Pannonia Express, Bucharest – Budapest – Prague, at the moment is the most dangerous train in Europe. Then from nowhere a middle-aged married couple showed up next to us, with at least twenty leather suitcases and many packages of books. I approach them and I ask them if they speak English and if they would mind if Dora and I join them. They speak English because they’re Americans, they don’t mind that we join them. I say, apologizing, that I am a bit scared, and the man, spreading his arms and smiling, said: “You? Well the angel is above you!” It turned out that they were both missionaries from a church that doesn’t have a church because they don’t believe in a church, but in the goodness of people, and that they’d been coming to Romania for years, each time for couple of months; it turned out that although they were going to Prague, we shared the same compartment. Her name is Nadezda, she is Polish Jew by origin. At the Romanian-Hungarian border they took Dora’s and my passport and they were gone for one and a half hour. One and a half hour! I can not describe my fear. I still don’t know what I was so afraid of, there was something in that country, something awful in the wat they treat you, or it was all in my head. What was the court document that the children belonged to me that 1995, when human life had no price!
All state affairs – police, customs – were conducted by women. Frowning, with their lips pressed together, cold. They would take out all foreigners from the train, except Dora and myself. After this first relief, first relaxation. Then we were followed by hunger, cold and thirst all day. Antonio, our kind young fellow passenger, a Romanian, opened his bag, and as a gentleman, as they know in Romania, make the two of us the most delicious sandwiches, in a white napkin, and lemonade. Dora still considers the Romanian sandwiches the best in the world. Dora played with the lead sea horse, which she then dropped and we all looked through the compartment, but it had disappeared. At that moment it was an unusual and good sign.
We arrived in Budapest around nine in the evening and it was here, at the main railway station in Budapest that we started to hug each other, to kiss and jump with happiness. It was here that we knew we had made it. I thought if I should call the Vardis, whose address I had received from the good Nebojsa, but I did not feel like telling the whole story. At that time, we were approached by a taxi driver, a Hungarian one this time, who also spoke fluent English and he asked if we needed transportation. Transportation? I say and I laugh with happiness and relief. We need transportation, shower, dinner, place to stay overnight and plane tickets to Amsterdam. He went to his car, returned with a mobile phone, spoke something to somebody in a completely not understandable Hungarian. Less than an hour later, Dora and I had a shower at a pension one kilometer from the airport. There was a full platter with Hungarian specialties on the table and a jug full of homemade sour cherry juice. Before that, the taxi driver had taken us to the airport where we bought tickets for the first morning flight to Amsterdam, Malev, because they were, as he confirmed to us, thirty percent cheaper than KLM. That night, hugging, next to each other as two shell halves, Dora and I started the hard, slow way of returning our mutual trust.