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A magical place

Mark Mardell | 17:25 UK time, Sunday, 2 September 2007

Dusk is falling and I am in a magical place. The sky seems huge over head. Mist covers the mountain in the distance. The uneven hillside I’m walking on is filled with the gentle music of cow bells, and the scent of wood smoke.

wind-tanned cowherdThis is Transylvania, not far from one of the castles purporting to be Dracula's own. But no dark spirits are abroad tonight. In a rough pen made of thick branches there are about 20 cows, and they are being milked by hand by three men, with practiced assurance.

They are men who are out in all weathers. The one I talk to is wind-tanned with an engaging gap-toothed smile. He has a leather hat pulled tight on his head. He sits on a rough wooden stool, offering the animals gentle reassurance in a gruff voice, as the milk squirts into buckets.

The task finished and the frothy milk poured into urns, the men show me their wooden shelter in the middle of the rough hillside.

pouring milkA simple fire made up of several stout sticks burns in one corner. In the middle of the hut, on the mud floor, stands a big aluminium urn with more milk in it. One of the men explains to me how he makes cheese and then puts it into a strange-shaped wooden trough standing by one wall, to squeeze out the moisture. He offers me cheese made three days ago. It's very fresh, sharp and crumbly.

He takes me outside, gesturing towards a wooden structure covered by a tarpaulin. Imagine a roughly-nailed-together large double bunk bed that has collapsed, so there is a gap just big enough for a man to crawl into. It’s where he sleeps. Why? To drive off the wolves and the bears, he says.

But how long can such farming methods survive, now that Romania has joined the European Union? Read more on Monday.

Mark's report from Romania will be the second in a series of three about the European Union’s role in environmental protection. The first was about a dispute over Polish plans to build a motorway through protected marshland. The third report will look at Spain's worries about a shortage of water.

Comments   Post your comment

Thank you Mark for reminding me the beauty of simplicity. I struggle sometimes to see a different world,through the electronic gadgets I surround myself with, where moon might be seen as often as the TV set.

  • 2.
  • At 03:07 AM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Regina Valerie Ryan wrote:

Thank you Mark, for yet another story on Romania featuring a gypsie in a remote village!!!Oh, and thank you BBC for holding on to such ignorant and provincial "journalists". I can say this because let's face it, you are not going to print anything remotely critical of your staff.

  • 3.
  • At 09:31 AM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • David wrote:

To be fair, Regina, you're the only one to mention the word gypsy...

...hill farmers have it tough all over the EU.

  • 4.
  • At 09:39 AM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

In response to Regina Valerie Ryan. What's your problem? I actually live in Brasov County and I can confirm that people do live like the ones Mark describes. And, what makes you assume all shepherds are Roma?? What a uneducated, urban stereotype! What would you prefer I wonder? A nice story on dog attacks in Bucharest or how about another tale about Romanian orphanages?

  • 5.
  • At 10:21 AM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Adrian wrote:

Actually, I like these images and the story, although I could also see the point from the previous comment. That's just a nice guy in the picture, as far as I can say.

I am very much in favor of EU, but these kind of things, life-style, will slowly disappear. This is fine, again, but I feel like enjoying them as long as they still exist.

  • 6.
  • At 10:58 AM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Dixon wrote:

In the 1960s while working for a large agricultural supply company I visited a wide range of farms in England which ranged from East Anglian farming estates fo 10,000 acres or more to small farms which would fit your discription of a small farm in present day Transylvania. Without the wolves and bears as far as I know.

Such farms cannot remotely meet the modern hygiene standards of the E.U. or anybody else for that matter. But as a fellow lover of good food I can assure that fortunately there is plenty of good farm produced cheese available in Spain and France which taste delicious and will not have any unfortunate effects on the unwary stomach!

By the way Regina (comment 1) the guy picture is not gipsy just a small farmer, dont understand the rest of the comment.

Turning to your coming visit to Spain for a moment, There is no shortage of water in Spain just rather to much in the North and rather to little in the South. This year the extreme heat and dryness moved further East. We have had a very good summer with rain at just the right times. The grape harvest is excellent which should be reflected in the wine. Just right to go with the cheese dont you thing Mark.

  • 7.
  • At 11:34 AM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Diarmuid Hayes wrote:

I disagree Regina!

The man is a farmer in Transilvania-his way of life may disappear due to changes in Argicultural policy in his country (due to their joining the EU).Highlighting this is interesting.Whether the man is a Gypsy or not is irrelevant and reflects the commenters prejudice!

I'm sure Mark will report soon on the beautiful cities of Transilvania.

  • 8.
  • At 11:50 AM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Mircea wrote:

I think Mark is doing a great job in capturing the different flavours of Europe, both old and new.
I strongly disagree with the comment above by Regina. The person portrayed is a Romanian peasant, leaving in an isolated area, untouched by the modern world. His lifestyle probably hasn't changed much in the last 1000years!

  • 9.
  • At 12:34 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I went to Romania this summer to check out one of the newest members of the club. Demodernisation of agriculture was actually a policy in the 70s and 80s under Ceausescu but I was amazed to see its extent in practice. Horses and carts were very much the order of the day in place of tractors or other motorised vehicles, and I had the opportunity to see a harvest being brought in by scythe.

This is not to say that everyone in rural areas were living in extreme poverty. Although I doubt much was left over for savings or luxuries, most of the houses I saw were attractive and well looked after. This was not the land of the Borat village. The tradition of the countryside stood also in stark contrast with the coast and the streets and nightclubs of the capital. Here the wealthy elite would seamlessly fit into any West European city.

  • 10.
  • At 02:50 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

Be careful Mark with describing such rural idylls. Does the farmer actually like his un-mechanised way of life? Does he not want the latest techonology, does he not want to be able to send his children to university, do they can become foreign correspondents.

Maybe he wants to keep the old ways but still havee mechanisation and,, of course, be better off.

Regina's comments just show the contempt shown by most urban Romanians for the people who provide their food. coupled with a little bit of anti-gypsy racism, which is of course par for the course amongst Bucharest residents.

  • 11.
  • At 03:20 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Regina Valerie Ryan wrote:

While most of you may think that this is a nice and interesting story about a peasant from Transylvania, to me this is the latest story by Mark which follows a pattern of reporting on this new EU member - Romania. Mark and journalists who carry the inherent limitations of someone brought up exclusively in a "Western" environment,have a very strong tendency to create images and to make statements about an entire country based on very limited samples of participants (eg. one farmer in one village) and based on short visits . No, I am not assuming that all farmers are Roma, (I have lived in a country close to Romania and I can certanly tell the difference between a gypsy peasant and a Romanian peasant), but very often when speaking of Romanian peasant life there is a tendency to choose a gypsy family (something done by Mark himself a few months ago and noted by unhappy Romanians reading his material). No, I do not want any more stories on homeless dogs in Romania and yes, I hope Mark starts to write about the beauty of Transilvania. But what I really want is for the BBC to send Mark back to Romania and ask him to report on the history of Romania,their Art, their literature,the nature in Romania, the culture in Romania and all the things that make Romania unique.

  • 12.
  • At 04:34 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Jeroen wrote:

The shepherd culture of southeast Europe has a long and beautiful history. Shepherds have been leading the semi-nomadic life for thousands of years. Before borders were imposed during Habsburg rule, flocks would be waloked from the winter grazing lands in the Danube plain to the summer pastures in the mountains - and often flocks from what is now Romania would make it all the way to what is now the Czech republic, on foot, and back again. Traces of this lifestyle are found all over the region; Romanian or Vlach culture can be found in eastern Czech republic down to the mountains of southern Albania and west Greece.
I lived in a Romanian village for a while in 1994 and was told that shepherds have an isolated but good life; they earn a share of the total milk and cheese production and it's worth a lot. Still, it's amazing to see them camping out in all weather, just walking around with a thick sheepskin and a stick.
We used to have a similar culture in Western Europe of course which still remains in some pockets. In the Netherlands we have a flock or two with professional shepherds - one will attempt to cross the country this autumn but will need police help to cross all the highways.

  • 13.
  • At 11:53 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Octavian wrote:

I just can't imagine the Apuseni Mountains of Western Transylvania without the carefully built, tall haystacks, or without the old wooden houses dotted about even on the steepest slopes. Sadly, the remote villages are indeed becoming empty. The valleys close to the larger cities are polluted with the kitschy houses of the nouveaux riches. A chance to preserve the still unspoiled places is perhaps a trekking-style form of tourism, to which this landscape is so well-suited, taking advantage of the tradition of trekking already existing here.

  • 14.
  • At 10:27 AM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Horace wrote:

Surely an end to the aching poverty described here is a desirable thing?

What the reporter has described is not 'simplicity' or 'a lifestyle unchanged in 1000 years,' it is under-development of the worst kind. That the lifestyle of these poor people may be a desirable thing for western liberals to preserve is a sick joke.

These people have a right to everything we have: development, televisions, electronic gadgets, running water, comfortable beds etc. The way they live is not - for them - a lifestyle choice. It is poverty, pure poverty.

  • 15.
  • At 11:48 AM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Bo Abrahamsen wrote:

Thanks, Mark, for bringing the future of the Romanian farming community on the Agenda. The real challenge is how we can keep Transsylvania from becoming an open-air museum or a Dracula theme park. It is one of the very few places in Europe where we can visit farms which would have made sense to our great grandparents. Littering this green and pleasant land with chain hotels and themed pubs doesn´t bear thinking about, but Romania has all the potential for mass tourism that killed off the attraction of large areas of Spain, Italy and Greece.
Perhaps best to delete any mention of Romania from your blog and keep this the secret organic countryside for the select few!

  • 16.
  • At 12:26 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

What is Mark's point anyway? That the simple lifestyle of the farmer is an invaluable cultural asset that we, as a civilization, should not loose ? Hey, get real. Consumerism (and not the European union) will force new lifestyles, whether one likes it or not. Ofcourse, you can keep the doors closed, and like Romania did in the forty years since the war, it can (in theory) continue for the next forty. But at what cost ? Keeping it's citizens poor and ignorant, only to offer the occasional western tourist amusing sights of the simple cultural heritage ?

Let's face it - consumerism combined with globalisation (or capitalism, advertised as western democracy) is an irreversible process. You cannot afford to have cheap shops in western Europe or USA without products made in the cheap east, and consequently, the east will grow. Romania will get capitalist, China will not stay as cheap, India will go for nuclear energy. All this will change lifestyles. And the taste of tomatoes. And the way the cows are milked.

If westerners bitten by the bug of pre-industrial nostalgia want to revist their (or their grandparent's) childhood, cheap airline tickets to the east will not help. Not for long.

  • 17.
  • At 03:49 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Irina wrote:

Mark, thank you for that wonderful story! I spent my childhood in a village in Transilvania, but my family and I left and now I am an attorney in the States. I go back home every couple of years. I usually get there exhausted and mostly bitter - due to my everyday life here - long hours at the office, sleepless nights, take out food, endless number of errands, and dealing daily with tough, efficient people whose understanding of life is limited to money, cost efficiency and profit. When I go back,my values get grounded again. Talking to the people there and seeing how they live makes me respect them and value their lifesytle. They work so hard everyday, but it is fruitfull work and they enjoy the rewards of their work. At the end of the day, they enjoy the absolutely wonderful food and the company of their families. People there have suffered so much, through WWII and fifty years of communism and though they are simple, they understand life, reality & values better than any corporate executive or attorney I know. I think their lifestyle is invaluable and should be protected, and I know their world is magical. Joe, consumerism does matter and it will make this world disappear so that is why an effort should be made to protect to protect it. Raw consumerism is inevitable because it creates wealth, but it also destroys. In western europe they have made great efforts to protect the little quaint shops, the narrow streets. Certain industries would disappear if governments would not make efforts to protect them. I do think most Parisians would object if one were to build an American style wal-mart in Paris, even if that meant that they would pay a lot less for life's necessities. Any by the way, these people all know their lifestyle is ancient and they do not want or welcome the western pesticides and other drugs to feed their animals and consequently their children, even if that means working much harder so that their tomatoes and milk does taste like nowhere else in the world.

  • 18.
  • At 08:32 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Ion wrote:

Yes. Now, depend what you want from life : to die with cancer from a very clean and nice packed food made in high technologized EU Industry, or to have a diarrhea from so called dirty food , but natural and very, very expensive in the western world... And by the way, this so called dirty food made in the dust, which "cannot remotely meet the standards of EU or anybody else for that matter" did not generate so many diseases in hundred and hundred of years as highly technologized food industry in 30-40 years. No? You hypocrites!

  • 19.
  • At 09:19 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Mat Hague wrote:

You're making the assumption that EU laws are going to be rigorously applied by the authorities - they haven't in Greece in 30 years and I would imagine that as these products don't enter mainstream food markets, the authorities will take a suitably voter orientated approach to implementing Community rules.

Relax, a social disaster is not in the making here.

  • 20.
  • At 10:11 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • G M Barabas wrote:

The EU food hygiene policy had gone overboard. I traveled in Transylvania this summer for three weeks, and saw promising organic chickens everywhere, in chicken runs, on roadsides, in fields. However, all the restaurants served tasteless chicken dishes. I learnt that they are prohibited by EU regulations to serve up local chickens and ALL chickens for the restaurants were imported battery chickens from BRAZIL!

Also, I had my family come here to Canada, British Columbia, for a family fishing holiday. We had similar gathering in the past many times. We caught lots of salmon, but now they cannot take more than one kilo of fish home for their own consumption! Most of us caught four salmon over 20 pounds, so one-kilo allowance is pitiful.

I wish one could opt-out of the smothering care of Brussels’s bureaucrats, and sign a form that allows one to choose taste and locally produced food over tasteless and manufactured food.

  • 21.
  • At 10:32 PM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Vincenz wrote:

Too much pathetic fatalism in many comments. People will find ways to preserve what they value. Specialty Markets for organic and similar food stuffs are growing very rapidly in the US and some parts of the West.
Organic - gastronomic tourism? Why not? Let the creative, positive thinkers work on these challenges. How many times have we heard "This will disappear, that will be replaced." People find a way to keep what they value. All is not lost. Chin up mate. A toast with that artisan, small batch brew, made with organic hops and barley.

  • 22.
  • At 12:39 AM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Meghan wrote:

I find it biased that someone would consider the farmer featured in the article as poor and ignorant. He seems to be a happy and well-adjusted person living a full and interesting life. I think many of us in the west are so far off the norm we have forgotten what normal is. In order for the planet to survive, we all need to move closer to a simple lifestyle, and to live more off the land. To say otherwise is to be a dinosaur. I think it is unfortunate that only comments leading us to think that consumerism and mass-marketing are desirable were highlighted in bold print in the article.

  • 23.
  • At 03:12 AM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • corina wrote:

Mark, thank you for the articol. The most difficult thing right now for the Romanians (by the way, I am Romanian) is to find the right balance between the EU farming rules and the Romanian local farming style which is in fact part of the Romanian heritage and history. I do hope however that those farmers from Transylvania will continue producing and selling their products in the same way (the milk does taste better if it is milked by hand but, of course, those civilized westerners will never try to drink it, for them it is poison!). And I do know that we are not the only ones in the EU to have this kind of farmers, Greece is yet another example.
Finally, for those who think that Mark picture shows a gypsy farmer: the people who work the land all day in the sun do get darker skins not only in Romania. :)

  • 24.
  • At 12:03 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

These people will have to be forced off the land so they can become factory or office fodder for big business.
They wont be able to match the EU hygiene laws put up by big business. You know the ones that closed down all the small abatoirs in the UK so disease ridden animals have to be driven for several hours so that disease spreads like wildfire.
As for 'consumerism' many in the UK are returning to farmers markets to buy 'artisan' products. Its a shame the small farmer is not allowed to create the sort of produce the consumer wants and is clearly available in Albania. But then those that preach the free market are those that try to prevent it.

  • 25.
  • At 02:33 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Alina wrote:

I wish you wrote the names of the places you went to in Transilvania. Maybe this doesn't make any difference for the British reader, more local information could be a lot to remember. But for Romanian readers, like me, it is nicer to actually read about the trips of Mark Mardell in, let's say: Tarlungeni, Cristian, Vistea, Margau, Rachitele, Leghia, Vintu de Jos, Rasnov etc than in vague Transilvania. The same comment goes to your article "Winds of change shake Romanian farms".

  • 26.
  • At 04:17 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Liviu wrote:

In response to the comments made at (#15). The particular family described by Mr Mardell has nothing to do with poverty or western liberalism. This is a way of life that these people are happy with. It is about simplicity and going back to the roots that is at stake here. Do they enjoy the availability of running water ? Yes, of course. Electricity ? Yes. Electronic gadgets that far too many of us got used to believe no one can live without ? Is the number of gadgets an indicator of poverty or happiness? I hope it is not and it never will...

  • 27.
  • At 05:07 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • David wrote:

It is sad that the laws of the EU may unwittingly destroy this way of life and the biodiversity of the region. Can we not protect the region by way of a national park-like status, or special European Heritage Region or something like that to protect it from "the rules" ?

  • 28.
  • At 09:23 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Ignace wrote:

Joe, you said it very well in post 16! All this is the result of the Western economic model, lead by the USA and UK and other major economies. It therefore continues to bother me that Mr. Mardell links all the perceived bad to th EU, just to please his Euro-sceptic audience in the UK. A very different report could have read something like: 'Imagine that in 15 years from now Romania will have made the same transformation that Ireland an Spain made in this timespan and most people will be saved from poverty and become wealthy citizens thanks to the western economic model for which the EU opened the doors to them.

  • 29.
  • At 01:13 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Alexander Mitchell wrote:

Well, I suppose it's part of world progress -if One can call it that. It's sad to see small family owned farm disappear. It was like that in the US. We've lost most of our small farms to large Corporations which in turn are controlled by other Corporate Groups. Prior to the rise of Corporations, I think that 75% of the population lived on family-owned farms. But just after the Second World War, small farms were slowly being bought out by Corporations involved in tract homes, Apartment Houses and Shopping Centers. I am old enough to remember the Family Owned Farm as well as the sale of fruits, nuts, jams and such on the sides of roadways adjacent to the farm. In all cases, the yearly harvest was sold in this manner by the Family. Finally, with laws initiated by Health Agencies, Environmental Groups and such, there are restrictions on how foods are harvested. So, Goodbye to the Family Farm. Your article is well done.

  • 30.
  • At 02:16 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Mihai wrote:

The people who buy the products know exactly how they produced and they accept it. If they don't know inform them.
Why do we need EU to change all of this.
They will ask them to pasteurize the heck out of their milk and use a big high tech contraption attaching to the cows udders to extract the milk. And why not homogenize the milk also so the milk can be stored longer and transported farther.
Who will be talking to the cows to let down of the milk and remain calm during the long and laborious hand milking process?

  • 31.
  • At 04:36 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Dan wrote:

The EU policies (I'm referring mostly to hygiene) are understandable for a regular community, but they don't quite apply for these people who have immune systems well adapted to their lifestyle. Even so, their products are far healthier than that artificial foodstuff you find in stores.

Like many wonders of this world, these communities will likely be slowly consumed by social and economical changes. Unfortunately their greatest enemy is the romanian people itself. We simply are unable to realize our own value, and on the other hand decisions here are made by astonishingly incompetent managers (yet another legacy of the communist era).

I personally grew in an environment like that and now that I look back to it I realize how fortunate I was.

  • 32.
  • At 02:02 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

It would be interesting to find out aboutfarms in Transylvania that have modernised to EC standards,are they flourishing,or are their exports being blocked and their domestic markets ruined by the dumping of food products from their Euro partners. It does apppear that the Romanian government has sold its most valable industry out in return for the questionable value of EC membership

  • 33.
  • At 06:50 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • cristianissima wrote:

My grandparents lived like this their entire life, no running water, sewage, gas or electricity. I can assure you they were better people, though rather uneducated, than 99% that shades the earth today. Simplicity and respect for life is what we're losing while falling under this over-technological propagation that we call our "life".
My best memory in this life are the 23 winter & summer holidays that I spent with my grandparents. My greatest regret is that they died 18 years ago. That life I miss. The life I lead now I hate almost every day for very different reasons. FYI, I am top specialist in top technological trade, I earn good money, I've seen a lot of this world and I have 18 years since I use the parasite king of shalownes that is called computer. Does this make me happier that sharing a clean life with my present family among quality people?

  • 34.
  • At 10:37 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Cornel wrote:

I worked for about 6 years in forest management in various parts of Romania, in the countryside, from Danube to mountains. It is a place on the mouth of heaven indeed.
However, big farms will find their way into Romanian Plain, as it was in the past and fortunately this time people will not be forced into laboring there, as was in the state farms run by communists or as Romanians and Gypsies alike were forced to do in the more distant past, breaking their backs to enrich a distant landowner. The biodiversity of the Romanian Plain, like the North American prairie, was already destroyied. You can find examples of the big bustard only in museums.
As for the hills and mountains, big farms will not take a hold because it is not economic and Romanians will go and buy their cheese, milk, sour cream, live chickens and other food stuff from the peasant markets, or from relatives living in the countryside, not giving a hoot over EU laws.

  • 35.
  • At 12:19 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Marian wrote:

Well I am amongst the privileged people that had spent the childhood summer hollydays with a grandpa in the most remote corner of Apuseni Mountains in Transylvania.

I traveled the world far and wide but the most beautiful place remains a mountain with 3 houses on top, surrounded by a deep forest and a valley with crystal sparkling water where I was running all day long an army 2 cattles, an untamed bull and 5 sheeps, while solving math problems for the next year Olympiad.

Equally, I ate in so many restaurants and I had the taste of world's most famous cuisines, but nothing compares to a milk of cow or sheep drank without boiling it, immediately after you yourself milked it. Or the flavors of potatoes (cooked with instruments that were used by my grangrangranpa) eaten with home made fresh bread and herbs that you cannot even find on the cities markets in Transylvania not even in those times.

I am now a programmer working in research and I feel so happy and at home with ever new technology, but nothing matched the happiness felt when solving a math puzzle under the candle light or going out in the night after reading from a good book at the same candle light and breathing the forest air and hearing its murmurs and watching a sky lit up with myriads of stars. Nothing equals the joy of buying two batteries after two weeks of no radio being able to listen again the World Footbal Championship.

I met people of many places and many occupations, but none were so dear to me like those highlanders, toiling in the afternoon sun and resting in the forest shadow. I learned their speech so different from the standard modern Romanian but so much more alive, I learned the customs, I scyted together with them and stood together with them till late night under the cricket chorus chatting about neighbors history, about ancient history, about their animals or future plans. You call them stupid and backward, I am amazed at their spirit. They know how to survive and thrive in those harsh conditions. They made wooden instruments of many uses then sell them by traveling from village to village all along Romania (and in the past Austrian Empire going as far as Vienna) and then coming home with many stories to tell during the winter snow. Many are succeeding to send their kids to the cities to be highly educated.

But life took me from those magic times. My Granpa died, I grew and started having less and less time. I abide some 5 years ago to a demand from my father to get reunited for a prayer in a small Orthodox Church on one of the valleys with our relatives.

And what i've seen .. has put poisoned arrows in my heart. The world has changed. A world that changed so slowly for thousands of years was long gone.

Electricity was given to even the most remote mountain .. but to what good? Only old people remained in the isolated houses in the mountains. Now most went to cities or left to work abroad. Those who remained have moved to the valleys where it is easier to work with mechanized trucks instead with hands. All villagers have bought TVs, computers for kids, they dream of going abroad for hollydays. They put pipes for water and sewage. They are no longer telling you funny stories about their neighbors, or old riddles full of wisdom. Instead they tell you how hard is it to make money, that they lack this or that home appliance or that they want to change again the furniture.

For 20 years after we had freedom all western media published was gypsies, orphans and miners invading cities. You have now discovered there is a funnier side to our country. I am sorry for you but IT IS TOO LATE TO SAVE SOMETHING. Romania will become just like any other developed society: Consume, Consume and again Consume. Time is not waiting your approval, and the comfort machinery that the West started is .. not slowly, FAST taking over the World. With everything included: mass subculture, mass consumption, mass killing, world climate change, extremism, lack of water reserves, weapons of mass destruction, global pandemics, lack of oil resources. I am not blaming you, your parents didn't CREATED the modern world don't have this vanity, they just STARTED it.

  • 36.
  • At 09:50 AM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • wrote:

I do wish, as someone that does not actually lead this life style on a daily basis, that all these things wouldn’t disappear or get altered, but I don’t know how this would be possible.

We do indeed, or many of us at least, view this life stile picturesque, living healthy, eat good food, enjoy the nature, no city related stress etc. but we may think this way because we are not the ones who lead this life.

It is not such an easy life, on the contrary. No running water?!!! just imagine carrying say 20-25 buckets of water daily for the cattle, feeding them 3 times a day, work the land year long, by hand, since not much else is available, so that you and the cattle have food to eat (and maybe sell something here and there). This lifestyle looks that good only from the outside, only if you experience it for a short time or not in its entirety.

People in the countryside only know this way of living, but that is not to say that they don’t whish to have all we (the city people) have: to be able to actually earn money and not just rely on the fruit of the land, take vacations, dress nicely, have all the gadgets, fancy cars, and so on (thinking this is what “good” life is). They do dream for their children a life in the city (and put all the effort into it), so that they won’t have to live the same way.

I don’t know how it would be possible for them to have access to the things they know they need without negative feedbacks on the “traditional” aspects of their existence. It is a bit confusing for them now, especially for the old people which make up a large part of the village population (the young emigrated). On the one hand they do want the change to ease their life, on the other it scares them because they don’t know how to go about it and what exactly it entails. Their next generations will do better, will be in the cities and still under the “city spell”, will forgo what they've had in the countryside building instead a big vacation house to fit the scenery.

  • 37.
  • At 01:33 PM on 20 Dec 2007,
  • Nat Page wrote:

Milking by hand is absolutely allowed under EU regulations. It is not helpful at all the the media is terrifying farmers with untrue stories like this.

I work with an NGO that is trying to help small farmers meet EU regulations in Romania, and you should know that the Romanian food hygiene agency (ANSVSA), the EU Delegation in Bucharest and a number of NGOs are cooperating to make it easier for small producers to stay in business and meet hygiene regulations.

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