacat ca a trebuit sa dau un sut unui scutec de sugar folosit ca sa imi eliberez papucul!

Am facut o baie in apa limpede ca cristalul si asta a fost tot.

In the background, three enormous caravans, inhabited by three Italian retirees who had been living on that beach for a while. The morning view was splendid, and the wind softer. If only the beach wasn’t so appallingly dirty: on waking up I had to kick a used nappy off my flip-flops. Yikes!

We took a swim in the gloriously clear water, and moved on.

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Mai aveam numai cativa kilometri de Asia pana in Çanakkale, al doilea oras asezat pe doua continente dupa Istanbul. La intrarea in oras e o macheta a legendarului cal troian. Conform Iliadei lui Homer, asta a pus capat asediului de zece ani al Troiei (pe care cercetatorii de azi au decis sa o accepte ca fiind in catunul pe langa care trecusem mai devreme).

We had few kilometers of Asia left, before crossing in Çanakkale, the second Turkish city situated on two continents. Outside town there’s a replica of the legendary Trojan horse. According to Homer’s Iliad, this thing ended the ten year siege of ancient Troy (which contemporary scholars have agreed to place in the small village we passed on earlier). 

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Calul de lemn din filmul ‚Troia’ se afla tot in Çanakkale. Chiar langa portul de unde ferry-urile trec stramtoarea Dardanele din ora in ora. Ca sa economisim timp a doua zi, am luat o gustare rapida si am prins bacul de zece seara: orasul era plin de energie, noaptea calda, dar gandurile noastre departe. 

The wooden horse from the movie Troy is also exhibited in Çanakkale: it’s an improved design. Next to it, the ferry docks, with boats crossing the Dardanelles strait every hour. To save time in the morning, we grabbed a bite and took the 10 p.m.: the town was vibey, the night was warm, but it was hard to be in the moment, our minds drifting to past adventures. 

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Calatoria noastra a schimbat felul in care ne vedem pe noi insine. Mi-am inchipuit intotdeauna ca sa merg cu iubita mea in Africa va fi grozav, dar habar nu aveam cat ma va implini pe plan personal. Din prima luna in Maroc, si pana in ultimele zile petrecute in desert, cu momente transformatore si o munca de ‚echipa’ care ne-a intrecut asteptarile, Africa ne-a oferit paisprezece dintre cele mai intense luni din viata. Incercarea cea mai mare va fi de fapt sa mentinem ritmul.

Alea Jacta Est. Eram in peninsula Galipoli, inapoi in Europa. Ne-a fost imposibil sa petrecem ultima noapte in cort, asa cum ne-am dorit. Pentru noi asta a fost si simbolic, si trist. Cortul nostru in care traisem atatea, avea, in sfarsit, el nevoie de noi. Intotdeauna exista si mai bine, si o sa avem ocazia sa o dovedim. Traisem ultimul nostru apus de nomazi, dar vor mai fi si altele, daca vom face ceea ce trebuie.

This journey has redefined how we see ourselves. I always thought that riding my bike across Africa with my love would be awesome, but never imagined it would be quite as rewarding it has turned out to be. From the first month in Morocco to the last days spent in the searing desert, with a couple of life-changing events and a ‘team’ performance that exceeded even our most optimistic expectations, Africa gave us fourteen of the most remarkable months of our lives. We are now facing the challenge to build on the legacy of these months.

It was done. We were on the Gallipoli peninsula, back in Europe. We couldn’t spend the last night in the tent. For us it was symbolic, and sad. The tent had taken us thru thick and thin, and now it needed us to take care of it. There’s always a better way to do things, and we’ll get our chance. That had been our last sunset as nomads, but there will be another, if we do what’s right.

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Dardanelele arata mai degraba ca un rau linistit, decat ca una dintre cele mai dificile cai maritime din lume. In zona cea mai ingusta nu are cu mult peste un kilometru latime! Am rams la micul dejun pe terasa, sa admiram privelistea si entuziasmul chelnerului, care nu contenea sa aduca pe masa cantitati impresionante de mancare. Oua moi, telemea si cascaval, salata, masline, covrigi turcesti cu susan, ceai, gem, iar oua (sub forma unei omlete cu legume care se numeste menemen), suc de portocale, si chiar pepene. Nu imi imaginez ca cineva poate da gata toate astea, si oricum nu a mai fost cazul sa mancam nimic toata ziua.

The Dardanelles looked more like a winding river than one of the most hazardous waterways in the world. At its narrowest it is hardly over a kilometer wide. We lingered by the waterfront while the super jolly waiter kept forking out an amazing breakfast: boiled eggs, white and yellow cheese, veggies, olives, simit (Turkish bagel), tea, jam, more eggs! (in the shape of menemen, a Turkish dish with onion, tomato and green pepper), orange juice, even watermelon. I don’t think there is anyone actually capable to eat all that, and indeed we never needed to eat again that day.  

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Ultima oprire inainte de granita a fost in Edirne (Adrianopol), fosta capitala a Imperiului Otoman inainte de Constantinopol. Dupa ce trecusem pe langa de multe ori in trecut, era momentul sa vizitam capodopera arhitecturii clasice otomane, moscheea Selimiye. Cladirea domina orasul, iar minaretele de 83 de metri sunt cele mai inalte din lumea araba.

Our last stop before the border was Edirne (Adrianople), the former capital of the Ottoman Empire before Constantinople took over. After passing by it many times in the past, we were finally going to visit a masterpiece of classical Ottoman architecture, the Selimiye Mosque. It dominates the city, and at 83m its minarets are the tallest in the Muslim world. 

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Dar geniul arhitectului ai carui ucenici vor proiecta la tarziu Taj Mahalul straluceste nu in monumentalitatea exteriorului, ci in simplitatea interiorului. Moscheea (si complexul de curti interioare si scoli coranice) este sit protejat UNESCO.

But the genius of the architect whose apprentices would later design the Taj Mahal doesn’t shine in the monumentality of the exterior, but in the simplicity of the interior. The mosque and its complex of schools is an UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Selimiye a fost proiectata sa doboare recordul detinut la acea vreme de Sfanta Sofia, care avea cea mai inalta cupola din lume. Spatiul interior este nesegmentat, simetric, fluid, asftel ca nisa sacra care indica directia catre Mecca (mihrab) este vizibila din orice punct.

At that time the dome of Hagia Sophia was the largest in the world  and Selimiye was to surpass it. Under an octagonal central dome the space flows  symmetrical, unsegmented, allowing the mihrab (which points to Mecca) to be seen from any location within the mosque. 

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Lumina inunda interiorul calm, perfect echilibrat.

Light floods this culmination of a lifelong search for perfection. 

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Dupa aceasta pauza de tocilari, am trecut prima granita la care nu a fost cazul sa ne scoatem nici macar castile. Dintr-o data eram inconjurati de familiar. In afara de limba si de alfabet, totul ne era cunosct. Traversasem Bulgaria de multe ori, dar pe fuga si noaptea, si nu aveam idee ca e atat de asemanatoare cu Romania. Am cumparat o harta dintr-o benzinarie si ne-am propus sa ne grabim cat vom putea. Orase prafuite, asfalt ieftin, o statiune simpatica de ski cocotata de un munte, si cafea intr-o bezinarie ca cele pe care le proiectam acum un car de ani. A fost o amiaza stranie, in care ne indreptam care ceva ce ceva ce ne era cunoscut, dar in-strainat. Noi nu mai eram aceiasi, era limpede, dar speram oare ca si destinatia noastra sa se fi schimbat? Era o singura cale sa aflam:

After the nerdy intermission, we crossed the first border in ages where we didn’t need to remove not even our helmets. Suddenly we were surrounded by familiar things. We had crossed Bulgaria without stopping many times before, but always in the night, so we were not aware it looked so weirdly similar to Romania. Except for the language and obviously for the Cyrillic alphabet, nothing felt foreign, not even the people. We bought a map from a gas station and set out to cross this strangely ‘Romanian’ country as fast as we could. Dusty provincial towns, dilapidated roads, a ski resort on top of a mountain, and coffee in a gas station just like the ones we had designed and built what it felt like ages ago. It was a surreal afternoon, progressing to an inevitable that we somehow imagined and knew, yet didn’t perceive, nor were we sure about. To be the same people we could not pretend we were, but did we hope to find significant, or should I say ‘satisfactory’ change at our destination as well? There was only one way to find out:

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Pe acei ultimi kilometri pana in Bucuresti am avut mult de cugetat. Calatorind, vagabondand, razbisem pana departe si devenisem liberi. In loc sa ne imaginam lumea, o vazusem asa cum e. Natura ne-a demonstrat ca suntem niste pitici, iar oamenii, majoritatea niste straini, ne-au primit cu altruism si infinita generozitate. Intrebarea este cum vom valifica aceste experiente exceptionale. O sa traim din amintiri sau vom continua sa crestem? Apusul peste Romania a fost la fel de frumos ca in oricare alt colt al lumii, si am intrat in capitala.

On that last stretch before Bucharest we had a lot on our minds. Traveling, vagabonding we had reached far and wide, we had achieved freedom. Instead of imagining how things might be, we were so lucky to see them as they are. We were humbled by nature, blown away by its wildlife and touched by the kindness and limitless generosity of total strangers. The question now is where it all goes from here. Do we look back, and say: ‘Well that was wonderful, but it all will kind of go downhill from here?’The sun set over Romania, and it was just as beautiful as elsewhere in the world.

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Mama ne astepta in apartamentul gol in care o camera e plina cu viata noastra ambalata in cutii de carton. Ana a deschis garajul, am parcat motorul si am scos aparatul foto, totul pe pilot automat. Eram epuizat.

My mom was waiting for us in the empty apartment where one room contains our previous life packed in cardboard boxes. Ana opened the garage for me. I parked the bike and removed the camera. I was on cruise control, exhausted, not really registering what was going on. 

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Chiar si azi imi amintesc cu dificultate detaliile din acea seara de august. Fiecare molecula din ce ma inconjura atunci imi era familiara, dar nu si cataclismul mut dinlauntru. Parintii Anei au sosit cu trenul abia dupa ce ne dezbracasem de echipamentul soios si facusem dus, cand aratam din nou ca odinioara. Am vazut posterul pe care mi-l dedicase Ana in 2010, cand soseam din Germania, ud la piele si bocna, dar calare pe primul meu Tenere pe care urma sa il conduc pana in Africa.

Even now I struggle to remember those details, and I fail. I knew every molecule of that outside, but not the quiet cataclysm unfolding inside. 

Ana’s parents were on the train, and when they arrived, we had already tossed the smelly gear and showered, as if we had never left. I saw the poster Ana had made for me in 2010, when I arrived there from Germany, soaked and shivering with cold, but a victor on my first Tenere, the one that should have taken us to Africa. 

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Am observat ca mama Anei ne facuse un afis de bun-venit!

I noticed that Ana’s mum had made a note for us saying ‘welcome back!’

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O ora mai tarziu continuam sa imbratisam si sa ne emotionam. Ne fusese dor de toti, si lor le fusese dor de noi. Dar dragostea care ne leaga a supravietuit despartirii. Asa ca nu ai de ce te teme, visatorule, de drumul lung la care tanjesti. Noi ne-am riscat ‚sensul’, si am crescut, am devenit mai buni. Am acceptat provocarea, si asta ne-a ajutat sa ne depasim limitele. Nu avem regrete, nici macar pentru ca aventura s-a sfarsit pentru moment, pentru ca, asa cum scrie pe simpaticul ‚trofeu’ primit in dar de la prieteni, urmatoarea aventura depinde numai de noi.

An hour later we were hugging more people and choking with more emotions. We had missed these people, as they had missed us. But the love that connected us survived the distance. So why shouldn’t you, dreamer of the open road, fear to follow it? We risked our significance, and we’ve grown, we became better. We challenged ourselves, and it stretched our limits. We’ll never regret it, and we do not regret that the adventure is over for now, because, as our friends wrote on this quirky ‚trophy’, the reality and the happiness of the next ‘round’ depends on us.

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