Driving through a land of kind people
I have been lucky enough that my job allowed me to travel quite a
lot on the unknown roads of Romania, from south to north. Most of my experiences were fun, others impressive, some others quite hilarious. It was the case when I drove a rent a car to drive in Maramures, the north of Romania, the most amazing land, unique for its people and magic atmosphere.
It was late autumn when I decided to visit Maramures to check hotels around. I was running my own travel agency and I was targeting a special niche and checking out hotels was a must. I went by night train tup o Baia Mare as the drive is long and tiring and I booked a rent a car, from the only company in town planning to drive around.
It went as planned. I took the car and I start travelling right in the morning. The GPS was my flag, will was my main road. I travelled the first day trying to reach all the UNESCO heritage churches, the incredible ancestor buildings aroused in wood, worked piece by piece by anonymous peasants.
All set. Car was working just fine and, one small detail, the car had the regional plate numbers. After I left Barsana monastery ( I really recommend to get there). I kind of got lost. The GPS seemed also in a big fog, indicating stupid routs. Hence I stopped next to an old man, an authentic local peasant. He spoke a sweet, slow rhythm Romanian language. I asked him directions and when he realised that I was not a local he started wondering: “Where are you from?” I answered shortly that I am from Bucharest, 650 km away. “But.. . you have local plate numbers. Are you married with a local?” I explained him shortly that I just rented the car to drive across the country side. He did not understand how I could paid money to rent a car and he expressed his amazement in the same slow manner. He did also not understood how a “girl” is left to drive across the country all on her own. He had that spirit of peace and wisdom, he balanced every single word. His concern was a parent-like worry, moreover he was preoccupied to help me find my way and to warn me that there plenty of “troubled people” and to pay attention.
I carried on my travel and I reached the northest point of Sapanta, the Merry Cemetery. Careless woman like I parked into a hole. Nasty one! Enormous! Huge! Scary! And… embarrassing enough … I could not get out of the nasty hole. It was a rainy day and the mud around the car made my mission impossible and not in a 007 sense! I was red as hell when I just got out to ask for some help. It was this woman, I will always remember her, dressed in popular costume, heavy, but with a kind face. She just shouted twice: “You Gica, You Ioane! Come and help the girl” and the entire village was around me to push the car. Finally the mission was possible! I checked the rented car, everything was just fine, except the dirt around it.
I carried on driving southwards, back to accommodation and meaning to vision one more UNESCO church. I noticed one wooden church as most of Maramures are, I kept gazing at it. An old woman, followed by two goats asked me if me if I want a shortcut to the church through her yard. I agreed. Once I stepped in her in yard she invited me to see her house. I was pleased so, here I am Alice in Maramures land discovering the traditions on the front door, not on the keyhole! The house was surprising beautiful! SImple, clean, made out of wood, adorned with traditional carpets. It was food for sore soul. Well, she told the story of every single carpet and traditional decoration and she ended asking me: “Would you like to have some palinca??” If course I refused, I know the meaning of palinca! I left the place all happy and amused.
I drove back my rent a car full of joy listening local folklore music, blessing the people who made my day happier. At the time I handed in the car, I spoke with the owner shortly about my beautiful experiences, omitting the “blonde” mistakes.