Fleeing the Country
Mihai Popa

The whole thing started on the 23rd of August 1982 at 5:20 A.M., when Silvia woke me up. The alarm clock had rung, but I didn?t hear it. I had to pack my bags and everything. The whole thing had to be done inconspicuously, because my cover up story was that I was going up in the mountains. Had I packed in the evening I would have maybe put something in my bag that could have given me away. I didn?t want everybody to know what I was up to. The persons who knew about it were Dan, Gheorghiţa (who also had to take me there, but turned me down. Because of that, for a long time, I gave him the cold shoulder. That was until my old man died. In that situation he behaved very well and helped me a lot and I forgave him, even if in fact it is very hard to forgive a thing like that. You know how he broke the news to me? ?Man, I?m not taking you because?I am not taking you!? He was supposed to give me a ride to Herculane, which was ?ground zero? of the operation.) Dănel?s brother in law took me there, instead.

So, the persons who knew about the whole thing were Silvia, Ruchi, Dănel and Dan. And Gheorghiţa, of course. They all knew and they were one too many! I was worried about it and about many other things, but in the end everything turned out just fine.

So, on the 23rd of August, at eight in the morning, Dănel?s brother in law, whose name was Bebe, came with his Trabant and took Silvia and me to the point I had in mind?. Oh, also my cousin Dori knew about it, because I had gone there with him beforehand, in order to map the location. I didn?t want to get in any trouble, to move through an inhabited area and be spotted or anything like that.

The ride there was O.K., but longer and more complicated than planned, because there were meetings for the 23rd of August all over the place. Since there was no highway there, we had to pass through all kinds of cities and towns and wait for the crowds to pass and all.

In the end, we reached Herculane and I went into the woods. I looked around and I waived goodbye to Silvia and to Bebe. You see, this is an image that sticks with you forever. My backpack on my back, I moved deeper into the woods.

The crossing? I had a very detailed topographical map from a guy who was working with me at TLS and who had some military maps. Hell knows how he got hold of them, but I swear every pebble was on that map and it helped me a lot because I ended up exactly where I wanted to. I also want to say that during my trip all the mosquitoes and all the bugs in the world ate me alive. I also saw some huge turtles. I am not exaggerating. I never saw turtles like that in my entire life. They had the shells of at least half a meter. I also saw countless rabbits. The good part was that, every step of the way there was some spring or some kind of waters. So, from this point of view, I was all set and I didn?t have to worry about it.

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