The road to Dracula’s place

It’s in the middle of these fucking mountains that for us, Romanians, have some kind of meaning… for the foreigners though, all the names around must sound like some deaf guy banging on a broken drum.

I do love my country, while this particular area is one more reason to fall in love with it: such a nice and picturesque mountain range, with forests that stretch as far as the eye can see (before we cut it all down) that some English dude decided to make it dark and invent a monster that lived around, sucking blood and acting like a count (and cunt). I guess that Stoker was afraid Romania will take all the future tourism when it’s going to be discovered from this point of view and he decided one night: “I’ll right such a horror story that will make everybody never want to go there!”. Joke’s on you Mr Stoker… as a matter of fact, people love this kind of bullshit stories, with vampires and hellish demons and Transylvania became, because of you, a safe haven for this kind of weirdos. And not only.

There was absolutely no goal for me to reach my destination. The mild evening sun, combined with my lack of enthusiasm for the job meeting I was about to have, got hold of me. In fact nobody knows for sure if this road will be crowded or not. It’s a “work in progress” situation since Ceaușescu fell, almost 30 years ago. So if I’ll be late for the meeting I can always bring up the reality that for the last 20 kilometres until you reach Bran, the small village in which Dracula resides (folklore of course), you have to drive your car alternatively, on a single lane. So if you’re lucky you can have a 30-35 minutes trip only on this stretch of bad asphalt.

I guess I’ll not be the lucky guy tonight.

That’s because, photographically speaking, the “stars have aligned”:

  • the “Piatra Craiului” Mountain, somehow isolated from the rest of the mountain range, was nicely lit from behind, by the falling sun
  • storm piling up right on it, creating very interesting rays of light in the evening atmosphere
  • day-rogue animals are returning home for the evening – sheep, donkeys, cows… all strolling slow, peacefully but surely back to their yards
  • a plane playing close to the ground on this small and flat area between the mountains
  • people doing their evening chores
  • the line of cars waiting in that long line for the moment the traffic light will turn green

My first stop was when I saw these cows, close to some village, bathing in the evening mild sun. Some kids checked me out long enough while I strolled from the place I stopped the car to the place I took the shot. Me on one side of the road, big camera hanging around my neck, bouncing like the tongue of an antique clock, walking carefully in order to avoid being hit by one of the moving trucks that pass around here. Them, in the formation of a young pack, strolling parallel to me, on the other side of the road. Both of us, paying attention to the the trucks passing by like they’re on a fucking race. The road is narrow as well as bad so trucks, hurtling with 70-80km/h, sometimes in steep curves, is not one of the safest environments, let me tell you that.

“You are not allowed to photograph the cows!” said one small kid, while a wide smile was being composed on his face.

“Hey, don’t worry man! I’ll only photograph the pasture they are on.” I replied, throwing back one of the same kind of wide smiles.

“Is that camera expensive mister?” another boy, wielding a bike bigger than him, asked.

“This old thing? Neah, you can find it in the flea market, during Sundays, for peanuts!” I replied while I took the “forbiden shot of the cows”.

A little bit further on, I hit the first village in a row of 2-3 that are on this road until you reach Bran. This is where the real ordeal comes into place. No matter that until here the road is very bendy as you tumble down another mountain and that once you get in this area, the scape turns to flat… like a big clearing between steep mountains. The fact that this stretch of road is very easy to work upon, being all flat and passing through this clearing, it is an ongoing process for the past 29 years. You could put an 8 lanes highway over here without really moving a muscle, that’s how flat this area is. Somehow, our road workers have a very hard time keeping in place this 2 lane street, as well as our authorities have a hard time planing a wider alternative.

But I’m not in a hurry to reach the meeting anyway so having to stop from time to time, for at least 15 minutes per stop, gave me time to check out for little stories to be made out of my photographs. Observing the cycle of life like you would try to track down a wild animal while being in the forest, is an activity that both makes me happy and terrifies me at the same time.

This airplane making rounds around the fields got me feeling empty because I don’t have a tele lens. I’m not complaining about my photography gear, keeping in mind that I only do it for the sake of the hobby, but sometimes I just get different needs for different kind of upgrades. In none of them the tele is present so this piece of gear is not on any of my “to buy” lists but it would make for a “nice trinket” to have and to hold, to cherish and to nourish.

As I wait for longer and longer periods of time while getting closer to Bran village, I get the chance to understand that the guy behind the flight controls is just having plain, old fun. For the ones in love with this sort of fun. Not me.

Eventhough this a mountain area, the exclusive flatness this few tens of square kilometers offer, makes a perfect playing grounds for this sorts of daredevils. I really don’t know where he took off and where he will touch down as I don’t know of any kind of landing strip around. Maybe the area iss so flat he could take off from the grass directly. Who knows? But at least he keeps me busy while waiting my guts out on the regular and sure breaks we are having.

Close to the actual evening I managed to reach the village and until the time I actually checked in, we skipped any serious meeting we were bound to have and go directly to dinner and alcohol. Easier that way.

And to think that in less than a day’s time I’ll have to get on that stretch of land again, stop at every traffic light while letting the others pass. What a waste of breath and energy.

But the locals are doing that daily only to get supplied…

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