Flinn Scholars

On the Road 2009: Day Thirteen

June 6, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

We began this day on Romanian/Zoltan time as many of our sleep deficiencies began catching up with us. Once we finally got our bags together we enjoyed the typical breakfast of cheese, sausage, bread and paprika as well as a good amount of coffee. Afterwards, we walked up one of the longest covered staircases anyone had ever seen, led by our fearless leader Zoltan as he explained to us that he could make up our lost thirty minutes simply by talking faster. Finally, we reached the top and were rewarded with a beautiful church and graveyard as our prize. We chatted about the history of the town, a fortified trading center that had existed for nearly a thousand years. The town of Shigisora was famed for being the birthplace for a certain Vlad “Dracula” The Impaler, however it was much more historically rich than that. Throughout history, it had been occupied mostly by artisians and was rich enough to pay tribute to armies such as the Ottomans to prevent their takeover.

We entered the church, looking at the high ceilings and beautiful art. The frescoes had recently been rediscovered, as they were whitewashed when the church was taken over. We also explored the catacombs, where John swears that he saw a body revealed in his photographs. We continued up to the graveyard, where hundreds of headstones hung on to a steep forested slope. The names were overwhelmingly German, as they had made up a large portion of the population until the 1960s.

Next we headed down the hill to view the changing of the hours at the belltower. A group headed up to the top of the tower, while the others waited outside in order to get a better view of the epic tolling of the bells. Inside, people found diverse architecture, beautiful views, and exciting history. Outside, people were harassed by the village welcomer explaining his love for the chinese people and got to see an anamatronic six inch hammer hit a six inch bell… We then headed back to the hotel where Romanian time/Zoltan time/Pie prevented us from leaving for another 45 minutes. Everyone enjoyed napping on the bus and arrived groggy in Homorodszentpeter, where we were greeted by the village, dogs, and doughnuts. Mogli (the village dog) was very excited to have so many people petting him at once.

We went our separate directions to our homestays as the mothers of the town took excellent care of us. We had the freshest meats and veggies ever enjoyed and then returned to the church for two lectures. The first, about the history of the town, awed us all at how strong the community and particularly the pastor was as she had fought against all odds to be the first woman Unitarian Minister in the area. The second lecture was about the diverse history of Transylvania and why it was so strongly debated whether it should belong to Romania or Hungary. Afterwards we walked around the village, frolicked in the grass, and enjoyed views of the cemetery and surrounding villages.

We returned to the community to find a table laden with people, goulash, smiles, and small children. Even with the language barrier, we were still able to communicate through playing with the kids and letting the old men serenade us with song. We got somewhat rowdy by the end of dinner, but our energy was soon directed towards a “typical hungarian” dance lesson. A local couple taught us the moves, beginning with the simple steps and moving on to the spins, group dances, and fancy tap dances. A break was taken in the middle of the lesson to watch the cows come home. John K and Matt Hom scared a few of the cows by singing and dancing to the song “My Milkshake,” but luckily the cows were nice enough to keep their patience. After the dance lessons many of us went home to learn the proper way to milk a cow. Even though we were able to produce milk, we were still shown up by an eight year old girl and her mother Ilde. We finally ended the day chatting under a full moon and decided to retire to bed early.