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New Europe

Day Fifty-six: Viseu de Sus, Maramures

All Soul's Day in Ieud 
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The graves are immaculately tended by the widows of the village.
Michael Palin - New EuropeWe're invited back to Filimon's house for a meal and, as it turns out, a party. It has one of the increasingly few all-wood exteriors. Ionut tells me that in Ceausescu's time wooden buildings were discouraged and people persuaded to replace them with brick walls and aluminium roofs. The people up here are always the last to change, he says. They think of themselves as the original Romanians, because when the Romans came and colonised this part of Europe, the indigenous Dacians fled up here to Maramures, where they remained unconquered.

As we sit around the table in a kitchen filled with cigarette smoke and musicians, a hard local cheese is produced, to be eaten with lard, onion, bread salt and washed down with palinca, the all-powerful spirit which is rapidly becoming Mother's Ruin for me. This is followed by sausage and mash with samale, stuffed cabbage leaves, and a sort of polenta-like corn mush.

Filimon's wife, marvellously placid throughout, benevolently produces dish after dish, whilst her mother, who must be in her eighties, fetches fuel for the wood-burning stove. Ionut fetches beer and wine. Then cigarettes are stubbed out and the music begins. Good lively folk stuff almost completely ruined for me by the red-shirted, well-oiled drummer sitting next to me who hits the drum more violently and less rhythmically the more he has to drink, accompanying each strike with a manic high-pitched laugh.

I try a humorous response, with over-the-top wincing every time he hits it.

This only encourages him to thump it harder and harder, until my wincing becomes real. Then he really laughs.

He rolls his eyes, and with a nudge and accompanying wink, he comes out with a line that has everybody falling about, and which poor Ionut has to translate.
'He says he can play the drum, and at the same time love a woman.'

Now it's my turn to laugh.
All Soul's Day in Ieud 
click to enlarge 
file size
The graves are immaculately tended by the widows of the village.
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  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day Fifty-six: Viseu de Sus, Maramures
  • Country/sea: Romania
  • Place: Ieud
  • Book page no: 137

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  • Eating
  • Day 5 
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day 3 
  • Full Circle
  • Day 6 
  • Pole to Pole