It’s proven its worth: Sebastian heard about us and stayed some days… He left and told Scott who shared the information with Ovi and they both came (a 6 hour bus ride from Bucharest – stayed with us – then returned 6 hours back to Bucharest. Wow. It’s humbling)… Somewhere along the way Scott met Niles, shared the information with him. Niles met Irini, told her about us they both came for an extended visit (6 days and still here)… Irini told David who later followed them up and that’s where we now stand… Meanwhile the chain continues to spread the good-news about us and the positive truths about Roma.
Then came Pauline and Mum (cute mother and daughter traveling team from France), Sebi, the animated filmmaker (a lot of fun), university student Chloe researching her thesis on Roma society, Paco from Portugal, Daniel from Malaysia who heard about us and next day was at our door – two happy vegans, Sophie and Liza, which continues to be a head-scratcher for the highly carnivorous Roma (yet very manageable in our village of plenty fresh fruits and vegetables), a lovely French couple with Manouche ancestry (a big thrill for the Gabor) and finally Peter from Austria, curious about Roma culture and Albina from Romania (in four years this will be our second Romanian guest. We are proud, happy and honored to have Albina come spend time with Gabor and meet the Roma) … It had been a steady week and a half…And then “BOOM”, got an evening call from Julie and Nicolaus from France (super couple) and we had seven, our largest overnight group of 2014 (yet 2013 of 10 still holds the overnight record of single largest group) - and that’s where we are at now...
sky at Valenii... Fresh vegetables...
-Taking guests to Village Festival (music and beauty pagent)-
Next step…. Opening up Forest Gypsy program… This week Chuck is on the road to Brasov
We had a wonderful last week of July with a steady packed house with groups from France – China (Hong Kong) – more from France - plus an old friend Rowan from Netherlands (was here in 2011) back with friends and couple young musicians from Switzerland and Argentina. Special about this week was the opportunity to share with the guests the three main levels of the Romanian-Roma caste system (which the model of our program) visiting Traditional Roma Gabor – musicians – basket-makers – and the untouchable “Forest Gypsies”….
Here are some pictures of the fun and learning
July had been a strange mix of ups and downs for the Tzigania Project… Our steady progress was stymied by some attacks we received from the far-right anti-gypsy establishment. It knocked the wind out of us and blew us a little off course, but we rejuvenated. These struggles, combined with some internal conflict that often arise in our rather unconventional – controversial objectives of forming a balanced bridge across the divide between Roma/Gypsies and everyone else didn’t help much in what we are trying to achieve. Then the “shit hit the fan” and we had to deal with our own local “kanengo chor” (chicken thief). It took us off stride and so the early part of July was spent too often repairing and defending.
We – as always – persevered – and so we are now back on track welcoming a warm gust of guests that have been blowing into our hostel programs from Sweden – France – Belgium – Germany – England – Austria - Netherlands – Mexico – Texas - New York – with coming groups from China – Australia – Slovakia – UK - and a crowd of returnees from the Netherlands…
|On July 21st
we had our “BOMBA-BOMBA” event: 26 Portuguese visiting our music community for a
day of Gypsy music - dance - food and drinks
plans for Tzigania Project for the start of August.
We are excited!!
Check-back and see the development.
Our good friend Colin from Roving Romania was back, this time with Clare and Ann, two lovely Scottish ladies. The sunny day started with a pleasant sit-down chat with Gabor with coffee (best coffee in Transylvania) and cake
Followed by a Shatra visit at Tunti’s where they were greeted by a dance performance by our Tzigania Dancers
Arrived the much anticipated guest Ben from the UK, a student interested in documenting Roma at work for a school project. He stayed with us two days doing his work while having fun doing it before moving on to our sister community Basket-makers to continue his study
Ben enjoying the show: Tzigania Dancers rehearsing
We received a call from Rebekah and Bisente driving across Romania. They had heard about our project from an old friend Simina (2012 visitor and also a first; Simina was the first Romanian visitor to our project). Could they come by… “Come! The gates are open”
They arrived late, after 10, and hungry. Over the steaming dish of shak te mas they explained their tour from Spain - across Europe all the way to India meeting Roma along the way – a kind of reverse diaspora. We are happy to be part of the amazing journey: A Long Way to Justice: A Route to the Roma Grassroots
It was late, nevertheless, we went by Tuntsi’s place to just see if she was still awake – she was and happy to have us. Then came the other Gabor and we drank, we ate, we danced, shared stories and song: in Calo, tziganeste, and a couple American (Rebekah has a beautiful voice).
The next morning was busy with more family visits and then – they were off – back on the road….
Had an unexpected arrival of Adam from Poland joined by a couple from France (Robin and Sorina) that he met in the city, heard that he was going to the Gypsies and followed him along. Robin and Sorina had already booked rooms in the city but came for the Gypsy meal. For our vegetarian friends our Gypsy chef cooked up a non-meat version of the popular Gypsy dish “shak te mas” that instead of the mas (meat) was a blend of cabbage, pepper, rice and fresh eggs straight out of the chicken (the shells were still warm)…
The big bowl was completely devoured
After a couple glasses of beer we made our way for dessert to Tuntsi’s house where it again turned into a Gypsy party. Pictures worth a 1000 words…
Carmen, swept up in the swing of the party and the “live and let live” gypsy lifestyle – gave in to her “tuica” urges… By morning she wasn’t feeling too well. After breakfast had been served she collapsed on the bed and decided then that life was over for her. She called Adam to her bedside, took his hand and in a faint voice, barely audible, said to him, “I am dying though I am so happy you came. Please, please, I want you to come to my funeral… bring to me one red rose”
Much anticipated Stephane and MaryAnn from Canada arrived.
Stephane and MaryAnn joined us for a day visit to the always fun and exciting Basket-maker community where there was plenty of dance – basket-making – good food and drink (Gypsy tocanitsa) - and then a wedding:
Chuck and Carmen finally officialized it; here with the Gypsy priest
Our Netherland family departed - and the room was quickly filled by Roccio from Mexico and Iulia from Austria… Carmen served-up Gypsy sarmale (large – heavy on the meat )… you’ve never really had sarmale until you’ve had gypsy sarmale…
Tsunti, in typical Gypsy fashion of giving (they’re always giving gifts regardless of the little or nothing they have) – presented little Lilly a baby chick from the brood warming themselves under the stove (the mama chicken wasn’t too happy). It was a welcoming shock to the guests and they left us with a new itsy-bitsy member of the family – certainly more than they had come expecting…
Our old friend Colin Shaw of Roving Romania dropped by for a visit with Mike and Sheila Preece from New Zealand for a coffee and cake at Gabor and the chance to interact with the generally “off-limits” Roma Traditionalists. That was our “learning” portion of the day that concluded with some “fun” at the “shatra” (Gypsy camp) where guests can roll up their sleeves, enjoy a couple beers, chow down some freshly made, village “clatite” (Gypsy dessert) and then work it off with some Gypsy dance…
At Tzigania – you never know what to expect and quite unexpectedly we were joined by neighboring clan who heard the music and came out to enjoy.
“Mike and Sheila got the Gypsy spirit”
A message from Tsuntsi….
“Thank you very much for the gift. I went to the market with Carmen and I bought this dress. I thank the guests and Mr. Colin. “Ferila tu o del” (God bless you with good health)
Our new friend Alexandra Buruiana of Aldo Travel Agency (Bucharest) brought Cynthia and Harry of California to Gabor for Coffee and cake where we had a lively discussion on a variety of Gabor - Roma and “Gypsy” related topics….
Unfortunately it was a wet, rainy day and full of village mud (the kind of mud that creeps up the side of your shoe and keeps going). Cynthia and Harry were real troopers and joined us for a tour of the tzigania community for a glimpse of the surrounding culture that produces such soulful music.
May 21We opened 2014 with a “bang” – seventeen lively, inquisitive guests from Canada hosted by Atlantic Tour (Bucharest) for a coffee - cake, sit down and chat with the Gabor clan and absorb the do’s and do-not’s of orthodox Roma culture
The unique feature of “meeting the Gabor” offers outsiders a peek inside the generally closed doors of the Traditional Roma for an unfiltered Q and A from their own mouths. ChuckTodaro, our resident Gadjo Gypsiologist is at hand for filling in the background and all-around helping out with the understanding of this complex people.