Fleeing the Country
Mihai Popa

At a certain point I got to a road that was not on my 1954 map. I guess it was a military trail built afterwards. It looked almost like a highway and I shitted in my pants when I saw it. This road was blocking my access to the promontory. I wanted to get to a peninsula, which was stretching out deep into the Danube and which was very bushy. This way, I thought, I was going to be less visible. So, I went there anyways. Right on the spot, there was this guy who was picking blackberries. I go: ?Hey, man, which way is the Danube?? (I didn?t know very well). He says: ?Just a few steps away, over there?. I started walking there, but at a certain point, I don?t really know why, curiosity mostly, I turned around and looked back. I saw that guy running with his blackberry jar, towards his house. I saw the house had two phone wires and I said to myself: ?I?m so fucked!? I decided to go exactly the opposite way. This was my first adventure because in five minutes a military jeep with four soldiers appeared and they went straight to the Danube. I went back towards the forest I was coming from. After half an hour the soldiers returned, got in their jeep and left. That was close!

After that, I made it to the peninsula I was talking about. To my surprise it was full of houses! I sneaked into some bushes and I sat there waiting for the evening to fall. There I was, 600 kilometers from Bucharest, which was already to the right of the meantime zone. That 23rd of August, because of the meantime zone and of the daylight saving time, at ten in the evening there was still a lot of light outside. Around ten in the evening I saw two soldiers from the border patrol. They didn?t have any dogs. Well, it was not dangerous anyway, because the wind was blowing from the Danube towards me. When I got up to put my backpack in a plastic bag, I saw a comrade on the trail. I immediately got on all fours, but he was heading my way. I didn?t know what to do. To kill him, I couldn?t. I had an underwater hunting knife Fredone had given me. It was a pretty serious hunting knife, maybe you remember it. It was a combat survival knife, with a leg strap. But I couldn?t kill him. What could I do, fight him? What the hell could I do? And to my relief, one meter away from me (I was in the bushes) he turned left and went away about his business. This was the second unpleasant thing and a great relief at the same time.

I put my backpack in a plastic bag and I went, as calmly as I could and stepped in the water. There I almost drowned because of my boots which I had completely forgotten about. And because of my pants the boots were military type, very heavy, with a thick rubber sole. I was going down under like a cannonball, because of them boots. I barely made it out of the water. I took them out, and I threw them away and remained in my shorts. I was wearing my shorts and a shirt (I still have that shirt). For safety reasons, I put my documents in my shorts in a sealed plastic bag. One can never be cautious enough.

I was pushing my plastic covered backpack (where I had my other belongings) and I was slowly swimming across the river. I mean, I was not afraid at all, because I was more than very well trained from this point of view. What I didn?t know was the fact that on my map the width was of 4 km. In reality, it was of 12 km, because meanwhile the storage lake had been made.

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