There's a scene in the movie Forest Gump when Forest is running along a lonely highway and then suddenly he stops, turns around and says, "I'm kinda tired, I think I'll go home." That's kind of what happened to me...somewhere in Bulgaria. I couldn't tell you where I was exactly, I was following signs rather than using a map, I only know I was headed for Thessaloniki, Greece when the overwhelming urge to go home just hit me. My pedaling slowed and I just stopped along the road and stood there looking out over the empty countryside. I was homesick, though why exactly I couldn't say; I can't even remember the last time I was homesick, but suddenly I missed the familiarity of English speaking people, I missed how much easier it is to do EVERYTHING in the United States, I missed being able to pick up the phone and call Bruce just to hear his voice and I missed Craig and MaryAnne. I missed my Durango and my favorite coffee shop and Rachel and all the little Pratts and I even missed work. It was pretty bad when it hit me but it still took me about twenty minutes of
The Giurgiu - Ruse Friendship Bridge connecting Romania with Bulgaria.
standing there on the side of the road watching the landscape before I decided to turn around and head back to the last town I had passed through. I had been traveling for just over a week.
I found public transportation that would take me and the bike back to Bucharest for a reasonable price and so once the bike was loaded, I carried my packs onboard with me and fell asleep on my backpack until, hours later, we finally reached Bucharest. Once in the city I found internet and discovered the flight to JFK was leaving in two hours and was wide open. The only problem was....what to do with my bike. I was determined to be on that flight so I started walking down the street with the bike and looking around for inspiration. At a farmer's market I walked through the booths until I found a farmer with his young son selling cabbages. I stopped and watched the boy who seemed to be about 10 years old. The bike was a bit big for him but he could grow into it and so I asked the farmer if the boy was his son and though he
didn't speak English, he understood and nodded. I parked the bike next to them, took my packs off and then handed the bike to the boy and said "for you." The boy's eyes grew wide and he just stared at the bike; the dad just stared at me as if I were an alien but I felt very good about my decision to give the bike to the boy and still feel good about it as I write this.
I waved goodbye to them and walked out to the street where I took the first cab I found to the airport. Eighteen hours later I was driving my Durango out of the employee parking lot at the Salt Lake City Airport.
I have severe jet lag but fortunately I have time to adjust before I return to work. I have a lot of pictures still to show you all and will do that sometime in the next few days along with adding some final thoughts about the trip. I want to wait until I'm well rested to tackle that project. Though I didn't make it into Greece, I made it far enough to create some lasting memories of
people I met and places I've seen. Almost everyone I met wanted to become life-long friends and I shared my email address with more people who don't speak English than you can even imagine! The kindness of people who didn't even speak my language was surprising...possibly because the bike and packs were a novelty for them, not to mention the fact I was a girl and doing the trip alone. Most people couldn't believe it and would just ramble on in Bulgarian or Romanian as if I could completely understand them! They would gesture toward the bike or to me and keep talking and then maybe chuckle softly. I'd smile and just nod and they would always hug me goodbye, as if our parting were temporary and they looked forward to seeing me next week. I love Romania and will miss it along with the wonderful people I've met but I guarantee I'll return someday soon.
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