Rain, rain and gypsy women


Today was the wettest day of our trip by a long friggin’ shot. I was counting my blessings that we’d only had two days of shit weather in over 3 weeks of November riding, but all things have to even out eventually, and today they overcompensated. Having crossed from Serbia into Romania yesterday and having spent the night in a small border town, today we cycled 110 km in rain, wind, sleet, and briefly snow from Drobeta-Turnu Severin to Craiova. This is day 1 of hopefully 3 on our way to the capital of Romania, Bucharest.

Having developed the habit of devouring a Snickers bar (or two) for extra energy, we stopped in a small village at an equally small convenience store. In the store were two customers, who as far as I could tell, were gypsy women. They both had their hair tied back in handkerchiefs and long patterned shirts covering up colourful stockings. The younger of the two asked us if we were German or Italian and, of course, I responded that we were Canadian. The younger spoke Italian and translated for the older woman who I guess was speaking Romanian. She described the older woman as nonna, or grandmother, although she pointed out not her grandmother.

The nonna, who may have been beautiful 50 years ago but today was all warts and hairs and warts with hairs, invited us over to her house for food and to rest. I declined saying we were going to Craiova and it was still a few more hours of cycling away. Maybe I should have declined more politely because she left the store abruptly.

The younger warned us about highway bandits, or at least I think that’s what she was saying. She kept making a chopping motion against my shoulder and then holding her hands together as if they were cuffed. She then went on to say she had 3 sons who were born in Italy – where the rest were born I don’t know, but she said one of them was named Leonardo after Leo from Titanic.

We left the store, gobbled down a Snickers each, and hopped back on our bikes. We waved goodbye to the two women as we passed them. Less than five minutes later, James, who was ahead of me, stopped on his bike. When I caught up, I found he had a flat tire. A long rusty nail had gone through his rear tube and put two holes in it. Now was this just a coincidence or a curse? Maybe I really should have declined her invitation more politely.

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