Peace Corps Writers
For two years, Andy Trincia will be writing about his days as a Peace Corps Volunteer for
Peace Corps Writers.

Andy Trincia

Read other short pieces about PCV experiences

Andy's previous articles:

Teaching high schoolers free-market economics

Looking for Ben Franklin in Timisoara

Partying with Peasants and A Letter to America

Customer Service?

Romania Themepark Mania

The Neighbor's Goat

Corrupting Future Prosecutors

Unforgettable Faces

Some of Andy's photos are at Yahoo
Click on the small icon of the file folder and photo.

by Andy Trincia (Romania 2002–04)

One-Way to Bucharest
A Homecoming with Gypsies

THE BUS DRIVER BARKED ANSWERS to my questions: “The bus will leave on time. You have aPrinter friendly version seat.”
As is often the case in Romania, the bus was oversold and standing-room-only. I held a hand-scribbled ticket noting a “reserved” seat number but that doesn’t always stop a stander from taking your seat and refusing to move. I did the visual math as the crowd gathered in no sort of line — the door was not open yet — and was dreading the journey and the boarding itself, always an adventure of pushing and flying elbows. Not to mention this would be another longer-than-it-should-be trip — six hours for 175 miles — because of typically potholed, two-lane Romanian roads.
     “Are you English?” came the question from behind me. I turned around to see a young Romanian man who had obviously overheard my accented Romanian as I spoke with the stern-faced driver.
     “No, I’m American.”
     “American? Whoa. I speak some English. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you get your seat.”
     Pleasantly surprised, I thanked him and boarded the packed bus, which was enough to give anybody claustrophobia. Romanian pop music blared, I mean blared, from the speakers. Indeed, the young man ordered somebody out of my seat and switched seats to be next to me. The bus was barely out of town, heading eastward so I could visit other Volunteers, when he asked if we could practice English conversation. “I don’t speak so well, but I like to. I don’t get chances to practice. Would you mind?”
     His name is Sorin (pronounced Sor-een) and he’s from clear across Romania, some 15 hours away and he’ll be on three buses this day. I asked him what he was doing in this neck of the woods. That’s a story, he says, and we have some time.
     Sorin, an amicable guy in his 20s, has worked a variety of jobs to make ends meet. Technology is his passion and, in his view, a ticket to success. With pirated software and a friend’s computer, and hours spent in Internet cafes, he honed his skills and now considers himself pretty talented. Sadly but understandably, and like many, many Romanians of his age, Sorin wishes to leave Romania because of low salaries and limited opportunities. While some want to go away forever, others, like him, want to make money elsewhere and return home to be near family. It’s easier said than done, as Romanians have visa restrictions in many countries and must prove they have several months’ salary in cash before leaving. Also, an unsavory reputation abroad, especially in Western Europe, isn’t helping. It doesn’t matter that there are respected Romanian writers, scientists, musicians and others here and abroad, but unfortunately, the rap always goes back to the Romanian thieves, beggars, prostitutes and smugglers — not all of whom are “Gypsies” as is often believed — who are frequently busted in Western Europe.
     The bus rambles, bumps and swerves along and finally stops for a 10-minute break. I go and buy two beers for us for the rest of the ride. Sorin told me that part of the story involved him and the law, so I was curious to hear the rest. On this day’s trip, he is returning from Romania’s border with Hungary, where he was denied entrance to the more developed neighbor that is next to Austria and the rest of the European Union. “I was lucky they just turned me away and nothing else happened,” he says.
     He goes on to tell me the real story, talking over the loud music. “Well, you see, I tried once before, with a fake Italian passport,” he begins. “My dream has always been to go to England.”

Home | Back Issues | Resources | Archives | Site Index | Search | About us | To contact us

Bibliography of Peace Corps Writers | PC writers by country of service

E-mail the with comments
or to be added to the new-issue notice list.
Copyright © 2008, (formerly RPCV Writers & Readers)
All rights reserved.