Something incredible happened to me today. I was staying at a friends’ house but felt very uncomfortable there for various reasons. Too big, not so clean, no internet, moderate to bad 3G reception, just one lousy shop, quite a long bus ride from Brașov, etc. So I panicked.
Fortunately, I didn’t just panick – I started listing alternative accommodation around Brașov. I also started looking at AirBnBs again even though I had already done that a few weeks ago.
Suddenly I found myself staring at an AirBnB which I hadn’t seen up there before – and it looked too good to be true. Like a proper fata morgana: nine euros per night for a beautiful little two-bedroom refurbished house on the outskirts of Brașov, close to the Piatra Mare mountains. Bookings per week only – but that’s a good thing for me since I want a base I can return to without having to drag my luggage from one place to another all the time.
Nine euros per night is a ridiculously low price – I usually pay €10 for a night in my tent on a campsite. So this morning, I sent Sorin, the owner, a tentative message to test the waters first. But I sensed I couldn’t wait for his answer – what if someone else gets ahead of me?! – and decided to risk it and just book for a week. Worst case I would lose half my reservation money.
According to the AirBnB website I couldn’t check in until tomorrow, so I decided to move to a familiar room in the city centre for just the night. My host at the ‘uncomfortable house’ was going to phone a taxi for me to take me and my luggage there.
Just then Sorin rang: if I wanted I could come today, right now, and he could pick me up with his car. I was incredulous at first but I said yes – and there he was, 40 minutes later. He turned out to be the friendliest possible man. He is an engineer, just retired, at 52 – he wants to do fun things now and he did well for himself. He refurbished this little house with a fund he created, and put it up on AirBnB only a few weeks ago (which is why I spotted it only just now).
He made it clear he didn’t want or need to make money – he already had enough. Nine euros a night probably just about covers the costs he makes (not to mention the costs he already made while refurbishing). He just wanted to do something good with his time, refurbish the house (which I think he must have greatly enjoyed – everything is as efficient as possible) and invite people there, and be a guide to them should they need one. I am only the second guest. Everything is new and I hardly dare use stuff because I’m going to make it look used. He did it all by himself and everything is made from natural materials. This place makes me feel good.
He gave me an elaborate tour of the house with great enthusiasm, giving instructions for everything – air conditioning, cleaning devices, where I can find what – from time to time apologizing for the duration of his instructions. It’s true that the tour was a bit intense for me, but that was more because of the shock of the first two tough days than because of his enthusiasm and generosity. And the shock of finding something so very perfect. It really is incredible. I had settled for the ‘uncomfortable house’ because I thought I could handle it – and when it turned out I couldn’t and I panicked and thought I would have to go back home because I couldn’t deal with things, this philanthropist turns op. This is what I call providence.
For the first hour or so after he left I walked around dazed; I didn’t know what to do. After I had finally come to accept that this had really come my way I started to unpack. Give things a place. (I have reserved this gem for the rest of May and most of June, excepting a few days when it was already booked.) Then I did some yoga to catch my breath, and to my amazement my mind started to behave slightly more normally again. I started thinking of the things I could do tomorrow, instead of rummaging through all the things I thought I could not do. I still feel shaky but I’m beginning to believe I can do this again.
So tomorrow I will go for a swim. And go grocery shopping at Kaufland which is just 750m away. And I will rest and recover. And then, hopefully, I will be able to go for my first hike on Saturday. I will keep you posted!
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