The way down from the Transalpina over Lake Vidra leads us over a small pass into the valley of the bees. We drive eastward past countless bee camions and finally choose one to replenish our honey supply. If you want to see bears, you have to have honey with you, is our motto. And we still haven't seen any bears yet. So we go all out ;-)
We just make it to Bezoi when a big thunderstorm surprises us. Fortunately, we are in a driving break on a large parking lot and can sit out the storm here.
Today we absolutely need to fill up our water tank again. At the second gas station we already find what we need. It is always a great relief when the supplies are full again. The onward journey to Sibiu is finally a bit more relaxed. The mountains and the winding road are now behind us. In the late afternoon we finally drive into Hermannstadt, the German name of Sibiu. It is Sunday and the traffic is probably less than during the week. We park at the edge of the central cemetery. During our evening walk we discover the largest cemetery we have ever seen. There are regular streets here that run right through this graveyard. In Romania there are actually only family graves. These are of course much larger than what we know from home. The variety of names, on the other hand, seems to be less. A walk through a foreign cemetery is always exciting.
We could have expected that there are still dark figures in the cemetery in the evening. The night vision cameras mounted on the FRAME keep us informed about every transaction. Our imagination processes what we see into wonderful detective stories. At some point, however, sleep overcomes us and the guys out there probably just move on to the disco.
So Monday is now bulk washing day. On the drive to the laundromat, which is only three kilometers away, we quickly notice that this cannot be a normal Monday. Women in traditional dress and far too little movement in the streets. It's Assumption Day, a national holiday. Fortunately, the salon is still open and it is even empty. This means for us speedy washing and drying, so that we are already finished around noon. We treat ourselves once again to a meal on a cozy restaurant terrace before heading further east.
The area between Sibiu and Brasov, which we are now heading for, is very mediocre compared to the previous routes. But the roads are still very good and we make good progress. We need that now, because since yesterday our air conditioner in the driver's cab is broken. It blows, but it does not cool. At temperatures around 30°C we just have to open the windows. Of course the co-driver is still much more affected by the heat, because we still drive daily in eastern, respectively southeastern direction. Until we reach the Black Sea it will probably stay like this. For Brigitte, who doesn't like to be cold, I consider this as a reward ;-)
In Brasov, the first attempt to get the air conditioning working again. After a two-hour analysis and the discovery that one of the four relays is no longer working properly, the exercise is unfortunately aborted. They don't have 24-volt relays here. Nothing but expenses. We drive about ten kilometers north out of town to spend the night once again at a small river. The area looks very poor and the litter factor is accordingly high. But our campsite is surprisingly good, quiet and surrounded by wild sage. After the blueberries in Apuseni and on the Transalpina, the blackberries in Hunedoara now fresh sage. Mother Earth is a wonderful, huge garden after all. Brasov, by the way, like Sibiu, Sigishoara and Alba Iulia, is a fantastic Transylvanian city and definitely worth a visit. That's why we visited them all extensively when we lived in Romania and don't go city sightseeing on this trip with the Unimog.
The next day we try our luck at the Scania Truck Center and finally also at Mercedes. We are shocked at how overworked these companies all are. No employees, no capacities. Waiting lists like in the Gault Milaut restaurant. We decide to continue without air conditioning, despite the heat, because we have a mission and want to arrive in Valea Lupului on Thursday. There we have an appointment with Cornelia Fischer, the founder of a children's home that we have chosen for our charitable project. More about that in a moment.
Today's route takes us from Brasov southeastward toward Lacul Sirius, a reservoir that dams the Buzau River in the county of the same name. Romania is divided into 41 counties (judete). Buzau, with the county capital of the same name further south, is one of them. The area looks something like the foothills of the Alps, not spectacular, but interesting thanks to the lake. We hope for a night camp with lake view. According to the coordinates this could work. But the reality is a bit different. You have surely experienced this: The hotel brochure promises "rooms with side sea view" but without leaning over the balcony in a life-threatening way, you can hardly catch a sea view except for skyscraper facades. That's about what our sea view was like at the advertised Park4Night location. Nevertheless, it was nice and quiet and as so often we got free guarding of a four-legged friend living here.
Only about 20 kilometers separate us from our destination in Valea Lupului. Valea Lupului actually means wolf valley. But here it is the name of a village in the valley of the Buzau. True to the name, we actually saw an old wolf not far from Valea Lupului when we came here several years ago.
Consequently today we take it leisurely and postpone the continuation of the journey from the "place with lake view" to the afternoon. For dinner we meet with Cornelia in the pension Valea Lupului, behind which we also get parking and accommodation permission. We are standing in the middle of the village, not far from a railroad line, where every now and then an old locomotive passes through.
Cornelia tells us during dinner the latest news from the region. We haven't seen each other for four or five years. The last time we were with her was at the children's home, which is very close to here in Panatau. The children we met then have of course grown accordingly and are probably hardly recognizable. We are already looking forward to the visit, which is scheduled for the coming morning.
Cornelia is a Jill of all trades. Not only has she been caring for the neglected children of society with great dedication for over 30 years, but now she also tells us about her projects for tourism and environmental protection.
The children's home organization was founded by Amurtel after the Ceausescu era. Called the Amurtel Family, it is a hybrid of a Foster Family and a classic children's home. Today, the 14 children grow up together as in an extended family under constant professional care. Psychological care plays an important role, because the children all have a complicated and unpleasant history. Some were abandoned as newborns, others grew up in broken families, sometimes under violence. Still others are traumatized by experiences that simply should not be had at a young age. In Cornelia's extended family they are in any case in good hands and under the best conditions for a healthy development.
So it is with great anticipation that we drive to the children's home in Panatau the next morning. Despite the years that have passed, we recognize one or the other family member. Like most of the time, the children are busy with something useful when we arrive. Most of them are in the garden preparing a vegetarian dish in a gigantic cooking pot. Hospitable as they always are, we are allowed to taste the food right away. There you notice immediately, it is not only very good, but also cooked with much love. The dish tastes simply heavenly.
We spend a short but very nice time in the Amurtel family. Brigitte once again pulls out her Polaroid instant camera. The kids love to see themselves in the pictures and this right away. The younger among them also find immense joy in the bubbles and stickers we brought along. Finally, we take three big boxes of our donations out of the Unimog. From good clothes, almost new shoes, fashionable belts, accessories and gadgets that make great gifts, as well as a bit of electronics, there is something for everyone in the boxes. The kids are happy, we are happy and our dear friends at home who donated should now be happy too. There is nothing good, unless you do it, Erich Kästner just came to my mind. Shouldn't we do this every day?
In the further course we still discuss with Cornelia about God and the world. She gives us examples of the fates of her Amurtel family members and tells us about her guesthouse, where the children can find work opportunities and integration into society as adults. She and Brigitte are both former nurses and therefore have a lot of common experiences due to their profession. Cornelia is also well-traveled and very cosmopolitan, ideal conditions for exciting conversations, which we both enjoy very much.
The day, with the children and Cornelia was a wonderful day. However, we want to continue our journey and cover an estimated 50 kilometers today. Because a next highlight of our trip is waiting for us. Our good old friends Walter and Larissa have invited us spontaneously and are expecting us this evening at their fantastic winery of LacertA, on the northern edge of Wallachia.
Next Blog: 1.8 From the red wines to the Black Sea