Alright, so as I watch yet another dark, rainy day in the Transylvanian mountains, I have time for a post. It seems like I have yet again neglected to update regularly, but as the Hungarians say, “Ennyi (that’s it).”
I have spent the last few months in Andras Puszta, on a small farm near Bolcske, a town on the Danube. I spent my time around Kati, the owner, and her six awesome dogs: Mark, Bendeguz, Arko, Dina, Solomon, and Petra. Her parents sometimes showed up for a visit, and her mum almost always brought or made some delicious Hungarian food (lot’s of meat and sour cream!). I reckon I spent most of my working hours doing various forms of labour intensive work, from digging holes, basic gardening, hauling bricks, chasing chickens, and even killing my first rats ( they were eating the chickens alive). I had my first experience plastering and white washing an old barn which I have always wanted to learn. Amongst many other firsts, I think I gained some fairly good experiences on my first bio organic farm. As the farm was also in its start-up phase, Kati was learning a lot as well.
On my time off I read quite a bit, maybe around twenty books over the time spent there. The winter was a long one, so my first month was almost completely full of reading. As I explored the area, I ventured through some long abandoned homes, getting a glimpse of life as it was from a fair ways back. I was also lucky enough to have an old Russian military base just up the road, which although gutted of most everything, was still quite a fun place to explore.
But it was past to get moving. Hungary was a very unexpected country to stay so long on, but I suppose that makes travel more interesting, eh? I think I learned a fair bit of the culture, the history, and the food. While I could have definitely spent less time in that country, I wouldn’t have gotten all the eperiences or met all the interesting people during my stay. I’m happy with how it all turned out. Kati and her farm now feel a bit like a second home now, and being so far away from home for almoat a year now, its quite a comforting thing. As a traveller, comfort isn’t allowed to keep me from heading on out, though.
The weather is now excellent in this part of Europe (though perhaps a titch too hot at times!), which means that the road yet again calls. So I had a good look at my possible routes, and potential volunteering jobs. While Serbia would be the quickest route to Greece, the mountains of Transylvania were just too inviting, and so after a quick message to a workaway host near Sibiu, I packed my rucksack and hit the road.
Rides + nice strangers:
Kati (my worlaway host!) – Bolcske to Gadoros
George. (the man in white + first actual hitching ride since getting to Hungary!) – Gadoros to Szentes
Thomas and his father Peter – Szentes to Szarvas
Andras the petrol station man – reusable sign and a new felt marker (for free, yippee)
Laszlo and his wife Awa – Refilled my water on a very hot day, after a conversation of some Hungarian and mostly sign language
Levente – Szarvas to Gyula
John – Gyula to Arad
V-man – Arad to Sibiu
Daniel – walked around Sibiu with me at 4am to find a hostel
For my journey to Romania I was lucky enough that Kati had a wedding to attend in Eastern Hungary, so a fair chunk of my cross-Hungarian trip was solved. After that my rides came with an average of 20 minute wait times… Very, very good, especially being the bearded, darkly dressed man that I am. I guess a dumb smile works.
My first lift was from George, the man in white.. No idea where he worked, but he even had white hair, a white moustache, and a gold watch… We didn’t talk much, but he was a pretty swell guy.
My next noteable ride was with Levente. A quiet man, but he started a generosity streak that got me all the way to Sibiu in one day. At first he was going to just take me to the border, but a while later decided to take me across a little bit further. Even better. After what I thought was him arguing with the border guards, we passed through, and stopped not long after. He told me to take my bag out, and we went up to this older smirking man. It started to feel like one of those movies where someone gets unknowingly abducted and transferred from stranger to stranger… But those Westerner worries were unfounded. After a little chat, Levente ran in front of a truck, got him to stop, and got me my next ride with John.
John didn’t speak much English, so after giving me a beer we just cruised along while I got my first glimpse of Romania. I saw geese waiting patiently at a crosswalk in the first town, as well as a man whistling down the sidewalk with a scythe in hand, but otherwise it still felt very much like Hungary… But since Transylvania used to be Hungarian, well, it was no surprise.
As we neared Arad, a thunderstorm approached. Massive and broad, coming from Hungary. In the opposite direction came a huge cloud of sand, from what I think was a nearby factory. With high winds, it really felt like hell, with black clouds above, and sand blocking most vision at ground level. Feral dogs were attempting to hide wherever they could, trucks were parked all along the sodes of the road… And I was going to be dropped off in the middle of it.
But I was saved yet again. John got me a ride with V-man, as the only letter I could hear him pronounce was the ‘v’ sound at the beginning. He was going all the way to Sibiu, and so off we went.
The storm caught up to us not long after, pounding rain onto the roads almost the entire distance around us. The sky was constantly filled with lightning bolts, flashes, and once or twice a green flash from what was likely an electrical transformer, or something bigger, exploding. As time seemed to drag on, I caught glimpses of a full moon peeking from between black clouds as the storm occassionally parted. I don’t think I could have asked for a better welcoming into Transylvania.
Upon reaching Sibiu, around 2am, I debated whether to get a hostel, or sleep in the streets… It was wet, I was tired, and I had hardly spent anything in the past months, so I looked for a hostel. After finding some 24-hour-reception hostels that clearly weren’t 24-hours, a silent man named Daniel decided to show me through the streets until I could find one. After twenty minutes or so, we found the door to one, and he went on his merry way.
The next day I ventured a bit around the city, looking through a history museum and taking a bit of a look in the poorer parts, before I got a ride to my next volunteering job, in a small communa called Hosman. Its a quiet place, nestled in a valley north-east of Sibiu, and quite full of gypsies (who listen to a sort of techno/carnival/hiphop mix of madness that is apparently considered music. it’s a quiet place, with lots of green and rolling hills (reminds me lf Scotland). Many of the locals get around by horse-drawn carts. I’ll be here for a few days more, as some unexpected family things means they won’t be able to host for a little while. But as I search for my next destination (somewhere else in Romania I am planning), I’ll try and get my fill of the area here.
Pictures to come once I get access go a computer.
Not all those who wander are lost