All my relatives are my immediate family (husband and 2 sons), 2 cousins (and their families) who live in Northern Israel (I live in the center) and another cousin, who lives in Romania. This cousin, Eva (her last name is another story for a short post in the future) and I are (or more precisely, used to be) very different. Beyond the 13 years of age difference (she is older), she has an interesting personality. So I was telling at lunch that we haven't been in touch for about 25 years. Then forgot all about this little conversation, but apparently, the topic had a mind of its own and kept lingering in the background of my brain.
A couple of weeks later, I found myself trying to look up her details on the net. Why this sudden urge to reconnect? I could have waited for her to make the first move (with the same result as in the past 25 years), but I wanted a different result. Found her phone number and simply called. She picked up the phone, was very happy to hear my voice (so was I) and we exchanged email addresses. From there on, we are back in each other's lives.
The explanation is that I figured a person with so few relatives like myself should really be in touch with them "all", otherwise it will soon be too late to do so, I'll get old and regret the years we could have been in touch but haven't. I am mature enough to cope with the personality differences between us, I can just accept her as is (and hope she can too). The time that passed made the once meaningful family issues fade away. To be truthful, I don't even remember most of them. A tall gray concrete wall grew between us and our lives parted. Different countries, different fortunes, hopes and daily struggles.
After a short debate around who is going to visit who, I've decided to travel to Romania, meet her and one of her daughters (the other one lives in the UK), pay a short visit to my father's (and our common grandmother's) tomb in the town I was born and raised in (so many words to avoid using 'my hometown'), and show my son Dan around. A 2-week vacation that included Arad (Eva's town), Oradea (mine) and its sorroundings, and the tourist places in Transylvania.
People worned me not to drive there because of the poor physical conditions and troubles that can happen, but I've decided to rent a car at Budapest airport and drive into Romania. The rental itself cost me a small fortune (the insurance is exorbitant, but most rental companies don't even allow you to take a car into Romania). Renting there is cheaper, but they don't have automatic cars, and I figured I don't need more hardships besides the unknown places and roads, not to mention that I haven't driven a shift stick car in the last 10 years.
Dan is a great navigator (in his words, GPS is an insult to his intelligence) and we are a good team together. I love spending quality time with him, he is knowledgebale, charming and hungry for new experiences. He loves planning vacation tours, spends days on researching the places on the net, reads travel guides, memorizes maps and finally comes out with a plan detailed up to the tiniest walks, interesting (and usually expensive) restaurants and nature spots.
His plan (modified by me - mostly cutting on the daily mileage) was then translated into a feasible budget. This is Peter's - my husband- speciality. Besides the tickets, maps and travel guides, I bought some presents (mostly around Israeli food and Dead Sea cosmetics), packed the cases and was ready for the adventure.