Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Birthday Present

I've been in Romania for a couple of days so far and have been putting in long days to match the daylight hours.
Everyone starts work here at 7 or 7:30, so I do too. Whereas they tend to finish about 5, Alin and I keep going and make use of the light to check out the land.
It's roasting here - as high as 37C yesterday - but the crops are all growing like mad and the prices appear to be holding up. Sweet corn, which was planted on the basis that we would get RON 0.50 per ear, is selling in the markets for RON1.40, and even the under size and misshapes are making more than we expected. We might actually break even this year, which is a year earlier than we expected, especially if the goats do their stuff. In that context, we have enough so that it doesn't matter whether they produce billies or nannies - we would simply keep the nannies if they produce less than 50% females, and make more money from the sale of billies. If, on the other hand, more females are produced, we will sell some of them, which will mean that the amount we collect is down somewhat ( boys are worth more than girls - no comment).
A lot of the time has been spent with lawyers sorting out problems that have cropped up when the topographer has done his job. Over the years dividing lines between owners have become "smudged" and from our point of view we need then to be exact. In some instances we find we have more land on the ground than we have technically bought, or less. As none of the land has been registered, we are bearing the costs of doing so, but also having to make sure it is exact.Resolving the problems takes time, but ultimately helps not only us but the local people. This is because if for example one side of their land has been exactly registered, the eventual cost to them of registering drops by 50%. Admittedly it helps us too if we buy from our neighbours.
The Mayor was delighted to see me. Since my last visit he hasn't had a drink. It's not doctor's orders ( though it should be) just every now and again he stops. The people in City Hall don't like it as he makes them all stop too. Overall, though, the level of health of his people is bettered.
So it was with a whoop of glee that he drew off some of his excellent pink wine that I particularly enjoy. All his tuica and wine is in the cellar that every good Transylvanian has under his house - keeping cool and at a steady temperature. It might come as no surprise to you to learn that his cellar was originally the pub for the village...
We sat in the shade of his fruit trees, smelling the new mown hay, and listening to the odd plum drop off a tree. These are gathered up and turned into this year's tuica. A few glasses in and the front gate banged. It was the bread delivery - made three times a week for the whole village. The smell and feel of the newly baked bread is more intoxicating than the wine. When eaten with tomatoes, onions, gherkins and a paste that is a bit like salsa, it's very much a meal fit for a King ( no pun intended).
The day before had been Tina, the Mayor's wife's, birthday. Tina is the lady who is keeping BAT's in business. I've no idea how many cigarettes she smokes a day, but I have never seen her without a cigarette in her hand. This includes meal times, and her cooking is enhanced by all the ash that goes into it.
I congratulated her.
"Well,"she said,"As it was not a special birthday, Eugen only gave me a small present. We were shopping a few days ago, and I had left my purse behind. I borrowed RON200 off him ( about GBP42)"
"Ah yes," said the Mayor."Not such a small gift."
"Yeah right,"said Tina. "When we were in bed last night I asked you what you had got me for a present."
"Indeed " said the Mayor ," And I told you you didn't need to pay me back...."

1 comment:

Winchester whisperer said...

Lucky you to find some heat, KL!