Mural 4 in Moldavia, RomaniaI came to Romania with a coworker, Eileen, to paint murals. It's what my student said when he made the initial contact. It's what I said in every email message that I sent to Romania as plans were made. However, somewhere between my invitation to come paint and the actual planning for my stay in Romania a vital piece of information was lost. The woman who made my plans was never told anything about murals. She'd made arrangements for nice hotels, delicious meals, and private drivers around Romania. I was even given 500 Euros (nearly $750) as spending money. And, we were off to Transylvania for a holiday. I still don't know how that happened. Things like this never happened to anyone else I know.
Anyway, every stop of the way, we asked about murals. However, we always received the same answer. There just wasn't enough time to make the arrangements. It took time to get official permission to paint something in a school, hospital, or orphanage. They weren't given enough time to make these arrangements. So, I had the choice of leaving early or enjoying an all expense paid, three week holiday in Romania.
I'm not stupid.
The medieval cities we visited were amazing, but it was the village of Poienile Izei that captured my heart. It was truly stepping back in time and the people were so genuinely friendly. I wanted to get out of the village and visit a farm. (I guess it's genetic. Both of my parents were farmer's kids.) The owner of our guest house said we could go visit his 73 year old mother's farm. He didn't mention just how far up the mountain it was, but I was thankful for the invitation. The job of tour guide fell on the shoulders of Pertu, the member of the family who spoke the most English. I'm not sure it was what a 14-year-old boy wanted to do on his afternoon, but he was a gracious host.
So was grandma!
She lived up the side of the mountain in a two-room cabin that was eighty years old. She was definitely a creative woman. The house was filled with her embroidery work. In the main room, walls and ceiling both were stenciled. She did what she could to make her humble abode warm and charming. And, she certainly succeeded.
Ever the gracious hostess, Grandma gave us some of her home brew. Now, my drink of choice has always been Coca Cola. I lived in Belgium, known for the best beer in the world, and I wouldn't touch the stuff. And, here I was in granny's charming mountain cottage with a glass of her home brewed whiskey in front of me. It was the local favorite pronounced "horinca" (fire made from plums). The region was famous for it and it seemed that most households made their own. Grandma had over 100 liters in her second room. I didn't see the barrels on the first visit to the room because of the embroidery. Then, she took us out to the barn where there were huge barrels for distillation. So much work for something that tasted so awful. How did I know it was awful? Well, I grew up with a mother who instilled in me the concept of eating what you are served when a guest. In this case, I drank what I was served.
Mom would be proud. My friends were shocked.
Obviously, I did find a mural to paint in Romania. After "touristing" for two and a half weeks, I was brought to the village described earlier. When I visited the home that was made for the orphan children, I pointed to a wall in their dining room. I said, "This wall needs a mural." Nobody had to get permission for that one. So, in the last possible two days that I could paint in Romania, everything fell into place and the mural was completed.