Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Muddy ethics

Vármező (Campul Cetatii) is a small village of no great interest (mostly famous among vaguely local people as being the location of one or two well-known trout restaurants) on the intermittently rubbish road between Sovata and Reghin (see map, up there ---^)

We went there not because we have an insane desire to visit obscure and out of the way places, but because Erika's cousin's daughter and her boyfriend live there (my first-cousin-one-removed-in-law?) and work in the local pension. On Friday night a chance online-bumping-into-one-another on Yahoo messenger (I think) and before we could think it through for too long we'd made a reservation at the pension and were working out when to leave in the morning.

The place they work at and that we stayed at is called History which is an odd name for a pension, but there you go. (Erika thinks that it's a dodgy translation of something that would be better rendered as "Reminiscences" or something). The off-season rate was an extremely reasonable rate of 99Lei for the room (in which all 4 of us could comfortably sleep). It was, with no shadow of a doubt, the best hotel room I've stayed in in Romania. Not that I've stayed in that many, but I have done a fair few. Really well designed and well furnished, and the restaurant is superb too. So, if ever you're looking for a place to stay in an out of the way village in the middle of nowhere, then this is the place for you.

We also, as this is the role of my firstcousinonceremovedinlaw, borrowed three ATVs and went out with them. I would have said rented, but family connections and all that meant that we didn't actually pay anything for the privilege. Now here I have to confess some slight moral quandary. You see, I hate ATVs. (By the way, by ATV here I mean "All-Terrain Vehicle" rather than the ITV Midlands TV channel from the 70s). I think they probably trash the environment, and they certainly cause a lot of noise pollution which can be very irritating if you're off out for a nice quiet walk in nature. I feel the same way about snow mobiles - you're off out for a nice walk in beautiful scenery and then someone comes zooming past on some ultra-loud monstrosity. Now, we weren't disturbing anyone's weekend nature ramble, partly because almost no-one in Romania actually goes walking in nature just for the sake of walking in nature (I mean some people do really get out there and out into the wilderness, but the kind of leisure area in between hardcore hiking and sitting around at home is, broadly speaking, unoccupied), and partly because being "mud-season" it's really unpleasant to walk anywhere much.

However the fact that it was muddy, must also mean that we were churning stuff up more than usual. We did stick to the forest roads used by loggers, so in fact we didn't tear up anything that wasn't already being torn up in a much worse way by dirty great trucks lugging out half the trees. In the grand scheme of things then, we weren't really ruining the environment to any great degree (at least relatively), but on a think global, act local basis, I have some serious qualms.

But you know when you're zipping along a muddy road with your three year old daughter wedged between your legs shouting "woohooo" and laughing uncontrollably, it's pretty hard to be that self-flagellating.

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