Maramureş County - Market Fair at Ocna Șugatag, Romania: April 26, 2018
Yesterday morning we took the train from Budapest, Hungary, to Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The journey took nine hours. Forethought and my early upbringing made me bring a little food along--just in case. That was a wise move because no food was available the entire nine-hour journey. It was a short train and a dining car was not included on this route.
This morning, Diana (uncover-romania-tours.com) and a driver picked us up from Cluj. Four hours later we were at the Mara Pensiune (guesthouse) in Deseşti. The air was fresh and although the guesthouse is not too far off the national highway, the only sounds were those of the Mara River and the soft murmuring of farm animals . I immediately felt at peace surrounded by the natural beauty and the colors of spring.
|The view from our room in Mara Pensiunea|
Dan and I have visited other regions of Romania in prior years, but not the Maramureş region. During our last trip to a Saxon area in Transylvania, our host recommended that we read Along the Enchanted Way: A Story of Love and Life in Romania, by William Blacker. He arrived in Romania in early 1990 just after the revolution when there were no national highways in Maramureş. Maramureş is a region very much in transition as a result of paved roads, very fast internet, cell phones, and the departure of the middle generation to jobs in the more developed countries in the EU.
Some of the old ways persist, though.
After our first of many fabulous meals at the guesthouse, Dan and I were free to explore on our own. We walked down the narrow road, over the Mara River, and up the hill to a carved wooden crucifix. Some distance beyond the crucifix shepherds were watching cows, goats, and sheep. Right near us was a goat with a newborn baby goat barely able to stand. I started in the direction of the mother and baby and immediately a large shepherd's dog began barking and ran toward us. We backed up but the dog stood its ground until we made our exit down the hill. We turned our exploration toward town.
The next morning Diana took us to nearby Ocna Șugatag's market fair. There are no shopping malls in the small villages so the weekly market fair is where one can shop for fabrics, clothing, building supplies, seeds both for crops and flowers, animals, and even tombstones. It is also a place for exchanging gossip and socializing.
Traditional dress for a Maramureş married woman is a knee or slightly above knee full skirt, blouse, headscarf, handmade leather lace up shoes (opinci).
|Traditional Maramureş Costume for a Married Woman|
Since it was spring, seeds were for sale. Some of the older shoppers tasted the seed for freshness before deciding to buy.
The traditional Maramureş headwear for men is a small straw hat with a ribbon hanging down the back. We saw a number of men still wearing this hat that doesn't seem very useful.
One vendor at the market fair, was selling tombstones. One stop shopping!
Another sign of spring is the arrival of white storks to nest on electric poles along the roadside.