The funeral and the Dacia tuning
One day my host told me we were going to visit a good friend of his who is a mechanic because he wanted to replace his Dacia’s old crappy seats which were not even fixed to the floor of the car, making them move with every turn or brake.
On the way there he was telling me the interesting story about this guy who, apparently, used to live in the streets begging for cigarettes and money. One day my host decided to help him with money so he could either spend it in alcohol and drugs or on a business to improve his life, which he did. After some years he got to build his own well sized mechanic workshop and hired some people to help him.
During the way he was trying to reach him on the phone but was unable to, so we got to the workshop where there was only a guy about 18 years old who started chatting with my host, then he addressed me and told me the mechanic was at the cemetery digging a grave for one of the neighbors who had recently died. “Life at the village” he said.
He decided we should go look for him at the cemetery so we did and arrived in a small one with a few plain tombstones. Sitting over one of them there were about six guys in their 30s to 50s while one of them was digging a pretty deep hole, in the meantime the other ones chatted and drank palinca, a typical Romanian beverage with 70 degrees of alcohol.
The first thing they did when we approached and my host introduced me, was to give me the bottle of palinca to give it a try, I did and it was so strong my throat closed and I started coughing like crazy without being able to breathe properly for an instant. I then handed him the bottle but he told me to have another go at it, I tried refusing but he insisted so I did like I drank more while I actually only took a tiny sip, then handed him the bottle. He asked me then if it was strong by pointing at his bicep to which I said it was and he laughed. After a while of talking with them, my host decided to go somewhere else to run other errands and come back another time.
The next day we went back to the workshop and were greeted by the same guy who told us his boss was at the funeral and would come back later but they could start the work. The first thing they did was to put the car over the big hole they use to get inside and check the car from below. The guy got under it and began working while chatting with my host. I asked what he was doing and they explained they had to change some cables related to the lights. Then my host told me the guy had also found a small hole on the floor, nothing too serious to which the guy replied, in English and laughing, that it was a damn big hole.
After finishing the repairs from below they took the car out and my host explained that he wanted also some help to replace the old seats for some new ones he had bought for almost nothing, of a Mondeo model which we had been carrying with us from home. The guy said there was no problem, he dismounted the old ones and tried to fit the new ones in but they were too low and there was no way to fix them to the floor. Then their creativity started flowing, they decided to look for some wooden planks to attach those to the floor and then on top of them the seats. They found some and did so, making the seats fit nicely although a bit high. Then they had to replace the back seats, however, there was a small problem, the new seats were too wide and they had a metal structure on the back which prevented them to fit properly. “No problem” the guy said “I’ll cut it”, he looked for a saw, separated the soft part of the seat from the metal and chopped it. The seats finally fitted although there was no way to fix them properly so they started making holes to the metal plate and the car with a screwdriver and a hammer, because they couldn’t work out a way to use the drill in a reduced space such as that one. In the end they managed to do it and it came out quite well.
Having finished all the tuning we started collecting all the tools and nuts and bolts, especially from a big bucket where I had to find appropriate screws to fix the seats. In the meantinme, the boss arrived from the funeral with a big loaf of bread in the shape of a braid which is given as a tradition on those occasions. My host, pretty happy about his car, grabbed it and said “Let’s have some fucking bread in memoriam” to which all of us started laughing and began eating.
At my host’s house there was no internet because, according to what he told me, the provider installs a device on the street with a limited amount of connections for different houses and the ones there were already full. As there were mostly old people living there with no computer knowledge, they couldn’t get enough clients to make it worth it to put an extra device therefore the provider refused to, leaving my host without connection.
Each time we wanted to connect, we had to set an hour during the day in which we would go by bike to the next town where we had two options, to sit on a bench outside the house of my host’s friend and use his wifi or to go to the town hall of that same town where they had an open connection. We always went there in the afternoon and tried to check the internet quickly before it got dark and cold because we were sitting outdoors.
One time when we were sitting on the bench, he was moving so much his laptop fell off his lap to his legs and he barely caught it before it hit the ground but he touched a lot of keys and shook it badly so when he lifted it up, the screen was a mess and we could only see random pixels going crazy. Fortunately for him, it recovered the next day.
Some day we went to the neighbour’s place we realized he put a password which my computer didn’t have but for some reason my host’s did. I didn’t remember how to check it so I decided to go to the town hall by myself. I took the bike and went there, when I arrived there was nobody around and everything was closed. I checked if there was wifi and it was working so I went and sat down on the stairs of the building where I found a good signal. I was chatting with my family and some friends when suddenly I started hearing a dog barking. It was getting dark and I could only distinguish a silhouette running at me in the distance. I quickly stood up and ran upstairs, jumping the rail to get to the balcony. The dog saw he couldn’t reach me so it just stood there barking like crazy for a while until two old ladies approached, they saw there was someone on the balcony of the building, I lit my face with the screen and waved in a friendly way, they saw it was alright and scared the dog away. I kept chatting with a friend for a while until it got really dark and I began hearing sounds from inside the buildings, which was kind of creepy so I decided it was time to go. I got on the bike, rode till the house of my host’s friend and found out he was gone already. I thought it was time to go back home then, the only problem was that there is no public lighting anywhere along the road and no moon that night so I could basically see nothing farther than my front wheel. Carefully and slowly I wound up my way until luckily I found the house where I had to make a turn which was lit. Then I kept going and went up a long and annoying uphill which was really close to my host’s place but then at the end I saw two dogs not very far away, barking like crazy and chasing a car coming at me so I thought “Perfect!” and decided to go down the hill again for a while until they were gone. After some time I came up again to check if the dogs were gone, which they were and I could finally go back home.
On another day we stayed also until it got dark and when going back I couldn’t see anything again so I rode very close to my host’s bike trying to avoid any obstacles on the road and being happy every time a car passed, which happened very seldom, because it’s lights gave like a quick flash so I could see and remember part of the road ahead.