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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Village Life in Romania - Page 2

Written by Jennifer Smith
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Romania is becoming a more popular destination for good reason. It has cultured cities and impressive castles, monasteries and museums. But a stay with Village Life means access to a more quietly poignant set of sights: an ancient wooden church surrounded by sheep and weathered grave markers; a 200-year-old farmhouse hand-painted with intricate motifs; a working forest monastery steeped in contemplation; a silent valley of abandoned farms. 

Perhaps more meaningfully, Village Life sparks a connection between visitors and hosts.   Harvest – when the villages buzz with activity – had passed when I arrived, but I joined my hosts in feeding animals, visiting neighbors and craftspeople and even celebrating a birthday in the vine-canopied courtyard.   If you already speak French, Spanish or Italian, a few days of self-study will have you stumbling through simple Romanian niceties and verbs, easing travel logistics and allowing you to connect with the people you meet. My village hosts were the perfect teachers, patiently helping me practice new words as we sat by the kitchen stove shelling dried beans or cracking walnuts. As I came to understand more, they progressed to sharing their own experiences with the rapid pace of change in Romania since the fall of communism. 


After leaving Sinca Noua I traveled west to visit another Village Life project in the village of Poeinita. My final morning I climbed aboard a horse cart and bumped over frozen, rutted roads. A local teenager appeared and appointed himself my guide and translator as we explored crumbling, vacant summer houses in a valley full of plum, apple and cherry orchards. As the day grew warmer we sat on low stools in the sunny farmyard to drink tea sweetened with acacia honey. The orchards were bare but the honey held all the warmth and fragrance of summer. 



©Jennifer Smith

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