We check out of our hostel at noon, and head to the bus station. After a city bus ride, and two metro lines, we get to the place and can't find a single sign as to where the station is supposed to be. We wander this way and that around the metro exit, and then find it across the street and down a little. There are two buildings and about 10 buses lines up, all different brands and sizes. Our bus is scheduled to leave at 2:30 and we are an hour early. We're pretty confused right now because there isn't really any signs. Or ticket area. Or anything helpful, even in another language.
Someone shows up at the info desk, probably because we are loitering around it. He doesn't speak much English but a lady in passing does, and she tells us which platform the bus will show up. It occurs to us all the sudden that we don't know how much the bus ride will cost and crap is there an ATM around because we are low on money?!
The lady stops by again and says the bus will pull up soon. We ask how much the ride will cost and she says 25 Lei each.
To our name, we have 46 Lei.
*insert monentary freak out*
We are 4 Lei short, which is about $1.75 USD. She is so nice and says, "Here I'll give you the 4 Lei." And after receiving many thanks from us, now having exactly what we need to leave the city and not a banī more, she boards her bus and leaves.
Good start. Good karma.
The bus ride is only about 2 hours, but once we start getting into this small town of Curtea de Arges, the driver starts stopping at all these random places along the street, and more and more people get off...until we are the only ones left. Right now we are assuming the last stop will be the bus station, right?
He dropps us of at a steet. Random street. "Finish!" Um. Okay. So we have the map of the area screenshot on our phones, but that only does so much, especially when the road you're on isn't even on there. Our hostel people are supposed to pick us up at the station so we decide to find the station.
Finally after almost an hour, we are hot, hungry, frustrated, having to go to the bathroom, and a little pissed off at everything in the world. So Tessa sits down with a resigned sigh and I spot a bus stop attached to a kiosk-store thing across the street. There are two women talking in the entrance. I leave the bag of groceries with Tessa and cross the street, managing to avoid about five taxis beeping at me.
I approach the two and tentatively say "English? Directions?" They sort of nod, and I show them the map on my phone.
They pass my phone back and forth (while a small part of me thinks back to the guy who stole my phone) and their faces aren't looking too comprehending.
The smoking guy says something like "oh I can show you." And as he points to his car alarm bells go off in my head, screaming "gypsy!" Which isn't very kind of me. But really. So I kind of say "how about walking me there?" And I say my friend is waiting across the street. He doesn't look particularly harmful and there are now five people around me who seem to know one another.
At this point a lady pulls up in a purple car and starts speaking to him, and me, and at first I'm thinking "oh crap oh crap is she warning me away from this guy saying not to trust him??" But then she turns to me and says: "Tessa? Are you Tessa?" Which is about the last thing I'm expecting to hear at the moment. And I point across the street saying "That's Tessa! Yes! Are you our ride??"
The lady who picked us up said she had been asking the taxi cabs while she drove around and around looking for us. They had said yeah there were two backpackers walking this direction (or something like that) and she had seen me from the road. The smoking guy I talked to was apparently the husband of her son's ex-teacher, and her brother was there too, helping out. AND our bus driver coming into town knew her as well.
This is a very small town.