North out of Bucharest we run into foothills and the mountains of Count Dracula fame. The train to Moldova reminds me of checking out an ad for a 1960 Lincoln. It advertises, and has, leather seats, stereo, power seat adjustments, convertible top, dash clock, interior lights, floor carpet, etc. it’s all there, but nothing works! It’s a 55 year old train car worn thread bare.
We travelled with about a dozen Mormon kids on mission… either going or returning to Moldova. They are pleasant, tolerant of the foreignness and motivated.
We had to deal with two drunk laborers who paid the conductor to sneak on…… they were in our compartment, then others, then the passageway for a couple of hours.
At dark it was dark. There were no city or house or car lights….just dark fields.
At the Moldavian border we actually changed wheel assemblies. The gauge is narrower in Moldova so the train pulled onto a siding which had a series of hydraulic lifts, and each car was lifted and the assemblies changed – seems it would have been easier to walk to another train.
Sun rise brought in to view a lush, ripe green landscape…… rolling hills in meadow grass and wild flowers and ripe fruit – no fields of crops at first though, just meadow land and grass hay.
Then we notice horse-drawn carts, men cutting hay with scythes and individual wells in front of houses… each with a rope and bucket to retrieve fresh water.
We had not been in Chisenau, the capital, for five minutes before we ran into a man who pulled out a torn and tattered English dictionary, saying: “someday I get green card….go America. Moldova too corrupt. Here almost no jobs….people make $150…..$200 per month…..get nothing. People go to Russia to work because Russians only drink…..but no good”.
Ignoring Syria and Egypt, We have personally witnessed protests in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria and the Czech Republic government was ousted in June. Romanians say their country is just corrupt….. and of course it is trying the art thieve’s mother who can’t decide if she did or did not burn the $60 million worth of stolen art.
The power grid in Moldova looks like the trains, and all the abandoned industrial buildings…..old, tired, too small. Ineffective and too expensive to replace. The people by and large are thick, solid, inexpressive and unhelpful. It is hard to blame them, but ain’t no one else gonna’ pick all these people up.
So far though, the natural beauty is world-class.