In November I had the chance to travel to Transylvania – to Erdely, as we Hungarians name that old land. In fact Erdely is bigger than Transylvania, it includes 16 counties and various territories. See: Transylvania – Erdély
It was my dream long since to visit that land. It is like a wonderland with pictouresque montain sites and great woods.
I have a good friend living there and I went to see her at her home, she lives in a village near Szekelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc) in Hargita county. She waited me there, at a place called triangle near the main square, as I came with an airport transport called Vandor Szekely (Wanderer Sekler) from Marosvasarhely Airport (Tirgu Mures).
It was Friday afternoon when I arrived and stayed at her place for two days. Saturday we had a trip around the near landscapes and at Sunday we traveled back to Budapest together, with airplane charter. She is working at Budapest or Vienna mostly, but stays home for a few months whenever she can.
The Transylvanian lands are famed lately for the high number of bears coming near the populated areas, even walking into gardens of family houses. Normally there is no big disruption, as people are used to their presence. But the number of encounters are rising and that’s alarming. There is a ban of hunting as much as I know, and unfortunately, the forests are no more connected due to wood exploitation. The younger bears don’t easily find a new territory for themselves, so the conflict between humans and animals is imminent. During the days I’ve spent in Erdely two incidents were reported about bear attacks, one was lethal. It happened near Marosvasarhely, the victim was a sheperd guarding a herd of sheep.
The population of the Partium, Banat and Hargita county kept to be Hungarian in identity as they are mostly Seklers, even with the numerous repopulation after that the Romanian state was created. Over the North-Eastern corner of the Carpathian curve is Csango land (Chango, they too speak Hungarian). Chango people are considered as the oldest folks in the area – or maybe in whole Europe, with identical cultural traits and astonishing musical legacy. Northern from their place one can find Moldova on the map, where many people they still have their traditional Hungarian language, enrichened with their own, curious sounding words. Those folks are keen to preserve their unique culture which is sometimes quite hard.
What I particularly liked here were the breath-taking landscapes and the typical carved Sekler gates. Though life is not any easy here for Seklers, as Romanians don’t accept their having an independent identity or any claim of a higher independence level (see the autonomy movement). Under Ceausescu these people suffered a lot from the poverty, the discrimination and the oppression. Well, I guess whole Romania suffered…
All with this, knowing some history I dare to state that these tough, obstinate mountain people are made to survive. Even in the times when Erdely was part of the Hungarian Kingdom they enjoyed some independence. They proved to be really talented in staying alive among all the hardships, yet, Erdely was considered a wealthy land. I wish they could have a better and easier life today, they’d deserve it.
Unusual and lovely warm sunshine greeted us on all the three days, it was like a blessing. Together we traveled through Parajd, famous for its gigantic salt mine, and Korond, a place famous for high-quality ceramics. We haven’t met a single bear, though my mom asked about them when I called her in the evening. We ate a lot, my friend proved to be a generous host, cooking real good meals for me. All was vegan! Well, she’s vegan too.
The third day we took a ride with the already known Vandor Szekely airport transfer to Tirgu Mures aka Marosvasarhely. At the airport, after a scrutinous and somewhat unfriendly examination we were to wait for our depart. There was a small shop of souvenirs but we couldn’t find up anything with Hungarian text, like “Welcome from Seklerland”, only Romanian stuff. This is quite typical, my friend explained. Romanians have the tendency to make Hungarians feel unwelcome, and the same is true about Seklers or other ethnic groups in the country. I don’t know if this will change, but that would be great. I photoed some of the items in the shop:
Altogether I enjoyed the journey and I feel honoured to be able to go to Erdely, to feel its mystical air and see those ancient mountains with my own eyes. It was like a dream come true, I burst into smiling anytime it comes in my mind. I brought with myself the silent wish&hope that life will improve for the people living there, and for all people in the world.