30.05.2012 24 °C
Thanks to the helpful receptionist at my hotel, I managed to find a shop that sold an adapter to fit my laptop plug, so we are back in business! What a relief. I told the guy behind the counter I could kiss him, but it might be wrong. I think he understood because he smirked.
Breakfast is as you'd expect in Eastern Europe. That's a cup of yogurt by the way, which I kept picking up to sip and then remembering it wasn't coffee.
After breakfast, I went on my adapter hunt, and at the same time found a supermarket that sold my brand of hair conditioner, so it was a double score. Then I headed towards the autogara, or bus station, to see if I could find a ride to Sapanta. Sighetu is not the world's prettiest town but it has some nice churches and I particularly liked this one.
I have been suffering a bit of culture shock, and at night time I get a little bit homesick, but it's all part of the journey. During the day, while I am exploring, I enjoy every minute of it. Yesterday, on my way here. I was sitting on my own in a minibus, looking out the window at a completely different world, when "All by myself" came on the radio. It was quite a comical moment.
Anyway, I found the bus station down this road.
I managed to find out via a man who translated Romanian into French for me, that there was a bus leaving for Sapanta at noon. Considering I don't generally speak French, it was quite an accomplishment. The driving here is not for the faint-hearted. I've heard the roads are bad too, but I've been to Eastern Christchurch, so they actually don't seem that bad. The bus pulled over in a small town, and the driver and his mates, pointed towards a street. So, I headed off in that direction, and soon found the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta.
People come from as far as New Zealand to see this cemetery. Each headstone is painted bright blue, and contains a picture of the deceased person's life, and often how they died. Well hopefully it shows how some lived, or otherwise a lot of women died while weaving or tending to their garden.
Some people met an unfortunate end.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
After spending a good hour wandering around the cemetery to the sound of the church bells tolling, I headed towards a huge wooden steeple I could see in the distance. This is supposed to be the tallest wooden church in Maramures, so I was keen to see it while I had the chance. However, as I got further down the road which became more and more deserted, and the surrounding trees made me lose sight of the steeple, I decided it probably wasn't the best place to be, so I turned around and headed back to the main road, opportunity gone.
I hovered around the bus stop for a while, thinking that if I was lucky a bus would come, or if I was unlucky, I would have to walk the 18km back to Sighetu. A woman was standing nearby so I asked if she was going to Sighetu. She spoke good English and said she was hitching, so I asked if I could join her. Obviously, after what has just happened at home, I was a little apprehensive, but it is what everyone does here and I felt safe with my new Romanian friend (whose name I can't spell). We were picked up by a man, who stopped and picked various others up along the way. The going fare is 5 lei, and when we reached Sighetu, I paid for myself and my new friend because I was so grateful to have found her. When we got out of the car, she invited me to visit her daughter who she was going to stay with to help take care of a new baby. So, we walked to her apartment, I met the new baby, and we chatted over a cup of coffee. I had to take my shoes off when I went into the house and put some crocs on, but they were pink, so I managed. After coffee, she walked me back to town. On the way, we stopped and asked someone to take our photo. Behind us is the former communist prison which has been turned into a museum.
I hugged her goodbye as she was so lovely, and I felt really happy to have met her and thrilled to be invited into a Romanian home. Next on my agenda was the museum. It certainly bought me back down to ground, as I walked along the landings past the cells where so many people suffered. Although there was a lot of information available in English, I really didn't want to delve too deeply into it. The pictures of the people on the walls who were incarcerated there really personalised it, and after an hour or so of quietly looking around, I was pleased to be out of there.
I guess its important to visit these places to appreciate what the people have been through, and to be grateful for the life we live. It beggars belief how cruel people can be to one another. But what I take from today, is how wonderful people can be too, and without the kindness of a perfect stranger, my day would have been completely different.