Fixing a Fiat in the Rain

Sometimes things don’t work, and sometimes they work.

Like I said in the last post, we arrived in Craiova to several large platters of food, visiting friends we first met on a train in 1999. We were taken to a nice new slightly expensive hotel which had good Internet service, where I posted.

The next day was a walk in the park. Specifically, the very large city park in Craiova, with a large lake with a fountain, and a high suspension bridge, and a zoo. This after checking out the downtown area, with some brand new high-tech fountains and lots and lots of traffic everywhere. In the afternoon, we went to Teasc, a village in the country where our hosts’ grandmother has a farm with chickens, geese, peppers, and corn. There was a villa a few kilometers away once owned by Ceaucescu’s wife, where he would go to hunt. We checked that out, returned to Teasc for another huge dinner, and stayed with a friend of our hosts.

We talked our hosts into going up into the mountains to the city of Sibiu, about a four-hour drive from Craiova. At first approach, it was another huge city, not the small cute place we expected at all. We stayed at a tourist hotel a few kilometers out of town, where we had the only disappointing food during our entire Romanian stay. We found the center of town the next morning, with its three charming squares, surrounded by buildings which have gables in the roof that look like eyes (Ray tells me this is typical of Nepal). We checked out the church, including the bell tower (we are tourists, after all), and the museum. We took a longer way back past an impressive old castle. We’d spent a little more time at all these places than perhaps we should have, and it was clear we wouldn’t have much time in Craiova before we had to catch our train. Our host drove his Fiat as fast as he could given the twisty road and occasional truck, and the increasing rain. All of a sudden the wipers stopped working: the left wiper wrapped itself around the door. Neither wiper would move (except slightly when turning the car on or off). He pulled over, determined it wasn’t a blown fuse, and then started disassembling the linkage between the left and right wiper. We were sure this was not a field-reparable problem: we started thinking of ways we could make it with all our suitcases to the train, and thought about what would happen if we missed it. Meanwhile, our hosts both struggled out in the rain trying to fix the problem, unscrewing screws, and prying out plastic seals. And then all of a sudden, both wipers worked! They had found some strange mechanical problem which had happened, and fixed it. We got back in Craiova in time to snack from several large platters of food, and were given a large bag of food to take on the train (which will be dinner tonight).

Our hosts were heroes. We tried to contribute to their car’s improvement fund, but they would have none of it.

The train to Budapest was great. We had a sleeper compartment, and happily paid $5 extra not to have to share it with a third stranger. We got there in plenty of time to connect to our train to Vienna, where we are now. We’re at a fairly basic hotel, nice enough but with no in-room Internet. (There’s a place across the street which is 2 euro per hour.) We’ve mapped out what museums are open Sunday and Monday, and after seeing the Vienna Boys’ Choir tomorrow, we’ll see how many of them we can visit. And maybe we’ll find some good desserts.

Meanwhile, Ray’s camera seems to be saving bad files more frequently. Maybe the other card will work better. And we just activated a SIM card that didn’t quite arrive at home before we left — maybe using the phone will be cheaper yet still functional. I wish we had the technological karma of our Craiovan hosts.