Colibita


The mirror of the Carpathians

Up north, where the ancient legends of Transilvania meet the picturesque traditions of Moldova, there is this magic place: Colibita.
We reached the place one sunny day, after a long journey which started at Sighisoara. We took the taxi to Targu-Mures, the train from there to Bistrita, the bus from there to Muresenii Bargaului and finally .... a horse-powered carriage to Colibita. We'd used this mean of locomotion several times before, but this time it was simply magic. The horses dragging the carriage uphill through the beautiful scenery of the Bargau Mountains, local people greeting us with "Go with God !", the houses with large colourful gardens decorated with the popular triptychs, the silence and the greatness of nature, all these contributed to the atmosphere of the primordial creation. It was as if we were the first inhabitants of the Earth.
As the horses follow the serpentine path uphill, suddenly the blue mirror appears in front of us. Our destination, Colibita lake was there, among the smooth green mountains of this ancient land. At its left, the village unfolds with its small white church and the few pictuesque houses and farms. At the right, on the shore of the lake, a few holiday houses lie in the afternoon sun.
To our surprise, the lake is warm, which is a bit unusual in the mountains at 1000 meters altitude. So, after we camp, we take a dip and we lie in the soft warmth of the sun as the evening falls. Around us - the silence of the nature, the smooth mountains covered with woods and above us - the night beginning to fall with its large shiny stars.

And it occurs to me that the local people are poor, but happy. The statistics show that many are poor here. But I can't stop thinking: what does wealth mean to them after all ? Most of them are self-sustained: they have a few beasts, a piece of land where they work hard, a house of their own. And they have an extraordinary lust for life. They are always friendly, open-minded, talkative, never afraid of strangers, glad to share with you their food, their shelter. And they don't ask anything in return. Probably this is how God shaped the first humans. I guess the city inhabitants - much wealthier but so infinitely poorer - have a lot to learn from them.
The warm night falls and so we sleep like babies in our tents. And the next day is as bright as the previous one. The original plan was to visit the Calimani Mountains, but it's so beautiful here that we prefer to prolongue our stay. We hike however the steep hills around the lake. And so we meet the driver of a truck carring logs. He gives us a lift back to our place and as we talk to him we learn that he writes poems and stories about his unspoken love. Maybe it's the beauty of the landscape, maybe it's the people, but we are definitely in the very soul of this land.
Back to our tents, we swim and we even windsurf - with the equipment rented from a local holiday house.
The local restaurant, a small family business run in a wooden house, offers delicious meals for a very low price. And the desert is the top: pancakes with bilberry jam. We'll encounter the bilberries again the next day, when peasants picking them offer us a few. Our tongues and teeth become mauve, but who cares ?
The days are endless, we are like the first people of the Genesis and we want to stop the time.
But the time flies and we leave to our next destination, still unknown at that moment.
One more encounter with the locals: another truck driver gives us a lift to the main road. He knows that the bus to Vatra Dornei is due to come, so he accelerates such as we can catch it. What follows is a movie-like race, our massive truck taking over all the cars on the road, signalling and flashing its lights to show we are in a hurry. The bus is in front of us and it stops at the station, just in time for us to jump from the truck, offer the driver money he doesn't want to take and get into the bus. We are on our way to Vatra Dornei, where our next trip begins. Does it really matter where to ?