Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The curse of Mount Gaina

There's one item I won't be able to cross off my bucket list this time, alas. I've long wanted to go to a folk festival which has been held in Romania's Apuseni Mountains every July for the past few hundred years. Called Targul de Fete de pe Muntele Gaina (or the Girls Fair for short) it was originally a way for shepherd boys, who were stuck up in the mountains all summer, to meet girls from the surrounding villages. These days it's a festival of folk music and dance held on top of 1800-metre-high Mt Gaina. Getting there was a mission. Alas, the first day of the festival was hit by torrential rain which turned the mountain into a quagmire and wrecked the stages and stalls. The performances went ahead but in a village in the valley which just wasn't the same. Normally about 5000 people attend but the weather kept numbers well down. I saw just one other tourist. 
The rain was more than any tent could stand so I found a dry barn to sleep in. If the farmer noticed he was kind enough to pretend not to see me. As I was hitching a ride out of the mountains the driver said: "The weather there is always shitty. That festival is cursed." 

* The photo shows a group of village women with Alpine horns, traditionally used to communicate across the mountains. 

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