“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Digging and Voyaging

Well, I'm finally here to post again and I have so much to say... we've been so busy!

During the week we're in a little village away from internet and phone signals, and during the weekends, we're madly dashing around the country on organized tours, so have barely had time to read all my emails, let alone reply or write a blog. Rowan in NZ and Kate in Oz both had babies, Kate from Myanmar's in Ladakh with her mum (what a fantastic place that sounds like!), most of my colleagues are around the US, Omar's just been back to Morocco for the first time, Rebecca from D.C. and Rachid are both getting married (but not to each other, thank god!), and my ex, Soufiane got married (now that is weird!), Rita's doing a hike for discovery to raise money for Leukemia, Tim's in Monrovia, Beth Dougherty's in SE Asia for the first time, Julie's back in France and over the moon and others are all over!

Romania and the dig are great. We plod along at our own pace and I must say that I'm really enjoying myself and all negative feelings are gone. The weather has improved in the last week or so, and now we have scorching hot days, which means we almost pass out in the trenches digging! We take our first photographs of the things unearthed tomorrow... mainly just bits of broken pottery and structural clay. It's interesting that so much effort goes into such insignificant bits and pieces, but I'm enjoying it nevertheless. Andrei, the dig director, gets so excited when we find a pottery shard that has paint or an etched design. We're going to put one pot back together next week! The site is neolithic. It's part of what's called the Petresti culture, which I think was pretty much limited to Romania. We spend some afternoons washing pottery in freezing water from the well behind the dig house--my first time ever using a well. I'm no longer the oldest on the dig, as some have arrived and others have left... the dynamic is very different depending on the week!

The food here is good but very simple... we've had lots of meat and potato type meals, very traditional, but good. My favorite swings between the cabbage wraps and the beans! They all have homemade wine here and a hard alcohol called moonshine (as I'm sure you can imagine). Three younger diggers have already had incidents of alcohol abuse throwing up and the like! It's evil stuff. Andrei complains that if Romania ever enters the EU, the homemade wine will disappear as the olive groves in Spain did because they form too much of a competition for businesses. Sad, really. All the home farm animals will also be eradicated for mass farming. No more cows passing us on their way out to the field each day, or chickens squawking in the back of the house.

We're in a little village called Mosna, in between Medias and another mideval city called Biertan. Every little hamlet and village had a fortified church once, built by the Saxons in the middle ages, who themselves were invited by the Hungarians to live here to protect from Ottoman and other raids. The Saxons left as soon as Ceausescu was out of power, but their legacy is still left in a strong German prescence. Mosna has a church, but not much else as most Saxons left and now it's 60% gypsy (much to our dig director's disgust). There are two shops, houses and that's it! It's charming but very simple and rural. The countryside is lovely.. rolling green hills and forests, and very few fences in sight. This is a place where the shepherd still takes his flock out each morning. We have a shepherd that hangs around our trench singing to himself each day accompanied by his sheeps baas.

We've also adopted a stray puppy that lost his leg somehow... he's all fixed up and one volunteer is going to take the dog back to Canada (which has much more animal liberal laws than ours). I was very amused to watch the vet patch him up with scissors that fell into two parts and a blunt blade to saw at the extra bandage! He has a "satellite dish" around his head to stop him knawing on the leg and tail (which he bit off in fits of agony!). Andrei was very amused to hear that he had 8 canine teeth which means that he would surely have won in any fight against the village dogs! He has gone from a whiny old man to a playful puppy, and has amazed everyone with his progress!

Well, must go now as I'm late for dinner! Oooops!


Rama said...

Soufiane is married, eh? He finally got over you I see... ;)

I just finished a book about a woman's journey living with the Romani in Albania. fascinating stuff...

enjoy your moonshine!

Natalya said...

The Roma are here too... the Romanians are not so kind to them, but sometimes it sounds like they deserve it. It's such a difficult thing to resolve. I would love to study them in depth and how policies and other things change according to them across Europe.

For example, did you know that in the EU, if a gypsy community came up to any city council and asked for a place to camp for 2 days, by law they must provide it?

Rama said...

yeah... in this book the author interviews not only the gadje (non-gypsies) and the Romany. The viewpoints are so starkly prejudiced, on both sides. I'm so fascinated by this trend right now... am really motivated to head out to Albania, where the Roma communities are even worse off.

Did you know that they might not even be historically nomads? There's tons of records to indicate they've been slaves for centuries!