Sunday, 30 December 2007

Balkan Expedition - part II

There were so, but sooooo many guiches in the bus station, that I got a bit confused. I decided then to go to the "Information" desk (yes, "information" in english, written exactly like this), and ask for some help. "Speak english?", I asked. The woman on the information desk made me a sick face and said a dry "Ne". Bastard. I gave up asking for help and started roaming around the bus station, passing guiche by guiche, trying to find "Varna" written in cyrillic. After several minutes I finally came across "Варна" written in one of the guiches and bought two tickets, for 26 Leva (something around US$ 20 dollars), departuring at 9 am. We had something like and hour and 20 minutes til then.

With the tickets in hands and some spare time, Nara and I decided that it was time to call Kostovinski e tell him at what time we would be arriving in Varna, so he could pick us up at the station when we arrive. From Sofia to Varna it's a 7 hours trip, which meant we would be arriving there around 4 in the afternoon. We went to a public telephone and tried to call, but somehow it wasn't working, at all! We tried all the possible codes to make the phone call, exactly like Kosta told us to do, but it simply wasn't working! When I was on my 10th try, Nara suddenly held my arm strongly, with a scared look on her face and said "Teta... Bad news..."
I was breathless for a second. "What is it Nara??", I asked. She said "It's 2 minutes to 9 o clock".
I said "So what?!" but then, immediately I realised: fuck!!! Bulgaria is one hour ahead of Serbia, and I completely forgot to set my mobile clock to the right time!!! That meant we had exactly 2 minutes to get to our platform and get into our bus! We got all our things and bags as fast as we could, coats and everything, and ran as fast as possible to the platform number 8. But alas: even though we were officially a minute before the departure time, our bus to Varna wasn't there. Get the picture: Nara and I, standing on the empty platform, disappointed faces on, with our coats wrongly buttoned up and scarfs badly tied, holding our baggage in the clumsiest way possible, with heavy snow falling over our heads. I wish somebody would have taken a photo of that moment. Even my gloves were not correctly on, I was probably looking like Monty Python's Dr. Gumby or something similar.

Then we thought that perhaps the bus was late or something. But no. We waited for 15 minutes and nothing came, at all. So we went inside the station again as outside was far too snowy and muddy for us, and started the expedition to find another guiche selling tickets to Varna - cause that one where we bought our "lost" tickets had only one daily bus to Varna.
After 20 minutes having to put up with people making sick faces at me when I had to switch from my shitty russian speaking to english (after all, my russian is far, faaar away from being enough for such things and even so, bulgarian is quite different), I finally made it to find another guiche selling tickets to Varna - the next one departuring at 10:30 in the morning. We had almost one hour til then, this time with clocks correctly set to the right time, hehe.

We went to the second floor of the station to try and find a functioning public telephone. We were excited as never when we saw a shop with a huuuge display saying "internet and international phone calls". But as it was too good to be true, of course it was closed and nobody could tell us when it would be opened.

When it was 10:10 we ran to the platform and to our happyness, this time our bus was there: bright and shinny, waiting for us! Now, this bus was waaaaay better and modern, comparing to the one that took us from Belgrade to Nis - and we had plenty of space to place our legs! If there's one thing that drives me crazy is not having space enough for the legs inside buses.
But well, there we were: sitting (almost) comfortable inside the warm, cozy bus, heading from the Bulgarian capital to Varna, on the other side of the country, as you can see in the map below:

(Click on the map to enlarge)

During the trip - between the several stops the bus made, admiring the beautiful and white balkan landscape and taking some short naps - I was trying to call Kosta from my serbian mobile phone. After trying tones of times, I realised I wasn't managing to call him because I had run out of credits - damnit! Now our only chance to talk to him was to wait for him to call us. Hoping that he would realise that I didn't have credits (and then, call me) made me aprehensive all the rest of the trip.

When it was around half past four in the afternoon, my mobile finally ringed and yes, it was Kosta himself calling us!!

K - Tchetche!
M - Kostinho!
K - Heeeeeeeeeeeey!
M - Heeeeeeeeeey!
K - Bonitchinhas!
M - Saudades, "Julinho"!
K - How are you doing? How's the trip?
M - Just great!
K - I'm so glad you're coming! My whole family is already waiting for you two!
M - And we just can't wait to meet all your people! The view from the bus is so amazing!
K - And at what time are you arriving, after all? Where exactly are you now?

When I was about to answer, the phonecall was suddenly interrupted.
I was swearing all the dirty words I could remember (in portuguese, of course), and so mad I felt like destroying my mobile. Again we were hoping he would call back at anytime soon. But he didn't: instead he sent me a message, asking me to call him as soon as we were in Varna, so he could pick us up at the station. Fuck again!!!
At this time of the trip, the sky was already getting pretty dark - winter days are soooo short... The bus' lights soon were very low, almost off, and then Nara and I, tired and exhausted, fell asleep. That was when the real adventure started.

I woke up all of a sudden, like if somebody had called my name or something like that, but no. Nara was asleep in the seat next to mine and, to my surprise (and later, to my despair) the bus - that was pretty full when we left Sofia - was now almost completely empty: beside us two, only a young bulgarian couple were still there with us. One of the two bus drivers (obviously the one that wasn't driving at that moment) came to us and started asking a lot of things in Bulgarian. I had to concentrante and pay huuuge attention to what he was asking, and I understood that he wanted to know where were we going to. "Varna", I replied.
The guy turned completely white, opened his eyes wide, asking me back "Varna? Varna??? Oj Boze, Boze!!". He started walking from side to side and talking to himself, very nervously. I was so, but so in shock I couldn't say a word. I looked at Nara, and for the look on her face I could see that, like me, she had just realised what had happened: we missed our stop in Varna and we were now heading to some other city.
I turned to Nara and asked "What are we gonna do now?!" and she replyed "I don't know, I have no idea...". At this moment, the guy was talking to that couple that was still in the bus with us, and the girl stood up from her seat and came to us, followed by him. When she got closer, I explained her (in english, of course) that we were going to Varna and before I could finish my sentence, she said "Hey, Varna was 80 kilometers ago. The next and last stop is still 30 kilometers away, in Shabla".

Shabla. Sha-bla. S h a b l a . . .

I asked her if she knew of a bus from Shabla to Varna still on that day, she said "Only tomorrow morning, at 5 am".
Fantastic. We were supposed to spend Christmas eve with Kosta and his family and now we were heading to heaven knew where, and without being able to reach Kosta on his phone number. Could it get any worse?
After a while, the bus finally stopped. The couple went out, and Nara and I were even more desperate then before. Nara went to the bus driver and started trying every language she could, haha. When she realised that she would have to speak bulgarian, she freaked out and her eyes were almost crying. The bus driver was SO nervous with the whole situation that he hit her on her shoulder rather strongly, twice, and said something in bulgarian that, in that context, it could be only "Wait, wait and stay calm!".
He went off the bus, and started walking in the icy, melted snow, looking down and smoking heavly. We went off the bus too, and looked around.
Have any of you guys ever watched "Priscilla, the Queen of the Desert"? Do you remember the cities they would have to go to, during the film, that were nothing more than a square, a church, and 24 hour bar? So, that was Shabla. The only difference is that it was covered in mud, snow and dry, leaf-less pine trees. But then, something came out to our view, like a light in the end of the tunel: a big display saying "Internet and international phone calls".
Nara quickly took her purse and went to the bus driver, asking him to wait a bit that she was going to make a phone call. Heaven knows how, he got the "phone call" part of her speech, and asked her to wait. He took his mobile phone on his hand, and gave it to Nara, so we could call from it! I ran inside the bus and took my notebook with the phone numbers, and the bus driver dialled for us. We waited several seconds, and it didn't work. He dialled again, and again no answer. When we were about to start freaking out again, his mobile phone ringed - it could only be Kostov calling back - and this time, it really was!!! The bus driver passed me his mobile and hearing Kostovinski again was a relief:

K - Tete!
M - Kosta!!!
K - What happened? Why you didn't call me back, or messaged me?
M - My serbian mobile phone went out of credits and the german one wasn't working here in Bulgaria...
K - Yeah, I thought so. I tried to call you, but it didn't work. Where are you now, after all?? It's 7 pm, are you close to Varna or?
M - Well, it happens that, hmm, we missed the stop in Varna...
K - You missed Varna?? How come?! It's probably the biggest stop after Sofia! Where are you now???
M - We're at... Ahm... Shabla.
K - You're in fucking Shabla?!?!
M - Yeah...
K - Fuck!
M - Yes, yes, fuck!
K - I can't believe it, oh god
M - I can't believe it either, believe me.
K - Do you know where Shabla is?
M - No?
K - Good for you, then. You're 15 kilometers from the romanian border, Tete...
M - Fu - cking - hell . . .
K - Yes, you get it... Where exactly in Shabla are you now?

I passed the phone to the bus driver, as he would most certainly know where we were better than me. After a minute talking to Kosta, he gave me back his mobile, and Kostov just asked us to wait inside one of the (only) two cafes/bar of the city, that in about 1 and a half or two hours, the most, he would be getting there by car to pick us.
R e l i e f. I was so relieved to have talked to him and to know that he would be there to rescue us anytime soon!
Only at this point I could stop and analise the whole trip we were taking (since we left Belgrade til then) and damit, I could help but laughing. I was laughing so loud and hard, I started crying, hahahaha. The whole situation was SO completely surreal: when in my entire life I would imagine that I'd be lost in Bulgaria, almost at the romanian border, with Nara, on a Christmas eve?!
After crossing the large square from side to side, we finally reached the cafe. When we got in, again I felt like in the movie "Priscilla, the Queen of the Desert": there were only men in the cafe, miner looking ones, with deep drunk look on their faces. Faces those now completely turned to the door, where me and Nara were standing, over-thinking if we should really get in there. I remember myself saying a long "puta que pariu", and Nara confirming and repeating what I had just said "Ehhh, puta que pariu mesmo".
Anyways, we got in and took a table.

(3rd and last part at anytime soon)


guetoblaster said...

maracuja, abacaxi, melancia, e um limão. misturado com cachaça fica muito bom !
que historia ri sem parar !!!

Red Salamandra said...

Só tenho um comentário...


Fiquei nervosa só de ler!!! =O
Já espero o próximo capítulo da novela, rsss!

Hernan said...

cnat wait to the next part :)