It’s July 10, 20 minutes to 5 a.m. Gabi’s voice pulls me back from the dreamland, where I rest on my belly. I am sleeping, to my surprise. Two hours ago, I couldn’t imagine that I’ll get to sleep. ‘C’mon, Mihai, you have to wake up…’. He is so right, this time I really have to. Otherwise, this would be the third time I postpone my leaving to Mongolia. But not anymore, less than two hours are left until the moment I’ve been waiting with my heart in my throat for two years and with shit in my pants for the past few days. I’ve postponed the setting out two times, as I didn’t feel ready to leave. The last few days have been a nightmare. I’ve climbed the heights of joy and descended into the depths of depression, I’ve climbed back and fallen again, I’ve experienced non-sleep, fear, even a welcome pain in the ass at a certain moment, all these one after another. Then I thought that no one would ever be able to say he is ready for something like this. No one could ever say one day ‘I’m ready, I’m leaving now’. Or, if one says so, one doesn’t know what one is talking about. I’ve also packed today, before lying in bed to wake up in two hours. I don’t know now if I’ve taken all the stuff and where precisely I’ve been stuffed this ‘all the stuff’.
I open my eyes, I see Gabi, my alarm clock, and I raise up. I’m at Radu’s, upstairs, and I hear Radu and Alin downstairs. These dudes didn’t sleep a wink. They sat and talked all night, with Mitzu(bishi) and some beers nearby. I’ve decided to leave together with Doyle, my white stallion, from Radu’s place, as in the place I usually sleep my nights the high odds are that I find a car in front of the gate, not letting me go away, as it happened so many times. I go down to meet the guys. They haven’t even made the coffee that I dearly promised to those who are to see me off. We try to make it. We fail. Luckily, I’m not the only one that brings coffee. Hurry, Gabi, pour the oil you bought in the canister, Radu, move the fucking car, Alin, are you ready? I’m over-excited. I’m leaving! Let’s leave, shall we? No, Radu is not ready. He has to go upstairs to take I don’t know what picture. C’moon, duuude, people are waiting for me. Not a chance. ‘Gabi, Alin and I are leaving now.’ Ready, my wheels are finally spinning and woooow, dear God, they ARE spinning. It’s morning, the sun isn’t up yet, it’s chilly, just as I like it. I squeeze the right palm on the accelerator. It is PER-FECT! All lights are green, ah, thank you.
The Military Academy, the meeting point… how many of you! Wait, wait, a strange feeling is creeping in before I set foot on the ground. I realize for the thousand time how lucky I am. Yes, I’m nervous, I’m ‘muci’ (i.e. slang for ‘overwhelmed’). I don’t know what to say, how to split myself. I play it cool, I manage to say few jokes, but I know I’m just pouring the third glass of coffee over the last few minutes. This is how I call them, ‘minutes’, but I think they’ve lasted an hour. I gather my guts and call everyone for the group photo. I gather my guts again and say I’m available for kisses and embraces. I mount on my horse, I make a big cross, God help me, and I take off. Applauses… but I haven’t done anything, really. Have I say goodbye to everyone? I don’t know, don’t think so. At this very moment I’m clueless, I don’t understand a damn thing.
I’ve left. I’m on the road for real this time. Though I don’t manage to be fully aware of what’s in front of me. According to plan, I have to ride more than five hundred kilometers today, to Vatra Dornei, to Andrei’s home. Andrei and Oana will come with me till there, by car.
I’m out of Bucharest. It’s chilly and the sun has just risen in front of me. It lights my windshield and I see the shape of the 43 names that travel with me. And I smile in my helmet, like a crazy man. My thoughts are in a big time mess. There is joy, there is a little panic plus some stuff I can’t define. The motorcycle wheels are spinning for certain, like oiled, and it seems that nothing can stop them. I can go like this for ever. I have to travel only four months and twenty something thousand kilometers? Ha-ha, what a joke. Step on it, Mihai, but do it gently and don’t be a hero, that’s not your style. This is why I scratched a ‘slow down’ somewhere on the left sleeve: to bring my feet and head on the ground if the curves start to steal me on the road.
First stop: Urziceni, regrouping. We drink a cup of coffee, I talk to a group of bikers, we wish each other good journey and then we leave to Focsani. Andrei burns a radar on the road, but he’s forgiven. We eat and, as every time I see food in these past few days, I think of the distant time when I’ll get to eat this kind of goodies, this kind of Es and enjoy every bite. The road is ugly, straight, speed is the rule, I’m overtaken by all sort of hot-shots. And above all these, my worst enemy on the road gradually conquers all, especially my inner self. Its name is heat. I’m sweating like a pig. No, not like a Guinea pig, with perfume. I realize that cutting my toes’ nails is one of the things I forgot to do before leaving and now this is not pleasant, new and slightly tight boots and all. And the fatigue starts to show. Sleep is coming over. Five hundred kilometers after two hours of sleep and two weeks of stress are precisely what I need now. We turn left after Roman and I’m testing how Doyle’s braking with loads on, when a gentleman from the opposite lane executes a perfect left turn. I go to Gura Humorului and things are changing a little bit. The first curves appear, then a rain that clears the heat, then the sun that dries me well. I’m overtaking, at a very personal instant, a car with Russian plates. And I get close to Vatra Dornei. Many trucks, one-way, detoured traffic, a white jeep that madly overtakes, that I get near to, that I overtake, that overtakes me; we dance this dance four time, reminding me to thank God He didn’t place us on the same road on opposite lanes. I Then I realize his mind is raw and I take it easy, letting him go. I have things to look at all around me, so there’s no hurry.
This is such a beautiful place. We meet few serpentines and I find out that young Doyle is a little shaky on tight turnings. I blame it on the big load behind and we fearlessly bend. No worry, we are in control. We have, thank God, tens of thousands of kilometers to become friends. Let that be our only problem until we get home.
I arrive at Andrei’s home. Broken. I conclude that I’m stupid if I leave tomorrow, so another day in the fresh mountain air is just what I need. I happily meet Mr. Jack Daniel, a nice guy, with loads of common sense and loads of stories that make you instantly sleep. I hit the sack in his childhood room, Andrei’s, not Jack’s, and I fall asleep before closing my eyes. I’ve probably dreamt wood, as I woke up ten hours later in the same position. The bed insisted for three more. I didn’t say no.
As I stopped in Adjud at a Western Union, to receive good news at my departure, a man came near me and gave me a book and a ‘good journey’. It’s called ‘The Triumph of Love’, with the planet where we receive books in Adjud on its cover. I’ve found these words on the back cover:
‘Prepare yourself for a happy, but in the same time shaky journey. Afterwards, you won’t be the same’.