(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not an official Fulbright Program blog; the views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

They're laughing at my legs during the funeral!!

"Duncan, I hear voices singing. Do you?" I said over the din of church bells from the nearby cathedral.
We were visiting Botiza's seventeenth century wooden church at the top of the hill in Maramuresh, Romania, a scenic mountainous area at the northern border of the country.  I looked down the road to see a crowd of 100 people in a procession coming up the hill.  As it was the Sunday before All Saints Day, perhaps it was a traditional celebration.
"Uh-oh, Duncan, there's an open grave behind you." He replied,  "I don't think we need to be here right now."
So we quickly made our way down the hill to the gates of the church, where the crowd, led by banners of the saints, six priests in silver and white albs, and a hundred people dressed in their best black, escorting a rough hewn casket lined with lace, beat us to the gates.  So all we could do was stand aside, take off our hats, cross ourselves, and wait for the procession to pass.
Now, Maramures is known for its traditional crafts:  woodworking, pottery, and wool blankets, jackets, and rugs.   We were traveling with our new Fulbright family, Duncan McDougall, a business professor, and Aline Cautis, an artist researching traditional crafts.  I had noticed men in one village we passed through wearing woolen gaiters over their ankles. My feet were cold, so when I found a woolen blanket maker who had these things I bought a pair.  Her husband even showed me how to wrap them around me feet in the traditional style.  Ummmm, they were warm, and I've been worried about walking to work when it turns cold in Cluj.
So, I was standing reverently to the side of the procession in my new woolen gaiters, and as mourners passed, they would nudge their neighbor, nod my direction, and both share a smile.  It must have happened a dozen times as the procession inched through the gate: Nudge, nod (or point), chuckle!

I am glad I brought a moment of enjoyment to the mourners.
And I'm rethinking that idea of wearing them to work.


  1. Too funny! Perhaps the color or pattern you bought is for certain occasions. Best of luck in such a fascinating land.

  2. Professor if you live on Strada Predeal and teach on Horea you need to take the 32B express bus from Brancusi. It'll get you super close to your job. I read your earlier post about buses and you didn't respond so I thought I'd add my comment here.