So ever since I arrived in my village, I’ve had these fantasies about coming across a lost American in need of help.
“Why, yes, sir or ma’am, of course I speak English. I’m American! You too? Welcome to Romania! Come! Let me show you my village! Meet all my friends! Yes, of course I can translate for you because I speak another language! Yes, it is very impressive. Why am I here? Well, I’m a Peace Corps volunteer; I teach English. What’s that? It’s an extremely noble and selfless thing to do? Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but I appreciate you saying so. Yes, I’m so glad I could help too. I just figure, if we can’t help each other, what are we doing here? Yes, my parents did raise me well; that’s very kind of you to say. What’s that? I saved your life, and you want to put me in your will? I’m not sure I… OK, if you insist. Yes, that would be fine. Coincidentally enough, I have always wanted a house in Tuscany.”
Despite the fact that I’ve thoroughly choreographed this hypothetical meeting, I had long ago accepted that it’d never happen. You see, I'm pretty isolated. The only way in or out is via one winding, mountainous road with nauseating mountain passes about 15 miles on either side of us. Despite the fact that it's well worth the journey, Tulgheș is not exactly a random stop. If you're here, you mean to be here.
Well, last week, it happened. Maybe not exactly like the above fantasy, much to my chagrin, but it was in the ballpark.
It was Friday evening, and we were waiting for the bus at the “station,” which is really just the intersection where the main road passes through my village.
A guy pulled up on a bike.
“Me too! I’m from Boston.”
“Ummm, what? Really?”
We soon found out that our new friend, Denis Beaudry, whose blog can be found here, is a 50-something doing a solo ride across Europe and into Asia. It’s the 12th international trek for Denis, who’s also ridden across the U.S. At that point, he had left Madrid 25 days ago and had been averaging about 90-100 miles per day.
We were, in fact, the first Americans he had met on his journey so far. And needless to say, he was the first American I’d met in my village, at least the first American I’d met in my village whom I hadn’t brought there.
Unfortunately, Denis couldn't stay long. Darkness was approaching, and after I helped him decipher what was to come via his map, he was off to his final destination for the evening, a slightly larger village about 18 km down the road.
However, before he left, he casually slipped in, “So should we do the picture thing?” I was pretty glad he did, because it was certainly cooler than how I had recited doing it in my head: “This is sooo cool! Can we take a picture? Can we take a picture? Please please please please!”
And then, just like that, as mysteriously as he arrived, he was gone.
A few days later, I checked back into his blog, and sure enough, there we are, just as he promised. Unfortunately, no mention of his will.