post

Time Flies in da Mountains

I stayed in Cluj for a couple of days chilling with a friend, that weekend we hitchhiked to Viscri. Viscri is a little village in Romania where things go back to basic. Really basic, as if you go back in time 100 years. But what makes this place even more “interesting” is that Prince Charles owns a Straw Bale house there and is promoting Sustainable living in the area. Ever since, the place got way more attractive to tourism. Yet the villagers remain to life in their traditional ways. Its a wonderful place to visit if you are ever nearby!

After the trip and a couple of days in the city I met up with Victor, it was time to head back to the Mountains and start preparations for the work to come. The drive was great as usual but the car had some funny stuff going on and we weren’t quite sure what exactly. By the time we arrived in the valley it seemed the gearbox broke, even though we were at the feet of the mountain, we still had to go up! that surely wasn’t going to happen with the car, walking was not exactly an option either for the car was loaded with stuff. From pipes, wood. food and our clothes, there was only one solution!

Hitching a Ride up the mountain to our HQ

Hitching a Ride up the mountain to our HQ

Being back in the mountains is just great, The silence, The fresh air, The view of the Valley and mountain tops, The cows, sheep and horses just walking all over the place. I slept so well that night! The next day preparations started. Basically we had many Chisels and Axes that needed sharpening and renovating, we got quite some fresh cut logs, ready to be split into firewood for next winter and we set the priority to making two goats to make woodwork much easier!

I found some birch logs from last year, With the help of some wigs and the Newly Restored Axe I split them in two. they are going to be the legs of the goats. with the help of the Axe and a hand plane I smoothed out the rough split surface. Made a notch in the correct angle and connected them to the beam with some screws. Now those are some damn Sturdy Goats!

An Axe can be useful in many ways!

An Axe can be useful in many ways!

Heavy duty Goats for Heavy duty work!

Heavy duty Goats for Heavy duty work!

While I was working mostly at our HQ, sharpening Chisels, chopping wood, making the goats. Victor was working with our neighbor on the Sauna next to the Eco Cabins. The Sauna interio is getting shape, but there is still some work to do on the Shower, Boiler and Benches. While they were up their getting things done, I was sanding, Cutting and preparing the wood they needed for the job. Like the floor, some beams for holding the glass but also the Door

In between all this I have been choppin wood every now and then and Re-organizing the place where we store said wood. But before i’m gonna brag about all the awesome woodchoppin. let me show you the Sauna door made from Solid Oak Boards. The idea is quite similar to the floor, First I sanded them, then I cut the Notches with the circular, Planed them by hand to smooth/fit them, repeat until the needed width was achieved. to Reinforce the door I made some Ledges and Braces. Very fun work indeed! (for the knowledgeable: The door still has Extra length, after fitting/cutting only 10cm should remain from Edge till Ledge!

But Sauna doors need protection, Protection from crazy Mountain weather and crazy naked people trying to sweat all over it! The solution was simple, Linseed and Beewax! On the stove I mixed some Beewax with Linseed which I then applied to the door, 3 layers on the outside and two on the inside. while giving it a slight rub with sanding paper in between. Its hard for me to explain why, but I really enjoy Oiling wood. Its so relaxing, the smell of linseed and beewax is just great, not to mention the Result.

Sneak Preview, It works just great!

Sneak Preview, It works just great!

So how do our days up here actually look like? Well let me tell you, Basically we go to bed between 23/00:00 and we wake up whenever we wake up, usually between 08/09:00. First one awake Starts the Fire! Then we chill out for a bit and have breakfast, This is either leftover from the day before or Porridge, sometimes Bread with Zacusca or veggies. Every Monday and Thursday I bake a bread in the morning which takes about an hour. Thats right! we don’t buy bread anymore! So when the morning ritual has been completed we start working. We work until late afternoon, then we have Dinner, I call it dinner because we cook a warm meal which we consume around 15:00 sometimes 16:00. After “Dinner” we work until the sunset basically. Or depending on the weather and work we have, just before. Then we chill for a bit, for supper we make a soup or a something simple which is usually ready only after 21:00. then the last few hours left before our systems shut down is either spend chilling or discussing tomorrows work and future projects. Living da good life!

But one of the greatest days is when you wake up, enjoy your Breakfast and then start choppin wood like a boss! I spend a few full days just choppin n choppin n movin and stacking dem wood! Great exercise, very enjoyable. Especially in a lovely sunny day with a newly fitted Axe! We also had a French and American Volunteer over for a short while, they also did quite some wood choppin for us!

There is no end to it!!! I love it!!

There is no end to it!!! I love it!!

With the door on its place, I spend some time sanding, cutting and oiling more boards for the Verge-board on the Eye cabin. And started working on the wooden grid for the shower, basically the part where you stand on but still allows for the water to go down to the drain. We also need to make stair on the entrance of the sauna, all of those wooden pieces needed sanding oiling and cutting. Lovely!

Verge-Board Applied to the Eye Cabin, Looking Amazing!

Verge-Board Applied to the Eye Cabin, Looking Amazing!

Meanwhile Birch are really hot in the Flower scene! Alina (Victor his lady), Is one of the most awesome Florists in Cluj-Napoca. She asked me if I could make a flower display for one of the flower shops in Cluj. She showed me what she wanted and I started tinkering. In the end I spend about 2 days searching for some nice birch branches, and tinkering them together to make a lovely flower display. Who knows, maybe they catch on. if so, Ill just stop building Natural homes and start building Flower display racks for all of Romania’s flower shops! hihi

I'm actually quite amazed with the results. Imagine it full of flowers!

I’m actually quite amazed with the results. Imagine it full of flowers!

With all that done, there was one more task to do before “vacation” starts. Something I haven’t done in a while but something definitely not forgotten! A little wooden frame with through Mortise and Tenon joints. A simple yet very nice task indeed. While working on the Joints I came to realize something: I really like doing this shizz. Besides, its like a Meditation you know? the only difference is that doing this shizz clears my mind like my intestines on diarrhea. Wooosh!, and its gone!

Just Flaweless

Just Flaweless

For the next two weeks Victor has some shizzle to do, which means we can’t work on the projects. Thus implying that I have two free weeks. Freedom though, can be quite overwhelming sometimes. I made certain decisions in my life, that allow me to be able to go anywhere I want, Whenever I want, I can do Anything I like, Any time of the Day, Week, Month or Year.

Yet with these two weeks of no responsibilities, I just get this overwhelming sensation of an indescribable feeling. I want to go to so many places, yet non of them is calling me in such a way that I know that’s where I should be going. All the options are so appealing to me. Yet I can’t seem to figure out which one appeals to me the most. For the past week I have been looking inside, and outside for a sign, without any luck. I gues i’ll just go with the flow and let the wind guide me. or maybe just chose two and flip a coin. we’ll see. I have no doubt i’ll end up exactly where i’m supposed to be!

To hike or not To hike?

To hike or not To hike?

post

To da Land of Mountains, Zacuscă n Țuica

So yeah, It has been a while again since I last wrote something, It was in Ireland to be exact. To make sure the story doesn’t have a few empty pages let me nutshell the last couple of months for you.

Ireland was nice, and the Carriage project was interesting too, But due to unforeseen consequences I had to head back to NL which I did around Christmas. With the intention to stay for a couple of weeks and head to Wales somewhere in January things turned out to go completely different. In the end, the Project in wales got Delayed, I kicked back in NL until end February. Had a Roadtrip to Berlin with Brothas, Solo Hitch to Brussels meeting LT friends. Eventually I ended up on the road again, Thumbing East, Onward to Transylvania! Let me tell you how that went, I have to pre-warn though. not much pictures have been taken due to being in the moment and thus its gonna be a boring lecture of text for your amusement.

Adam Sunset

NL sunset, before I left. Amsterdam in the Horizon

Its Monday, the 29th of February. The journey started with a ride from my mother and her partner, She had a day off work and offered to help me on my way and drop me at gas station. Even though the intended gas station was around Utrecht, Due to missing it, a closed gas station and construction stuff we ended up in Arnhem. I got my backpack, we said our bye’s, the usual selfy stuff and off they went. I turned myself 360degrees and noticed a German plate. I approached the dude who just arrived at his car. He was heading just beyond Frankfurt and agreed to take me with. Awwyeah! what a great start! Waiting time: 3 minutes

Mister used to be a Lawyer, but due to being in the 60s he is now working as a notary. He has a boat in Harlingen, every once in a while, he drives from Frankfurt to Harlingen, this time because his boat needed to chance harbor. So he went to the Northern Netherlands to find a new place for his boat.  He was quite open to the whole Natural Building concept and actually knew of some interesting places and Traditional building techniques in Germany, We discussed multiple subjects until we reached Frankfurt.

He slowly drove away, while i’m working on my shoulder straps of my backpack to get them in a comfortable position I’m also scouting all nearby plates. No Romanians yet, ah well. I approached the nearest dude, his trunk was open so I couldn’t see his plate. very soon it became quite clear he was a Dutchman. A Dutchman living in Switzerland. He offered me a ride to Basel, not exactly my Direction. Though Switzerland is, and the Dude seemed pretty cool I friendly Declined. I walked towards the Trucks, the first truck was a Czech. He said he spoke a little bit German and he seemed to understand that I wanted to go in the direction of Nurnberg. He didnt seem to like talking via the window though and told me to come in the cabin to check the map. Even though his German wasn’t as great as it seemed. He agreed to take me to Nurnberg.

The ride wasn’t that special. Due to our language barrier and both our lack of German vocabulary it was mostly quiet. We drove and drove at an easy pase of 90, Occasionally 70 due to the snow and wind. At some point he had to take a 45min break, where he started making coffee. I made a picture of him making coffee, So there will be at least a little bit of Visual experiences to this post eh.

I asked for Permission, No he did not look so Mad all the time :))

I asked for Permission, No he did not look so Mad all the time :))

Around 20:00 he dropped me at an Autohof just beyond Regensburg. That is when hitchhiking seemed to be done for the day. All truckers were getting ready to sleep, the autohof guy assisting the truckers didn’t seem to like my presence to much, nor were there any other cars. The autohof was quite far from the highway you see but 8pm is a bit to early to go to sleep. I waited to see what happened. Not much later a Belgian plate entered the gas station. A long haired bearded dude got out, in dutch “A very good evening, I don’t suppose you are heading to Austria are you?” he started laughing and said: no, Thats where I just came from. But damn dude, your on a real shitty place man. I agreed, but what to do, it was just the way it is. Meanwhile we started talking about some random things and thats where the magic happened

“You know what dude, I’ll bring you to the next Gas station directly next to the A3 towards Austria. I know I’m heading in the other direction, but its only about 15km back. Its fine. Hop in!”

Such a random act of kindness, I have had similar things happen to me in the past two years, These Random acts of Kindness. Although sometimes I feel really bad about accepting them, It became quite clear to me that I should simply not. For these people that offer these random acts of kindness do this out of good will. It makes them happy to help a brother out, like with food. I often get offered food, Most of the time great food, but sometimes food that I simply don’t eat. If this is the case I try to decline one time, if they accept great! if they don’t, basically I just accept the food. For I will simply pass it on to another person  I will meet on the road who would love to accept said food.

The ride was short indeed, But the chat was Great. We even chatted for a while arriving at the gas station before he went on his way onward to Belgium. The Gas station was much better also, Super crowded, lots of cars. It was somewhere between 22/23.00 But besides that, Romanians!!!! and 4 of them just waiting for me to take me with! Oh boy was my mind going nuts, Imagine finding a ride through the night all the way. 2 of em were people my age, pretty cool and friendly But sadly both vans full with tons of people. One van wanted to bring me, but due to lack of a girdle on the passenger seat and scared of risking a ticket in Germany he didn’t want to bring me. The last van had 2 dudes in em besides that completely empty. He seemed friendly for we talked a bit in Romanian. But in the end he didn’t want to take me for I didn’t have any money to pay for the ride.

Though luck! Still luck was on my side that night. Earlier I noticed a Hungarian Van. I wanted to speak to him but he was on the phone so I left him alone, he noticed this. I went back to him about 30 minutes later, he was still calling but this time he asked me “Whats up man, where are you going? Budapest I replied. Ill take you to Wien he said. meanwhile he gave me his phone, He was talking to his sister who lived in The Netherlands for about 4 years, so I had to speak some Dutch with his sister.

The dude was hilarious, It was getting late and my memory didn’t register everything, for example his name but he was constantly popping jokes. Mostly jokes about Romanians and Hungarians. Some of which I found amusing, some of which I didn’t. He is a bike mechanic most of his days working in the workshop, but every once in a while he needs to get out. that’s when he drives his Van through Europe and delivers stuff. He didn’t have a wife or kids, He was just a happy single dude going through life. Around 02:00 we were close to Wien, he was supposed to take a right somewhere before all the crazy intersections. But that last gas station was really bad and he didn’t like it so much. This hilarious dude moved out of the way to help me on my Journey, He drove to the start of the A4 which leads to Budapest, The first Gas station was big and full of sleeping truckers, restaurants and stuff. great place to find a ride. Not as great to sleep though..

There were fences all over the place which is not that much of a problem. The problem was that behind those fences all you could see was grass. no trees or bushes or anything nature-ish to Stealth my tent. Besides the wind was blowing like crazy, really crazy. It was sure I wouldn’t be using my tent that night. I had to think of something else. Walking around the property there were barely hidden spots or corners free from wind or sight. There was this recycle station though, some crates stacked, these big compressor containers for cardboard and stuff and an automatic light. Seemed fine to me, The greatest thing was, it had walls around it except for one side so most of the wind was blocked. I found myself some cardboard to cover the dirty floor, and tried to get a couple of hours of rest behind said containers.

I wasn't in the mood for pictures of my 5star hotel. but Here a Gmaps of the Recycle station highlighted in Red.

I wasn’t in the mood for pictures of my 5star hotel. but Here a Gmaps of the Recycle station highlighted in Red.

Yah, well, With the draft still coming in on occasion, Me freezing my ass off even though I was wearing everything I had and also every hour or so an employee throwing away stuff, activating the light. Not much rest was had. At 05:00 I was fully awake and wandering around the gas station, hoping to find a Truck towards Buda or Romania. it was about the time the truckers wake up anyway, sadly non of the 30 Truckers I asked that morning seemed to go in my Direction. An hour passed when I noticed another Belgium plate. I walked up to the car and said to the guy: “Flemmish, Dutch, France?” …. silence … “Romanste!” he replied. Whooohooo! I threw my best Romanian into play. Romanian was the only language they spoke anyway. They agreed to take me to Deva. Yup! all the way. and gues what? Fara Bani!

In the van were 2 dudes and a woman. She was sleeping on the back seat but they woke her up so I could fit in. Initially we had a bit of a chat, My Romanian is not perfect but I can do small talk, Explain who I am, what I do etc. Besides I understand a fair amount to make oke conversation. After an hour drive or so the woman and one of the dudes started sleeping. Usually I try not to sleep when I Hitch, I want to be aware where i’m going and its a bit rude towards the driver taking you. With some 700km still to go and 50% already sleeping I took my chance, I had a great couple of hours rest. All fresh! That afternoon at about 14:00 we Arrived in Deva. The only thing was they dropped me Before Deva due to they had to take another road. While walking to the other side of Deva to find a better hitch spot, I passed the train station of Deva. There was a train going to Cluj in one hour. That’s when I realized If i’m gonna walk the rest and try to hitch the last 200km, I might not make it tonight. 200km on Romanian roads basically means about 3 to 4 hours of driving depending on how crazy your driver is. Besides, when it gets dark, its gonna get very Hard. So I figured, Lets take the last bit with the train, allows me to read a bit, relax. and be 100% sure I will arrive in Cluj before midnight.

So yeah, the Train ride was supposed to take about 4 hours. Romanian trains eh, they take their time. Luckily there was a Romanian woman sitting next to me, she liked to talk. A LOT! So instead of reading my book, I basically had a 4 hours conversation until arriving  in Cluj one hour late :)))) She was actually pretty cool and told me lots of places to go, visit, etc. It was fun!

When ya happy and ya Hitching have a jump!

When ya Happy and ya Hitching have a jump!

post

Turning the pages, România

It is as if I’m writing a book called “The Tales of my Journey” Yet at the same time I’m reading it, Excited and amazed of the story and where it is leading me. I bet that the great writers of our time have some kind of guideline or idea of where they want to go with their story, but while on it give the story a turn they didn’t intent to give it at first. I feel somewhat like this at the moment, For I intended to stay in Romania for a Year or so, Full circle you know. Yet my time here is coming to an end, I’ll be on my way again soon. But before I’ll start with reflecting Romanian happenings, First A nutshell of Valea Ierii Mountain shizz

The illucabin is basically almost done, There is still some minor detailing work to be done, some fine tuning of the stove and it could probably use some shelves or maybe a little cabinet. But besides that things are looking great. Not to much cracks in the plaster, a lovely view, a properly closing door, Mushrooms growing on the roof and an amazing linseeded oak terrace. Man, standing on that terrace looking into the valley, seeing the clouds scratching the mountain tops… There are no words to describe that feeling. All I can do is suggest you to Consider Visiting this amazing place and stay a few nights in the cabin once it’s done. but for now, Here is the Sneak-Preview.

I see, I see, What you don't see

I see, I see, What you don’t see

A lot has progressed in the Pyracabin too, Even though we really like how the Oak bed turned out to be, it took quite some time to make the joints. Besides we didn’t want to have two similar beds in both cabins, Thus we made a Roundwood bed instead. The mattress (even though not in the pictures) is the same as the Oak bed. Hemp fabric with Reeds on the inside. Who wants Nasa foam if you can have a Reed mattress? With the terrace in place, the door made and all windows installed the cabin is actually pretty comfy at night. It needs more detailed work though, the stove is not even close to ready yet and well, not to mention some cleaning. At the moment it is kind of being used as a tool shed/warehouse :))

Meanwhile working with the roundwood and after hearing quite the complains over the past summer from Victor his sister and girlfriend that there is not enough place for pans and plates in the kitchen:)). We made a little Cabin Kitchen Cabinet Upgrade, Not only to make the girls happy but also because it was a rainy day and we had the logs ready to use anyway. It was a simple but nice project. I have to admit, it did solve a lot of stacking problems and the occasional collapses of said stacks. Some extra space for dishes seems to be quite useful to.

As of my return from Roșia Montană we have been working on the Sauna. Well, maybe not exactly on the sauna. We started digging the water reservoir and the trench towards it. Oh man what a job. The main reason why I left Rosia the day I did was because Jon was visiting RO for a few days! If I knew we were digging I would have known better. Luckily Jon likes to dig, you could say he is quite the dirt digger. So with our Professional digger present in Valea Ierii we stared diggin. The reservoir being approximately 1.70mX1.50m and about 1.60 deep wasn’t that much of a problem. We had some reinforcements, with the four of us it took us about a day. Digging up Quartz, Iron, Copper and of course lots of Gold. We almost considered starting our own mining company. Gheghe, Just kiddin! The trench though, ioiii, Approximately 50 meters long, and it needed to be 1 meter deep.

It started of slow, we didn’t have the right technique yet really. The weather wasn’t in our favor either, You might think, Half way through September its getting colder. Well I don’t know if you have global warming in your area. but we’re at 1000m altitude and it was still 30 degrees and beyond. After a few days of digging we got about 15 meters done and the future water reservoir filled about half way with our ass sweat! We got the hang of it though and we progressed much faster, sadly the reinforcements left, so did Jon for he had to engage on a Scouting mission. It was just me and Victor for a while. Some more volunteer reinforcements arrived for about a week to aid us with the digging, but Eventually we asked some neighbors to help in return for Tuica. Long story short, We have been digging for almost 3 weeks but now we finally reached the Sauna. with about 1/3 of the trench filled back up again.

I am now relieved of my diggin duties, A few more days in Cluj and off I go. Onward to the United Kingdom this time. I’m looking quite forward to my Hitch, For it will be from the far East of Europe to the far West of Europe. I found a project there where I can stay for the winter months. Building Wooden Carriages for horses! But alright, Lets first finish the Romanian chapter eh?

Before I headed to Romania my brain was full of stereotypical fears. Fear for getting eaten by a bear camping outside, Fear of being robbed by Gypsies, Fear of getting bit by a Vampire, Fear of getting abducted while hitch-hiking. Romania is a Dangerous country they said. Well, if there is one thing I learned on my journey its this: Don’t listen to anybody nor Media and what they tell you about places. Only take advice from the people that actually been there recently. For Romania, or maybe I should rather say Transylvania? Touched my heart.

I never really been to much around mountains, my dad took me on winter sport when I was younger. But you can not compare that with the experience of hitch-hiking by yourself, all the way to these mountains far away from the cities. and live on top of them for an extended period of time. Normally when I would look at a mountain, I would think: Damn, this terrain is impossible! how can people live here? Now I realize: I, as a Consciousness in a Physical Humanoid Body that allows me to Interact and Perceive Reality as is, Am well capable of climbing said mountains, Or walk from one valley to another. Saywhat? 2 years ago if you would ask me, Wanna take a hike? we’ll cross about 3 mountain and it will take about 7 hours, I wouldn’t even move a finger. Probably look at you if you are some kind of Superman. Then move my head to the screen and continue wasting my time in the digital world.

Besides the landscape, The people here in general are so friendly and welcoming! The places I stayed at in Cluj, whether it were friends I made myself, or friends and family related to Victor always welcomed me with open arms. Don’t think you can just enter their houses like that, sit down and have a chat. Noooooo, You enter their house, then you get shit loads of food thrown in your face, depending on who your visiting you get either Tuica or some delicious home made cakes with that. Then when you have to leave again after a few days, you get a month supply of Home made Jams and Zacusca added to your bag. Even though you still have about 4 jars unopened from the last time. Did I already tell you the food here is amazing? I Probably did. Which is also this amazing thing about Eastern European Countries. If your pantry doesn’t look like this by now, You are either doing something wrong, or living in the wrong country! I can keep on brabbling about all the amazing stuff here, but that wont even get close to the real experience, Just get your ass of your chair, and volunteer in Romania for a summer. then you will understand!

Zacusca, Jams, Zacusca, Oils/Spices, Tomato Juice, Zacusca, Pickled Veggies,

Zacusca, Jams, Zacusca, Oils/Spices, Tomato Juice, Zacusca, Pickled Veggies,

So in the end, I did not get eaten by a bear. Even though I actively searched for one in Brasov and some bears were spotted in the area around the mountains where we took the hikes. I did not get robbed by Gypsies, instead I hitch-hiked one and went to his home for lunch. I did not get bit by a Vampire, I did develop great feelings for this Vampire Girl, though I was not able to convince her to Turn me and Roam the Planet together for eternity. I did not get abducted while hitch-hiking, I did hitch-hike this masonry dude, he was one of the people that laid the pavement in Dracula’s Castle. how fkn awesome is that. Besides all of the above, It seems that the most dangerous thing in Romania is probably the Tuica! and the dancing forest fairy’s

I met great people in the past months. Not only in Cluj, but also volunteers from all over the world at Valea Ierii and quite a bunch in Rosia. Some of them to become even closer friends in the years to come, some of them never to be seen again. Life can be perceived as somewhat unfair (which is certain cases is very true), but life is balanced, Where new great friendships are made, Old great friendships are broken. Possibly never to be restored again. Only time will tell which people are worthy or value to be part of your journey, Some just decide to leave it for whatever reasons they may have, Others just pass through for a short period of time, a few will stick with you till the very end. Another thing I have learned living this lifestyle: Everything happens the way it is suppose to happen, Whether you like it or not, you are to accept it as is. If you did not like the outcome your actions and decisions, don’t let your mind get stuck on it, Rather try a different approach on the next chance you get. Its difficult, I know. As long as you are aware of it and keep trying, you’ll get there sooner or later!

Multam România, Fie ca drumurile noastre sa se reintalneasca
Si multam Victor, pentru tot!

On top of Danger Mountain with Victor. The day we fought Dragons, Elves and all forces of Nature

On top of Danger Mountain with Victor. The day we fought Dragons, Elves and all forces of Nature

post

Eggplant Salad(Spread)

Eggpant salad, A amazing spread for bread! While I was in Roșia Montană I learned how to make this delicious and healthy smearables!  I have been told that it actually originates from Turkey, though throughout the Balkans you can find a similar recipe. I myself got to know Eggplant Salad in Romania, where at first i though it was quite weird. I soon came to realize how amazing this spread actually is. Besides that, it is so extremely easy to make its hard to not like it.

What’s it you need?

Well it quite depends on the quantity you want to make. Considering it stays well for quite a few days in the fridge and once you start eating it you cant stop, lets use the following amounts.

4 Eggplants
2 Big Onions
Oil, (Olive or Sunflower)
Salt

Creation of Eggplant Salad

When you freshly harvested your eggplants from the garden, or bought them from the market you have to roast them. Roasting eggplants can be done in the oven but the most popular and delicious way is to roast them on open fire. Make some fire and lay the eggplants next to it or above it, while turning them around every few minutes. Basically you want to roast the outside of the eggplant evenly black. It doesn’t take that long, but to check whether they are done you can squeeze them a bit, they should have become soft and squishy. When they are done, take them out of the fire and let them cool down for a few minutes. Were gonna have to peel off the skin! If you’re a phoenix people and you can bear holding hot surfaces you can start right away. To peel an eggplant just pull of the crunchy black skin either by hand or with assistance of a knife. Yes its that easy!

With the peeling process done, put the eggplants in a bowl or pan, cover it with a lid and let them sit there for about a night. The next day you can finish the eggplant salad. Because you let the eggplants chill out in the bowl, all the eggplant juice gathered at the bottom. Its Very important to get rid of the juice! for the juice is quite bitter!

Now the juice is gone we can continue. Take one eggplant and hit it with a hammer! Alright, maybe not a hammer that will make the thing explode all over the place. What you do have to do is to chop it up into a nice pasty smearable thickness. It can be done with a knife, there are some blunt wooden knifes that are perfect for the job. Keep hitting the thing until you approve of the consistency. With the eggplants beaten into a spread you chop up the onion. Preferrably small perfect triangular pieces, then add them to the eggplants

The next step requires some serious attention! its time to add the oil and salt. As for quantities its hard to tell, It needs quit some oil and salt. I suggest you find out what you like best by trial and error. What is Very important though, is when you start mixing the oil with the eggplant you decide whether to stir clockwise or counter clockwise. Once you start stirring you better don’t change the direction, for it will not end well! it is key to keep stirring in the same direction! when the whole spread became equally mixed and you approve of the taste its ready for consuming!

You can eat the eggplant salad just like that next to some potatoes and veggies, though it usually gets served with bread and tomatoes. Thus eggplant salad can be used as the perfect breakfast, lunch, appetizer for dinner or even desert. If you have never eaten or made eggplant salad yet I highly recommend you do so! For eggplant salad will definitely improve your life!

.

.

Optional

Instead of oil, you could also use Mayonnaise. I’m not quite sure how to explain in words what the difference is in taste, I do know that both versions are very delicious! It is key though to make your own mayonnaise rather than using the one from the shop.

To make mayonnaise for 4 eggplants you need One boiled egg yolk and two raw egg yolk
You mix these three together until you have an even mush.
Slowly add oil while mixing, One or two spoons of Mustard and keep mixing.
You keep adding oil until you get the Mayonnaise consistency you want.
In the end all it needs is some salt.

Then when you make the eggplant salad use the mayonnaise instead of the oil. And Voila! Dont forget to keep stirring in the same direction! Some people also like to add some lemon juice.

May your new Eggplant Salad addiction begin!

post

Roșia Montană Carpenter Tales

Many things have happened in the past 2 months, Sadly I don’t always feel like blogging, But when I do, Amazing stuff will be brought to you. So today I will tell you stuff about Roșia Montană, A quiet little town in the Alba region. The place where I have been Volunteering for the Adoptă o Casă project the past few weeks. I know, I know, well alright then. before all this I took a little road trip to Sighisoara and Brasov where I tried to find a bear without luck. I Hitchhiked a Gypsy with a mustache who was actually pretty damn cool, Traded 20Lei and my Road Atlas to get a 1000km Ride from Romanian border to Nurnberg and even convinced this awesome Dutch dude with a Porsche to take me from Nurnberg back home. Cluj to Amsterdam +/- 1800km in 36 hours. Thats how I Roll! But that’s all you’ll get. lets start with some Roșia Montană shizznit.

A little bit of Roșia Montană History

Roșia Montană once was a great and wealthy place, it is located within the Metaliferi mountains which are full of metals like Silver and Copper, but what made this place so attractive was its high concentrations of Gold present in these mountains. Before Roman times and throughout the Roman times it was a the place for mining,  when you take a hike through the area you can find many sorts of galleries and open mining pits. There are about 7 km of Roman galleries present, which were all cut by chisel and hammer. These galleries were very specific in height and width, shaped in a trapezium form and would follow the vines of Gold in the mountain. Within the galleries are different systems present to transport water up and out of the mine, galleries for circulating fresh air and galleries for transport. Quite a complex and complicated infrastructure really. In the middle ages when knowledge was lost, mining continued. Even though these galleries still follow the Golden vine, they were nothing like the Roman trapezium standards and quite random in shape. Exploitation continued, between WWI and WWII. In these times there were regulations but mining was done by government or privately, a whole society developed around the exploitation of gold. Where the men would be in the mines and the kids and woman would carry and process the rocks. The town was full of Stamping mills which made constant sounds unimaginable to us and the mountains were barren of vegetation. There were between 3- and 4000 people living in the area working the mines and mills. Throughout the history Guards were patrolling and entry to the mines without permission was prohibited. If you were caught mining someone else his mine at night, or having gold on you that you were not supposed to have it would imply big trouble for you! After WWII most of the land  became property of the state, they basically nationalized everything implying the end of private mining. The time mining slowly modernized

in 1970 they started an open pit mining project on the Cetati mountain, over the years they tore down the whole damn mountain top to take whatever was in it. This open pit mine lasted until 2006 when the state mine was closed. Around 1999 Roșia her gold became very interesting and the mining company arrived. They have a great vision for this place, they want to tear down 4 mountains sides and while doing so flood part of the nearby valley of Corna for the chemical wastewater related to the process. They started buying property around the area to relocate the people. At first a high percentage of the locals were against the company and there fatal plans for these wonderful mountains, they did not approve and did not want to sell their land. The Save Roșia Montană Campaign started to spread awareness of what was going on. Sadly by pressuring the people, threatening them to be evacuated and offering them big money the company managed to get ownership of about 78% of the land to this day. It seemed that Government supported the company through their actions and lobbying. They wanted to pass a law that would allow the mining company to ignore regulations concerning historical monumental and protected environmental areas and it would also allow them to expropriate. Basically giving them the right to send away anybody living in the area without any refusal possible if given an amount of money.  The company even manged to silence the media concerning stories about Roșia Montană for a long time. Meanwhile here were public discussions organized where the Government of Romania and surrounding countries but also the citizens could submit questions that the company then had to answer to verify the legality of their plan. But when push came to shove and the law was close to passing the people of Romania protested Massively throughout the country for an extended period  of time. With the result: No New Pro Mining Law! due to great co-operation of the Save Roșia Montană campaign and the local NGO’s who do not want to sell to the company. The mountains are still live and kicking today!

What once was a wealthy mining hub called Alburnus Maior, is now Roșia Montană a quite little town with not more then a few hundred inhabitants. Located in a beautiful environment great to take hikes, where you can find interesting Natural protected areas and historic monuments like the Roman galleries. A little town which is full of life in summer time due to Festivals organized like FânFest and Volunteers restoring houses to try and maintain its heritage through the Adoptă o Casă Project. A place where you can see what the history did to its environment, but also a place to become aware of what people can achieve if they work together. A place where you can really see the contrast between Beautiful nature and mountains, while if you cross the next mountain you can see a deserted open pit mining site. Its hard to imagine that if the people did not do what they did, this place could just as well be one flat Barren Wasteland.

A little bit of Adoptă o Casă Tales

I arrived in Roșia on the 14th of August, the weekend Fănfest was held. The festival was pretty cool. Basically at night there’s Music, campfires and jamsessions. At day there are activities like Workshops and Presentations about Activism, Environmental problems and Roșia related shizzle. There is also a Forum for discussions and activities for little kids so the parents can do their grown up stuff unbothered. At day its basically a big Social hub to raise awareness and discus on-goings in today’s society, at night the place to relax, listen to music and drink some. I kinda felt like working and being productive but due to the festival i was obliged to relax instead!

That Saturday we took a little hike, our destination was a cross on top of the hill Cirnic, with a detour through Cetati. (the open pit mine) The first part of the hike was somewhat different then usual. Instead of grass, trees and trails. we were walking rough rocky roads, roads where big trucks and machinery used to drive. We trespassed the Cetati mine to check it out and passed some Gallerie entrances. The higher we went, the more green it became but all along the road there were traces of heavy machinery driving there once. Eventually we went off-road and climbed the last bit to reach the top of Cirnic to check out the view over Roșia, the surroundings and the festival. On the way down we passed the Raven rock from which you can see the Valley of Corna.

After the festival we all had to come around, The cleaning and disassembling of the market and stages started and slowly the people started leaving until only the volunteers from the Adoptă o Casă were left. Then finally, it was time to do some work! The first project I got assigned to was the Țarina house (Traditional Farmhouse) which will become the Headquarters of the local NGO Alburnus Maior. Basically the facade of the porch was full of gaps. The windows were fixed with nails but around the windows was open space that had to be filled, I found myself a handsaw and a chisel and started to fill the gaps. As usual with hand tools I took me some time, but superman came to save the day! A local dude named Andrei, even though I didn’t know his name at that moment, I recognize him for I hitchhiked him a few times on his Quad/Trike and his car. When he saw me cutting the boards by handsaw he basically told me that he had a chainsaw I could use. Lovely! with the chainsaw things went so much faster and I managed to fill all the gaps in one day. Andrei also Nicknamed me Tâmplar, at first I thought he meant the Templars with swords and horses. But later I found out it basically translates into Carpenter.

Next step was to apply new wood to the facade to close up everything and make it look beautiful. I wasn’t sure how to do this without proper equipment so I talked to Stefan, he is one of the Founders of the Adoptă o Casă project and I shared my dilemma, luckily the problem was easily solved. The Adoptă o Casă people have quite the reputation around town for they are doing great work for the local community. Basically there is a carpenter in town with a workshop, but he doesn’t use it anymore because he has a different job now. He allowed me to use his workshop anytime I need it! WoopWoop! This gave me access to a Stationary Planer, Thicknessing machine, Stationary Router A Panel Saw, Some old skool hand tools and many Electric hand tools. I felt so at home in his workshop, its hard to describe really. It had been almost 2 years since I used any of these cool machines I used to work with daily back in the days. Anyway due to these developments, Lots of options opened up.

I was one of the few volunteers with some experience in woodworking, Basically they considered me a Master and Master Woodworkers need Apprentices! thus a lady named Andreea wearing awesome scarfs who does woodcarving (like statues and ornaments n stuff) became my apprentice, I had to tell her and teach her everything I was doing. Besides that a little help was very welcome! I started taking some measurements and made some drawings, afterwards we carried the rough wood from Țarina’s to the workshop. An amazing 10 to 15 minute walk through wonderful Roșia country roads.

We started with planing one side of the wood on the stationary planer and made a 90 degree angle to the boards. Then we used the thicknessing machine to make them on the proper thickness. Afterwards we used the panel saw to cut the boards on the right width. As for the length of the wood, We kept it with a few centimeters extra for I preferred to cut them on the right size at the house itself. Working in the workshop was just great! The smell of fresh cut wood, The noisy sounds of the machines, the wood fibers and sawdust flying all over the place getting stuck in your Beard, hair and clothes is just amazing. Doing this again after such a long time working more with Straw and Clay rather than in a wood-workshop I realized how much I like doing this shiz.

While talking to Stefan about making the Facade we decided it would be pretty cool to make a miter joint on the corner of the house. Sadly the panel saw was not able to change angle, instead I cut a 45 degree angle with the router and finished the miter joint with the electric planer. Indeed it wasn’t perfect but it was good enough for what we wanted. That day working on the miter joint Daniel joined us, hes the brother of Andreea and also a woodcarver. Why I share this is because he “photobombed” a picture that gave me quite a laugh when I saw the picture, I didn’t notice it at all at the moment. It was a great day, we managed to apply most of the wood to the facade and the Corner turned out to be almost perfect, Andreea was also of great help and very pro-active, while I was busy, thinking, calculating and doing stuff. She chiseled many little annoying parts of access wood in preparation for applying the wood to the facade. The next week when I was working on a different project, three other volunteers with experience in laying stone terraces made one for Țarina’s. The end result is quite amazing!

You might be thinking, Dude your shizz is not even close to perpendicular, True, the house is quite crooked. but don’t let him play Jedi mind tricks on you! everything is parallel to the windows and door!

Isn't this just the most beautiful Headquarters you can ever imagine!?

Isn’t this just the most beautiful Headquarters you can ever imagine!?

When you do work you like, dayZ pass by fast. Before I knew it it was already weekend. I kind of wanted to continue working like a mindless zombie due my my high level of enjoyment working da wood :))). But yeah, you are together with a group and I was kind of obliged to join on a hike and visit some Roman Galleries. Which in the end was pretty cool. The Roman Galleries were quite the adventure, I’m slightly claustrophobic, not in an elevator or anything. but when I have to crawl under a house for example, or in tiny spaces with a dead end where I cant easily maneuver. Chances are high ill shit my pants one way or another while doing it. The Galleries itself were quite oke actually, around 1.70m high (I am +/- 1.85) and about a meter wide. But we were with a big group, when at some point we stopped in this place to listen to a story of the guide I started feeling a bit funny, somewhat squeezed between all these people in this place I could just barely stand straight. In the end everything was fine and I did not shit my pants. Below some pictures of the different hikes we took and the Area surrounding Roșia Montană.

Even though the facade of Țarina’s still had to be sanded, after the weekend it was time to work on the next project. A Gutter had to be made! Actually Țarina’s needs gutters to but the priority was for Casa Parohială (Unitarian Parish House). Traditionally the gutter for these houses were made out of a split log, hollowed out to make one solid gutter. Due to the time consuming work it would take us to make these kind of gutters we started brainstorming on a different solution. Eventually we decided the best way to make some proper gutters is to make a V shape with a Tongue and Groove joint and cover it with lead. At first I wasn’t even sure if we had the proper router heads, but luck was on our side again! there were some usable router heads present! The total length of gutter needed for Casa Parohială was 9.7meter. The board we had were about 4meters implying it needed to be made out of 3 segments. Routing a 4meter board is not exactly the easiest thing to do by yourself if you want to minimize failure in the joint, Besides that Andreea had left the project that weekend. I had to find myself different help. Even though everybody had their work and there were not much people available, Ioana and Val managed to make some time for me!

The steps were quite similar to machining the wood for the facade, First we would plane the wood, give it a 90 degree angle and make it on the right thickness. Once this was done we could start with machining the Tongue and Groove joint. The workshop is quite small though and a 4 meter board would not fit in. I had to move the router/panel-saw/multipurpose awesomachine a bit diagonally to make it fit. Basically one would hold the board outside the workshop, while I would guide it through the router, after milling half of the board, the person outside had to come inside to support the board on the other side of the workshop. luckily there was a small storage room in the back of the workshop allowing us enough space to safely and properly machine the 4 meter boards.

After the Groove we could cut the Tongue, It took us a few tries to get it centered and fit properly but eventually we did it! Considering the router head for the groove had rounded corners and our tongue perpendicular corners I had to break the edges of the Tongue with a little old skool hand planer.  By hand I chiseled a half-lap joint to connect all 3 segments of the gutter into one big piece once we attach it to the roof. Afterwards I glued the Tongue and Groove joints to make the V complete.

Due to lack of ladders we were not able to attach the gutter to the roof after I finished constructing them, Project gutter was put on hold. To keep things organized ill add the pictures of the result anyway. Because Time travel. Meanwhile the next project was to Restore the gate for the porch of Casa Parohială. I planed two boards in the proper thickness and copied the shape of the fence ornament to it. With the help of a jigsaw I cut out the shape to make a template. I also needed a little piece to fix a tiny part which I kinda stole from the template :)) After gluing the tiny part and applying the newly made board to the gate it looked all cool again!

Again the week flew by as if it was nothing and the end of August was nearing, This meant the end of Adoptă o Casă 2015. Over the week volunteers slowly started leaving and going back home. By the end of the week it was just Me, Ioana and Sorana left. That weekend the locals from Roșia organized a “get together” in the mountains! We decided to take a hike and join them. It was located very close to Detunata, a nearby natural monument. Basically its a big as Basalt rock which looks pretty crazy due to all the obelisks reaching out. We left for the hike Saturday early afternoon. the hike was great! so many edibles along the way like Hazelnut, Blackberries, Raspberries, Plums, Cherries, Apples, Mushrooms and many nice little villages to walk through. The walk took us around 7 hours, we arrive perfectly at sunset.

The night was good, I like fire, Big or small, any campfire is a guaranteed good evening. In NL its prohibited to make open fire, obviously we would still do it. But these campfires are small and if you don’t know the right location police will definitely come ruin your night. Here we were somewhere in the mountains, unbothered. They found multiple fallen and dry trees that we burned over the night. The fire was huge! It for sure reached 2meters and more! I cant recall seeing a “campfire” that big before. At some point I had some mental clashes, Part of me didn’t approve of the fact that we would basically burn 4 whole trees in one night just for fun. Though after talking to the people and finding out they do this once every 2 years or so I could let it rest. Were only human, Even if you are the 100% Eco friendly Sustainable Hitman. There is nothing wrong with doing something completely contrary once in a long while in order to create a very nice moment. Moderation is key!

We chilled, drank Tuica, Talked, Drank more, some around the fire dances occurred, we made food in the fire, Gazed deeply into the fire and just had a great evening until the early morning. Together with three other people we slept in the grass next to the fire. It was the greatest sleep I ever had. When the heat radiating from the remains of the fire became low and the Sun slowly reached the crowns of the trees we moved into the sun to complete our lovely “nights” rest. After waking it was time to check out Detunata but first we cleaned up everything including every single cigarette bud! The view on top of Detunata was really nice, but we had to get going. Due to some shortcuts but also taking our time to gather some mushrooms for dinner, we managed to get back to  Roșia in 4 hours.

Even though Adoptă o Casă 2015 came to end that Sunday, Stefan asked me to extend my stay in Roșia Montană to continue with the carpentry. I Gladly accepted for I was really enjoying the projects and kind of felt the urge to finish as much as I could. Sorana also decided to stay for another week. The two weeks were nice. Even though i’m not really the big group kind of dude and generally prefer to be either by myself or in a smaller company, there were many interesting people I got to know via Adoptă o Casă and great times were had! Sadly this picture does not contain everybody. But anyway Thanks ya’ll for your company and laughter.

Adoptă o Casă  2015 After Fănfest Group!  Good luck on all ya Journeys!

Adoptă o Casă 2015 After Fănfest Group! Good luck on all ya Journeys!

With everybody gone the quiet returned to Roșia Montană. Because me and Sorana were the only ones left, We moved from the Volunteer camping which was close to Țarina’s to Casa Parohială which became our new home for the time being. My next project was renovating the gate for Locuinţă minerească (Miners House), Tică his gate to be exact, I think Tică is a pretty cool guy, eh makes syrups n woolysocks and runs for Roșia Mayor. Anywayz his gate had some ornaments broken or missing and it was not very stable. Long story short, I machined some wood and copied the arches of the ornaments on the new pieces, which I then re-applied to the door, I also restored some broken and devoured wooden parts.

On Fănfest they applied new shingles to the gate in a workshop and they restored the bottom of the supports because they were all rotten. The hinges for the gate though were not yet put back in place. I was in need of help though, so I asked the locals Andy and Andrei to assist with hanging the doors back in place. It was fun working with them. Andrei basically only speaks Romanian with me and refuses to speak English (which is a great thing really) communicating with him goes pretty well actually. Andy though speaks English so in case technical terms had to be communicated concerning the work we were doing he could help with translation. We managed to get the hinges back in place and hang the doors. To celebrate we did some Donuts with the Quad, No people got hurt.

With the gate finished I could continue with the porch of Casa Parohială, There was another gate completely missing that had to be made and the corner of the porch was missing some boards too. I started with adding some pieces of wood to the frame of the porch to make it even with the beam of the floor. Afterwards I machined some wood as usual and with the help of the Template from earlier I cut the nice shapes in the boards. I also had to replace the sill on top of the fence which needed to be fit due to funny things going on in that corner. Everything went better then expected.

The original fence has a rail on the top and bottom, It has a nice profiles too, which I wasn’t sure if I could recreate. I copied the profile on a piece of wood and started checking all the router heads in the workshop. After some thinking I figured out a way to recreate the profile that was not exactly but very similar to the original. This was great news, for I didn’t expect to be able to recreate the profile implying I would not be able to complete the porch.

The first step was to mill the corner with the profile. Once that was done I changed router head to a small half circle and milled the distance of the profile from the edge. Once those two proceedings had been done I just had to use a simple cylinder router head to take away the access wood in between. and voila! EzPz. The sill also needed a profile, basically just some rounded corners and a little profile to connect the sill to the rail. quite the piece of cake really, I just love the way profiles make simple wooden things so much more Awesome!

While working on the Porch, Suddenly visitors! They came out of nowhere. Considering we don't have a gardener I figured ill let them cut the grass

While working on the Porch, Suddenly visitors! They came out of nowhere. Considering we don’t have a gardener I figured ill let them cut the grass

With the Fence practically finished I could start on the gate. I made some more boards with the nice shape on it and two wooden pieces at the width of the gate, In the workshop I nailed all boards to one of the rails and checked the diagonals to be sure its perpendicular. Then I brought it to Casa Parohială to check how high I had to place the bottom rail, not to obstruct any ornaments, but also not to hit the floor. While working on the gate I got more sudden visitors! The cows they came from the woods quite randomly and just stormed in the garden. I could hear them coming actually, the goats though. I don’t know exactly where they came from. I remember I heard a loud noise, my reaction to that noise was. Huuu? Goats?? then all of the sudden there were goats. No green things were harmed that day if you don’t count all the beheaded grass.

It was to bad we didn’t have the hinges for the gate, I was not able to hang it in place. At least I did manage to finish the gate and the porch corner. Sooner or later all the sills and the rails of the porch need to be replaced, for they are all either devoured by woodworm, broken or warped. This will be a project for next year though. For my days in Roșia Montană have come to an end for now.

Its 13th of September now. That Sunday morning when I was enjoying my last breakfast at Casa Parohială with the company of Rufus, (he is a local stray dog who became my friend) the priest came to visit. At first I didn’t realize he was the priest owning Casa Parohială and the church up the hill. but after a little chat I found out. He was the coolest priest I ever met, If i would meet him in a western capital city I would probably presume he was a Gangster, for he was wearing this cool suite with a fedora and had a goaty. He left quite soon for he had to ring the church bell. But afterwards we met at the local shop. There he was just chilling, poppin jokes being a really damn cool priest.

I decided to take the bus back to Cluj instead of hitch hiking, I just felt like staring out the window towards the mountains that were next to the road. allowing me to process everything that happened in the past month. To nutshell it: My time in Roșia Montană was great, Mainly because of the work I could do there that relates so much to my profession, but also due to the amazing people that either live there or came to visit. Its hard to leave a place when everybody is telling you to stay.

Special thanks goes to:
Adoptă o Casă founders: For giving Architects students and Volunteers a chance to Experience, Learn and Develop.
Claudiu: For allowing me to use his workshop, It was of great help!
Andrei & Andy: For being awesome Dudes and assisting me with work.
Gaby: For cooking the greatest of foodz for the volunteers
Ioana: For introducing me to Roșia and suggesting me to visit.
Rufus: Because Rufus that’s why!

 

May the Wind Guide me to far beyond, Over mountains, through sea. To the places I am meant to be.

May the Wind Guide me to far beyond, Over mountains, through sea. To the places I am meant to be.

The other side of the coin,

Arriving back in Cluj that evening was quite something, All these people and cars again. pffff. I met with Victor&gang and we had a beer with some friends. One of Victor his friends is a Geologist who has worked for the same company the Roșia people are fighting against. Talking with him was very interesting, I really value both sides of the coin. After hearing Anti Company stories for a month. I opened up my mind for the other side.

When you think of the fact that Roșia Montană has been a mining town throughout the history, and basically only exists because of the mining. You might get the question what changed? From what I understood the main thing the people are against the company is because they tend to destroy 4 whole mountains, and with that many Historical monuments and Protected areas. Threatening the Environment due to the Cyanide used for exploiting the gold and other heavy metals waste threatening the water supply. At first it wasn’t such a big deal. But after realizing that the mines in Roșia could supply around 214 tons of metals, it became a big deal. Its hard to grasp how much they could gain out of this, but to summarize it in understandable terms. If they would start the mining in Roșia Montană they will basically get enough gold to make New Iphones for the whole planet for the next 10 years. Damn you Apple!

Talking to him and checking out the site of the company. I came to realize they don’t completely want to destroy the whole mountains. They want to continue Cetate until a certain depth indeed, when it come to Cirnic they only want to take out one side of it containing high quantity of metals, Preserving the other side which has lots of galleries and some protected areas. And they want to start 2 smaller pits only on the places where the quantity of metals is very high. After exploiting the metals, they want to refill the pits with the waste rock and re-vegetate it as once was. for all this, they do indeed have to flood part of the valley of Corna to store the Cyanide waste.

Also not all of the people are necessarily 100% against the mining. They would approve if it can be done in a more sustainable way without harming the landscape. For they don’t want their home and surroundings destroyed. Some of the NGOs and locals currently fighting against the company Actually used to be miners them self. Some of them had parents and grandparents in ownership of private mines. They tried to get the privileges back to open up there families mines again. But Government disagreed and instead gave all the rights to the company and thus they started fighting against it. Its a very sensitive topic and there is really lots of stuff going on I can not even grasp. But if you look at it with open eyes and think about it with an open mind you can easily become aware of the Pro’s and Con’s of both side of the story.

The Save Roșia Montană campaign did a great job when it comes to spreading awareness and mobilizing people to fight for Roșia. But Roșia is not the only place with valuable metals. The mountains around Roșia also contain metals. In recent times there have been new mines started and approved in the neighboring valleys to Roșia without any problems. How does this work? Are the people not Aware, do they simply not care or do they not have the power to stop them all? I have many questions. But basically I Know Nothing, Nor do I want to pick a side or point fingers.

Conclusion: Roșia Montană is a wonderful place, with a big history and a high emotional story. I met and spoke to people from both side of the coin. But the Truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I came to Roșia not to fight for or against a mining company, I came to Roșia as a Volunteer carpenter because the Adoptă o Casă project interested me. I enjoyed the month I stayed in Roșia greatly! Simply because I met wonderful people, I could practice my profession and while doing so really feel and see how much my work was appreciated. When I return, it will be for these reasons.

post

Tiny Strawbale Project

In June we spent 2 weeks at a different project. A tiny strawbale house far away from the city, supermarkets, internet and crowded places. A little village somewhere in sălaj county Transylvania. A little village where the locals live like back in the days, where everybody grows their own food, has their own cow, chickens, pigs and sheep who roam freely mostly, where they distill their own alcohol and wine, make their own cheece, yogurts and juices. wake up at sunrise and sleep at sunset, roam the mountain and forest for mushrooms, berries and fruits. A place where if you want to make a phone call you have to climb the highest hill first for there is no reception otherwise.

It all started a few years ago when Victor had the possibility to get access to a small plot of land for free, under the condition that he would build a natural home on it. With the help of a Fundraiser and lots of interested volunteers they started building. Initially it was a place to practice different techniques like earthbag foundations, strawbale walls, cordwood walls, plastering with clay and lime etc. These days after lots of experiments the tiny strawbale house is almost finished and ready for use! Some videa have been made of the early process which you can find Here and Here!

We arrived on a Tuesday, basically that day we set up our tents and hammocks, checked out the status of the house and discussed what work had to be done in the next two weeks and organized a bit. Afterwards we visited our neighbor who gave Victor the plot. Because there are basically no facilities present our neighbor offered to cook lunch and dinner for us. We also had a Team Upgrade! Bahara from Canada and Stephen from da Zef side joined us for the duration of the strawbale project. The first few days we focused on plastering the inside and the back of the house, there were some cracks present which we had to fill, then we applied another layer as preparation for the final layer. The back of the house doesn’t have much roof extending over it, therefor we filled the bigger cracks and made preparations for applying shingles.

The days passed like crazy, We woke up at 08:30, this was the time your tent starts to feel like a greenhouse and we would head to the neighbors to enjoy breakfast. The neighbors have an Ox and we brought Serials (No not kellogs!!). Oh man!!! Ox milk!!!! that shit is so delicious, every morning we were able to enjoy fresh Ox milk, pour them over your Serials, add a spoon of Jam or some fresh honey. mix it up and awwwwyeah! Best Serials Evah! afterwards we would work on the strawbale house for a few hours and head back to our neighbors around 14:00 when the belly starts to rumble, to enjoy lunch. This is where shit got real. For lunch would be soup, occasionally one or two shots of țuică before consuming the soup. Because this is Romania, so you better take that țuică or you gonna get a hayfork up your ass. Especially in the country side where the traditions are still followed on a daily basis. Anyway the soups were awesome! I’m not even sure what kind of soups we ate, I remember there was a Potato soup that was so damn good! also some cabbage soup and vegetable soup. Next to the soup we would eat a green onion straight from the garden and a few slices of bread. sometimes we got some slănina which is basically salty pork fat from their own pigs. Sadly I don’t like that stuff to much so I tried to avoid it as much as possible. We worked for the rest of the day until 19:00. For dinner we ate Pastas, Rices, Polenta, weirs stuff made from eggs and lots of other amazing food, sometimes for desert Ox yogurt with cherries.

Besides all this greatness, what I really enjoyed and which is pretty common throughout Romanian villages is that everybody has their own cow. In the morning there is this one guy who takes all the cows and brings them out of the village to the pasture where he watches over them. There the cows can chill out and eat grass for the rest of the day in complete freedom. In the evening the guy would guide the cows back to the village. The cows know where there home is, so the owners open up the gate, cow walks in and goes back to her stall to get ready to be milked. Or sometimes your just walking the street, and then all of the sudden this little kid comes passing by, driving these horses pulling a wooden cart with hay or other random stuff.

That first Friday we went to the gypsy lake in the afternoon, well lake? It was more like a artificially dug hole in the ground with some water, next to it is a gypsy village, so basically they use the lake to wash their clothes and their self etc therefor the name. But it was nice considering the super hot temperatures! that night was a complete different story, the local distillery started making some țuică. Because we were foreign to the village we got invited to be honored guests and experience the process, have a taste etc. Oh man that night! not only was it very interesting to see with your own eyes how Vodka and țuică is made but having a taste of this stuff when its freshly made is quite amazing. We had a great sober instructive night! The next day some friends and family from Cluj joined us, we plastered like crazy but were also very lazy. Sunday as usual we were not allowed to work, so instead we took a hike through the woods and picked some mushrooms for dinner.

After the weekend we got back in rhythm and got the productivity to maximum.  We started debarking some logs to finish the cordwood wall and made the door frame. On the south side of the house we initially planned to make a wall of glass, due to the circumstances and no ability to make the whole wall of glass we decided to close up half of it. Besides that Victor didn’t try the Straw/Clay method yet, with my straw/clay experience from Lithuania I explained and showed them whats the deal! while at it we tried to make a “perfect” circle with bottles, something I need to practice more! afterwards a sudden urge to decorate the inside made us make the Seed of Life in the middle of it. “lovely man, oh so lovely Victor Quoted”
Meanwhile building the straw/clay wall with the help of Jon an Brahaha for the mixing, Victor and Zef side Steph worked on building the extension at the entrance, Basically they had to dig three holes in the ground for poles, add a at right angle rule, to eventually add three more rules in an angle for the rain. everything turned out to be fine! We made the straw/clay wall, Decorated it, Closed the other part of the wall with glass, Made the door frame and the extension and add the final layer of plaster almost everywhere!

We also got asked to help stack some hay. Hay is a valuable resource here for it is used to feed a lot of animals and considering cows and horses eat quite some hay throughout the year you need to have sufficient amounts of it. After they cut the hay with the scythe they let it dry in the sun for about a week. turning it around every day. Once it dried they stack it on one big pile. Traditionally the woman stays on top of the haystack, while the dudes gather and pass the hay to her. They add a layer of hay, the woman pushes it down, they you remove all access and loose hay from the sides and bring it up again. This pattern repeats until all the hay is properly stacked. Below you can see me professionally passing some hay to the woman on top of the stack. They use home made steam bent hayforks which are perfect for the job. In the end they twist some hay from the bottom of the pile in a rope, then they add this on top of the pole to lock the hay in place basically. its magic man. When everything is done, the woman on top of the 8 meter high haystack just jumps down without any problems and does a funny dance to complete the process.

Even though the project is close to finished, The cob floor still has to be made. There is still some work to be done on the outside and the Extension at the entrance, also the door before it is completely finished. But all in all, it were 2 great weeks! with lots of fun. lots of delicious food, and lots of țuică, but mostly lots of instructive experiences and another project almost finished! and all this made possible due to great teamwork and help from (almost) every corner of the world!

Strawbale Project Team!

Strawbale Project Team!

On the way back to Cluj we took a little hike and checked out a nearby Waterfall. the hike was very relaxing, with a trail next to a river. going all the way up until you reach the waterfall. there we chilled for a bit and just listened to the sounds of falling water. I cant remember I had ever seen a waterfall up close like this. it made quite the impression on me. Besides that, I love the sounds of flowing or falling water! its very relaxing!

post

DIY: Barrel Oven

Cob ovens are great! they are easy to build and maintain. The thing is they take some time to heat up before you can use them, meaning that you can’t spontaneously bake a delicious cake. There is a solution to that! Its The barrel oven! The barrel oven is a very practical and wood efficient oven to bake your delicious cake in and doesn’t require much expensive materials either. It is mostly build of brick and clay, but you do in fact need a proper barrel and some steel parts. The barrel will act as a cooking chamber, the heat generated by the fire directly below the barrel will also be stored into the ovens mass slowly releasing it afterwards. Because the fire is directly below the barrel and the air circulates around it, the oven becomes very easy to heat up (in approximately 15 min) compared to the domed cob ovens, thus saving lots of wood and waiting time. For this reason the oven is great for spontaneous cake baking!

We build one of these oven for a soon opening hostel in Cluj Napoca, Let me show you how we done it, hopefully this will help you to build your own amazing Barrel oven!

First we started with digging a hole for the foundation one by one meter wide and approximately 60cm deep. In the hole we carefully placed stones to get it level with the ground, filling the gaps with smaller stones. The top layer of stones we filled with clay to stabilize them. Meanwhile one of us started mixing a clay mixture for building the base of the oven.

With the foundation done we started going up one level with stones for about 10 cm. On this layer we used clay for every single stone to be stable and properly fitted. Once that was done we placed the ash-drawer in the middle and stacked stones around it to make it even with the drawer. Two metal strips were placed on the bottom for the drawer to slide on, while on the sides we used bricks to guide it. Once the stones were even with the drawer we leveled it with clay, making a straight and even foundation for the next layers of bricks. We placed the bricks for the grating to sit perfectly above the ash-drawer and laid the outer contour of the oven.

Up next we stacked the bricks on the outside as high as the door for the fire chamber. We carefully fitted the door and started preparing for placing the bricks on the inside of the fire chamber. The bricks on the inside are placed in a 45 degree angle to help guide the heat from the fire to flow around the barrel. We used stones to support them and added clay to make it air tight. meanwhile the ash-drawer worked perfectly as a clay catcher to catch access clay and reuse it. When we finished placing the bricks in a 45 degree angle we added two more layers of brick on the outside square before we started on the arch.

To support the barrel we added two L shaped metal strips from front to back, then we used six metal strips bent in half circles to support the bricks for the arch. We also added one layer of mesh between the metal supports for the arch and the bricks, to make things a bit easier and so the clay could not fall between the barrel and the bricks. The chimney rests on two of the metal arches with bricks and clay keeping it in place and air tight.

After finishing the arch we used the small pieces of brick the cavedude was chopping to fill up the access space between the barrel and the arch, making it air tight with clay. Then we made a sand/lime plaster to smooth out the outside of the oven, we added about 2 nice layers of lime plaster. Due to the fact that a roof will be build above the oven soon and the final color of the oven was supposed to be brown we mixed some clay with water and brushed in on the final layer to give it a nice brown finishing touche!

The final Result.

Now thats what I call a great looking oven!

Now that’s what I call a great looking oven!

Made possible by the best team in da world!

.

.

 Curious how to make a domed cob oven? check out DIY: Rocket Cob oven!

post

Să creşti mare!

Riding the bicycle, something I love to do and something that has been quite common for me throughout my life, almost daily even. ever since I started traveling, riding the bicycle has not been that common sadly. While staying in Lithuania I bought a bicycle in Vilnius and whenever I went to Vilnius I would enjoy riding the bicycle. As for Romania these days i’m borrowing a bicycle and use it all the time when i’m in Cluj! what I like about riding the bicycle in Easter European countries compared to back in The Netherlands, is that there are basically no rules here (except for in LT you had to wear a reflective fest “officially” and in RO if you cross a zebra you should step of your bike and walk it). besides that you can ride you bike wherever you want, basically you just act like a car when your driving on the road or act like a pedestrian when you decided to ride the sidewalks. The thing is though, that in most East European countries there is not much respect for the bicycles in general and there are hardly any bicycle lanes. Implying that either you get stuck in a pothole and make  front flip, or a car tries to drive you off the road to gain an extra 100 points.

For this reason Critical mass got invented. Critical mass is a gathering of bicycle every last Friday of the month, the big group rides their bicycles on the main roads to show their right in traffic and let people know that they are fucking awesome! To show cars they should accept and respect their presence in traffic. It originates from San Francisco and the first ever Critical mass was held in 1992. the great thing about these gatherings are that there is not really any leadership. The one that’s in front of the group can basically decide where there going and its not seen as an official protest or demonstration due to the no leadership. There just happens the be a huge group of bicycles riding together as a group every last Friday of the month ;) Due to my love for bicycle, Ioana notified me on this awesome gathering, we joined the ride and got a pretty cool tour of Cluj Napoca!

Up in the mountains things are doing great, a few weeks ago we started on the garden. The garden Victor used last year had to be moved so we had to make some new raised beds on a better suited location. Basically we took out patches of grass, then dug out a few squares approximately 20 cm deep, afterwards we threw in some manure, put back the grass but upside down! add another layer of manure and throw back all the soil we dug out. This gives you a very fertile nice raised bed to grow some veggies, we planted some veggies and these days there growing amazingly! without any watering of weeding to be done, its just plant and wait until you can harvest. maybe an occasional re-adding of some hay so the moist stays inside of the soil!

Meanwhile I finished one of the beds in the Illumicabin. We don’t have any power up there where we are building the cabins, so I had to make everything by hand which was a very good opportunity to practice some lost arts. Before making the bed we had a good chat what it should look like and we decided it should look rough with cracks and gaps, not everything has to be even and 100%. so I just started choppin some mortises and tenons, and just went with the flow. The bed turned out to be very sturdy and Awesome! The mattress is made out of hempfabric with straw on the inside. the bed is made out of oak logs and boards from locally chopped oaks.

Apart from that we have started working on the sauna, with the Illumicabin basically done and Jon just working the cracks and the final plaster layers in the Piracabin while helping with other tasks, We had lots of time to do this, First of we had to cut some trees and peel them to make the support of the sauna, afterwards we ordered some more wooden boards that had to be cleared of bark. then we just started building. The crazy thing was, the wood provider was not able to bring the wood that day when we needed it. this meant we had to bring them up manual. So yeah I have carried 6 meter long boards on my shoulder for short distances before. But I never expected I was capable of doing this, while climbing a very steep mountain with the end part of this climb being forest! maneuvering myself with the crazy heavy and long board through all the trees. It was crazy and quite intense at some point. But very mind expanding. A detailed post about the construction of the sauna will be written once we finished it.

Besides the sauna we have been going to Cluj for the past 2 weekends, we got an offer to build a cob oven for a future hostel in Cluj. Of course we took it! we initially planned to finish it in one weekend, but we had to use some metal parts for the dome and were using the fancy doors. sadly the guy welding the things was not capable of welding it on time so we had to spread the project over a few weekends. We are close to finishing it, but its not quite there yet! You can read all about it Here!

Because we have been going to Cluj more often lately I have been staying with Ioana quite a lot. The thing is she’s working on her Thesis and Project for she graduated Architecture, but to get this fancy word in front of your name some things have to be done. This girl though, is fkn mad! she works like 18 hours a day straight, trying to avoid going to the bathroom for she doesn’t want to waste her time on this. Luckily for her, i’m a pretty cool guy and have been trying to “take care” of her as much as I can. (Actually its slavery, for she just demands this, otherwise she’ll drain my blood and turn me into a vampire) She’s a Vegetarian though like most people around me all of the sudden. Implying that all the food I want to make for her has to be without da meats and although I love to sarcastically complain about this and make jokes, it has been a good thing! I have been learning how to cook proper Vegetarian food, like a Vegetarian Lasagna some pasta etc, got some crazy Salads going on with some inspiration of Victor. I even learned how to make an Apple pie and home made Chocolate! The most wonderful thing about Romania (or any other Easter European country for that matter) is the fact that people still grow their own food and make their own things. Seriously! The fruits and veggies here are so damn delicious! Recently Ioana’s parents came to visit, they just brought a box full of cherries picked that morning from there 100% organic backyard garden, some strawberries and home made jams and Zacusca. all this wonderful eatables! And even though she is very busy, She made me home made peanut butter when I started to get Withdrawal symptoms for not consuming peanut butter for a while. Looks like she made it up to me for microwaving my food!

As of tomorrow we are changing location, Victor is building a Strawbale house for his NGO in a little village some 150km from Cluj, some new volunteers will be arriving tomorrow and with them we will head to the Strawbale house to do some plastering, build some more facilities and finish as much as we can! Due to this place being in a smaller village and still under construction, there is no power or running water present. Were gonna stay there sleeping in our tents and hammocks. cooking on a small rocket stove, using the neighbors water hose to take a shower etc. going back to basic. heall yeahhh!

.

.

post

Hiking to Citadel

We did a hike towards a old abandoned/destroyed citadel. The hike was about 8 hours total, the first hike I ever made in my life over the crazy mountaintops of Transylvania.
Due to the fact that I have been feeding you with way to much text lately,

This will be a Silent Audio/Visual experience

 

Gotta love dis

Gotta love dis

post

Mâine du Pâine la Câine

On Wednesday evening I arrived at the project, approximately a 1 hour drive from Cluj deep into the mountains! My arrival was great, Walking to the bus in Cluj I saw this backpacker dude. When I got into the bus he also entered a few minutes later. We didn’t really speak but I figured he would probably go where I was going. Which was the case. We both got out on the same station where Victor was waiting to pick us up! The dude was from USA, named Jon and doing as I am, traveling and volunteering at natural building places. At the time a German couple was also Volunteering (but only until the next Tuesday) that evening we all got to know each other and got a little tour of the area.

Basically we are living on the mountain slope, below in the valley is a village called Valea Ierii. the village and people living around here are Orthodox, this means we are not allowed to work on Sundays or Religious holidays for if we do so the people come running at us with their Scythes and Hayforks, The Thursday and Friday were Religious holidays. So we decided to take a approximately 8 hour hike on Thursday to get to know the mountains around here. Pictures of this hike can be found Here! On the way home that evening we picked nettles and Victor made us a delicious nettle soup with an baked egg and Polenta.

 

So what have we actually been doing here in the past 2 weeks?

Well we started with working on the cabins, there was a lot of plastering to be done both inside and outside. There are two cabins, The Illuminati cabin and the Pyramid cabin. The Illucabin structure is made of wood, on the outside are shingles, to isolate the walls are filled with birch bark, on the inside is clay plaster, the roof is a green roof. The Pyramid cabin is made out of logs, the gaps of the logs are filled with clay/lime plaster and the roof made out of shingles isolated with Straw and plastered inside. We will build a small rocket stove in both cabins and of course some beds when we finish outside and inside!

The first weekend after our arrival Victor invited some friends to hang out. Basically we were working, and the visitors were just chilling at our cabins, having fun, and making us delicious food. For hard working people will work harder with their belly full of  the most delicious of delicious foods! like seriously! the food here is delicious, mainly because most if it is home made or grown, and when I say home made I really mean home made, the Țuică, Wine, Beer, Sugar, Syrup, Vegetables, Milk, the Jams, Zacuscă. everything is either from a parents garden, local farmer or market and we try to avoid supermarket as much as we can! In the two weeks I have been in Romania, I have eaten more Mushrooms and Cheese and vegetables then I ever did in my life! also I have not been eating meat except for the first of may!

On the first of May is da labor day, In Romania it is tradition to have a BBQ and eat mici (which is basically a sausage of mixed meats with some spices). Our neighbors are quite poor people if you judge them by the amount of money they posses, if you judge them by their experience on how to live without money and friendly/openness they are richer then the 1%. So we brought some mici, some beer. and celebrated first of may together!

Mici with Mustard, Bread and Salad. + best people in the world = A good time!

Mici with Mustard, Bread and Salad. + best people in the world = A good time!

Our neighbors Ferarri!

Healll yeahh!

Healll yeahh!

We have been chopping and stacking  firewood and taking hikes once a week. But to continue our work we had to get some more locally chopped Oak wood. the local lumber/sawmill dude lives down the slope of the mountain, but was friendly enough to come all the way up where our Cabins were to bring the wood by horse and carriage!

The progression of the terraces we made of the Oak will be shared soon! but! you can enjoy this little sneak preview if you like!

The cabins were actually living in are lower on the mountain slope, Basically its a wooden house with a living room, small kitchen, and on the second floor 3 bedrooms. we cook on fire! but we do have a boiler for the shower (what a luxury!) Every morning we climb the mountain up and up to the Cabins were working on. This is one part of the road were walking! Its the best walk to work ever!

Walking Towards da Cabins

Walking Towards da Cabins

So yeah, to put everything in a nutshell. This place is amazing! The food is the best I ever ate! the work is very cool and enjoyable! Working on the cabins every day you look over the mountain tops and down into the village. The horses, cows and dogs of the neighbors are walking everywhere for they are not in cages or stuck on chains. it is silent, except for a bird or the cows and pigs from the village who’s roar is heard on top of the mountain even. the air is pure and smells good! the apple and cherry trees are blooming! Dandelions growing!

for your amusement some more pictures!

.

.