The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Another good day in Romania

Jessica and I got up late today, and headed down a very rough road to our first destination of the day: a town where there is a "Merry Cemetery". This place was so unique. Church was going on when we got there, and the place was packed. A lot of the worshipers had to stand outside. I went in, just to see what was going on, but found myself in a throng of standing worshipers. Romania is certainly a religious country, especially now, I think, since there is no communism to tell them that religion is bad.

Look at this little girl. She is all dressed up for Sunday worship.

There were many, many village people milling about, unable to get into the packed church.

They were certainly a colorful lot. Not the men, though. The men were dressed up, but in somber black suits with white shirts.

You could buy a dress for yourself or for your child there in the town if you had a hankering to do so.

A man who is a language teacher from Bucharest happened to be there leading a group, and he and Jessica were able to communicate in French. He told her how to tell traditional dresses from more modern ones. He also explained some of the tombstones.

Here are some of the tombstones. They are each made of wood.

Each is blue to symbolize the soul flying up into the blue sky on its way to heaven. And on the front is a picture to show what the deceased did during life. This man was obviously a carpenter.

Its called a "Merry Cemetery" because of the poems or epithets on each tombstone.  Here is one in the original Romanian along with its English translation. Notice that it rhymes in Romanian, but the rhyme is lost when it is translated into English.

Sub aceasta cruce grea
Zace biata soacra-mea
Trei zile de mai traia
Zaceam eu si cetea ea.
Voi care treceti pa aici
Incercati sa n-o treziti
Ca acasa daca vine
Iarai cu gura pa mine
Da asa eu m-oi purta
Ca-napoi n-a inturna
Stai aicea draga soacra-mea

Under this heavy cross
Lies my poor mother in-law
Three more days she would have lived
I would lie, and she would read (this cross).
You, who here are passing by
Not to wake her up please try
Cause' if she comes back home
She'll criticise me more.
But I will surely behave
So she'll not return from grave.
Stay here, my dear mother in-law!

Further down the road we found what must surely be one of the most beautiful sights in Romania -- the Monastery of Wood.

All the buildings were made of nothing buy wood. The buildings and the landscaping were absolutely gorgeous. But I think the place is an Abby and not a Monastery. There were a lot of nuns working there.

I wanted to show you a picture of their hay ricks. There are two kinds. Which do you think is better?

Somehow the center pole holds the haystack up.  And here is the second kind. It is like the hay is hung over a high fence.

I guess Jessica is saying that she doesn't know which of the two types is better eight (Actually, she ran over there just to show how big the haystack is.) She didn't even take time to take her helmet off because I was parked on the road and traffic was whizzing by.

We've been riding through the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains all day on roads that are sometimes so smooth, even if curvy, that it is easy to do 60 miles and hour on them, and at other times are so rough that thirty miles and hour feels like it is going to shake the bike apart.

Once, the road just stopped at a railroad crossing that was all torn up. I am not sure how long the detour would have been, but some girls on the other side of the tracks told us by gestures that we could get back to the road by following a little dirt lane.

Gotta be careful on these Romanian roads. You never know what might be coming down the opposite lane.

Jessica took a picture of our shadow, which I think is kind of cool.

We are in a nice hotel again tonight. They are really inexpensive here. We are in Transylvania. Tomorrow, we plan to hit the road early so that we can get to Dracula's Castle (actually, Vlad the Impailer's Castle) early. It is about two hours away.

More later,
Ron and Jessica

Greetings from Romania

Hi again:

My daughter, Jessica, and I made our way, kind of slowly, across Hungary, heading for Romania.  I am having a good time traveling with her. She never complains. She is willing to pick out and research the places we go to, and she acts like she enjoys riding long hours on the back of my motorcycle. Thanks, Jessica. I love you.

Jessica and I liked Hungary. There are a lot of what the guide book would call "quaint little villages" there. This one is called Holloko and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Holoko is not a huge village, but it is very interesting.  One of the best places in it (at least it was the place I enjoyed most) was the print shop. I really liked learning about the old printing presses and how the Gutenberg Bible was produced, and how Benjamin Franklin probably printed "Poor Richard's Almanac". Here is Jessica printing out an etching of a church (with some help from the printer).

Back on the road and headed for Romania. But first, gotta have some gas. There is no shortage of cars on the road, but gas prices are so high that I don't know how they can afford to drive them. It cost me 35 Euros (about 40 dollars) to fill up the relatively small tank on my bike.  I get 75 miles to the gallon. I wonder how expensive it would be for a car that gets 25 miles per gallon.

Now that Odysseus is full, I guess it is time to fill my own belly. They sure serve enormous amounts of food here. I never seem to be able to eat it all.

You never know what the highway will do in Hungary. Here, the road (more of a country lane) suddenly stopped at the Tesla River. If you want to get across the Tesla River, you will have to take a ferry.

So, after a while,  we got to Romania.  It was a little bit of an ordeal getting  through the border checkpoint. It was no problem for Jessica and me, but I thought for awhile I was going to have to leave Odysseus behind. It took some time to I convince the border guards that the number on the Illinois Motorcycle registration I had with me was correct, and that it matched the bike's license plate.

The roads my GPS routes us down are fascinating -- they might be four lane super highways one moment, and then turn off  to become single lane byways. Jessica, in the back seat, kept trying to take pictures. Look at the potholes in this road. We were lucky if we could average 10 miles an hour on roads like this.

Look at this picture. It is mistletoe growing in huge clumps. That stuff was on a lot of the trees along the road.

Every so often we would come to a railroad crossing, and sometimes we might have to wait for 5 minutes or more for the train to show up, pass through, and the crossing guard to wind up the gate by hand. Their trains were pretty slow. The entire process was so different from France or Germany where the gates come down only a minute before the train whizzes by. It is a relaxed kind of life here.

The people are very energetic here, but it is quite obvious there is not the level of wealth that there is in Western Europe. Jessica, my backseat photographer, kept taking videos of them. I won't try to show you her videos, but here is a snapshot she took of one of the horse-drawn wagons that are so common here..

Sometimes the wagons had family members in them, all dressed up and headed to town or church on this Saturday night.

I really like Romania so far. Tonight we are staying in a Pension run by a farm family. They tell us that everything they eat is "natural" and "farm fresh".  They even make their own plum brandy, which I enjoyed but which was too strong for Jessica. Too bad Jessica, but more for your dad.

We are the only ones staying here. I guess it is off season. The grandfather took us out to show us the pigs and chickens and how he makes and ferments the pig food. It was quite the tour. He is proud of his farm. He even sent one of his workers up a tree to cut down some cherry-laden branches for us. Jessica has quite a bag full to munch on while we ride along. Too bad for Odysseus. He does not get to enjoy the hospitality. He has to shelter in a small lean-to from the threatening storms.

So now it is time to enjoy a much need night's sleep. Tomorrow we head up into the Carpathian Mountains so we will need our energy.  Here is a map to show where we are. The blue line is the portion of the trip that Jessica has joined me on.

Good night. Happy Father's Day. I hope all of you dads are as fortunate as I am.  God's blessing on you all.