And now that I think about it, there’s not a lot to do in the Delta of the Danube other than that. Fishing is only the other past time here, a hobby that you do only after you’ve drunk enough litres of anything containing alcohol.
These places were not so long ago considered “wilderness”. That was until the ’70s-’80s when fishing became something more than a means to provide some free food, in Romania. Though things started to become a little bit more commercial in the last 10 years, the majority of the locations, inhabited by men, where you can find a warm meal and a warm bed, are still pretty much baren. With the exception of the summer months, we still consider the Delta “a remote place”. The fact that it still lacks road infrastructure connecting it in its totality with the mainland keeps this huge natural reservation a little bit secluded.
On top of that, there’s this Chilia branch, the biggest one, transporting something like 60% of the Danube water, near to its spilling point, that is still wild ALSO because of the border with Ukraine. It’s not like tourists are going to be attracted by the fact that the boat they’re in might cross the middle of the canal, in which case they can be even taken into custody by the Ukrainian border patrol, known for their love of being overly strict.
There’s always the trusty
Especially if you are playing like me and my fellows do. Spitting on the dice is nothing to be taken personally. You either spit on them while holding them in your fist, rolling them inside, calling for the right numbers from somewhere in the ether, or you can spit on them in spite because lady Fortune didn’t bring the correct combinations.
There’s a lot of smoking involved. Packs and packs of smokes and litres and litres of Coca-Cola, cheap wine and depending on the hour of the day, some strong alcohol nearby. Champions breakfast we call it.
And of course, after consuming all that you have brought with you on the boat to that only, remote, pension that you are staying in, you realise you have no Cola left, no cheap wine and absolutely nothing else alcoholic to drink. The host may or may not have something to quench your thirst with, it may or may not be very expensive but I’ll tell you something absolutely sure: you’ll have to go and buy them smokes because the hosts never have cigarettes to sell to you, you poor bastard.
So now you have to get up and…
find the nearest shop
in the centre.
That’s an adventure right there when staying in Pardina.
It’s gonna take you something like 20 minutes to reach the centre of this God forsaken place. There’s really only one accommodation in Pardina and that’s where we’ve stayed. The other options are bedrooms inside the houses of the inhabitants. You can either sleep there if they rent it for you or you can try to sneak in during the night. Chances are that everybody is so drunk after 22:00 that your presence won’t be felt.
While walking on the overly dusted streets (most probably being at least a little drunk, you will get some weird sightseeing. Old houses, poor houses. Old communist structures, cheap communist structures. Abandoned places. Small lakes in the middle of the village, some bigger, some smaller but nonetheless all will contain ducks.
Communism is still present here as the ghost of Ceaușescu is when you visit the huge “House of the People” in the middle of Bucharest. When you reach that area of the village you can’t see the big canals of the Danube and really…there’s nothing to see but things from the past. Rust and dust it’s the key phrase around these parts and if there wasn’t for its placing in the middle of the Delta, you would really feel abandoned in a place like this, a place where only the old locals still live, because they need to, not because they want.
It’s that kind of a place.
And after you’ve finished the groceries, sweating like a horny pig because you’ve walked way too much through the scorching Sun, a little bit drunk and a little bit happy because you managed to buy also an ice cream to keep you cool on the way back. Difficult thing is that with both hands holding down on the bags that have inside 8-10 litres of Cola, 2-3 bottles of wine and other smaller things that add up to the total weight. It’s not easy holding your shit together with all these things pulling down on your arms, while with one hand you are also holding onto an ice cream and trying to take it to your mouth. After 200-300 metres, the fact that you are a little bit drunk combined with the weight you are trying to compensate will make your hand not very steady and the ice cream most surely will not always hit the mouth but very much around it.
With the shoes filled with very fine dust, dirty and sticky around the mouth like a 5-year-old child, you finally manage to reach the place you are staying in. Tired and sweaty, after leaving the heavyweights and maybe start consuming them in order for the drunkness to do not pass away and keep it at a decent level,
you can always
pet the cat!
That damn pussy that is not for fucking but for petting. That damn creature that will be waiting for hours for you to get your first fish out of the water and when it’s still swinging from the line, it will jump on the prey like there’s no tomorrow.
That damn lazy cat… made me lose a fish or two because she jumped on them. Couldn’t photograph it really during the action because I need to pay attention to the lines and the rods. After all that fuss, she (or he, I never took the time to check) just went back under the table where she vegetates almost all day. A little bit wet on the paws because in the process of jumping on my fish she fell a little bit in the shallow water.
And it’s not the only animal that is roaming around, free and a little bit wild.
Thin horses, either tied up to things or free to roam around, together with the geese that come at precise hours from somewhere inside the village to the river bank to have their bath. While the horses are usually very friendly, the geese will try to attack you if you get too close or they feel threatened. Have you ever seen a pack of geese attacking?
Fucking vicious creatures.
After all this roaming around, fishing, playing backgammon and of course, drinking every hour of the day, evening comes. Tiredness starts building in, dinner is ready, the smell of fried fish (or any other type of cooking it) starts to fill up the air. The host is preparing for us that special fish recipe and always, that special garlic sauce that can accompany whatever Delta style food. Not a good place to come with the girlfriend if she’s not going to eat garlic. Or if she’s a vampire while we’re at it.
And…together with the evening, the mosquitos are starting to creep in all around. This is the last big activity of the day, that goes together with heavy drinking. The legend goes that alcohol dilutes your blood and they will not be very attracted by that fact. Most probably you only get drunk and don’t feel them bitting THAT bad, but they still do.
So, the responsible drunks will spend part of their evening protecting the environment from the blood-sucking little monsters.
How they do that?
By lighting up, mosquito repellant spirals. Everywhere.