Tomorrow is an election day in Moldova. The possibility of civil unrest mandates that all volunteers be in their villages by Saturday night. I happened to be in cahul this weekend so getting home was much more difficult than usual. However, it wasn’t the 3.5 hour bus ride that got to me.
It was the taxis.
When I arrived at the south station, it was completely vacant. I didn’t see any taxis, rutieras, buses…NOTHING! So, I stood in the middle of the parking lot pondering how I was going to get to PC, when I saw a rutiera in the distance. Optimistic, I hauled my bright pink ADIDAS bag, my big black purse, and my big sleeping bag over to the rutiera.
Everything about me screamed LOST AMERICAN, and the rutiera was not in service.
Disgruntled and back to square one, I began telling myself to be calm in spite of my ever increasing trepidation. So when I saw a taxi stop at the corner, I ran like my life depended on it. Kind of dramatic…but that’s how I felt.
The Taxi Driver rolls down his window: Where do you need to go?
Me: The Romanian Embassy.
TD looks me over: I’m not going in that direction, but you can get in.
Grateful for his kindness, I jumped in the car. It was only after we started moving that I realized I was in a car with two drunk men and a platinum blond woman, who was riding in the front seat. The driver mentioned that he had to take them home before dropping me off, and that the men were drunk because they had come from a birthday party. I wanted to be agreeable considering he was doing me a favor, but the lascivious looks one of the men was giving me had me second guessing myself.
The plan was if he touched me even once, I would jump out of the car and take my chances with oncoming traffic before I became a rape victim. Luckily, he never touched me. Instead the second man in the car, abruptly grabbed my hand and kissed it and then proceeded to tell me that I should vote communist in tomorrow’s election. I explained that I’m American and therefore can’t vote. The man shrugged and walked off with his wife.
“You’re American?” the taxi driver asks curiously when we were alone in the car.
“Yes.” I replied unsure of whether or not it was a good thing.
He then proceeded to ask questions about why I was going to the Embassy considering it was late at night and no one would be there. I simply told him I was going to the Peace Corps Office, and I would go home to Mereni afterwards.
Mistake. MISTAKE. MISTAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“I know where Mereni is. I’ll take you there after you are done! I will wait for you,” he said. His enthusiasm was off putting, but I had said too much and he had become a little “too interested” for my comfort. To appease him, I took down his number, told him not to wait, and said I would call when I was ready.
Instead, I went directly to the guard and we watched the Taxi Driver wait out front for about 2 minutes before he finally pulled off. I then asked him to get me another taxi to take me to Mereni.
“What about that one?” The guard asked.
“Weird vibes.” I explained. The guard understood and called me a new taxi.
About 15 minutes later, my second taxi arrives. The moment I get into the taxi he asks where I want to go. I say Mereni and told him the people on the phone said 120 lei. He says, it’s not enough money. Tired and frustrated I told him to stop the car, but then he says 120 lei is sufficient. Whatever.
TD: Do you speak Romanian?
TD: Say something!
Not wanting to fight with this grungy, overweight taxi driver that looked like a beetle. I told him my name and that I was a health teacher. Apparently, this wasn’t interesting enough for him.
TD: Have you had sex with a Moldovan?
Me: No, and this conversation is impolite.
TD: I’ve always wanted to have sex with an American, especially an American “like you”. Is it the same as with Moldovan’s?
TD: You don’t want to have sex with me? I want to have sex with you.
I wanted to ball up my fists and punch him in the face for being so disrespectful! Instead I opted for…
Me: Drive please.
TD: Fine! Don’t Talk to me! Don’t say anything.
I was so amused by his response that I had to bite my tongue not to laugh. We didn’t speak for the rest of the trip. When we arrived at my house he told me that I lived very far away. I gave him 120 lei and slammed the door shut.
I don’t know what normal interactions with Taxi drivers are…but I’m pretty sure it was NOT what I encountered tonight. It get’s exhausting worrying about my safety all of the time. The truth is…I have too because no one else will.
That is all.