After we spend our long weekends travelling in Maramureș and discovering Budapest, we returned to Baia Mare. After four days of separation we were back together; everyone except for Juan. He was still in Barcelona, and would remain there for the entirety of the week.

Our week promised to be a stressful one. Our first day of work coincided with snow and brought us to shuffle our way to the office. Walking to the various schools of Baia Mare was a tough activity, even more than the activities themselves! The activities in schools were cool, but were nothing compared to the consultation- meetings we attended in the Roma- communities of Baia Mare. We walked past the buildings in which numerous Roma- families resided. No less did we see the notorious wall that serves to separate the Roma- flats from the nearby streets. We visited these communities on two separate occasions. On Wednesday and on Friday we sat together with Roma youngsters, and discussed with them their future in Baia Mare. We did also have the opportunity to meet with various volunteers of the Young Roma Maramureș Association. Altogether did we meet lots of interesting people.

Moreover, these two meetings gave us inspiration for the workshops we have to organise. These workshops will take place in the next year. So guys… stay tuned… our workshops are coming to town!

Even though the weekend had arrived, eager did grow. The weekend was highly anticipated. Saturday evening was the day of the Volunteers’ Gala of Baia Mare. Especially the ladies were very eager to dress up and to look splendid during this prestigious event, but no less the only man in the group sought an opportunity to shine. The gala was an interesting experience. Our good friend Dan Carpov hosted the evening and awarded our organisation the prize for Participation and Volunteering. And this evening had so much more to offer to us! We did listen to traditional Christmas Carolling and witnessed traditional Hungarian dances, performed by Hungarian dancers.

Even after the festivities ended, the highlight of the gala had not yet been reached. It was only after we left the stage and entered in the lobby, that we found what we had hoped for. Food was free, and we did eat it with great taste.

Perks of the Volunteers’ gala: Free Food!

At last, Sunday arrived. It was time for our grand voyage. This day we did our first trip as a group, as we travelled around Maramureș in a bus. It was interesting to see how tradition and everyday reality blended, as we visited a traditional distillery of palincă in Sîrbi. At a close distance, we visited the monastery of Barsana, completed by a beautiful blue sky. For lunch we stopped in Sighet for a traditional Romanian meal. In this restaurant we warmed up, and regained the strength we needed to enter the prison museum of Sighet. Unfortunately, we had only one hour to wander through the museum, this was not enough to understand the complexity of communist history in Romania. We were nonetheless very impressed when we left the museum and definitely want to come back in the future. We also visited Săpânța, with its Merry Cemetery and its colourful church. This cemetery is Unesco World Heritage and it was great to see it with our own eyes.

Altogether, this day was an odd mix of traditional palincă and old orthodox churches was especially inspiring, and gave us the strength to face the new week with new energy and strength.

How to survive a looooong week

  • Drink palinka
  • Enjoy free food
  • Sleep, every now and then
  • Morning in Presco, afternoon in Mazo, evening in LogOut.