28 June 2007

Sighet Marmatiei, Romania

Oh how I loved being in Romania. The people were so beautiful, and it's probably one of the last places in Europe where cows still create traffic jams. I think cows creating traffic jams are a good thing.

The road to the market, which I found by accident, but was quite tickled by.

NB the mountain of paprika. As far as food is concerned, I ate quite a bit of polenta in Romania.
Polenta is love.

The next four photos are of the village of Bistra. Bistra is a village near Sighet where a multinational task-force went to visit and distribute Rusyn propaganda, to great success. We did not de-Ukrainianize the villagers, we just informed them that they had a choice, and that one of their choices was to identify as Rusyn. Overall, it went very well.

Back to Sighet:This is the birthplace of Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, who wrote the book Night, which is a very good book. He is the man who coined the term 'holocaust'.

In the Ethnographic Museum, a mixed-media accoutrement to the Bethlehem Play.

The Prison Museum and Memorial/Museum of Arrested Thought. This was an exceptionally powerful museum. It was established at the same time as the museums at Normandy and Auschwitz, and almost every cell of the three floors is a different exhibit about how people were suppressed during communism, mostly in Romania but of course actually all over Eastern Europe, which they mention.

Over 8000 Romanians were killed in prisons or as the result of forced labor during the Communist era. The number is well over 8000, which is all they have records for. Nonetheless, too many people died. The photos help really make it almost better than words, because the eyes are the window to the soul.

This is a model of a ballot box used in the 1946 elections. It has a false bottom, which is how the communists came to power by being democratically elected.

One of the cell doors.

Sculpture garden out back, behind the actual memorial, which has some Maya Lin style to it.

In case anyone thought I may have been uncomfortable, this was the view from my balcony in the hotel. Thanks to whoever arranged it, it was super-pleasant.

The car ride from Sighet to Budapest took around 5 hours, I think. Maybe 4. We took road 19 from Sighet over the mountain pass to Satu Mare, crossed at Petea, and then got to Budapest however was fastest.

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