Romania’s population is declining as more and more Romanians leave the country for better-paying jobs in Western Europe. Nearly everyone I talked to — the students, those who worked at the monastery, even the priests — had a relative in Spain or Italy or England. The monastery was also a home for older women on the pension, and their children were in countries like Belgium, the United States or France.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Somewhere In Europe/Hotpink!

Prior Alexie’s sister and her family visited the monastery one day — they were living in Spain, and were taking their annual trip back home. They kindly offered to take me to the nearest town, Fălticeni, so I could find a payphone and try to solve the problem that was my cell phone. Before leaving, we waited by the car, everyone conversing in rapid Romanian, until her husband walked by in the direction of the kitchen with a long knife that was dripping with what looked like blood. No one seemed to notice, and we got into the car.

I crammed into the backseat, between the youngest son and the Prior’s sister, speaking in a strange linguistic mixture that I’ll call Françeñol (“Donde esta tu habites?”). It generally worked fine (at least until we arrived in Fălticeni and I discovered they weren’t in fact returning to the monastery and I didn’t know how to get back).

At one point during the ride, on our way down a long hill, Maria turned to me and said a word I didn’t understand. “Ce?” I asked.

“Porco. Porc?” She pointed to the back.

“Oooh,” I said slowly, having a feeling I understood. She lifted back the flap. Sure enough, there was an enormous and recently-alive pig. “Oh là là!” I cried, which I think is an incredibly stupid thing to say when you discover that you and two others are sharing the same four square meters as a freshly slaughtered pig. At least it explained the bloody knife, though.

Maybe it was this one?

Maybe it was this one?

The Essex Green – This Isn’t Farmlife


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