We recently had the chance to explore a portion of the Maramures countryside that’s seldom seen by “civilized” eyes. While trying to find a new route, we stumbled onto a dirt road alongside the Somes River, which connects the village of Remeti pe Somes with Cheud, another village that sits on the Somes river. The dirt road starts here and ends here, but that’s not the part that’s important. What is important is what you’ll see as you travel on it.
We felt as if we’d stepped back in time. It was as if the road and the countryside were untouched by civilization altogether. We could hear the traffic in the distance, on the other side of the Somes, where the paved road was, yet where we were, it seemed as if progress had decided to take a nap.
Nature was quiet and majestic. The road twisted and turned with the river, winding its way through meadow and forest, over hill and over dale, over little brooks and springs that found their way into the Somes, adding to its already impressive size. We passed a gypsy dwelling with a few huts and small houses, hidden at the edge of a forest, miles and miles away from paved roads and civilization. Their kids, unwashed, dressed in rags and looking like medieval imps, pounced on our car, begging for change (their training begins early on in life).
Later on, we passed a pasture, replete with an idyllic herd of cows grazing peacefully on the abundant grass. And as we drove on, passing under large, thick trees, it occurred to us that this was an old road, a road that had likely been in use for hundreds, if not thousands of years, a companion to the river, now forgotten and abandoned in favor of the paved roads that cut through the landscape instead of working with it.
Ligia and I have seen our fair share of unpaved roads and beautiful scenery in Romania, but on this particular dirt road, on that particular segment of it, we felt more than at other times, that we’d stepped back in time a little, that we’d experienced a bit of what it was like to travel during the time of the dirt roads, at the speed of a horse’s trot. It felt odd to rejoin civilization afterward, our car fitting into the modern landscape yet covered in a thick layer of primeval dust — a reminder of our trip through time.