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PAGE 4 - the Adventure of rescuing two Afghan Hounds from the War
Told by Aurel, May 3, 1999
Seems a lot of people over praise my action...why?
I just did what anyone else, in my position ought've tried and
succeeded. How this all happened you all know...war can never be
civilized...no one should play God, and still...
...Friday evening, Bucharest Gara de Nord railway station, 10 years ago
we would've celebrated the Workers Day, May 1st ... The Euronight
"Ister" train leaves on time the station at 19:40 towards Budapest - so
I tell myself: that's a good omen for my plan...there are just two
people in the compartment: a guy from a town in NW Romania planning to
spend a weekend in Budapest and a crazy guy from Bucharest, sorry an
afghan owner, leaving on an Afghanese mission.

Knock, knock...Arad (last county capital next to the Romanian-Hungarian
border)! Suddenly I change my mind: let's switch train in
Hungary!...Curtici - no problems, just astonished faces (Yugoslavia,
dogs,...?) and 1/2 an hour later I'm in Lököshaza: where are you headed
to, sir? Szeged - Röske - Horgos! You got any money on you?
Yes!..wellcome to Hungary...ufff, my brand-new passport gets another
stamp and I the right to wait at dawn right in the middle of the one and
only deserted gang way the delayed train coming from...Arad...the sun
rises eventually, but i'm rather more interested at this moment to get
on the train and find that sanitary room at the end of the couch...he,
he, he...I take a quick snap of one of the station posts, maybe I need
some evidence of showing that I've been there, shouldn't I?
Eventually 3/4 hours late the train departs and I'm headed closer and
closer to the city of Szeged via Bekescsaba (strange names, huh?).
Weather gets nicer but I don't know if I should be happy because god
weather is OK for me but I gather the serbs don't enjoy it too much -
the journey is almost over, I just close my eyes, say the Lords prayer
and pray for the success of this action and for all those involved
directly or indirectly in it...train slows down and I find myself in the
main szeged station short after eating some of the Schnitzels my mom has
prepared and some coffee sips from my flask. I look around and there he
is: elderly, grey hair and beard, jovial in his dark carmine pullover,
yes
it's him: Josef K. the German breeder - so now the team is complete
guessing that he should've arrived by car, 'cause I wouldn't be happy to
walk all 10 mi to the border...true enough a deep blue Audi 4 TDI combi
is waiting in the parking lot and we draw the final details of our plan
on the terrace of a small but chique restaurant in down-town szeged over
a "Szegediner Cheese salad" and a cappucino. A quick glance at our
watches and off we are. It's only natural that 1 mile short of the
border we take a wrong left turn that takes us into the Röske village -
my two bit Hungarian helps find out the way to the "Yugoslav hotar" and
after couple of minutes there's our border. 
It's just like Dj has described it...I can clearly identify the Yugoslav
banner, the border posts, the barriers. OK, the time has come! 
Of course we have to move the car twice around due to the more or less
diligent ideas of the Hungarian police and we start unloading car and
wallets: one travel bag full of dry dog food ('bout 30 pounds of it)
and...a rather large overloaded suitcase: food (salami, coffee , tea,
rice, etc.) + a lot of small cans and packs of prepared dog food... I
just hope yugoslav customs did already have their lunch break ... I grab
my papers and four red baseball caps...I put the travel bag on my
shoulder and the next instant it drops heavily right next to my right
foot: the strap was of course wrongfully attached so I have to put it
right, curse quietly and start again and the moment I try to lift the
suitcase I feel that all my articulations have a slight but continuos
trend to elongate - so I just stop thinking about tonnage!
Hungarian customs and border guards are no problem as I'm not the only
one trying to cross by foot the border into the neighboring country 
wanting to help out their friends just 200 meters to the south.
I walk through the No man's land dripping of sweat as i still have my
wind jacket on and I have to change the bags from one hand to the other
every 10 yards so I really am happy and relieved when I get in front of
the Serbian border barrack. I ease up letting two other men to present
their case and then I just attack: passport, papers from the Bucharest
Kynological Association with a 50 DM bill folded inside plus an
incredible stream of English sentences, the poor guy didn't get any
chance to ask me anything in the first place because realizing that he

Wiki in the train compartment
Wiki and Sunny at Aurel's home
doesn't understand English he gets the same story for free once again, this time in German, inclusive a dumb & innocent smile from me. He can still utter two questions: Journalist? Boy was that a wrong question 'cause all he gets is an explanation on my position within the Romanian Afghan Hound Club (bet he has never heard of this bunch of weirdo's), but he still succeeds to put the more difficult second question: Where's your car? So I put on my # 1 Eastman Color amazed look
and tell him en-passant that all that stuff comes by train from Romania and I just got someone to drive me to the border from the e station.  Right, I got him, he snaps the entry visa into my passport I get both passports (new and old expired one) back, the 50 DM bill finds it way most naturally back into my passport and as soon I want to leave I hear
him asking in a very bad Romanian:...your country...you know what they did to us, I turn round, drop my head and admit: Yes those are our  leaders, we had to do it although 75% of Romanians don't understand why...just a couple more steps and I happy to throw the large suitcase on the small metal table near the barrier - customs officers must think
I'm a nut case but I'm just happy to rest my muscles! A quick glance into the travel bag and I get a quick nod from the NCO, the I open the suitcase...the eyes of the customs man slowly become cyclopean so I can do only one thing: start talking as fast as I can in a strange mixture of english-german-serbian-romanian so his only escape is to call the one
most intellectual amidst their crowd - ne listens just a moment and concedes: let him through he's just a dog guy! As a token of uninterested thanks I let them have the four baseball caps and as I start walking like a weight lifter with all those more than 80 lb. hanging from my arms I can hear them dividing between them my Italian caps.
Ha! I succeeded! I'm so happy as if I've just crossed the border between
Tchechnia and Switzerland.

I more or lass pull the suitcase and then I see the ancient red Renault and inside two black familiar shaped figures and suddenly there he is in front of me: a smiling 2 meter high giant: we write each other e-mails and letters since more than 10 months, we feel like brothers and yet we meet for the first time, here in the surreal place.  A short hug quickly followed by a firm wish: Djordje, please take my luggage before I fall down! I can see the question in his eyes so I
answer without delay: it's all from family K. and other German breeders and judges! As we put the stuff in the car we also have a "collateral damage" - the liquor bottle which was supposed to be Joseph's present falls off the chair and smashes on the hot tarmac - followed closely by the seemingly most used curse in FRY: pizda mutii Milosevici, pizda mutii Clinton! 
And now I meet the two black silhouettes: Hurrikan as cunning as his sun Sunny and Wiki, thin and beautiful.
Dj gives me the shortest but most sense full judge appreciation on the pair and we trot off towards the restaurant as Dj has decided that I MUST be hungry and on the other hand I also want to spend the 230 dinars I still have after bringing Sunny to Bucharest from Pancevo. The menu makes me feel like at home in Romania: a "ciorba" dressed with yoghourt,
a fresh cucumber and white cabbage salad (I had too much meat already today!) and a good turkish coffee.
While we start talking I suddenly see where Sunny gets his habits from: Hurrikan jumps through the small open window and starts investigating the Serbian side of the border! In due time and after his maybe last reprimand on Serbian soil he's back in the car. Back at the table Dj tells me: Hurrikan is a catastrophe, no way of letting him off the leash!  Wiki...she'll just walk by your side even without on! 
So we get to financial side of the trip: 1700 Dm change ownership, shortly but difficulty followed by my 230 dinars - the answer as as quick as determined as he pushes a 50 US$ bill towards me. I don't wanna take it, he insists: I know you Romanians are the poorest lot in Europe except for Albanians and the dog food you've sent me and the calls you
made to olivia mean 100 times more - well, after all he's my brother! I tell him that I already received earlier that day some Dm which will cover at least my travel costs...to cut it short I take the money and promise to use it as travel money to bring Olivia whatever money might be directed to me from the afghan list. 
This part settled, as two ordinary people we change to politics...such a mess, a people caught between the implacable, inhumane evils determined to subjugate the Serbian people: Milosevici si NATO! And of course the other war, in the media: Milosevici propaganda from home versus NATO TV propaganda through NATO relays, the lies from CNN and the dubious and arrogant comments from comments jamie shea&Co, and just a single loser: Yugoslavia!

Of course we speak in low voice but you can never know who sits beside your table so I'm eager to know about his trip from the small village opposite to Novi Sad to the border post in Horgos: his friend, a Collie breeder took him early morning across the Danube, Dj lying on his back keeping tight in his arms the two Affies and praying that the 4 HP motor
does start...the morning is quiet but huge fumes come from the petrochemical complex once more bombed the night before and the air alarm hasn't yet been called off , safely on the other side of the bank he changes clothes and jumps in his fathers car and starts the 120 km drive to the border through small villages as the highway is still sealed off of for private traffic - he took this car as it consumes less and is so old that the risk of it being requisitioned by the army is
near zero! he discloses his biggest fear - what if he would have been stranded in the middle of a dusty road, 50 km from the border keeping on leash his two hounds and me waiting and waiting at the petrol station at the border...I ask about his house, his family...no drinkable water, no gas to cook diner, just electricity...but if NATO destroys this also
they are all doomed...the hospitals see already the first signs of a rapidly deterioration of health standards and immuno-genetic related diseases...his grandmother's house is next to one of the former bridges - no windows any longer...tales of war, tales of horror...

As we check our watches we see it's time to part...he has got to arrive home before the evening alarm starts again, I also have a train to catch in order to give Wiki a new safe home as soon as possible. Cocker Spaniel breeder turns to be our needed amateur photograph...a quick series of snaps, I take Hurrikan and Wiki on the leash, a last hug...big
tears roll over my brothers eyes: please take care of my Hurrikan and of my beloved Wiki...head down, almost crying myself I head once more towards the serbian customs: before I start explaining and showing the papers Dj yell something to
them , they nod and after a short nod from the border guards I leave Yugoslavia....I hope nothing will happen now...short of entering the Hungarian side I turn round and wave back...then I meet astonished Hungarian guards proudly wearing their bullet-proof vests, they don't seem to understand that I lack at least one hand as I try to pull my passport whilst also holding the dogs, a small plastic bag and A small painture of an afghan Dj has given me ...eventually a guard takes the
leashes and is instantly pulled in two absolute different directions...he, he..wonder if he'd ever think 'bout having such a
pet... The custom guy seems being in need of action so I give him the same treatment: at least 100 words he can't understand at all plus a stack of papers (BTW, most of them being the judging certificates of Hurrikan who is Yugoslav Champion) and as he nods desperately not wanting to hear anything more from me I superiorly tell him that he had forgotten to ask me to show him Wiki's pedigree! Nevertheless I leave ASAP the customs over hearing a smart remark on "those stupid Romanians and their crazy dogs from Serbia"...he, he... Josef is already waiting for me...I hand him solemnly over the "collateral loss" the smell shows good quality, but...it lands in the nearest bush and we head back to Szeged. Dj calls us on Josef's mobile phone and suddenly all happens very fast: Szeged railway station, a photo of Josef and his car and I jump in the first class coach of the 5 wagon local train to Bekescsaba:  Thought all was over? No way! One hour later the train conductor steps into the compartment: No dogs in first class and where's the dogs ticket? I'm already pissed off so I tell her that back home in Romania I don't need no ticket and can take whatever train or couch that pleases
my dog! Of course she wants both a fine and us to move over to the last wagon of the train, but boy has she got a problem as I offer her Deutsch Marks and she can accept only Hungarian Forints! So eventually we close a deal: We move to second class and she doesn't need any longer a ticket for Wiki...the shuddering journey has a quick effect on Wiki's
bowels and oop the poop on the corridor...so I have to scoop the poop, clean the corridor and eventually relax by lighting a cigarette while disregarding my ulcerus...but there's Bekescsaba and just 1 hour to my connection back home!
We take a stroll around the station where I find some women from Carmen's hometown of Craiova and we have the usual political talk about Romania , the stupid President we have and off I am! Of course, the train is late, but I decide that we should have the most pleasant trip possible regardless of costs..a short sprint and I'm at the doorstep of the sleeping coach coming all the way from Paris:" I need a bed!"! Of course they have so first of all I get Wiki on the bed
and only then start the negotiations - we agree on 50 Dm, followed by a pack of Marlboro Lights and the promise not to show myself on the corridor before arriving at the Bucharest "Gara de Nord" station: tired, but happy we part two Wiener Schnitzels and as Wiki falls quickly asleep I start preparing again the papers needed for the last border crossing.
Control is more or less inexistent on the Hungarian side (that's one of the major advantages when crossing the border in sleeping couch) and 1/4 hour later I hear the first Romanian words in the last 18 hours. Wiki gets only admirative glances and the lady from customs is asking as she leaves our compartment: "sorry sir, but I hope you do have papers for
her?" - i grab the papers, but she's already gone and Wiki gain asleep...

My mobile phone starts receiving messages again: seems that Carmen is
sick worried about me, as are also other friends including my mother who
want's to know what she should prepare for Wiki when we arrive in the
morning at home. I start writing some notes on the trip and eventually
persuade Wiki to let me also have a piece of the bed...
Sharp on time, early Sunday morning we're in Bucharest...a last
negotiation with the cab driver and 10 minutes later I open the door to
my apartment in down-town Bucharest...Sunny has felt my arrival and is
ready to greet me in his usual way but he sees Wiki...and the rest is
history....
Aurel                                      Aurel's Page in Afghanstoo-l Gallery