Romania – The Low Down Adventure
There’s something magical about Romania, and it’s not just the people or the mystery and fame of Dracula. Drive through Transylvania and you’ll feel it – it’s straight out of a fairytale. The fog hangs low, it lingers… turn a corner and the fog is mysteriously gone. You’ll be staring out to endless fields or glorious mountains, surrounded by a sky that looks unreal. The sun dances in ways that I’ve never seen before. It bounces and shifts. One second it’s behind a peak, the next it’s bouncing off a crack.
I went to Romania assuming that I’d just try to bus it, ready for an adventure trying to navigate a local bus system that seemed hard to decipher based on online forums. Instead, I ended up with an amazing Airbnb-host-turned-sidekick Albertini who joined me for the entire trip, showing me his fave spots and sharing so much about the Romanian culture.
Albertini and I chased the sky… and an elusive pencil factory. The perfect partner in crime. Super sleuthing, phone calls, and many people later… our hunt for an 85-year-old factory, the ONLY company that still churns out pencils in Romania, led to an impromptu 400-mile road trip through massive fields and open roads. Waze, Google Maps, actual maps… led us to a ginormous warehouse. Past security, down long dark corridors until finally… HELLZ M'THR F'KIN YEAH!! We tracked down the last Romanian company that manufactures pencils for themselves and not for another company! It was like a fuckin’ Sherlock Holmes episode minus Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.
We continued to chase the sky. I was like a kid with my head hanging out the window. We chased the sunset. I was grabbin’ for it, like grabbin’ for cotton candy. We drove up a mountain to hunt down the best view. We just drove and drove. It was one longass, baddass road trip. And it was fuckin’ awesome.
From the first sourcing trip to our most recent one, I always return with a shit-ton of stories about locals going out of their way to help me – to hunt something down, to translate something that I couldn’t make out no matter how many times I typed and retyped phrases into Google Translate. But you know what I never return home with? Photos of all the amazing strangers that helped me. And what’s worse? Rarely did I ask their name or think to write it down. WTF.
When I set off for the STMT X Romania sourcing trip, I told myself over and over – do not forget to take photos of all the rad folks that help me out. And you know what? Despite me mentioning several times to Albertini that I must take a photo of him, it never happened. WTF?! But it’s all good – I know I’ll be back. I’ll get that photo of Albertini and we’ll continue chasin’ the cotton-candy sky of Transylvania. The peach and salmon shades, baby blues. Ah yeah – dreams be made.