Friends leave, friends go. Only one single person is left, far from home.
Others left, but also stay near. The friendship lasts, no reason to fear!
No longer is he at unease, after all these months, he found his peace.
His memories are still alive… it was like yesterday, the day I arrived.
He does not wish to go. Now, his thoughts are subject to change.
Romania is no longer strange, it is the place we now call home!
Weeks have passed since the latest entry of our weekly blog. At this point, only one person is left to write. The apartment is empty, most of the volunteers have already left. More than one month ago, Angelika left, a week later, Barbara and Maëliss left. Jonathan and Cecilia lived together for almost three weeks. These weeks sealed their friendship and fostered an even stronger connection with Baia Mare: a city in full bloom. If only the other ladies had been here to witness this spectacle with us!
The last weeks were amazing, but neared their inevitable ending. Cecilia’s last week had arrived. She did, however, not leave, before living a brief adventure. Two different things happened. First of all, she fell ill. Disturbances in the stomach made her last set of days hard and saying goodbye to Baia Mare was all the more sad: how does one say ‘goodbye’, without a goodbye-diner? What made matters even more concerning was the arrival of an Italian guest. Cecilia’s father accompanied Cecilia during her last two days in Baia Mare. He was there to comfort his daughter back to good health. What he found in this city was very familiar to what he was used too. He was struck by the good weather, the countless Italian pizza restaurants and the delicious Italian ice-cream. For a moment it seemed like Cecilia and her father were in Italy already.
Cecilia left on Friday morning, leaving the house for the last man standing.
At last, Jonathan was alone and a long and lonely weekend was his prospect. How was he going to survive this? No person will grow from loneliness. Jonathan tried to actively pursuit the lessons of life. He did not do this in Baia Mare. He spent one long weekend in Romanian Moldavia, visiting Iasi and the monasteries of Bucovina in a few days. The journey was long and extremely bothersome. Curiosity and persistence made it nonetheless possible to enjoy every second of the journey and long for the new adventures to come. His ten-hour bus ride was furthermore made more bearable by the wonderful view he had from his position. The landscapes and views of mountains, valleys and forests left deep imprints in his memory and will definitely be missed when he returns home.
The weekend in the east was spectacular as it was diverse: he wandered in the cosy city of Iasi, with its large population of students. It was amazing to see and to speak with the enthusiastic young adults and to share with them the curiosity for the new and unknown. The entrance in Bucovina, in the city of Suceava, was entirely different. The city seemed almost asleep and the arrival in this place could barely mirror that of Iasi. Luckily, this did not prevent enjoyment to take over. Even in a more quiet city lay adventures ahead: interesting conversations, serene city walks and odd stories to fill the travellers mind and to lay the foundation for the travel that was still ahead.
The Sunday was without doubt the most touristic day. This day brought Jonathan to the heart of Bucovina in a quest for the region’s famous painted monasteries. Some of them were indeed easy to reach. Jonathan found the end of his day in Gura Humorului, a city made out of hotels and pensions, and from here could reach the famed monasteries of Humor and Voroneț. The devoted kings and princes of medieval times built these magnificent buildings in praise of God. The combination of these cultural landmarks and the green Moldavian hills gave the impression of majestic splendour and extreme beauty. After his visits to the monasteries, he did therefore spend his time in the hills surrounding Gura Humorului in a search for silence.
The last day of Jonathan’s four-day-journey centred around one single objective. It was time to get home and, even more important, to find a good way to do this. Tuesday had been announced to be a busy day and it was therefore very important that the last of the EVS-volunteers arrived early enough in Baia Mare to have a good night’s rest. The solution was found in hitchhiking. Jonathan had been hitchhiking with the ladies so often, why would it not work now? One merely has to stand at the side of the road and wait. Waiting never takes long. Wait five minutes… a truck driver stops, speak with him for an hour, say ‘la revedere’ and repeat. Jonathan managed to reach Maramureș with only two drivers: a truck driver brought him to a village close to his starting point. A Romanian-Ukrainian family was willing to pick him up from this village and drive him all the way to Sighetu-Marmației. From this city, a bus was the best option.
The journey from Bucovina to Maramureș seemed endless. For six hours did Jonathan sit in a car with a Romanian-Ukrainian family. Wasn’t this the perfect occasion to improve the most necessary skills in the Romanian language? The adventure in Romania was, and is, almost over, but the connection to this large and beautiful country does only grow stronger and stronger. In his last day of travel, Jonathan learnt a lot of new Romanian words and could remark that it became easier and easier to speak with Romanian sentences.
When no words were spoken, the landscape was admired. Only on the first sight, one could compare Maramureș and Bucovina; both regions feature stretched forests and are seeded with hills. At closer comparison, however, the regions are entirely different. Bucovinian villages are not the same as their Maramureșian counterparts. The hills of Maramureș show a degree of inaccessibility that is incomparable to Bucovinian hills. The trees in the regions wear different colours green. The churches in the villages are certainly not the same. Bucovina is, like Maramureș, unique.
Suddenly, it was Tuesday. One large apartment, five empty beds. The mornings are more silent than ever. The afternoons are spend away: what is left of the cosiness, the ties of friendship that once gave shape to our beautiful living space? It is best to spend the last few days outside the apartment and take care of the last necessary businesses. And businesses… these do certainly have a place in this final week. Soon our EBook will be published. School visits do still take place: Jonathan does now seek contact with the youngsters to talk about the benefits and miracles of the EVS service.
A few more days… only a few more days until the last YMCA EVS-volunteer leaves Baia Mare. How will these days be filled? One last weekend in Baia Mare, then it is definitely over. Keep an eye on the future, but do not forget about the present! We urge to keep track of the time that is still at hand. The days are still beautiful and the weather is inviting you to get out and make something of your day. Things have to be wrapped-up, final evaluations have to be done and the whole apartment is expected to be clean when the last person closes the door behind him. Then, the great outdoors waits to be admired, friends are waiting for you to meet them. People count on your appearance and like to see you in a good mood. They wait for you, to make the new day a better day.
Herein lies the greatest task ahead: finishing the project, cleaning the apartment, getting rid of all the memorabilia that are still to be found around this place. And then… saying goodbye and promise to see Baia Mare in the future.
How to survive the last week, all alone:
- Go to the gym.
- Keep writing and publishing blogs.
- Travel, if you still have the opportunity to do so.
- Seek contact with other volunteers, say goodbye to every single one of them.
- Clean your apartment for one last time (seriously).
- Gaze into the future and hold confidence that all will be better than initially expected.