Our time is nearing an end in Romania.  We’re trying to finish up projects. We’re traveling a lot – to say goodbyes and to work.  We’re donating clothes and household items.  We’re packing boxes to mail to the USA. We’re futilely attempting to train our cat to be comfy in a carrier in preparation for her transatlantic journey.

But this week, we’ve been on a quest to find bubble wrap.  I know, it sounds weird because while you might not have a stash of bubblewrap in your home in the US, you probably could find it easily. I’ve never thought about buying the stuff in Romania, but it’s tough to find.  We’ve run into some problems.

  1. There is no word in Romanian for bubble wrap.  My friend (and resident Romanian dictionary)  Bogdan giggled when I translated bubblewrap as “foi de plastic cu bule” or literally plastic sheets with bubbles.
  2. I look like a weirdo carrying a square of bubblewrap where I go. But with no word for the stuff, what am I supposed to do?
  3. A Romanian store may look like it sells shoes and when you enter you could see shoes, clothes, hammers, toilet seats, school supplies and dried flower arrangements. So there’s no specific store to go to.
  4. Dumpsters haven’t had any. Much to David’s chagrin, we’ve explored many of them, adding to our weirdness factor.

Because of these challenges, I’ve just decided to ask anyone and everyone in Ramnicu Valcea about bubblewrap. My basic attack goes like this:

Buna ziua. Am o intrebare cuidata. Caut acest material pentru a impacheta chestii fragile. Trimit un colet mamei in SUA. Stiti unde pot gasi sau unde pot cumpara acest materialul?

Hi. I have a strange question. I’m looking for this material (present bubblewrap) for packing fragile stuff.  I’m sending a package to my mom in the US. Do you know where I can find or buy the material?

The responses have varied from indifferent shrugs to “I don’t know” to my favorite phrase “Habar n-am!” “I have no clue!”  A few people have had ideas of where to look and we’ve investigated each — a print shop, a gift shop, a xerox place.  But no luck.  So today, I dragged David to almost every store on our way home from grocery shopping.  We asked everyone, going through our “strange question” with each.  After about five stores, a younger saleslady was quite helpful and creative.  She pointed us to a roll of puffy plastic sheeting that they put under new floors.  She also noted squares of styrofoam used as ceiling tiles that she mentioned might be good for packaging.  A gal after my own heart — creating packing material from random stuff.

So while the quest for bubblewrap was not truly accomplished, we’ll experiment with how subfloor plastic sheeting does for packing this weekend.

It’s all an adventure here.

photo credit: Flickr user CMMahon