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Eastern Europe Halfway Around the World 2005

     I'd been to Romania several times before, but I always had something to do, like visit my dentist or go to Bulgaria. This time I lazily wandered east, unsure how the hitchhiking would go.
     Regarding the photo, this border used to one of the most infamous I have ever crossed in the world. Nagylak/Nadlac links Szeged, Hungary and Arad, Romania and it used to be crowded with stalled trucks, foul-tempered people, gypsies, prostitutes, dust, indifferent immigation officials and beggars. Now it's all cleaned up and boring.
     The time before this I had walked across the border back into Hungary. The Romanian border guy poked my backpack and asked me what was in it. I said, "My life". He pondered this for a moment, felt its heft and said, "It's a very big life," and let me go.

     I have a friend in Arad who is a dentist. I begged her to let me take a photo of her smoking through her dental smock, but she refused. She doesn't work like that, but it would have been a great photo.
She has a friend who is into rocks and he glues colorful rocks on the windows to brighten up the place
She lets me sleep in the office overnight! It's the greatest.

      Candy bar


      I stayed at a monastery for a night. I didn't call ahead, I hadn't reserved, I wasn't positive where it was, I arrived late since I had been hitchhiking, and yet it all worked out. When I sit at home and think about traveling like that, it seems crazy and I understand how others regard my traveling as reckless and dangerous. While there, though, it seemed perfectly normal. I can't remember seeing other hitchhikers, but I rarely had to wait for rides and I always managed to find a place to stay for $15 at most, which seemed expensive once I left Romania.
     In western Romania (Transylvania) where ethnic Hungarians live, I was relieved if one picked me up because I can speak Hungarian and it is easy to communicate while I barely know three words of Romanian. On the other hand, when a Romanian stops for you and you say a few words in Hungarian, his expression changes. They assume I am Hungarian and the two don't always get along well.

Arad's river by morning light

The fabulous countryside


Road marker to the town of Humor


The Hungarian name for this lake is "Gyilkosto", which translates loosely as Killer Lake.

Bullet holes in the facade of a theatre on the main square in Timisoara during the revolution.

The train and I       My disgusting feet after wearing Teva sandals too long

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