“We only accept Deutsche Mark and American Dollars – cash only! You’re welcome to leave your bags here and we will reserve the room for you until tonight, if you can find a place, where they will accept your Visa card. Good luck!”. As I started writing this story, I had absolutely no idea why, I was told to do it. Eyes closed I listened as the story was told. Just start writing, and you will figure it out. And so I did. A 22 year old story. Why?
The year was 1997. I was backpacking through Europe with a friend and somehow we had to get off the train in Bulgaria. We needed a transit visa in order to take the train through, at the time, Yugoslavia. We had been told by the train conductor to get off in Bulgaria, as we could not go any further without a transit visa. “Get off in Sophia and go to the embassy”, he said.
The embassy and the hotels didn’t accept our Visa card and neither did the the exchange offices or the banks. It was only possible to exchange Deutsche Mark and US Dollars in order to get the local currency (to at least get some cash for food). But we didn’t have any of the required two currencies in our pockets. We were stuck. Stuck in a place we hadn’t planned. We needed cash to pay the hotel, we had just put our bags in. Cash to buy a transit visa. Cash to buy food. If we didn’t somehow come up with the needed currency, we would have to leave the country the same day (we had an unlimited train-travel-pass, but we would then be going in the opposite direction on our way home to Denmark). Time was ticking.
By late afternoon we started to get a bit desperate. We started asking random people, we met on the streets for help. Most people were understanding and wanted to help, but couldn’t. Some people offered us a bed for the night and a meal, but no one seemed to know how to get hold of the much needed cash.
Then out of the blue a man said: “come with me, I know where you can get the cash”. He took us to the underground. Bought our tickets. We ended up a long way out of the city in a luxury hotel. They had an exchange office and happily accepted our Visa cards. We were able to withdraw some Deutsche Mark. He then walked us back to the underground. Bought our tickets. I don’t remember how we ever thanked him. He just smiled and left. We were so happy. We could now by food and pay for the hotel. And get a transit visa (which took a couple of days to get approved. But we didn’t care, we had food and a place to sleep 🙂 ).
While I was out for a walk in the forest today, I saw a Pine Marten. I have never seen one before. For 7 years I have been going for walks in that forest. Never seen one until today. I guess I knew, that they can be found around here, but they are rare. So what’s the connection to the story above?
Yesterday I sent out a plea for help. Although I have not yet had any response (and felt a bit down today, because of it) I now feel like, that the help will come out of the blue, just like it did 22 years ago. Unexpected. Rare.