Before we arrived in Romania, Romanians and foreigners alike warned us of the poor quality of the roads. After expecting the worst, I have been pleasantly surprised. Perhaps compared to more developed (and not post-communist) European countries, the roads leave much to be desired. Few markings, no shoulders, ditches and drop-offs are a hazard at night. Add to that commuters, children and the elderly on bicycles; and horse carts and gypsy caravans on major thoroughfares – it makes for some concentrated driving. And then, in some cases, throw in potholes.
In most cases the potholes are not complete manhole-size washouts, but simply cracks in the top layer of tarmac that have deteriorated and left pockmarks and bumpy patches on an otherwise fine road. They won’t break your axle, but they will certainly wear on the shocks – and create some unique arrangements of music when every bump makes the CD player in the car skip.
Our car is about ten years old. The CD player was installed a few years before anti-bump/skip technology was standard. On smooth roads, I take that technology for granted. On our first drive over the bumpy section near our current house, Elsa belted out “Let is g. . .let it go! I am. . .n with the wind and sky!” ‘Lil P (5) yelled “Mom, stop that!”
“It’s not me, it’s the bumps.” Elsa continued. “. . .et it. . .ohh! Let it g. . .”
Over the course of the last two weeks, we’ve grown accustomed to the skips and continue singing along as normal. Either the CD eventually catches up to us or we jump in once we figure out where it skipped to.
Sunday was a little different. “Mom, play the Hosanna song.” One minute into the song a bump paused the music and skipped the song entirely. I restarted ‘Hosanna’ and we sang along. After a minute, another little bump skipped the song again. “What?!” we laughed as I restarted the melody, yet again. By the time we got to church a few kilometers away the song was still playing, not yet finished with a complete rendition.
We’re used to it now. The kids don’t even notice. But I’ll never again take for granted smooth music on a smooth road.