A short distance after the Romanian the first horse-drawn cart of my journey crinkled along the road in front of me. I was fast enough to snap a photo as seen, wondrous at the 'depth' of Europe I had proceeded to. I was approaching the underdeveloped 'Mordor' as my last Hungarian host Robert had jokingly described this region of Romania. Moments later, and out of camera shot, a young girl rolled her own path on my side of the pavement her method of conveyance was not horsepower, but the latest electric, gyroscopic balance board, more commonly seen in San Francisco than Sibiu. I couldn't grab the photo in time to offset the horse-cart in the blog, but the episode drew attention to how the dominant narratives reinforce themselves in the face of objective experience.
You tend to go the way of least resistance on a trip powered by your own effort. So when no host was forthcoming in the apparently Romanian, but distinctly ex-Hungarian, city of Timisoara my original plan for the night, and Gugliemo of Arad accepted my couch surtfing request almost before I made it. Thus I averted course after the Hungo-Romanian border and headed North to Arad.
Gugliemo is a warm Roman with angular features and knowing eyes, an engineering project had brought him to Arad, after similar postings in Peru and Algeria. I was envious of his variety of work destinations, I don't know if or when I will work somewhere experientially comparable to Delhi again.
Next up the Mures river to the heart of Transylvania, where the castles have become distinctly more martial and medieval, see Corvin Castle in pictures. The local dogs have matched this transition several times over. Tethered or fenced dogs barking to their heart's content is one thing, but the ones left to roam their territory have caused some drama. Firstly in Hungary coming into the the town of Etzegrom with Asli, I mistakenly diverted us on a 'more scenic route' into town. The quarry we accidentally entered wasn't too picturesque, and the pack of snarling dogs that chased us both whilst riding led asli into a fit of terror that didn't abate for the whole evening. But in Romania, in twilight up the Mures valley, I rode across a shepherd, his flock, and crucially his six massive herding dogs. Protective of the flock, they growled from both directions, bared their fangs, and despite their master's calls attacked my bike in full force. I had reasonable pace on the road, but lost to swerve initially, they tried to bite at the panniers, and were barely dissuaded by the usual tactic of squirting water bottles in their face. Two emptied bottles and a couple of hundred meters down the road, they relented, my legs cramping as Adrenalin clenched my full body. The friendliness of the Romanian people have more than compensated however: young boys running for in wheel high fives, full flooded greetings from the majority of the elderly road sitters in the villages, and a general warmth that hasn't found equal since Ireland.