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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Weekend trip to Sic, the village of music

Cluj-Napoca, the city we worked and stayed in, was a pleasant place. Our accomodations were in a dorm at the medical school. We had a small room and a portable stove that served as our kitchen. The budget was small, and we ate a great deal of starch and few fresh veggies. One evening, a medical student, who'd been living in the dorm for 6 years and was about to graduate, cooked us chicken soup for supper. It was as good as my grandmother's! He and his roommate were about to get their degrees, and hoped to find work abroad.

One night, I just happened upon an international dance festival, with troupes from all over the world. It was incredible, and we were able to get right up front. The Greek dancers were especially fiery. I swear I saw the same troupe on TV at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics not long afterwards.

One weekend, Mina, a volunteer from the Czech Republic who was a social work student working with gypies, and I decided to take an overnight trip. I'd read in my guidebook about a small village not far from Cluj where there was music constantly in the streets, and weddings every weekend. We went first by train, then by minibus to Sic. We were the only passengers aside from the driver and his wife, returning from grocery shopping. Upon our arrival, she announced "Sic" and then looked at us quizzically. We got out and stood in the street, looking for music. Mina whistled "Here comes the Bride" which apparently is known in the Czech.But not in Sic. After a few minutes, the woman gestured. We were in front of their house. They invited us in. The woman spoke no English. The man didn't speak at all. He'd had his larynx removed, we understood through gesturing. Their son, about 12, was learning English in school. He showed us his homework and spoke to us shyly.

We wound up staying with the family overnight. They cooked us supper, and then breakfast. They put us each in our own room. The woman gave us each one of her nightgowns to wear.

We met another woman who brought us to her house. It was like something out of a fairy tale, a tiny woman in her tiny house. She had wonderful traditional clothes, flowered and embroidered, that she wanted to sell us. She said she needed money for medicine.I bought a skirt, blouse, and a leather vest, all handmade. Perhaps I should have just given her the money and let her keep her clothes. But I treasure them and remember her whenever I see them in my closet. She also cooked us soup!

The next day we waited for the minibus back. It was a different driver. Just as the bus arrived we saw three men in black suits and white shirts, walking up the road, each with a violin under his arm. Where were they going? It was the first indication we'd seen of anything musical. I almost didn't get on the bus, wanting to follow them up the road.

Our conclusion was that the guidebook writer had happened upon the village during a wedding, and somehow got the notioon that the place was always filled with music. The other guidebooks didn't mention Sic at all. What a wonderful, serindipitous weekend, music or no.

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