Love on the Same Street

Whether it was the communal tea cups in Myanmar street food stalls, the hotel in Sri Lanka whose only housekeeping between guests was to straighten the sheet, or the row of used soaps in the $4 Panamanian flophouse, germaphobia didn’t fit well with the backpacker lifestyle I lived for several years.

And no, none of that will be found on my tour. Not by a long shot.

Street food in Yangon, Myanmar
You can see the tea cups waiting in their bowls of water
People enjoying street food in Yangon, Myanmar
Well worth it to sit at tables like this, if you ask me

I may still find myself less concerned about door knobs and hand sanitizer than many of my peers, but my tolerance for the world’s microbiological diversity does not extend to macrofauna. That is, stray animals are dirty. Don’t touch.

Romania defeated that caution.

Part of Bucharest’s underserved bad reputation is the stray dogs, who are long gone. But the absence of canines has led to the arrival of felines. To my surprised delight, Romania’s street cats look more like roaming house pets than scabby feral toms, and my hygienic caution was overwhelmed repeatedly on my first trip. Several of them approached, said hello, and curled up in my heart to stay.

Another of those furry friends comes back to me now, since we met on the street I last posted about. That post touched a nerve, or rather I suspect the cover image did, since I don’t think the offended parties actually read the post (cheers and much appreciation to you, my literate friend!) so I can’t resist adding this purring piece to the picture.

Just down from the ill-received graffiti and ignored chic boutique was a cozy pizza shop, perfect for a last dinner/3:00 AM breakfast before I left Bucharest last week. The feline in question was curled up outside the door when I arrived, and after I ordered, I went outside to say hello. It was -12°C, so he wasted no time climbing into my lap and deciding we loved each other. I agreed.

Cute street cat in Bucharest, Romania
Please excuse the awkward, blurry, cat selfie

One of the consequences of a traveler’s life is my inability to have pets, which I desperately miss, so moments like this feel like suddenly arriving at a home that I know will last for mere moments. This was no exception. My best friend in the world and I shared some intense minutes of petting and purring, warmed and connected on that poignant street, which does not deserve its ill repute.

Then my pizza was ready.

He was back in his spot when I left, waiting for the next warm lap and heart, and the smile he gave me lasted longer than the pizza.