From the 16th to the 26th of may 2017. After a crazy WE at the Premaculture Festival in Podlodowek in Poland, I left hitchhiking during 2 days to meet the Maramureș moutains in the north of Romania. Wwoofing session, beautiful landscapes, ticks, dogs and little devils!
After Poland, Romania. I absolutely don’t know anything about Romania. I’ve never been there before. But I heard a lot of positive comments concerning the people, the landscapes, and how easy is to hitchhike there… I was waiting to discover this by myself.
The only negative comment or at least something to be aware of is about stray dogs. But I was thinking that anyway, there are stray dogs everywhere… And you always have to be careful with dogs, stray or not. So I didn’t really took this advice seriously…. (You’ll see that it’s finally a rrreeeaaaalllly important issue…)
I arrived after 2 incredible hitchhking days in Baia Mare in Romania under downpour, hail and thunder… Welcome to Romania!! That’s what the last guy who picked me up was happy to repeat to me laughting. I was laughing with him.
As we were getting closer and closer to Baia Mare, the mountains were appearing slowly on the horizon. My place to stay for 10 days, a really small village in the mountains, 25km south-east of Baia Mare : Măgureni.
Photos are talking better than words often (at least often better than my words :p). Here is the landscape surrounding the place where I stayed for these 10 days.
Well… There are obvioulsy some bad parts… Not everything can be as beautiful and nice that what the photos are showing… There are 2 things in particular that I couldn’t take in photo (or that I simply didn’t really want to…). The first one because it’s not specifically beautiful and too small (my camera doesn’t allow me to take photos of so small subjects… well, it may be able to, but I prefer to think that it can’t…). The other one is because honestly, when I was in front of the subject, usually the last thing I was thinking about was taking photos…
Ticks… well well well… Everybody knows this little beast with 8 legs, from the acarian family, and which is catching you to come and suck your blood, and can also transfer to you a bunch of nice bacterias as the famous Borreliose one (Which is the cause of Lyme disease)… Well, I’m not hiding from you the fact that when I arrived, I wasn’t really happy to see that the garden was full of high herbs… And that one of the first thing people told me is that I had to be careful about ticks because there are a lot of them here.
I spent a lot of time watching my legs and arms looking fo this undesirables and I killed quite a lot of these little monsters that I caught going up my pants, my hands or my arms. Days outside are so ending with a full delouse, studying every square centimeter of skin to search for the one I could have missed. For all my stay, I found only one of them, the head buried under the skin of one of my toes. Which is a real exploit here!
I didn’t leave the farm for few days as I was mostly helping in the garden or spending time with my host and his friends. The only dog I had really met at that time was Bob, who is the dog of the owner of the garden where I was wwoofing. A big hunting dog, very nice, closed in a cage during the day, and free from evenings to early mornings.
Then the WE arrived and on sunday with the sun shinning, I decided to go hiking to discover the small villages aound… Nothing really adventurous. A nice and easy walk for a sunday afternoon. Simple. Cool…
Ah ah!!! Well that’s when you don’t think about these f%°?!cking dogs… Yep, you are reading well. Why all this anger?! Well let’s tell that I discovered how dangerous dogs could be. I think that my walk which lasted 5h, seeing from outside, could have been quite funny.
After 200m of walk, I passed in front of a first house. I said hello to the guy working in his garden. Then I kept walking quietly on the road. I didn’t even pretend to get in the garden, no no no!! When suddenly, an average size dog appeared running and barking as loud as he could and growling… Apparently the road was his property… And he was trying hard to make me understand that fact. Well, doggy, you are 40cm tall… You don’t really think that you’re actually scaring me? Even less with a name like yours! Cookie… I stepped forward, steady and decided, trying to seem cool and uninterested not looking at him directly (well finally with is 40cm, I was already quite scared of him…). I was thinking that at some point he was going to get tired and let me alone. Certainly not!! I was kidding myself, but like totally kidding myself… The owner had to intervene, to yell at him and to hit him with his hat for him to let me pass…
That’s when the famous advice about dogs came back to my mind about the stray dogs… But I understood quickly that on the countryside… It’s not the stray dogs that I have to be aware of (Actually I haven’t seen any stray dogs during my stay there in Magureni but I saw some (many) later…), you have to be careful about all dogs in general…. I discovered that here everybody has a dog to protect his house.
So you should have seen me, everytime I was getting closer to a house… A new comedy each time… I developped new approach techniques… I was stopping a bit before, the time to listen… Dog or not dog? Someone to catch the dog if there is one and if he decides to come to me??? Generally all dogs are leashed or closed. But seriously I was freaking out the all time I was hiking. And ALL without any exception show me happily that you are an intruder and that they really would like to taste a piece of your legs or more… I was always imagining that one of them could find a way to unleashed himself… But what will happen if there is nobody to contain the dog? I’d rather not know.
After my walk, I came back and talked about this to the farmer. And it’s when he decided to tell me : “Oh but I did’nt talk to you about dogs? You have to be really carefull, I never go out without this!” But what’s this?? Well he was showing me a taser… Yes… a real one that the police use to electrocute. And this taser was working, he showed me (Well he hasn’t eletrocuted a dog for pleasure, he just pushed the button to release a charge). Well, we kept talking about this, and he finally told me that THE thing to know when you go hiking here is that if you hear sheep, you have to run away as far as possible hoping that it’s not too late and that the sheperds’ dogs haven’t smelled or seen you already… Because they will probably kill you… And there is a rumor saying that the sheperds might not help you… Several different people living around here told me the same thing… Let’s say that I wasn’t really reassured.
I then saw myself looking for website explaining how to survive a dog attack (and websites are really talking about surviving). Some nice lectures to give cool nightmares!
From time to time, you need to go buy some groceries… One day I was going down the path to the village, to go to the micro-shop in front of the pink house and the church. I bought what I needed and then on the way back I had to pass in front of the pink house again because the path is turning around it to go back to the mountains. The owner of the pink house was talking with someone on the street close to the garden’s gate and his wife was washing closes in the garden. I was walking on the road, saying hello and suddenly a tousled little black hairy dog arrived running and growling, he jumped over the barrier and stopped in front of me on the road (Oh not again!!!). As Cookie, this one is 40cm tall. But hell! What agressivity!! And he also has nice white fengs shinning in the middle of his black imaculated fur.
I had a flashback when I saw him… Don’t laugh, I’m not kidding… When he arrived I instantly thought about Gmork… You know the wolf of the “The never ending story” movie…
The same, but smaller, and even whiter teeth (and smaller too), and noisier… (Well not exactly the same finally…). But seriously, Gmork was one of my nightmare when I was a child.
Well… The owners yelled at him, and the little monster went back to the garden. I kept walking and turned the corner of the chickens’ shelter… And who am I seeing coming back again??? Same scenario, I had to stop, the owners yelled, the monster left, I started walking again… These things always goes in threes! I passed on the side of the house… Well let’s say that he is a bit stubborn!! I went running around the all house to come back to me a third time!!!
I came back to the farm and talked about this to the farmer… He said to me laughing “Ahah! Well you just met “The Little Devil !”. This is the nickname he gave him… I told you! Gmork or The Little Devil… The same 🙂