Romania: Village Life in Maramureș and a day on the Mocăniță

Maramureș (Romanian: Maramureș pronounced [maraˈmureʃ]; Ukrainian: Мармарощина, Marmaroshchyna; Hungarian: Máramaros) is a geographical, historical and cultural region in northern Romania and western Ukraine. It is situated on the northeastern Carpathians, along parts of the upper Tisza River drainage basin; it covers the Maramureș Depression and the surrounding Carpathian mountains. Alternatively, the term Maramureș is also used for the Maramureș County of Romania, which contains the southern section of the historical region.

A Mocăniță (Romanian pronunciation: [mokəˈnit͡sə]) is a narrow-gauge railway in Romania, most notably in Maramureș, Transylvania, and Bukovina. Archetypically, they are situated in mountainous areas and the locomotives operating on them (which themselves can also be referred to as mocănițăs) are steam-powered. These railways were built for cargo and passenger services – some in the era of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, before 1920 – but fell into disrepair over the years. Some are now being rehabilitated for the purposes of tourism.

A lovely little 2019 documentary of life in rural Maramures, a district in northern Romania, where life is un-hurried, pastoral and green. Everyone was making hay, beautiful, herb and flower-filled, heaven-scented hay. Some was piled onto wooden racks to dry, some piled onto small haystacks ready for the winter. Horse drawn vehicles are a common sight, loaded with logs, hay and people. Sheep and cattle wear tinkling bells and every small farm has a pig or two. A trip up the Vaser valley on the Mocanita steam train, the last working timber railway in Europe, was very special and not without excitement in the form of a derailment! We pedalled around on bicycles, at a gentle pace, soaking up the gorgeous scenery, wonderful country smells and happy smiles. All filming was with my much-travelled, hand-held Panasonic HC X920. – Jenny Parsons

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