There he was sitting next to me on the flight to Romania. I struck up a conversation with a seemingly ordinary elderly gentleman who turned out to be quite prominent on the Euro political scene. He could have been pulling my leg the whole time, but when he gave me his contact information, I started to believe he was really it. Yet, despite all the power and connections that he has, the battle agains city liter is one he cannot win. The ironic part is, that the Romanian people complain about it and want the government to do something about it, but will not admit their part in the cause nor help with the cleanup. How the litter got there is a different story, one that the Romanians do not want to hear.
I am off to Cernica lake in a little bit. The minister said that officially, the surface and the bottom of the lake cannot belong to anyone, and the banks are a much disputed issue. The nearby monastery claims its share, and the local municipality stake out their property. Mysteriously the banks continue to extend further into the lake, coincidentally creating more valuable (taxable) lakeside property.
The taxi driver that took me to the lake talked non stop for 40 minutes in German! He described every street corner and monument we passed by. It was interesting the first ten minutes, but he soon unveiled his communist favoritism and his limited education allowed him to idealize the situation in Czech Republic. His vision of the political situation was that it was all tidy and gay, free of corruption and blossoming. Poor man, how far off he was. He called it a dream land when he found out that gas prices are 20 euro cents cheaper than in Romania. Doesn’t take much to make a fellow happy.
As much as Romanian is similar to Portuguese, so it their laid back attitude. An ideal afternoon for them is a picnic with lots of family, friends and food, no more no less. We are used to a different tempo and need to be entertained. Kids would be nagging asking for someone to play with them, men looking for adrenaline and women wanting some quality spa time. Not here. They are content. So when we came and organized an afternoon with kids entertainment, magicians, sports competition a DJ and plenty of food, we were offering them something luxurious. Some traveled over 300 km to come sit by the lake and talk, not even expecting a loaded program. Soccer was popular, but other than that, the people enjoyed sitting. Every comment, suggestion, concern I brought up was met by the same answer, “yes, I will arrange it, but do not worry, people are happy.” And truly they were, grate full for spending the day outside.
Picnicking as a national past time…pick a lawn, a field a meadow, drive by the police who is sitting at the entrance, pay a daily fee, get a trash bag and roll in the grass as much as you please. Easy does it.