Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”

Confession of a volunteer in Hungary

Hello, my name is Adam, and I am supposed to tell you a few words about volunteering. About this extraordinary experience that happens once in a lifetime. Mine experience.

How long is one day? You can read dozens of pages of the book, you can walk 30 km, and you can hitchhike half a mile. How long is one year? Much longer than “Four Seasons” of Vivaldi. <Joke>

I had watched leaves of the trees of Nyíregyháza falling down on the Hungarians roofs. I had watched them landing on the cold asphalt of the streets, and being crushed under the wheels of the cars. I had biked through snowdrifts, passing pedestrians and naked brunches of Chinese redbuds. I had driven to Debrecen, feeling the breeze of early spring slipping in through ajar window. I had heard first sneezes of the allergy sufferers and had seen first flowers tempting with the promise of the fruits. My flip flops had melted on the burning hot asphalt and my skin had turned brown under the golden sun. I had explored the forests in the shadow of Kékes while taking out the first brown leaf from between my shoelaces. All around the sun.

Fitting one-year experience abroad into one article is like putting a bike into a purse. Well, I am not even going to try to do that. But I can show you part of the frame. Or even better, the key, so you will be able to repair any kind of bicycle. This comparison is losing its sense… Anyway, I have a story to tell.

It’s about one unexpected day. It’s about a place. It’s about hard-working people there. It’s about parents who love their children more than anything in this world. Except each other. It’s about a guy from București who discovered strong instinct of a father inside his heart. It’s about the biggest man in Romania and his beautiful wife right-hand driving Land Rover and me, sleeping on the backseat. It’s about friendship. It’s about Romania. Or no. It’s about Romanians.

The story begins in the moment when soaked-with-sweat-shirt sticking to my back was sliding on my skin uncomfortably with every move I made with my right arm, trying to stop the cars passing by. Hitchhiking is not easy. It’s about being patient and trying to stay calm when drivers are giving you the look like you raped their rabbit and now, you’re wearing a cap made from it. But. Sometimes this right person will pick you up and change your day. Completely. First of all, there are relatively small chances that the person who will give you a lift, will speak fluent English. In Romania, I mean. He did. There are even less chances that this person will offer you a coffee. He did. And above it all, there are almost no chances that the driver will offer you a place to stay for a night. Aaand… he didn’t. I’m messing with you. He did.

Well, I wasn’t so eager to accept it in the beginning. It was some o’clock in the morning and I had big plans to reach Moldoveanu that day (I tried the day after and when I fell into the snow with both of my legs until my waist and I had troubles to get out, it scared me a little (csok kicsit) and I turned around), so I wanted to come as close and as soon as possible to that mountain. But finally, I accepted. I must say he convinced me. That was it. I spend an amazing, sunny, hot, extraordinary day in a beautiful place with the view on the high mountains covered with snow. I was served with the best Plăcintă I have ever eaten. Maybe because that was the first one. All jokes aside, it was delicious.

I was able to drink as much lemonade I wanted. I could enjoy this moment in the morning when Caliba Haiduculu was opening by the energetic Romanian men and the whole place started to live. Place were roof was made from the coffee bags from Peru and wooden seats were covered with sheep’s skin. Place with lots of flowers, near the river. Place which was inviting everyone with open arms. Magical place. I saw close friends who didn’t see each other for two years and then were making pizza together for the whole day. I saw 4-years old boy pouring water from the paper cup from the river onto his dad’s shoes and his dad turning everything into a joke. I spent a great time with a man from București who was operating a drone. I had visited a castle nearby, but maybe “castle” is a too big word for that building. Still, it was something. I had been drinking home-made Pálinka from the plastic bottle. Two different kinds, people! Not like this sh*t from InterSpar. I had been enjoying some of the Romanian herb, you know what I am talking about. I had met so many Romanians and even one Italian, with whom I could speak freely. Good people. I had taken a bath in a cold as hell (you know, hell is not necessarily burning with endless fire place, it can be the opposite) river. I had warmed my feet near the stove inside the house. I had slept in a warm bed. And above it all I had felt safe with the people I’ve just met. I had felt like home.

I had lived so close to that beautiful country with amazingly friendly people. This is what I had felt after just 4-days trip. And this is what I will remember for a long, long time. That little place in Porumbaco de Sus called Coliba Haiducului and people who are running it.

I won’t tell you their names. You should go there and find out by yourselves.
A. Ł.