Europe’s Thriving Peasant Culture – Botiza, Romania

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Church bell amid sunny hills. Birds chattering, buzzing bee, a cowbell clanging. So few sounds beyond a single, beautiful bell.

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Botiza village from a nearby hill.

In Botiza  – and across the Maramures – are Europe’s last thriving peasant communities.

Living as the rest of the continent did, 100-200-300 years ago. Fields are stilled cropped by hand with scythes, hay gathered with wooden pitchforks, and transport is mostly horse and cart.

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Across Maramures there are 100s churches with their characteristic tall steepled towers. This one was built in 1694.

Seemingly the only modern vehicles moving are occasional domestic tourists on a weekend cruise of the countryside, stopping for 10 minutes to check-out the church then go.

One such visitor got out of her car as I was sitting at the outdoor table of the village shop, having a beer, and asked me in Romanian for directions. She was somewhat dumbfounded to encounter a foreigner.

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Locals of Botiza

Infact, this how I got to Botiza, hitchhiking with a young couple out on weekend drive from Bucharest.

He was very chatty, his cute GF very quiet. He spoke Romanian and Spanish, as he had worked some years in Spain. I fumbled to remember enough Spanish from trips years ago in Latin America. But we managed to chat on a simple level.

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Botiza and infact the entire region is a very religious community; Sunday church service is a big social occasion, lasting well into the afternoon.

Transport is very slight in this region, maybe one mini-bus daily in and out and going about 30 km to the next major town.

Earlier in the day, I had visited a monastery. But then sat stuck for some time on a road without public transport.

Yet the first ride took me all the way to Botiza; very lucky, since it was well off the main route. And it was this couple who also found me a local homestay, before continuing their trip.

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Traditional houses in the region have huge, ornately carved gates, with shingle roof. Carvings include: suns, wolves teeth and coils of rope for protection of the family

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