Three summers ago I had the most boring holiday. It went on for five days and it involved my boyfriend, my sister, and my father. It was my wish for us to go to the Danube Delta, to the same village we kept on going to since I was a child – Crișan. Unfortunately, my mother did not join on this occasion.
Daily activities included: drinking coffee by the river, eating fish every single day, taking naps after lunch, reading, going for walks, playing rummy. Without distractions – no internet, no TV, no bars – and almost isolated from the rest of the world – three hours by boat to the closest city – the days seemed longer and the company sweeter.
I loved our aimless walks along dusty paths, to the end of the village and back, the chats in the shade of poplar trees, a beer in hand. We went for a boat ride one early morning when the light was pink and the river was still fast asleep. The view of mist rising from the water under the first rays of the sun, the air still chilly, is one of the most beautiful memories. Just as beautiful as revisiting the house of Tarasov family, our hosts throughout the years.
I wrote my thoughts on a piece of paper, as they happened on that day of July 2014, and will share them at the end of this post.
Fields of Dobrogea:Tulcea, the gateway to the Danube Delta:Crișan village, the Danube Delta:
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Crișan, July 30th, 2014
Danube Delta, the way I remember it, no longer exists. Only people’s houses remained. People have changed or left. Some have children calling them “daddy, daddy” when they return home in their boat, after a long day of work.
I find myself in a state of total contemplation. I dream of an eternal summer here, in the Danube Delta, and a house where I can find some shade when the midday sun becomes unbearable. A house to welcome the memories of all things which irreversibly connect me to this place, forgotten by the world and reclaimed by water and weeds. Comforted by shade, I would close my eyes and surrender to recollections. It’s only them that can bring back a time I’m always longing for.
Never before has an encounter with Crișan moved me so much. And it’s not that I feel shaken. On the contrary, I feel very peaceful, thoughtful, and contemplative. I am my best self here, more than ever aware that, although everything around me looks the same or vaguely transformed by the passing of time, I haven’t changed at all. I am the same child of summer, with dusty feet, forever in love with the sun, the Danube, and the smell of boat paint.
This rudimentary life attracts me and makes me feel so alive. The sunburnt skin of men coming back home exhausted yet satisfied, at the end of a hard day’s work in the gardens or fishing. The voluptuous bodies of women who know how to row the boat just as good as men, and who, at the same time, can make pies, and children, and take care of the household. The ripe fruits falling from the trees and rotting on the sandy ground, the thistles, the dragonflies, the sweet scent of flowers along the alley leading to the house…
Danube Delta, the way I remember it, no longer exists. Yet here I feel more real than ever. In this forgotten fishermen village, in the land of waters, my soul feels at home more than it has ever felt in the cosy house by the canal where I live in Amsterdam. At this very moment, when I can hear the willow by the shore moving gently in the melting air of this summer day, my Western life seems nothing but a spiceless story.
I am not ready to go back. I am not ready to leave the Danube Delta. I have never been ready. I wish I could stay here for an eternal summer, making pies, and children, and kissing salt on sunburnt skins.