Elegant as a vampire, with his red scarf and a classic suit, Don Mimo was waiting for us in a sport car at the Catania-Fontanarossa airport from Sicily.
Former sport journalist, now 80 years old, retired don Mimo was renting a part of his house from Acireale as Bed& Breakfast.
His secret nest, where we made reservations for a weekend, was hidden in the back of a lemon orchard – a cottage like a space ship suspended above the Mediterranean Sea, with the walls from the sea all glass. When we told him we are Romanians (I don’t know why he believed we are from Spain) don Mimo chocked and dropped his sunglasses. He was determined not to take us, despite our reservation. I had to make use of all my charms to win him over (luckily I’m in love with the Italian language since I was a teenager). Eventually we become friends and when we left he drove us to the airport, free of charge (although he was quite thrifty).
The same happened to us in France, Austria, Germany and Great Britain, anyplace where the unhappy fame of the Romanian name made the locals to watch their pockets as soon as they found out where we came from.
After I flew for the first time from Baneasa airport the behavior of our compatriots made me despair. I was disarmed and almost accepted the fact that we’re doomed to be Europe’s black sheep. All this until I saw that Amy Alipio, the editor of the story Best of the world. 20 must see places in 2014 (US NG Traveler, Dec 2013) recommended her American readers a children friendly city: Bucharest. I read the recommendation twice, as one who I lived here for the last 15 years and a parent of an 4 years old kid. I believed I got it wrong.
Amy was writing that she was at this restaurant in the Old Town where they had someone who played so nicely with the kids until the food came. For her, that restaurant and that waiter were the only faces of Bucharest she knew!
I realized that each of us is an ambassador of Romania. So why wouldn’t we try, dear Romanian friends, at home or when traveling abroad – to be good ambassadors? We and only we could change Romania’s image.
What’s missing here, at least for the moment? Self-respect and respect for the other, patriotism and the courage to works and fulfill our dreams.