Oh Romania…how you impressed me with your quaint charm! Like your colorful character houses filled with flower gardens and vegetable paths. I loved the way your old world is still breathing and the present hasn’t changed your past. I feasted on the way your elderly were clothed in traditional ‘old country’ dress in dark greens, browns, rust and shades of black with colorful paisley scarves and dark stockings. And the men in their manly caps and vests often found herding their sheep, goats, turkeys, pigs, and geese along side their companion wild dogs (which often growled and nipped at my heels chasing us down the road behind the motorcycle). I watched you chop and stack large chunks of wood in front of your house waiting for the winter frost and snow drifts. I smiled at your wooden horse and donkey drawn wagons and old farm tractors as you made your way to town to sell your wares. I was focused on your roadside shrines and road markers, and odd shaped haystacks dotting the farmland.
I giggled at your old Dacia and Renault cars slowing down the traffic on the highway roads as we blew passed you leaving you in our dust…sometimes from your bumpy dirt roads! I looked deep into your weathered wrinkled faces and saw your hardships and the will to make life a beautiful journey with what you had. I sometimes saw people my own age looking hardened from bearing the brunt of a life full of obstacles and manual labor. Unemployment at around 87%! I was often surprised to see older ladies rolling a small cart with a propane tank for their indoor home stoves and young teens in bright neon tennis shoes! Although you stared hard at me everywhere I went on that motorcycle, when I waved at you…you always waved back with a big bright smile….from the roadside, in the fields, in your car, on your wagon, from your balcony….always a return grin! I liked you!
I gorged on your breakfast buffets and your outdoor restaurants (where loads of kitty’s lived and of course I fed!) with custom mixed meat sausages, grilled pork chops, handmade potato sliced chips, overcooked rice, polenta, roadside honey, cheeses and chestnuts…but I missed having a salad of vegetables and lettuces…so much farm land and so little salad? ok, ok, you got cabbage and tomatoes, lol! I chuckled at your funny scare crows and pink and coral toilet paper. I watched your hawks fly over the colorful flat agricultural lands that melted into the horizon. I fell in love with the Danube Gorge with it’s water the color of an aquamarine gemstone and it’s mountains that jet into the sky like giants from Greek mythology and Serbia just in view on the other side of the river! I was enlivened by rock sculpture of Decebalus face, a carving in stone on the side of a mountain…the view was exhilarating and words do no justice…go see for yourself! And my what lovely big wide sandy beaches you have…dreams of sunbathing!
Although I can laugh now about all the things that were found broken, wrong, not functional or smelly in your hotel rooms, at least you had good pillows and good English TV or traditional music that I could listen to and drift off to sleep with. Never let go of your charm Romania! I will be back!