It’s been some busy few of days since I’ve left London and my host in Harlow, to go North to Lincoln, Norwich and last to Bungay. And then back south to meet Vlad Mereuţă in the Capital and through Dover into Calais, towards Paris. I’ve spent one afternoon, evening and the following night in the first city from my list, Lincoln, with Hedădi taking me out for drinks in a few of their pubs and clubs. Hădade stays with a nice British couple that treat him like their own, so the bastard got pretty lucky. The guy drives him into and back from the center of the city whenever the brat wants to get drunk with his school-buddies. And they always take good care of him, so he’s a well fed piglet whenever he decides to visit his parents and friends back in Romania. When he’s in the UK though, he charms girls by saying he’s a Prince in Romania and that his father is a king. Not like most of the chicks even know where Romania is… Plus, “he’s not a king in political way… it’s like — sort of like with your queen“. So he’s just a prince by blood, not by rule.
I dumped the guitar (waiting for Hădade to ship it back with a truck), kept the ukulele and left the next afternoon and got to Norwich by train, courtesy of Hedădi’s pounds. I watched “Into the Wild” on the way there, ’cause people have been recommending it since I’ve left. And boy, let me tell you… does he die at the end! He just starved. Yep. Just so you know. It’s pointless watching it. He didn’t make it. He be hitch-hiking for about one year to where he wants to go, Alaska, the river gets high behind him, eats some starvation roots, dies, the end.
Now that we’ve got that cleared up… After arriving in Norwich I took a bus to Bungay, which is a nice little British market-town of about 14.000 souls. They have every street in a “Upper Something”, “Lower Something” naming and a big cathedral. Other than that, they used to have a total of no less than 33 pubs. Most of them are closed now, probably because the bartenders had to visit each other to keep all of them packed, each for one day.
I’ve stayed with my ex girlfriend’s mom and her boyfriend Colin (who’s a butcher in Bungay and passionate about fishing). Had a nice dinner and drank British tea and then I got my first good night rest in a while.
With a fat 60 pounds sponsorship from the nice Bungay couple (thanks Dana and Colin). I headed to London, to meet my next host, Vlad Mereuţă [blogs here], and recovered my precious red notebook with all the trip notes that I haven’t transferred yet. I had forgotten it in the Wunjo guitar shop on Denmark street, where I got my ukulele. Thanks, guys, for not throwing it away in case I came back. Everybody – visit Wunjo’s, even if you can’t sing (like me, i.e.). Do NOT visit “famous” Hank’s guitar shop on the same street. They suck and don’t check their e-mail.
Fear and loathing…
I managed to miss ALL ferries to Calais from Saturday afternoon up to the very evening, planning to catch a ride all the way to Paris, with someone else crossing over with a car. I did have enough reserve money, since I still had about 30 pounds from Dana’s and Colin’s donation in Bungay and 40 euros from Vlad in London. I had enough to take me all the way to Paris by ferry (if caught on time), bus and/or train, but I just thought I’d try my luck with a free ride, at least up to Calais.
And I’m in Madrid now. Spain. Yeah.
I met Señor Brit (not his real name) in Dover. He was supposed to go all the way to Málaga, in a crazy 24 hour long no break ride to dump a car before flying back home with a booked plane ticket. We were already at the security check point, preparing to board the ferry, facing a thorough sniff-dog search… when Señor Brit decided to stuff his what I later found out gasping in surprise to be nothing less 1 gram of pure cocaine.
He “cleverly” stuffed it inside… himself, as he informed me some half way into the ride. But he did soon get it out of his system with 3 Jacks on the ferry. So what’s more interesting for a young journalist on the road than a story on that?
Before we go any further – since the 2000 km ride with him was only at it’s iceberg tip – let’s get to know Señor Brit a little more. He’s born in Essex, was homeless by 16, in prison for getting into a fight by 18 and now is holding a nice honest job of dumping cars into Spain, where they get re-registered, just before being declared stolen back in the Kingdom, in a well organized insurance scam.
After wasting 2 hours in Calais, with only shreds of fume from an empty tank, looking for a petrol station, either running or driving backwards on the high-way at midnight, we rushed towards Paris, to try to get me in time for the end of the metro schedule, and finally reach my host. We were there way past his bed time, so I decided to find more about my most entertaining driver so far, by staying with him until Madrid.
Señor Brit, on Spanish villas: “It’d freak me out to live on that cliff like that. One little earthquake and you’re fucked to God, ain’t it? Wake up with both your legs broken and screaming for help. Having to eat your own arms so you don’t starve to death — Help, help, I’m all out of arms.“
We were shit out of time by morning in the South of France, passing into Spain, dried out of money by the toll-stations getting on different high-ways, 500 km away from Madrid and 1000 km off of his final destination.
By the way, Señor Brit listens to Blink 182 and Avril Lavigne. About 10 Red Bulls into their albums, he was already seriously thinking of dumping the car, since his employer had under-estimated the costs and there was no way to get extra cash in time to buy petrol and reach the night flight back to the UK — that’s IF he got the car in place for the pick-up for Spanish associates on time.
But by the time we were close to Madrid, he realized his only chance is to force the little juice he had in the Range Rover to Málaga, as he didn’t have enough cash for a train ride from practically anywhere to the airport.
I was off at Terminal 1, met my host, Moldy (living with Vlad and Bogdan), while Señor Brit is away to Málaga. He’s been the freakiest ride I’ve got so far and I got the chance to have my personal very first donation, splitting the 40 euros I had left after paying tolls on the way. It felt good helping back someone that helped me.
[DISCLAIMER: above info is not confirmed by third parties; as in I won't even be the second one in any legal related circumstances, as everything I write is subsequent to my subjective mind - so, no, I won't be testifying; if necessary, this blog is a mere product of my imagination]
Leaving the Kingdom.
Breakfast in London, lunch in Madrid, dinner in Calais (not in this order).
[later edit] Señor Brit is safe home. If life treats us good (so mostly if I don’t die), we’ll meet again soon. I’m visiting Madrid and leaving to Paris tonight, getting there in the morning, by train (record donation from colorful anonymous).