Matt and I made a big deal about making it to . . . bwah-hah-ha . . . Transylvania for Halloween. Guess what? They don’t even celebrate it much here. Vampires? Eh . . . Romanians know the real history of Vlad Tepes and yeah, he impaled a bunch of people in his quests to protect the country from the Turks, whatevs. And from that, Bram Stoker created a fictional character — NEXT!
Back in Hamburg, the week after Octoberfest at a random hostel, we encountered a bunch of dudes dressed in Made-In-China, cheesy Lederhosen gear who farted in an elevator and exited right before we hopped on. How rude! But the next morning, as though the mysterious Lederhosen bunny/fairy had left a present for me, I found a Lederhosen wig in the lobby of the hostel. Perfect and obviously discarded, but purposely left out for someone to take it on its next adventure. Who am I to deny adventure to an abandoned Lederhosen wig? My mission: carry that wig in my tiny pack to Transylvania, where it would have some more debaucherous fun and get passed on to the next person.
Turns out, Romania is sorta new to the whole Halloween thing. They have their own cool traditions I’ll tell you about tomorrow. One can find all the mass-produced, cheap quality made-in-China kid costumes and witch hats, only – refreshingly and thankfully – in much lesser quantity. We found some face paint, busted out the wig and voila! I am the Lederhosen Day of The Dead Beer Lady.
We heard there was going to be a Guinness book world record pumpkin carving extravaganza at a castle just outside of town, so we went with our host and her friends to check it out. We as Americans expected hundreds of people, with acres of candle-lit pumpkins in front of a quaint and massive turreted fortress. Instead, in what was described to me as typical Romanian big-talk-low-delivery-fashion, we encountered a dark yard with a tiny old building with about a hundred half-ass carved pumpkins. Zero people in sight, except for a private wedding party happening upstairs. No one to even sell us a beer in the lobby. About six pumpkins even lit up. We saw one employee, who turned and ducked around a corner to avoid us.
So we went to our host’s friends’ home, drank Palenka (Hungarian home-made brandy) and red wine and had a truly informative, eye-opening discussion about living through the Soviet era in Romania that I’m very grateful for. And then we put the Lederhosen wig on our new friends. Of course!
Afterwards we searched for quite awhile for a bar that actually celebrates Halloween. We eventually found a place not so full of smoke. The bartender wore some face paint, the bar maid sported a bat headband and the customers didn’t give us total death-stares. Good enough for us. We sat by ourselves, in full Day of The Dead makeup plus me wearing my precious Lederhosen wig, feeling really over-dressed and out of place. It took awhile – several beers for Matt, a double espresso and a beer for me. But then the DJ played Uptown Funk and I couldn’t stay off the dance floor.
Soon we were dancing with five or six different groups of people and I had a great idea . . . all the people take turns wearing the Lederhosen wig! I plopped it on a macho guy, then his girlfriend. Soon it made the rounds throughout the bar, everyone smiling and laughing and pulling out their phones to take pictures of themselves wearing the wig. Success! I even got it on the DJ.
Now, I’ve happily carried this wig for almost a month across three countries, but I’m only carrying a 10 kilo backpack and always looking to the load lighter. There’s no way I’m carrying this wig beyond Halloween night. I gave it away several times, but every time the patrons would get up to leave, they’d return it to me. Finally, I put on my coat, made eye contact with a girl who’d enthusiastically worn the wig earlier. I handed it to her. “Do you speak English?” I said.
“Will you give this wig a good home?”
She grabbed me in a bear hug, thanked me and now the Lederhosen wig has a new home in Targu Mures, Romania. My Halloween work here is done.