Living in a former communist country has its own disadvantages.
There’s not a lot of advantages to that, so there’s no counterbalancing but to us, that’s history and culture that we can’t deny or forget; as much as we’d want to. Though maybe we shouldn’t. There are a lot of remnants of the old regime and I’m not talking only about buildings or places. Even though communism fell officially in 1989, there’s a lot of human relics that remind us of that and many of them not only refer to that period in our history but also the one that followed: the transition period, which for us translated into the ’90s.
On the beach: the “cat and mouse game”
Nowadays the most of the private beaches are guarded by some security agent or their own stuff – the beach boys, who are supposed to bring the drink to the table, clean the beach of dirty diapers and whatever the idiots leave behind and scare off the wandering traders that invade their piece of sand. As the front line of the sea is not restricted access for anybody, the “villains” are getting ditched out only AFTER they made the sale. That’s also part of the technique and experience that they’ve developed – checking out for security when they reach a new “tannery” is part of the job; if you are not paying attention to that aspect and looking to enter and present the product while the guard is away, for sure you’ll end up with the Police intervention, goods confiscation and maybe a decent fine (which is never paid most probably).
It’s not an easy job, wandering on those 30-35 degrees Celsius in the best case scenario, because during the high season that temperature is under the umbrellas. In the Sun it can get scorching and there are days when the breeze is not blowing (pain in the ass for the few kiteboarders out here). Still, I guess it is worth it, getting your skin totally fried up, as the mark-ups of these illegal traders can go up to 300-400% if you just take the time to check the price.
But who’s gonna do that when the young one is screaming like in a horror movie that he wants some boiled corn or some bagels?
“Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
A plethora of things to chose from
The goods sold on the beach can be split up into 2 groups:
1. Goods for which the kids can kill
Imagine that you’re a single parent that brought the infant to the beach. In your rush, packing all the inflatable toys and sand accessories, taking the portable stool with you and trying not to forget the damn water (because in the stores they only keep that thing in a freezer) you miss the banana. Or whatever you were supposed to keep the kid’s hunger at bay with. “The fucking snack” if you’d like. Then, when you are on the beach and you realise your wrongdoing, one of these ladies comes through the sunbeds and temps the kids with her nice, fruit-filled basket. And he/she starts asking for the snack but you don’t have it. It’s the worse fear before noon and in order not to have to leave the beach because of the cries, you HAVE to buy some raspberry or the freaking banana. It’s not a lot of money…for a decent meal that is. With the price of a kilo of anything, you get one portion of that anything. That’s how the tax goes.
Apart from that, there’s the creepy Mickey Mouse and the Junkies kiddy gang. It’s like they are mobsters, working in the hood and asking for protection money with a smile on their faces. I guess they stole the costumes from some cheap circus band. Anyway, the kids are drawn to these motherfuckers, who walk around with a bloody portable speaker on some wheels, playing some children song, like flies on a turd. They were not satisfied because I took their picture, though they try to look like it. All day I was looking over my shoulder and imagining that Minnie dude, raping me prison style. I guess I’m just an old hag but I’ll refuse to pay one cent to these copy-paste motherfuckers.
Should I tell you about the weird looking guy, trying to be friends with the kids while walking around all dressed up in kites? All bright colours, it’s like the damn alien convention is in town. The only thing missing is the tin foil cap.
It’s impossible to miss him, especially if you are a kid, doing your job on the beach, right where the sea meets the shore. You’re going to want that kite, that’ß for sure.
2. The grown-up stuff contraband
“Psss! Oldman! You wanna buy some miracle dirt? Yeah man! You heard that right. I’ve got some of this wonder dirt from Techirgiol. Look, sniff it, it’s the real deal. “
The dirt selling is only one of the cheap bullshit people buy on the Romanian beaches. This dirt that we have, in Techighiol, is said to be some incredible medicine for bones and things like arthritis. I guess it is, I don’t know and I don’t really care. But to think that you are going to buy that shit on the beach is like believing you eat caviar whenever a dark-skinned person would offer it to you on the seaside. No questions asked. For all I know, that dirt could be some regular, cow shit enriched soil, with a little water in it to make it more liquid. And you’re covering half of your body with it and at the end, you feel satisfied. Damn Placebo pill!
When they don’t tempt you to buy the “medicinal products”, like the dirt, the heels stone or the clamps (I guess the clamps go into some psychological effect because they are sold by the same “physicians”) then you’ll be asked to buy newspapers or handcrafted goods. Though the thing with the printed press still finds its fans (God knows why would you come down to the beach to be doing crosswords), the handcrafted things presented here are so bad that you wonder if you are in a flea market of kitschy things. While my people have a lot of nice handcrafted items in our traditions, on the beaches only the worse is presented.