Bretea Streiouli orphanage, Deva Romania

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Six months elapsed and the adoption procedure was finalised, it was time to go and take Marco home.

It was a coincidence but we left the same day as the previous journey, it was very cold and the weather forecast promised nothing good, in fact after an hour flight the captain announced that Bucharest airport was closed due to snowfalls, the plane was to going land in Istanbul where we had to spend the night and leave again the next day.

"This is bad luck that is snowing today!"

Come on, cheer up, it is the chance to see Istanbul, even if we’ll arrive at night. As soon as we land we have to inform Dana that we’ll take the first plane tomorrow morning.

"I'm sorry we are giving Dana so much trouble and then we have the doggie, I hope that they won’t mind at the hotel."

We stayed in a lovely hotel in the new area of Istanbul, beside the hotel there was also a casino, I was really tempted to go there and play, not because I am an inveterate gambler but because in Italy there are only a few barely tolerated casinos, as if they were banned by the law only allowing the existing ones to work.

If you want something to be attractive, desirable and almost irresistible, instead of regulating it and placing on the market, you just have to ban it and it automatically becomes valuable and acquires a particular charm.

The following day we met Joannina at the airport. She accompanied us to complete the last details of the adoption procedure.

"Tito, as you are staying here about a week, I found an accommodation for you. It is a house which is not far from where my father lives."

Dana, it is all right for us, we’ll obviously we pay what is due.

"Yes, but it will be much cheaper than staying in a hotel. I explained to the house owner why you are here in Bucharest and he also offered to drive you to Bretea when you have to pick up Marco. You know… for him it is a chance to make some money. "

There was so much snow and it was freezing cold.

What’s the temperature?

"It is -7°C."

Please don’t say that to my wife otherwise she’ll feel even colder. By the way, is there a heating system in the house we are staying at?

"Yes there is, in the living room there is a big efficient earthenware kitchen range that heats the whole house."

The house owner Nellu was waiting for us at the door and he was busy cleaning and shovelling the snow. We went in and we were introduced to his wife and daughter, a beautiful blond girl who did not look very happy as she had to sleep in the loft because we slept in her bedroom.

We set our things and after half and hour we walked to Dana’s house where we met her parents.

Her father was a mining engineer, he retired but he was working as a publisher. He was very proud of his daughter who was about to graduate and he also showed us photo book, suggesting that she also had good chances to work in the show business.

He appreciated what we were doing and he said he was available to help in case we had any problems. The truth is that I’ll always be thankful to Dana who patiently helped us throughout that adventure without asking for anything in return.

It was 3.30 am and Joannina already arrived at home, we were getting ready and Nellu was checking the FIAT 131 before departure. A tough day was expecting us. We had to go to Bretea and take Marco home

As soon as we left Bucharest towards Pitesti it got pitch dark. It was -10°C with snow at the edge of the road, and no light as far as the eye could see.

It is a strong feeling for us that we are used to travelling at night with always a point of reference, aware that even in the most isolated places, around the bend there is always a light, a house. There apparently there was nothing, but suddenly Nellu swerved and jammed on the brakes and we found a horse-drawn carriage full of hay. The coachman was a man wrapped up in a heavy white sheepskin coat. He was wearing an odd cone-shaped hat and he seemed like a fairy tale character and I doubted he was not real but he was just my imagination.

He did not move a bit, whilst Nellu swore something in Romanian Joannina did not translate;

it was a close shave! We passed by it was the crack of dawn and the light on the horizon was very reassuring, I could recognize the surroundings that were familiar to me, I did not realise it but

I must have dozed off. When I woke up I had the feeling I never slept.

I hardly remember my dreams, I just found myself in a car whilst a few moments earlier I was in a bedroom which looked like mine, it had a very high ceiling, I felt so light that I could float in the air, I could move effortless and with incredible ease. My wife noticed the slightly strange and absent look on my face.

“What’s the matter? Did you have a bad dream? No I didn’t, I had a very beautiful dream. I did not tell her the truth, as she keeps saying that my head is always up in the clouds, I could not tell her that I dreamed of levitating. I dreamed of being on the South coast of Tavolara island in Sardinia, the water was so clear that it seemed to me there was no water at all. I was surrounded by a shoal of greater yellowtail fish, two kilos each….what a heavenly view!

“Listen Tito you are worrying me, you are crazy about fishing, you’ll end up like your fisherman friend, who is also my cousin. He became addicted to fishing, he told me he had a dream: he was diving and exploring fish hiding places, but instead of fish he found a monkey which took his spear gun and pointed it at him.”

This is odd! What does it mean?

“It is simple, it means you have to take it easy! Ah here we are at last!”

In the courtyard there were a few kids, as soon as we arrived they came close to us smiling.

This time I already know what they wanted and I got a big supply of chewing gums. The first one to arrive was Jonica, his cheeks were all red because it was cold, he was bursting with joy. Joannina gave him his share of gums and asked him where Marco was. He replied he was in the backyard where walnuts trees were.

“Go and ask him to come, tell him his parents are here”. He darted to call Marco and ten minutes later Marco arrived, he had a light sweater and a scarf which did not cover part of his neck, he was panting and with a husky voice he greeted us.

“But look at this wild boy running around half naked in such a cold weather, listen to his husky voice! He certainly got bronchitis! Please get a high neck sweater in the car”.

My thoughtful wife bought a set of brand new clothes and she was very worried. Unlike her I saw the whole thing differently and I kind of liked his crazy kamikaze attitude without fear for the environment and people…after all he looked like me.

In the meantime an assistant arrived and told us that the director was out and he could be back in an half and hour. We went into the orphanage and used the time we had to change Marco’s clothes from top to toes. He was visibly happy and he could not believe had had brand new boots.

We finalised the adoption procedure with the director and without waiting any further we got into the car and faced the return journey, also because both my wife and myself felt feverish.

For Marco everything was normal, he said goodbye to his friends, to his favourite assistant without tears and sad scenes. Blissful unconsciousness….!

He did not have any regrets, only at that age it is possible to do that.

Only two days later at the airport he was nearly moved to tears when he said goodbye to Dana and a few moments of hesitation as he realised he was leaving his world to go into a completely unknown one.

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