Eastern Europe

Ondrej:

In spring 2012 we got to Hungary and hitch-hiked to Czech villages in south-west Romania. These villages were established in 19th century by Czech immigrants coming from various parts of former Bohemia and the Czech rural culture of those times has been well preserved there. We went there to study this culture, to learn about self-sufficiency and to help the locals with their work.

These villages are dying out. Most of their inhabitants are now old and gradually loosing power to carry on their lifestyle. We got to the village called Sumice and without any previous contact with the people we settled there. We didn’t even know about the existence of this village, but as soon as we got there we fall in love with it.

The village was on the top of a hill surrounded by fields and deep forests with only one little road that was concealed just couple of years ago. This road is connecting Sumice with the nearest Romanian village 6 km far. The air was fresh and clear and the atmosphere of this Czech village was tangibly different from the surrounding Romanian space…

We kept visiting people and talking to them and soon we got their trust. After a while they borrowed us a little hut next to a forest and later even a house in the village. We were helping them in their fields and houses, learning about the old ways of life, farming and gathering knowledge and experiences. We also participated and observed their religious practices of Catholic Christianity and I became an organ player in local church. We stayed with them altogether for four months and at the end of our stay we made a performance of PSČ” for them in local school.

In between of our stay in the Czech village we also made a three months trip through Romania, Bulgaria and north Greece, to explore the roots of Christianity. While Fukiko was helping in one organic farm in Bulgaria, I stayed couple of weeks in Orthodox monastery in Transylvania, central Romania. I followed four to five hours of prayers everyday, worked with monks in the monastery farm and tried to learn about the fundamentals of Orthodox faith.

After the monastery I joined Fukiko in Bulgaria and we travelled to Seven Lakes, place located high in the mountains by the side of the highest peak of Balkan. It is the most sacred place and a pilgrimage site of an original Bulgarian religious movement called Universal White Brotherhood. Very beautiful and strong place, I have to say…One forgets about time there completely… No wonder wonder this place is considered sacred.

From there we trapped the steps of Saint Paul through north Greece and I stayed for some days on Mount Athos, the main spiritual centre of Orthodoxy. And while I was tracking there from monastery to monastery, participating prayers and talking to monks, Fukiko was waiting me on an island nearby – for about eight centuries no woman has entered Mount Athos and is still not allowed to.

 

Fukiko:

It was in Bulgaria, after we just crossed the border from Romania…

I liked Latin people of Romania who has open heart and direct expressions… Crossing border from Romania to Bulgaria was somewhat darker and less exciting for me… Perhaps because of the cloudy weather or perhaps because we were dropped just behind the border in the middle of road… We didn’t know which way to go, didn’t have enough food to eat, no money exchanged to

Bulgarian Leva.

That cloudy day we spent just there outside the border, under the mulberry tree . Luckily, it was full of riped fruits…

Meeting with people of Bulgaria, the meditarian slav people, especially coming to them from Romanians(VERY different from Romanians), appered to me that they’ve got a wired mixture of characters. It looked to me that their charactalistic is more complex and not that welcoming for me that day.

Somehow the very first day in the country was not so pleasant. But I wished that it will get better when we will get to the town next day.

Next day we arrived to quite a big border town which had several banks and shops and even supermarkets. We wanted to exchange money quickly and get some nice lunch for we walked all morning to get there. An hour after, we were shut mouths looking down with no power, just standing outside the last bank we visited, and the last one from whole town. Non of the banks could exchange my Japanese travelers-cheques into Bulgarian Leva with reasonable rate.

For 3 minutes, we stood there without a word. We were hungry, we had no money to go anywhere else and we had no other choice than just stand there and say nothing.

All of sudden, somebody tapped my shoulder from behind. Almost jumping I turned my head naturaly, holding my backpack tighter and thinking what worse is going to happen to me.

There stood a lady in a white nice looking jacket. She, instead of stucking her hand into my backpack and stealing money (well, there was non anyway, as you know), she put her hand into her bag and gave 40 Leva into my hand. 40 Leva was about 20 Euros! She said something but I could understand only two words from it: “Sofia” and “Banka”. She was suggesting me to go to capital city with this money and visit bank there to exchange. She then just turned back and very quickly dissappeared. We stood there another 3 minutes watching the direction the white jacket dissappered, with 40 Leva in my hands and with tears falling from my eyes.

After 3 minutes I said: “I think I just met God” and my partner replied me with a smile..

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Ondrej:

 

When we finished our trip through Greece and Bulgaria we moved to Slovakia. We crossed the country from west to east with the aim to explore more about the Catholicism and to visit some members and places of my Slovakian family. And apart from that we planned to visit and to establish connections with some traditional flute makers as I have been playing Slovakian flutes for more than six years. We were stopping in churches and monasteries and talked to catholic priests and monks. In eastern Slovakia we even stayed overnight at Catholic university having discussions with the main priests of that institution.

And we also found couple of flute makers, stayed with them, made performances of Tadysho for them and with them and then we returned to the Czech village Sumice through Ukraine and north Romania.

Sumice is now becoming something like our basement. We repaired the hut by a forest and plowed fields and made it ready for slower life on one spot. It happened in spring 2014. But in summer and autumn of the same year, we still made one more important and probably for long time last trip. We bought a horse and we walked for about 400 km through Carpathian mountains from Sumice to Brasov area. We had no destination, no plan. Just direction. We didn’t aim to get somewhere or get something. This travel was not anymore about getting knowledge or experiences. It was “slowing down trip”, “cleaning trip”… We just wanted to walk in the mountains and be as free as possible. To pray, to live, to exist. And it was a great transition to a new step of our inner transforming process that is leading us towards deeper connection with the world around and inside us and towards a lifestyle where process as intention of an activity dominates over effect. Where the being itself is sufficient and satisfying purpose of life. Not trying to get somewhere, not trying to have something. Just open, be and go…

 

 

 

Detva Monastery Romania Seven Lakes Blugaria Banat Sumice spring Fujara