Today was a very long day of travel across the Hungarian plain. We said goodbye to our host families in the morning, and climbed on the bus. The bus turned out to not really have air conditioning, and it was a very hot and long day.
Our first stop was at the Hortobagyi Pasztormuzeum. This is a small museum, but one of my favorites on the trip. Until the communist era, the area around the museum was a great range where different kinds of animals were raised by herdsmen. They have traditional costumes on display–including the very cool coats they used to wear. I am having trouble finding a picture of the coats, but have discovered what we had for lunch. It was delicious, and one of my favorite meals of the trip. I also learned at this museum, that there was a hierarchy of herdsmen depending on what kind of animal you took care of. I believe geese were at the low end of the scale and I think horses were at the top. Traditionally, the herdsmen were also great horsemen and they are famous for riding around and cracking their whips to get things moving. Ted, one of the youth really liked the whips and bought one, though everyone else who tried, seemed to be better at cracking the whip then he was.
We drove though the plain, crossing over into Romania. Our destination was Kolishvar, which is the Hungarian name for the city that is now known as Cluj-Napoca. On the way, we passed the gypsy houses with the fancy tin roofs. They are huge houses, four and five stories tall, with the most elaborate roofs. This group of Gypsies are known for their metal work and so they build their houses big, so as to maximize the roof area. The houses themselves are most often shells, with no windows, unfinished walls, open rooms. The family usually lives in a smaller house in the back.
Eventually we got to Kolishvar. Because I was traveling with ethic Hungarians, I will be using the Hungarian names for things. In Romania most cities/villages/towns have two, or sometimes three names. (Hungarian, Romanian and sometimes Saxon) Kolishvar was a major city in the Hungarian Kingdom, and today is the fourth largest city in Romania.
We were staying at Janos Zsigmond Unitarius Kollegium (which we called the Unitarian High School) in the dorms where the students live during the year. All of the girls on the trip were able to stay in one room. That is eight girls in one room, with room for four more. I could not imagine living an entire school year in one room with 11 roommates. Our rooms were on the top floor and they had skylights. At this point in the evening, we are all taking pictures of the Kolishvar skyline and each other.