Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Je me souviens


August 19, 2009 – Morning in Moldova

The morning couldn't come quick enough. I set my alarm for 6am and I was happy to hear it when it came on. I drifted in and out of sleep all night waiting for the Austin Powers theme (for Canadians who remember it was also the theme to the game show 'Definition') to wake me up. I was worried sick. My bike was confiscated by the Moldovan border guards and I wasn't sure what to expect this morning. I was getting ready to start some kind of international incident if I had to but I have a feeling there isn't a Canadian embassy within a thousand kilometers of here. I'm in a particularly uninhabited corner of the world where I don't think things like 'habius corpus', due process, heck... I doubt they even know what the Magna Carta was. Democracy is in very short supply up here. We're as close to being in the epicenter of communism as I care to be and although these little states have freed themselves of mother Russia's chains they haven't embraced capitalism with open arms either.

I do the walk of shame down to where they are holding my bike. I'm in full riding gear as a show of strength. Plus, if I have to run from gunfire I'm hoping the Kevlar jacket will help me. When I get down there I'm ignored. I wonder if these pricks know I have another set of keys in my pocket? I could probably get on and make a run for it. Of course if I get on and she doesn't start then I'm screwed. Nope, I'll have to do this the hard way. If that doesn't work I will wait for cover of the night and come in and emancipate her.

The guards finally notice me and they seem happy. It would seem they were expecting me and they brought in an interpretor. Fantastic! They introduce me to her and she greets me with a smile.

“Bonjour! Comment ca va?”, in perfect French. This isn't the first border guard who practiced their French on me. As a Western Canadian it's sad to know that we don't have much of an identity. Unlike our brothers from Quebec.

My heart drops,”Bonjour, ca va bien. Parlez vous English?” In the accent of a man who never got passed grade seven French.

What does the rest of the world think about Canada? I'm finding out on this trip that most people don't even know where Canada is. You always here about backpackers sewing Canadian flags on their luggage to no be confused with Americans. The truth is nobody on this side of the world really cares about Canada at all. For being the second largest country in the world we're really quite insignificant. I should have said I was American. At least no one expects Americans to be bilingual. Hell I don't think people expect Americans to be lingual at all. Pay the money and go. That's what an American would do.

“No non non, blah blah blah, english... pas... ribbit ribbit ribbit”, I had no clue what she was saying and she could tell that in my eyes. In truth I did get the feeling she was asking for money, but I glazed over that one.

I stood there and stared at her. I shrugged my shoulder and pointed at my motorcycle and raised my palms in a questioning manner.

She walked away and the guards had a huddle. One of the older guards said something to one of the younger guards and he goosed stepped over to me and grabbed me to motion me to follow him. His pace was fast and he led me up the stairs to the line up going back to Romania.

Damnit! I'm being deported and they're keeping my bike. It's OK. I can cope with this. I'll catch a bus to Bucharest and head back to Croatia. I miss the Adriatic. I'll get a tan and drink icy cold Karlovacko all day long. That doesn't sound bad at all.

I'm glad I kept that Romanian money after all.


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