Where time has no end
Where time has no end
Land of Wood” it was once called, and with good reason. Around 1900 about
90% of the whole Maramures region was still covered with forests. Today
this small enclave in northern Romania is one of the most isolated regions
of Europe and, and even within the country is considered to be poor and
backward. It is said that the clocks here measure not time, but eternity.
who go into the villages near the Ukrainian border find themselves transported
to another epoch. There is hardly ever a car to be seen; instead bicycles,
oxcarts and horse-drawn wagons set the rhythm of day-to-day life. In these
remote areas people keep to themselves, far away from the rest of the
world, as has been the case for centuries. Even during the Ceauşescu
years Maramures remained isolated: The villages were so hard to get to
that collective farms didn’t seem to make sense there and the farmers
were allowed to keep their own land and cultivate it as they saw fit.
To be sure, they had to turn over a large part of their harvest to government
authorities, but otherwise they were left alone. This can still be felt
today. The simple life of the rural population – almost everyone here
lives from agriculture – is dictated by the change of the seasons and
a myriad of traditions that are passed on in almost unaltered form. And
this happens despite the fact that nowadays radios and television sets
are finding their way into the houses and cottages, and the first tourists
with curious glances are beginning to stroll through the villages.
the people of Maramures don’t let this influence or bother them. They
are still self-sufficient and work hard to get by. Many women still make
the clothes that they and their families wear, and many an older villager
still wears the traditional shoes of pig leather, the so-called “Opinci.”
Clothes are washed in the river – summer and winter.
A rural idyll? It casts long shadows. Jobs in the local area have become rare. In recent years most of the nearby mines, previously one of the most important income sources for the inhabitants of Maramures, have been closed because they were no long profitable. This has been especially hard on the young people, who are now forced to earn their living in other regions of Romania. Many of them hire themselves out as seasonal workers and come back home in late autumn loaded down with corn, sugar and rice – the goods of daily life, which they energetically barter away all winter long. Others never return home.