Monday, August 01, 2005

Marosvasarhely: fel Sziget Festival

We loaded into the car and took off through the pine tree laced mountains and over the rough Romanian roads. Usually the air here is fresh and the summer tempuratures mild due to the elevation. This summer is different. And the temperature rose as we headed out toward Marosvasarhely. Dog meleg volt. It was "stinky corpse" hot, as the saying goes. It was about a 4 hour drive. No air conditioning. It is only 150 km, but the roads are filled with rustic wooden carts loaded 12 feet hight with hay. Suffering souls labor on bicycles between the villages. Large trucks travel at a snail's pace. Roma(Gypsy)families wave cars down and shout out their wares: freshly picked blueberries, rasberries, honey, onions and roka mushrooms (which are plentiful due to the torrents of rain that fell before we arrived). All of these obstacles require constant attention and endless perilous passing around curves and over hills. I am always grateful when we arive anywhere. I do everything possible to avoid driving myself. Instead I sit in the passenger seat and swear mildly or grunt meaningfully in the directon of the driver.

The festival, the "fel Sziget", was a smaller offshoot of a huge festival that will take place later this summer in Budapest. Typical summer stuff: food, tons of people, beer, swimming and concerts galore. No corn dogs; no root beer. Plenty of miccs (the beef/pork speciality) and gulyas.

People wore as little as possible--thongs and shorts so short that perfect little half moons of flesh peeked out the hems. I was told that the topless habit is new, however. It is seen as a Western European habit and has been taken up by the young and perky. There were many gothish types--wearing black, sporting cheaply dyed hair in strange colors and showing various body tattoos or piercings. Lots of families and young mothers with strollers. Teenagers roamed in packs. For the most part we parked in one place or the other and drank lots of cool beverages. I did learn how to play Imperial, a card game, and lost tragically. Two nights in a row we stayed out until three in the morning: we danced in the finally cool air to techno or Tom Waits.

Marosvasarhely is about 50% Romanian and 50% Hungarian and is larger than Csik. While you hear Romanian in the market in Csik, you rarely hear it on the street. In Marosvasarhely Romanian seemed more common and I had more difficulty ordering food or shopping. I know how to say thank you in Romanian, but that is it. Marosvasarhely has a large Orthodox temple that dominates the city center, while here in Csik the Catholic Church is the center of town. Yet Marosvasarhely had a McDonalds while Csik still does not.

On the drive home we decided to stop at a so-called medieval festival. It was decidely not medieval, but it was packed with lots of interesting art and folklore. And lo and behold I met a soul mate--an "instant poet" who was selling quatrains for 10,000 lei or 30 cents. He asked for a theme and produced the verse on the spot. The theme I chose, for no special reason, was the American Women. The verse is in Romanian, of course. The poet had dark eyes and was extremely amused that I used his service.

Other services for sell: kisses for a price, free hugs, marriage decress good for the duration of the festival, and a guy in Renaissance costume who had a knife stuff in his chest with fake blood who would let you take a photo with him. Cool. Mostly we were hot. Did I mention that his festival was in Segesvar, the home of Dracula's birth and childhood? Do I need to tell you about the Dracula t-shirts and coffee mugs?

We slept well last night; glad to be home. This morning I had my first tennis lesson of the summer. Our tennis teacher is nearly 70 and talks constantly, all in Hungarian. He has more energy than I can muster when I am fully caffeinated. He is a blur. Unfortunately so is my backhand.

I want to write more about what I am reading and have read, but that will have to wait as I am running of out time in the Internet cafe. I am almost finished reading Irving's Cider House Rules.

No comments: