24 Hours of … I Kid You Not

Yesterday we had a city day. We went to pick up the chainsaw that was finally fixed and to do laundry (and shower 🙂 at Nora’s place (no running water at home). The day started out with doubts about going it. We had a fresh snowfall and I wasn’t keen on testing the car and my driving skills in fresh snow. The forecast was that even more snow as expected in the coming days so after going back and forth about it we decided to head out.

The car was fine as was my driving. The most difficult part is the 200 meter road immediately leaving Bhudeva, the next though less difficult part is the road after that (another kilometer or so) and after that its pretty much smooth sailing. The main roads are kept clean and driving on them is fine. We made two or three small stops to get a few things then collected the chainsaw and then headed to Nora’s place. Two washing machines, two showers and about 6 hours later we headed back home. The drive back was OK (we took longer then we had hoped for so we drove back on the dark) because there wasn’t too much snowfall that day.

When we got home I tried to pull in to the driveway, as I usually, do in reverse. That’s when things started to take a turn – my instinct is to say “for the worse” … but I don’t really feel that way. After a bit of back and forth and trapping the car in the snow we decided to give up and get back to it next morning, in daylight. We left the car literally blocking the road to Bhudeva – no one could enter or drive past us (not that anyone does).

Andreea went ahead to open the house while I started carrying some things inside (mostly the wet laundry we wanted to hang to dry and not leave in the car to freeze during the night). Inside Andreea realized that once again, divine intervention was working for us. The wood on top of and next to the rocket stove had burned completely – only ashes were left. We keep as much wood as close as possible to the rocket so that it dries before we use it. This has never happened to us while we are at home. This is 2nd time it happened. The previous time it was minor, this is time is was more drastic. It can only be divine intervention that prevented more damage to the house or its contents.

However we had a smoke filled house. Needless to say our plans for hanging laundry to dry and a quiet evening went out the door – as the door was open so that smoke would leave and fresh air would enter. Everything in the bedroom is covered with a thin dark film of I don’t know what. All of our remaining clothes now reek of smoke and some of them (the top ones in every pile) are also dirty. We went to sleep with watery eyes and heavy breath. Sleep isn’t really the right word here … as the entire event had an entire mystic context that went on throughout the night and does not have a place in this blog post.

We got up the following morning … dazed. We started to get things in order and had plans to go visit with our neighbors Ildi and Levente. At one point I walked past the car and noticed that one of the tires looked a bit flat. I kept an eye out on it until it became clear we had a flat tire … well not yet flat … but definitely heading in that direction. So we paused everything and headed out to the village to get the tire fixed. There are to tire-repair shops in the village. One was closed because its owner broke his leg. The other was closed because the owner was away for the winter months working in another country.

So we had two options. One was to change the tire to a spare (which I had never seen, let alone knew its condition) and the other was to drive to the next closest repair shop – just outside Cluj – a 30km drive. We were bummed by having to drive almost all the way to Cluj because we already had plans to go back to Nora to do a whole day of laundry (complete with drying). Levente suggested we come to his place to change the tire so he can (a) help and (b) if things didn’t work out with the spare – he could take the tire and get it fixed as he was planning to go to Cluj the next day or the day after.

So we decided to go to Ildi and Levente. However I accidentally took out of the car a bag with some flour they asked us to bring for them from our visit to Cluj the previous day. So we drove back home, picked up the flour and I changed into work clothes … and we headed back out.

Now remember we have a tire that is slowly flattening out. As you read through the next events try to keep in the back of your head a hissing sound … it was as imaginary to me as it will be to you … but the tire was slowly losing air and we were asking it to pull us in 4×4 mode through snow.

We neared a junction where we needed to make a kind of u-turn. As we neared the junction we saw two large carriages drawn by horses both carrying huge loads of hay. I paused at the junction to (a) choose if I wanted to start maneuvering this turn or to just continue straight and turn later on where there was a convenient place to do so and (b) decide if I want to start maneuvering before or after the horse-carriages arrive at the junction. I decided against maneuvering and drove ahead of the carriages.

We were moving along OK until a few seconds later Andreea noticed someone lying in the snow on the side of the road. We stopped to see what was going on and if we could offer help. We found an old man who fell in the snow, so drunk (which is why he fell) that he had no idea what was going on.

By the way … can you still hear the hissing sound?

We helped him up (it took the both of us) … he wasn’t to good at staying up. We asked him where he lived and he pointed in the general direction which we were planning to go (still the opposite direction – since we had not yet turned around). So Andreea invited him to get in the car and a ride home. I think he accepted … but it doesn’t really matter. What did matter was that we couldn’t get him in the car. Andreea tried to help him in, he went in head first, had one knee on the floor of the car … and that’s as far as we got.

Fortunately, by now the horse-carriages arrived and Andreea asked for help. The guys laughed … apparently this isn’t the first time this old man is found fallen drunk in the snow. One of them was large and strong enough to lift the man and place him in the car. Then they told us with better approximation then “there” where he lived. We thanked them and all went our way. We continued a few more seconds to the place where we planned to turn around … and surprisingly that worked out fun.

hiss …

We started driving back in the direction we wanted to go. We past the horse-carriages one more time, this time heading in the opposite direction, and waved a greatful goodbye to them for the last time (today). Abotu 30 seconds later we arrived in the vicinity of the man’s house. We found a partially plowed road/path that led in the direction of the house. I hesitated to take it … but take it we did. Shortly AFTER we passed a foot path that led to the house he told us that we passed the house. Now this is barely a one way path – turning around really isn’t an option.

hiss …

So we continued with the path until we reached it’s end … which was the house of the plumber we didn’t hire because of his high prices. The only promising place to turn around was right next to his house where there was a small driveway. We drove in only to find the drive way was occupied. We started heading back out in reverse … hoping to be able to make a forceful turn around. By now the plumber had come out and was looking at us.

hiss ….

We headed back in and Andreea went out to speak to him. He came to the car, looked at the old man and smiled. Yep, he is a regular. He told Andreea exactly which house we were looking for, went inside, came back with his car keys and backed his car out so we could turn around … and we did. We reached the foot path and stopped.

Andreea helped him out of the car and began walking him home. I took over and Andreea went ahead to see if anyone else was at home with him to take over. At this point the old man decided to strike up a conversation with me in Romanian. I told him I don’t speak much Romanian, but that didn’t have the desired effect. He asked me where I was from, I said Israel. A few seconds later he asked me if I was from Spain.

hiss …

While I was having this non-conversation with a drunk old Romanian man Andreea reached the house. She stopped at the gate because of a dog and called out. It took some time until the door opened. At the door appeared a man which looked even older then the one I was escorting. He quickly figured out what was going on … though he didn’t move away from the door. Finally as I was nearing the gate he too came to the gate and we handed the old (younger) drunk man to him and were on our way.

Apparently they are brothers. When the at-home brother saw me helping his brother home he said to Andreea that he keeps hoping that one day his brother would fall in the snow and just stay there. So there you have it.

So we headed back out and made it safely to Ildy and Levente. Levent came out to greet us, Andreea went inside and we stayed and played mechanic. We dug away an area of snow so that again I could get the car turned around. We found the well-hidden car-jack and how to release the spare from under the car. The jack refused to work at first (it is a fancy-shmancy jack that uses compressed oil). Levente got it to work and we managed to change the tire. Great relief.

We are back home, on an improvised bed – the sheets on it reeked of smoke, other sheets were in the clost and also well-done, the only clean ones are half frozen since they came from the laundry but were not yet dry. The rocket stove is running fine. Soon there will be tea. Tomorrow we will be going to Nora again and doing Laundry all day (with a stop to fix the tire). The day after we will continue to clean the after-math of the almost-fire … and … well we’ll see what comes.

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