We leave Hungary and cross the Romanian border.

We observe the countryside, disorganized, dirty and muddy, littered with garbage and stray dogs. We go back in time. The old women, toothless, dressed in long skirts, blouses and scarves with traditional colored patterns, worn and dirtied by the labor of working the land; but also men, in rags, slumped on rickety carriages pulled by one or more horses, with empty gaze and carrying a few planks of wood or any other cheap merchandise. In brief, a picture of yesteryear worthy of the Middle Ages jumps out at us. With the help of our precious intercom, we re-discover the world and talk about what’s in front of us, not so far away from our homes.

We have travelled the length and breadth of Romania, roaming the countryside and the mountains, meeting many locals who have given us valuable answers about the Romanian culture and the country’s future.

 

We think of Bogdan, this young Romanian in his twenties who was kind enough to sacrifice his mattress for two Frenchmen with disheveled hair. What a welcoming gesture and a deep immersion in the daily life of the Todoran family! How not to be touched and admired by the simplicity and warmth of this Romanian home. Mrs. Todoran serving us a voluminous plaster of tasty pasta, and Mr. Todoran, sitting in the middle of us, accompanied by a pear liqueur and letting us take a curious interest in his life as a worker. After this long conversation with Mr. Todoran, we continued the evening with his son who amazed us with his insatiable thirst for adventure. He had already climbed the Mont Blanc by the Mont Maudit way, had hitchhiked to Germany only to listen to the German language and had hitchhiked by boat to the United Kingdom. In short, a crazy man, dreaming of traveling the world without money and with his thumb. He also answered our questions about Romania. He explained the persistent issue of the gypsy people, this nomadic ethnic group (composed of Romanians, Hungarians, Ukrainians…) living, since its forced sedentarization, in poverty, giving the country a bad image worldwide.

This evening allowed us to realize one thing; Romanian people know how to welcome strangers, giving us the most pleasant image of Romania. Thank you, Bogdan.

After this city interlude, we head for the Valcea mountains located at the center of the country. We finally find the swirling roads of the Transfagarasan. We are frightened, then amazed by the presence of bears, mammals with a tender appearance but wild hostility, massively populating the forests of this region. Indeed, these clumsy animals made us leave our camp set in the middle of the night. Scared by their growls, we preferred climbing on our Himalayans and face the uncertain darkness of the Romanian night, rather than end up cut in four by one or several hungry bears.

As you have certainly figured it out, Romania has given us many surprises. Its magical fauna has filled our eyes, its surprising but welcoming population has warmed our hearts, we leave happy and fulfilled from this long journey through the mysterious lands of Dracula.

 

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