Sparkle in the kitchen

Atualizado: 19 de Out de 2021

This is a story about the best part of traveling: the people you meet. Some years ago I was participating on a writing contest and I had to tell a short story about a nice experience abroad at least that's what I remember. At the time, the story couldn't have been other than this...

In January 2014 I started my first adventure abroad: an internship in the small and non-touristic city of Craiova, in Romania, for 3 months. I went there to work on a project of an international organization teaching English to locals, together with five other ladies from different countries having this same experience and sharing the same flat. A sensitive Chinese girl and I were the first ones to arrive. The next day, we met adventurer women: a sweet Australian and an independant Spanish, Then, a romantic Kazakh joined us. Finally, a practical Macedonian arrived to complete the gang.

Iskra was the name of the last one to show up, ‘it means sparkle’ – she introduced herself to us. She was funny and had a well disposed way of dealing with everything. So, less than 24h before we two had met, there we were living the first of our best stories.

Only Iskra and I were at home in that afternoon. We had just had some lunch and she began doing her dishes when something started bugging her. It had been only 5 days since I had arrived at our place and we were already having some trouble with the pipes of the old town apartment: the kitchen sink would start filling up with water that wouldn’t go down. The rest of us were already aware of the situation but we didn't make a big issue of it. It was when I realised I was now in the company of a cleaning freak – though also a problem solver! She had brought with her many cleaning solutions and we tried using a product that would swipe down the dirt in the pipes, according to her. No luck. Not only it didn't work, but somehow the situation got worse. We were afraid that would start a flood in our place.

We thought about going to the neighbors for help, but we weren't able to say a word in Romanian and, in our short experience there, people hardly ever could speak some English. Then, with my laptop on my hands, I made this joke, ‘let’s type our problem on Google translator and knock on someone's door playing it for help!’ Iskra took it seriously. She got my computer and wrote what we needed, then took it with her and we left to the hall. We knocked on a few doors until a friendly old lady answered it. On that moment, I saw one of most memorable things ever in my journeys: Iskra pushed play on the text translated to Romanian, to the Grandma’s – how we used to refer to her after that – surprise. And mine, I must confess.

I wanted to laugh so hard, although I was also feeling ashamed. Poor Grandma, she couldn’t understand anything of that – and neither could hear anything properly. As she was very confused and we were not able to communicate well, we made signs asking her to enter our flat so that she could see the problem. Looking a bit scared – who wouldn’t?!? – she came in with us and took a glance at our kitchen. We played mimics trying to make her understand we were looking for something to unclog the sink, but she kept speaking in Romanian and just left. We were disappointed. Suddenly, Grandma returned holding a plunger. When we saw that scene we were amazed – it didn’t matter anymore if that would actually help us, we had already had it all! We laughed forever about that, and the best thing is that was just the first of our laughs.

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