Volunteering Stories: An unexpected discovering of Maramureș – by Lisa

Folklore & ballooning

Three weeks ago, for the first time I ventured to Eastern Europe and I started my EVS mission in Romania. My first days in Maramures were unexpected and unforgettable. Indeed, as soon as I arrived to my destination Baia Mare, I set off again to discover the countryside. I went to a village called Lăpuș at one hour and half away from the city, where I lived one week. Who believed that one of my most memorable experience would be in the Romanian countryside? I really didn’t expect it. Do you ask what I was doing in the Romanian countryside? I was there to participate at the Balloon Fiesta Festival that take place from the 5th to the 12th October. This episode will stay as one of my best memories in Romania.

If you want to discover traditional place you should go to Maramures countryside and there you will see what is the most typical in Romania. When I arrived in the countryside of Maramures I was really amazed by the profound attachment and the way that local people succeed to preserve their tradition and didn’t let it disappear in this XXIst century. So, I discover Romania in the simplest and authentic way. We received a warm welcome from the local people, and they prepare us the most traditional dishes, especially delicious soups but my favourite one was placinta, a traditional dish with cheese inside. There was  also a lot of horinca which is an alcohol produced locally. Mealtimes were really animated with presentation of traditional dance and music playing by local orchestra, offering us a fabulous folkloric show. Some people were dressed with traditional clothes with flowers embroidered. I’ve also observed that religion occupies a huge place in the Romanian society.

The Balloon Fiesta was seven days of encounters of balloon lovers. Tiredness and the cold were forgotten when we admire this amazing show of balloons flying in the sky of this beautiful pristine landscape. For me it was something very new; I’ve never experienced this kind of event. During this festival I had the opportunity to see a balloon close up. I saw how pilots prepare to fly and finally I had the chance to go in a balloon. This first time in a balloon was amazing. Before going up I had some apprehension because usually I had fear of height but surprisingly I wasn’t afraid at all and that will stay one of my best memory.

During this festival I’ve also started my first EVS activities.  Indeed, we did some workshops for kids with ”balloon thematic” like: face painting, spoon painting, postcard creation. In these workshops I was pleasantly surprised by their imagination. Their creation was very original, sometimes they create things that we haven’t imagine. We also made wind mills for the children. During workshops what gave me more pleasure was to see the children smiling and enjoying what we were doing together with them. I’m really glad that the language barrier wasn’t an obstacle and that together we enjoy this moment.

Lisa is a French volunteer and she takes part in the “#buildupyourfuture” 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.