Bucharest 33 years later

Thanks to all the people who have worked hard to keep the revolution alive all these years
2 December 2023 by
Bucharest 33 years later
Agriturismo La Vallata, Tim Gaston Huwé
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Today I'm not going to start with "and so"…Danny Huwé - Boekarest

That period that I still prefer to skip

Yesterday was December 1st and this December 1st is a little different from the previous 33 that we celebrated without him, this December 1st would have been his 80th December 1st and what a party that would not have been?

Of course it is purely speculation whether or not he would still have been there, but I would like to believe he would. I also like to believe that he would still have been young at heart, but at the same time much more obnoxious than before, "an old Grumpy" my mother called it on the phone yesterday. He would have spoiled his grandchildren enormously and at the same time cursed my sister and I because they are all girls.

His hair would have been gray if he had any left, but his sense of humor, I'm sure, would have been sharper than ever.

I curse myself a little. It took me more than 33 years to visit that cursed place and I soon discovered that if I had done so earlier, a number of things would have become clear much sooner and thus would have been given a better place in my heart.

When I got home I wrote very briefly that I would come back on that trip, I still had to process it. It didn't happen anymore, partly because I initially doubted whether I would want to expose myself like this "publicly", partly because the tourist season was suddenly around the corner and there was simply no time for that..

This morning, while I was driving to the tire shop to pick up some old Panda rims, it started brewing in my head again and I wrote a complete mental text that I am now going to type. As usual, it will look completely different than it did in my head this morning.

Bucharest, January 2023

Actually, this story starts exactly 1 year ago on December 1, 2022.  My youngest called me and told me that she'd be going to Bucharest together with her now sweetheart. She wanted to see where that story, which she had been hearing of for so long, took place and whether mommy and I would come along... “No, amò, I think it's completely okay that you want to do that, but I'll stay at home.” Three days later and after she winded me around her finger, the tickets were booked, accommodation arranged and a number of people on site contacted....

I didn't want any trace of mass media and/or politicians during that long-delayed trip. Every year there was some journalist and/or politician who asked to accompany her or him to that particular place, I always refused and always thought “this year I will go there, with close family, a friend or if necessary by myself".

Kort voor mijn jongste uiteindelijk voor Loredana en mij de tickets boekte werd ik nog gecontacteerd door ene journalist met name PVG, in naam van de pers-attachee van ene eerste minister met name ADC... En nee het is niet de bekende en schitterende rockgroep, daarvoor ontbreekt er een C.  Al schijnt het dat ADC in andere, Italiaanse, dingen rockt, maar dat zijn maar geruchten natuurlijk...

Would I like to “accompany ADC to inaugurate the renovated monument to my father and the new monument¹ in Popesti-Leordeni - a suburb of Bucharest?”.

Some won't understand that. My aversion to the mass media became greater after the tragedy than the love I had for it before my father was killed. My aversion to politics and politicians was already great then, the more than three decades since then have shown that this aversion is justified in both cases, I will not elaborate further on that now..

I don't like the fact that a journalist contacts me on behalf of a politician, those "close relationships" between politicians and journalists are not healthy as far as I'm concerned, it compromises "free and objective" reporting.

No, I am not going to experience such personal moments with politicians and/or journalists. Moreover, they usually do this just out of self-interest, whatever they may claim.

And so on January 11 we stood at the airport in Rome with only hand luggage and I was actually a little sad, but happy that I was there with my youngest, my very likely first son-in-law, and my madam. I had always said that I would go there alone the first time, but I was happy to be surrounded by the people I'm closed to in life.

Aeroporto Rome Ciampino

Around noon the plane (the bus would be ridiculous) took off and headed east. A sunny day, hardly any cloud cover, which at one point allowed us to see both the western and eastern Italian coastlines (although Loredana still has doubts about that). A flight of a few hours even though we only arrived 3 hours later, but that seems to have something to do with the hour difference or something...

By the time we had arrived in the center - where we were offered an apartment by Italian close friends - it was dark, raining and quite cold.. 

Freshen up, not really necessary given the cold, and then go eat something. Fortunately, there was something nearby that especially appealed to the youth, but did not serve local cuisine at all. Steaks, medallions and hamburgers with fries, very decent I must admit and there was an equally decent group that performed live.  The Pub.

The Pub, Boekarest

That was it for night one, tiredness sent us straight to bed.  

Early bed, early rise, well, me anyway. Around 5am as usual so I put on my brave shoes and especially warm clothes and went looking for a decent espresso...  Not that I expected anything to be open, let alone to find a decent espresso. And yet I found something that looked like a night shop, I won't say anything about the coffee...

Breakfast at Paul's, thermal baths and an expensive restaurant

When the rest of the family and almost relatives were finally up and more or less awake and the city was gradually waking up, we went to Paul's, for breakfast, recommended to us by those same Italian friends. The cappuccino was very good, as were the gingerbread.

For the rest, day two was purely touristy and completely organized by my youngest, so, as usual, I had nothing to say..
We spent most of the day in the apparently world famous thermal baths of Calea just outside Bucharest.  Definitely worth it, although I love the Italian Thermal Baths of Rapolano much more and even more the free thermal baths that you find throughout Italy. In the evening, satisfied and, above all, tired, the, again apparently world famous, must go to restaurant stood ​Caru’ cu Bere​ on the program. Very tasty food in a very typical setting with traditional dishes, dancing and music and a very expensive bill... also...

And then there was the somewhat dreaded day three...

And then there was the somewhat dreaded day three...  After breakfast, again at Paul's, whom we never saw, by the way, we were picked up by a delegation including the State Secretary Irina Leulescu and her, er... secretary (the State Mistress?) Ioana Vrincianu and the journalist Cosmin Dincu who had been there all these years to keep trying to find out the real truth about what happened that night and the whole revolution
Under a police escort, I kid you not, we went to the recently renovated monument for my dad on the "Piata Danny Huwé”.

Funny story on this difficult day:  We had put my daughter and my likely future son-in-law in the nicer state car (flags on the hood included) with the State Secretary (literally) because I preferred to sit with the Cosmin. I had so many questions that I would ultimately only ask much later in the day.
 There was of course traffic along the way and despite the police escort we briefly lost that state car.
Whew, the car was back in sight.  II made the comment to Loredana that “those flags on the bonnet were discolored and looked more like the French flag than the Romanian flag”.  Meanwhile, the conversations with Cosmin and Iona, which were more about small talk, continued steadily in broken French (coincidentally). 
The state car that we were following in the meantime suddenly drove into the driveway of the presidential palace... There appeared to be a bit of bewilderment on the part of the State Secretary's secretary as well as Cosmin, for me the astonishment was actually complete and my reaction to Lori was: “We're not going to see the president, are we?" I think she was worried because I wasn't wearing a tie ​...
When we had already driven a long way within the presidential domain and the state car - which everyone was still convinced was the right one - that we were following stopped and two elegant people got out... these turned out to be the French ambassador and his madam... oops...

So we were definitely wrong and we didn't meet the president, but we did meet his somewhat panicked security personnel: “we were allowed to leave”. 

Anyway, we finally arrived 10 minutes later than expected at the monument where Irina (the state, well, you already know) was waiting for us, a bit bewildered. A number of other important characters had joined the delegation in the meantime, including Roes, Deputy Head of Mission of the Belgian Embassy, but my wish not to involve the press and to keep it all informal was perfectly respected. After a few photos at the monument, they gave me plenty of time to take it all in, together with my loved ones and then also alone. To be honest, it was hard for me and I couldn't hold back the tears, even after 33 years. The impact and the realization that it had all happened there was a tough one.

I took a deep breath, walked back quietly and was then able to take plenty of time to ask all my questions. I had quite a few, but it was very limited, I didn't really have it in me at the time, I'll have to go back again when I have a better idea of it all.

They answered my questions in detail and then it was time for the visit to the new monumentPopesti-Leordeni.

Once again with a blue and white car equipped with flashing lights, I think Lada or at least an old Skoda, we drove to the monument in ¹Popesti-Leonardi for which I was invited for the inauguration on December 20, 2022.  When I saw the photos of When I saw the inauguration I was glad I didn't accept the invitation, a lot of journalists and a lot of politicians, nope...

It was now so much more pleasant with a limited group of people who devoted a large part or all of their lives to keeping the revolution alive, including in the school books. Because barely 33 years later, Romanian youth still know little about what happened in 1989. This is largely due to who has been in power since then, they prefer to forget, you never know that young people will come up with ideas of their own... After a short tour and handing over a series of memorabilia, we were taken back to our temporary residence.

A lunch and a tourist visit to the old center of the city, a dinner among us, yes, at a decent Italian "Martina" (who we didn't get to see either) because after 2 days we already urgently needed Italian food.

Food for thought for almost a year

We spent the day of departure with our Roman friends whose apartment we had been using, before we quietly went to the airport and boarded the plane to Rome.

I know, it looks a bit like a travel blog, Bucharest is a pleasant city, although a few days are enough to visit its essence.

However, the journey and the reason behind it left a deep impression on me and I learned a number of things about myself and my life after my father's death. Only then did I realize that I was actually not myself, but the son of. That may sound strange, but that's just how it was. Initially, as a young guy, I thought that was wonderful, after all, isn't that great to be the son of a famous person? What you do not realize, however, is that you lose yourself, your own personality and even part of your own character for a long time. You live in a kind of haze, a kind of bubble and a bubble bursts at a certain moment. This has happened several times over the years, fortunately without serious consequences.

When I got to the monument and was told what exactly had happened and where, where the shooting came from, where the tank stood and the tram rails used to be, I automatically crawled back into that bubble. However, I only realized this when we had been home for a while and it took quite a while before I could put everything into perspective.

That's why I have to go back again so that I can experience it all in a much more conscious and down-to-earth way. I can't say when that will be. In theory I would go to the memorial in Popesti-Leordeni on December 20, but I have other priorities now and it will be quite busy for our business around Christmas and I prefer to avoid those periods all together.

Voilà, c'est tout.  The text is a bit long, but if you are reading this it could mean that you have made it this far, or you have started scrolling...

Keep smiling
Pax et Bonum

¹The monument in Popesti-Leordeni was built entirely at the expense of the local mayor, on his modest property and not only for my father but also for the French journalist Jean-Louis Calderon, killed under a tank, and the English photographer Ian Parry who died in a plane crash² as well as for the many deaths that occurred among the “rebels” who started the revolution. And the latter is actually the main reason why that monument was just erected in Popesti-Leordeni, it is there that the revolution started.

 Ian Perry:

Jean-Louis Calderon:

²Probably the unluckiest death, if such a thing exists, among the media people who died in Bucharest: on 28/12/89 Ian Parry returned home with an Antonov from TAROM from Bucharest to Belgrade (Beograd). The flight would never arrive at its destination. The plane crashed barely 50km outside the Romanian capital. The investigation was never really closed, the most logical explanation is that the plane was shot down by surface-to-air missiles.


Bucharest 33 years later
Agriturismo La Vallata, Tim Gaston Huwé 2 December 2023
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