Sunday, June 10, 2012

Monks, Murals and Memories

Walled Monastery
Saturday and Sunday, 9, 10 June, 2012

Carpathians: No Wolves in Sight
Bucovina County, Romania
We were awakened today at just after midnight by a barage of fireworks from down the rural valley where we were spending the night-- one of the many Saturday weddings that take place in rural villlages.  This far north eastern corner of the country's claim to tourist fame are the many 14th Century monasteries that are part of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Though some shelter within fortress-like walls, relatively simple on the outside, but heavily adorned with icons and gilt within, others are painted in rioutous colors and psychedelic murals inside and out.  With their high domed windows, I was cuirous about their orientation.  Conveniently, Jane's walking stick had a compass in the top, and it was clear that the buildings were on an East-West axis, with altars against the East wall.  Arriving on Sunday morning at a remote and active monastery, we listened to monks sing, and watched women with babushkas wait their turn to worhsip till after ALL the men were done.  Between the wall painting and the length of the service you get the feeling the monks had a lot of time on their hands in the middle ages.

 Outside of Painted Monastery
Painted monastery.... won't rotate!
We puzzled over some of the symbols in the paintings, and wondered how both the buildings and the religious practice survived both WW II and the Soviets.  At Putna, we could look across the border into the Ukraine.  At Dragomina, we were almost to the edge of Transnistria, a no man's land into which so much of the regions Jewish population were taken.  For Jane, it is difficult to look at aging train tracks and 75 year old train crossings, or to look into people's faces without thinking about family.

Does anyone know who invented the story of storks and babies?  There are stork nests on lamposts in every village, with mom and dad tending the newbies.  Though Gail persists in calling them pelicans, you can easily see the difference.

this won't rotate either!
Needless to say, we continue eatting our way across the country.  Fresh trout, wild mushrooms, stuffed cabbage and lots of polenta.

Eating Our Way Through Romania

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