Ginny sat, blonde hair pulled back, on a bed in the adjacent room, examining her belongings.
“Hello,” I said, exercising my voice for the first time pretty much the entire day.
And, that was it. Ginny, a former Peace Corps volunteer, and I were instant friends. Originally from South Carolina, Ginny was in Transylvania doing research. She’s a historian studying at Oxford, so for the few days she was in Cluj, she spent some of her time meeting other historians and researching in the library.
The rest of the time, we spent together, exploring Cluj, eating and drinking.
We actually had a pretty good pattern … she would wake up early and go meet with people, have coffee, lunch and then work a little. I would wake up not early, meander about the late morning, catch up on some e-mails, walk around the town and then have a little siesta.
Then, at night, we would make dinner and hit the sheesha bar for a few drinks. Our first night out, we went to the sheesha bar (which was a stone’s throw from Retro Hostel), and met some Moroccans who then took us to this gothic and gorgeous pub in a square nearby, Euphoria. We had a beer with them and then headed home.
The second night, we once again went to the sheesha bar, and then met up with Arpad, who worked at the hostel reception, and his German friend, Phillip.
The third night, our last night, was our biggest.
After an afternoon of wandering the city and exploring some of the old churches, all expertly navigated by Ginny, and even explained to me and put in historical context, we decided Friday night would be a night out.
Ginny and I, after going to grab our dessert of fried doughnuts stuffed with chocolate (one word — amazing), we grabbed some wine and headed back to the hostel where Arpad, the other man who was staying in the hostel, and another girl, had begun to hold court in reception. With three bottles of wine.
We sat, enjoying the night, when the other girl began to rattle off about how she hated Americans. First, in English, and then in Spanish. Both of which I understood (more or less).
Now, I know not everyone likes Americans. I am OK with that. I don’t need to be everyone’s friend. But, I am not OK with being discriminated against to my face simply because of the passport I hold.
And, I am sure the more I travel, the more I will experience this. But still, that night I wanted nothing to do with it.
I had a few drinks in me and decided it was in my best interest to leave the situation, so I pulled Arpad outside, told him how I felt, and Ginny and I headed to the sheesha bar.
An hour or so later, the crew, sans the girl, met up with us. And then, hours later, we headed next door to a bar where, amidst the smokey haze and crowd, a DJ stood, perched on a stage, playing music I couldn’t even fathom dancing to.
“What the hell am I supposed to do?” I asked, turning to Ginny.
“Just do what I do and wave your hands around in the air!” She said, jumping up and down, arms raised high above her head.
So, for a few minutes she and I just laughed and swung our arms around.
Around 3 a.m., it was time to go home. We had a full day the next day — exploration and late night busses and trains to take us to our next stops.