Volunteering Stories: 26 years of my life. Be careful. – by Laura

‘Neaţa! My name is Laura Vagnoni and I’m a Italian volunteer.

Geta is waiting for me with hot coffee and an omelette with cheese and salami. She invites me to smoke a cigarette on her terrace. Then I get in her grey Octavia and she takes me to the station. She hugs me, we wish each other the best and I get on the bus to go home: Baia Mare.

Drum bun!

The bus runs calmly through many landscapes. An old man celebrates my mock marriage with another boy on his way to Baia Mare. The forests of the Carpaţi are magical, sometimes green sometimes colored by autumn. Why is there not the usual traditional Romanian music, but Depeche Mode?

The horses with carts on the street, the storks’ nests now empty, the cows on the road, the cows on the beach, the street dogs don’t surprise me anymore. I look back over the last few months and I can see so many flowers, so many dinners, so many Timişoreana, so many buses, hitchhikes, trains, lethal glasses of palinca. New people arrive and others leave… “Todo cambia” … I remember the trekking with Andre and her smiles, the delicious breakfasts on the terrace of Republicii, Copalnic, Miss Emilia, the schools, the children, “ţara ţara vrem ostaşi”, the olympic games, the trivial day, the schedules, the “regulululului”, Uly who turns on the light to kill mosquitoes while I try to sleep, the cucarachas, the wasps, Maria’s tortillas, Lala’s wheels, the trip to Ukraine, Rùben who says goodnight to all and good morning, the verb “reventar” accompanied by big laughs and pillows, the arrivals of my loved ones from Italy, Andrea who communicates with everyone in different languages, “Ojalá pase algo que te borre de pronto”, Rùben who knows Spanish and Nico who also understands it, Sandri who is also magical for making a boiled egg, foda-se, the incomparable goodness of Elena and Tomas, the famous lake party, I even slept in the end, the lakes, the barbecues, the stink, the tent, the slime, the sweet dogs, the cats, Rubèn disguised as Sasuke, the teacher Laura, the imitations, the cakes, the lasagna, pasta or rice? Pasta normally, “Calma caralho”, the walks to the office, Sulina, chats between women, hide and seek, Log out, la Moustache and la bolera, “Asquerosa!!”, “Tus labios pa mi turu turai”, Ben’s playlists, el bar de la mujer maja who is never there, the kebabs, the cigarettes, “Romania is my country!”, the traffic lights, “Verde, verde que te quiero verde”, Gabriela and Cosmina, the ghosts, Farcaşa, oh I twist my ankle, oh I twist my rib, “You are f***ing stupid!”, the theme nights, “Que guapa eres”, “facem un cerc copii?”, “Bine aţi venit” sometimes yes, sometimes no, plăcinte and pancove, the kindness of some, the rudeness of others, the fields exterminated with wind turbines, Avalon, Rumapoly, we still have only 3, 2, … weeks.

I am not surprised anymore, but I caress these memories feeling a premature nostalgia.

The song changes:

The kisses of the sun
Were sweet I didn’t blink
I let it in my eyes
Like an exotic dream
The radio playing songs
That I have never heard…

Up up, down down, up.

The forests become thick, the mountains obscure the sun. We also cried and were unhappy. The tide rises and falls as always, we fly high in the skies and then sometimes we fall. We cried for love, for having to say goodbye to people, for the weights we carry from home. We gritted our teeth to hear certain mental closures and for the disillusionment, frustration and for the disorganization of what should be an organization. We had to ask ourselves “what we do here? What is the meaning of our projects and our activities? Are we leaving or are we staying?”  And not everyone answered: “I stay”. Asì es.


“La” is not anymore a feminine definite article, in the Romanian language it announces a destination to be reached. Mergem la Baia Mare, la Cluj Napoca, la casa. Let’s go home, yes, this time for real. Two weeks away, everything is the same, everything is different. Whether we want it or not, whether we are satiated or not, there will be a new beginning, perhaps better, perhaps worse. We will remain with our fears, our unresolved problems, new jobs to look for, new places that we want to know, the dreams of yesterday, the reality of tomorrow.

La revedere

Revedere is a place without latitude and longitude, a timetable without programming. Maybe never, maybe tomorrow.

La revedere Romania.

La revedere Rurales, I wait for you tomorrow and I protect you forever in my heart.

“Cambia lo superficial
Cambia también lo profundo
Cambia el modo de pensar
Cambia todo en este mundo

Cambia el clima con los años
Cambia el pastor su rebaño
Y así como todo cambia
Que yo cambie no es extraño

Cambia el mas fino brillante
De mano en mano su brillo
Cambia el nido el pajarillo
Cambia el sentir un amante

Cambia el rumbo el caminante
Aúnque esto le cause daño
Y así como todo cambia
Que yo cambie no es extraño

Cambia todo cambia
Cambia todo cambia
Cambia todo cambia
Cambia todo cambia

Cambia el sol en su carrera
Cuando la noche subsiste
Cambia la planta y se viste
De verde en la primavera

Cambia el pelaje la fiera
Cambia el cabello el anciano
Y así como todo cambia
Que yo cambie no es extraño

Pero no cambia mi amor
Por mas lejo que me encuentre
Ni el recuerdo ni el dolor
De mi pueblo y de mi gente

Lo que cambió ayer
Tendrá que cambiar mañana
Así como cambio yo
En esta tierra lejana

Cambia todo cambia
Cambia todo cambia
Cambia todo cambia
Cambia todo cambia

Pero no cambia mi amor”

Todo Cambia

(Julio Numhauser)

Laura is a Italian volunteer and she took part in the “Rural Summer Camps” project which is an European Voluntary Service financed by the European Commission through Erasmus Plus program.  The content of this article does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the article lies entirely with the author.