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Very Long Walks to "Pay" with PET Bottles – I

It’s a good thing I managed to build a tiny buffer and can add a few personal posts in a row again, because it seems to be the only way to get two posts this week, and that’s because I managed to write about November 18 and 19 earlier and can post this bit now. The idea was to split that week in two posts, even having the first five days in one and just the last two in another, or at least split it more or less in half, so four or at the very least three days in the first, but at this point I’m wondering how I’ll manage to write about this week over the weekend, so there’s no way to add more to this as well and I’m just throwing it here, including just those two days, and I’ll see when I’ll get around to the rest. That may well only happen after the end of the year, and at this point it seems likely that there will be three posts, but maybe I’ll manage to do better after all, somehow.

With Carrefour having its “Payment With PET” campaign again, in Bucharest between November 18 and 24, I was obviously going to take advantage of it, making use of the bottles we still had, even if I thought that was going to mean walking some 16 km per day, since I’m not using public transportation under the current circumstances and the location was supposed to be Orhideea. However, after getting up at 10:25 AM on that first day, I checked and found a mere comment on a post on their Facebook page, a post that wasn’t even the most recent one, that said the location had been changed to Baneasa, which meant going from 16 km on a simple route to at least 24 km on one I had to learn! And there was also no hot water at all, but I just hoped the issue will be resolved by the time I’ll get back, worked out and wrote down the route on a slip of paper and went out at 12:30 PM.
There was also light rain that day, on and off, and a lot of moisture in the air, and needing to learn the route meant I was out in that weather even longer. The first issue was just where the unknown route started, at Obor, as I had written it down from there but couldn’t remember just how to get to the first street I had on that slip of paper, so I wandered around that area for a bit until I found it, in the process also finding a pastry place, with a few cakes too, that I considered getting pretzels from on the way back. Was again rather uncertain about the next street, but got it right without wandering around, and then it was easy, just a long way to go, though when I finally got there I ended up going around that huge parking lot on the sidewalk instead of entering it directly and going through.
Found the place where the bottles were being gathered quickly once I was there, left the 20 I had, that being the maximum allowed per day, and then went in that mall just after 3:10 PM. Expected the place you got the fruits and vegetables from to be right at the entrance to Carrefour though, and since it was around the corner, inside, I didn’t spot it right away and went to the other entrance, only then going in and all the way back, until I finally spotted it there and got four Kapia peppers, weighing a total of 582 grams, four Bianca peppers, the girl giving me tiny ones, so they only weighed a total of 280 grams, four heads of celery, with leaves, which I didn’t weigh after getting back since they’re normally sold by the piece, four leeks, weighing a total of 880 grams, two cabbages, weighing a total of 2.033 kg, and two cauliflowers, weighing a total of 2.124 kg. They only had small paper bags though, and everything had to be put in them, and the girl was supposed to staple them and seal them with a sticker, but that only worked for the peppers, which went in one bag which she could seal properly. Then she had to tear the leaves off the celery and stuff them in after the roots, and bend the leeks to make them at least fit to some extent, those bags and the one with the cauliflower only being stapled and “sealed” in a corner, and she couldn’t close the one with the cabbages at all, so she just put a sticker on it and that was that.
After that, I got the cat food and the roll of plastic bags I had been asked to look for, then wandered around, searching for the area with expiring products, eventually finding it but not seeing anything interesting. Then I spent a long time arranging the stuff in dad’s backpack, just crouching next to the area where food could be donated for poor children. He gave me that backpack for that period, and it was large enough for the bottles, properly flattened and arranged, but there was no way to fit everything I had taken in it and I ended up choosing a solution that was much worse than the first one I tried. Had managed to get the cabbage, cauliflower and celery roots into one of the medium pockets of the backpack, which was great, but then couldn’t fit the cat food in the larger one, and instead of getting the other stuff in there and then being left to just carry one bag of cat food in each hand, perfectly balanced and quite light, I first struggled for quite a while to first get the cat food in that medium pocket and move what had been in it to the large one. When that proved impossible, I left the cauliflower out and tried to put it in a small bag, but its handle tore right off, so I removed the celery leaves from the bag they had been in, in the backpack, to put the cauliflower in it and carry it in one hand, and had the peppers and leeks, still in their paper bags, in the other bag, for the other hand.
It was 4:35 PM when I finally left that mall, after also taking a toilet break, but before finally leaving that area I stopped a few more times, and for quite a while, to arrange the backpack’s straps, then to untie and retie my hood, and I still had to keep rearranging a strap all the way back, since it kept slipping no matter how much I tried to arrange it. And that way back was longer than it should have been, since I missed a turn and ended up going straight. Realized it after a while, when I reached the back of Herastrau Park, but since I knew where I was then but not how far back that missed turn was, I didn’t go back, resetting my mental map and making my way back from there, even if that meant walking even more. Was a bit uncertain as I went around the park though, and when I reached the intersection with the main entrance and needed to cross through the metro station entrance anyway, I looked for a map, finding none at the first entrance and still none after going in right up to the turnstyles, but there was one at the exit. It was really high, I could barely make out anything, but since I just wanted a clarification, it was enough.
Since I was using that route, I also meant to use the opportunity to check out a restaurant I was going to be able to get some free food from, but there had been no reason to actually check the address before leaving and it turned out it wasn’t actually on that street. But I did at least get back to that pastry place and got two pretzels. Was worried they won’t have any left, since it was 7 PM, but they still did. Not long before that, I had stepped in quite a puddle while looking for a sign indicating street names, and it had also drizzled all the way, so I was quite wet when I got back, at 7:55 PM, having apparently walked some 13 km to get there and just about 14 km back, carrying almost 14 kg on the way back as well. With most of the weight in the backpack, however, it seemed rather easy, even if my back wasn’t quite happy with it and the backpack caused quite a few issues on that first day, the worst being just as I was getting close, at a stoplight where you need to run to cross all the way while it’s still green, where it slipped completely off my shoulders, both straps just hanging on my arms, which I therefore had to hold away from my body as I ran. But it was all fine in the end, and the hot water had also returned, so that wasn’t a problem either.

The next day it was almost 12:25 PM when I got up, when dad left, but that was pretty much as planned. It was past 2:50 PM when I was finally out, but had no more problems with the route, the only delay being one that became the norm after that, needing to stop at another mall that’s on the way, to pee, finding toilets quickly and being back on my way five minutes after going in. So I was in Carrefour, getting my vegetables, at 5:20 PM, and I got the usual four Kapia peppers, weighing 441 grams, four beets, weighing 581 grams, four parsnip roots, weighing 199 grams, four squashes, weighing 775 grams, and four eggplants, weighing 1.020 kg. And the problem with the bags had been solved as well, so large ones were available.
After that, just bought bananas for dad and a few more lemons, but also looked at a few other things and again spent quite some time arranging everything in the backpack. That and the fact that I peed again as well meant I only got back out of that mall just under one hour after going in, but the lack of large products meant that everything easily fit in the backpack and it was much easier to carry, and when I got back I found that the backpack and everything in it weighed less than 6 kg.
It was too late to buy stuff again on the way back, but I passed by three pastry places that were just dumping the remaining products in the trash as they closed. Or, well, I didn’t clearly see one doing so, it just seemed like it, but actually saw it done at the other two places, what was left just being taken and dumped in the trash, which was just infuriating when that food should be donated instead. When I first saw it done, when I passed the first such place, I thought I should have asked for what was still left, only paying for the paper bags or something, but couldn’t get myself to do so.
Either way, got the route right on the way back as well, though not on the first try everywhere, since I got confused when switching roads and went back and forth a bit, twice, and once I had to find a way to cross since I was on the wrong side and there’s no crossing in that area. All of it only added some 500-600 meters, however, so I walked 12 km to get there and some 12.5 km back, and was back at 8:55 PM. Then, after weighing and putting the stuff away and showering, made mamaliga at night.

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