Meet a family from Transylvania

Today is the National Rural Tourism Day in Romania and I wanted to introduce you a bit to the life of a family from Transylvania that lives in the countryside. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

In October I decided to hitchhike through Transylvania and my first stop was Avram Iancu village in the Apuseni Mountains. It is situated in an isolated valley of stunning beauty with tall fir trees, traditional wooden houses, a waterfall on the left, a hill with snail fossils on the right, haystacks, cows grazing and wonderful autumn colors all around. It was quiet, calming and refreshing.

I had 5 kilometers to go and a car stopped and the family was glad to help me. They were very curious to know what brought me to their village as it had few visitors and there were no pensions. They offered to host me for the night and since I wanted to hike to Găina (Hen) Mountain they offered to take me with their motorbike. I accepted. The man, Eugen was a veterinary assistant, his wife was jobless and their only child was attending the village school. Eugen showed me the house where he was born, a traditional wooden house with a high-pitched roof. He had three siblings and his father was still living in that house and making barrels for a living; only a son was helping him and taking over the craft.

Eugen’s family was now living in an old house which used to belong to the village priest. They modernized and expanded it, built a toilet and installed PVC windows. They were growing pigs which they wanted to sell on the next day’s fair. Here only potatoes and carrots grow, no other vegetables as it is chilly in the summer. They had cable TV and bad phone signal. Their child was 12, he liked computers but since they couldn’t afford one, he was going to the neighbors every day to play on it. He was dreaming of driving a car, he liked chips and pizza more than anything and he was overweight.

We had dinner: eggs from their chicken with pork greaves, cabbage salad and home-made zacuscă. We spoke for many hours, they told me about their life and I told them about Arab countries as they were very curious.

That day, visiting a family from Transylvania, strengthened my belief that something should be done. I was in this place of amazing beauty, with great traditions, architecture and wonderful crafts where I could tell that the new generation was ready to move on and leave those things behind. While I was in awe, they took it for granted and that is the greatest risk.

And that is why I believe responsible rural tourism can help. It would be an incentive for the father to pass on the barrel-making craft and showcase it to others who want to learn it. The son could see a future for himself in that village if he had a choice to manage a pension for example. For the entire village it would be a big concern to preserve architecture if tourists would appreciate that. Even the famous Maiden Fair on Găina Mountain could be revived with a special glow, it would be truly unique.

I’ve enjoyed the genuine hospitality, the delicious home-grown food and the serenity of the place. I will soon go visit this family from rural Transylvania and you are welcome to join.

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