Roman Malanke

A Tour of Fatherland

As I’m writing these lines the train carries me through the hills and fields of Western Ukraine towards the capital. It has been a great week in the Romanian-speaking part of Bucovina, the native land of my father. My family and I came here to celebrate 83-rd birthday of my grandpa and we used the occasion to savor some of the experiences that this land has to offer.

Even though I used to come to this region regularly when I was a little child I did not fully appreciate all its goodness until now. Beautiful green hilly views, crystal clean air, local-made all-natural organic food isn’t quite something that a small urban kid can really appreciate. But now as an adult, after all the fuss and noise of a big city, a week in an authentic Romanian village felt like a true health resort. And those pitch-dark nights with no sound in the world, oh, what a quality of sleep!

During all our stay the weather was very favorable to us, so we spent all of the daytime outside. We had our morning coffee on the porch and dined at a large table standing on the grass in the middle of the courtyard. And the food, it was delicious! Fresh sheep cheese, lamb soup cooked on the campfire, and of course, traditional Romanian Easter bread were the best.

One of the most memorable experiences of the whole trip was the run my wife and I did together. We started at the house of my aunt and headed towards the border with Romania, which is only several miles away. On our way we crossed wide hilly pastures that open some amazing views hundreds kilometers out. We also passed a beautiful dense forest, were we stopped to drink clean and fresh spring water from a shadoof-like ancient well. Some 200 meters before the frontier we were met by a friendly but very serious-looking border guard who asked to see our IDs. We told him that we just went for a run and wanted to take some pictures at the border. He explained that we were not allowed to go farther without documents and kindly asked us to head back, to which we respectfully complied.

On our last day after breakfast we went for a walk to the river of Prut, which is just a couple of miles away from the house of my grandfather. The weather was warm and sunny so I even bathed a little in that swift current of refreshing water.

The week passed as a blink and now as we head back to our normal life routine my biggest wish is that my grandfather lives many more years and our family keeps getting together often in my fatherland. La mulți ani!