Căruța Travel Diary. Trip three. Vatici

How is it to feel like home even when away?

Text: Maria Axenti

Photo: Tanya Obuh

I feel good. I feel relived and I want to sleep. I am looking back and I see people chatting between themselves, as they were old friends, and have not met just this morning, before departure. The landscape from the window is changing. We are going back to Chisinau. The first trip within Căruța Project went great.

I recall how three weeks ago we were only going to see Moș Anton (Uncle Anton). At that time, we didn’t know that he would be the hero of our first trip. I learned about his guesthouse from a news reportage and I was sure we have to go to see that place.

“Bună ziua! Bongiorno! Gutten Tag!” Mosh Anton welcomed us in all the languages he knew. He used to be a film technician and worked for Moldova-Film. The Soviet movie “Be happy, Julia” it’s just about this life, as he confessed. The crisis of 90s put an end on the profession he liked so much. In the efforts to feed the family, his wife went to work in Italy. He also went. But came back in a few months. The life away from home was not a life for Mosh Anton. By chance or by fate, he found out about an old house for sale in his village Vatici. He bought the house on family savings and started to invest soul and money in this household.

Today this place is a beauty. The terrace, the cellar, the fence, the kitchen, are all made in a traditional way as a time-machine bringing us back a century ago. Mosh Anton tells us about the pieces he collected all over Moldova and today are exposed in his museum – he restored the old, more exactly, the 186 years old house he bought 16 years ago. Pottery, wooden vessels, knitting objects, guns, towels, icons, dozen of pieces bearing history had found their place in this improvised museum.

In our test trip, we agreed only to see the place but Mosh Anton, hospitable like every Moldovan, invited us for a lunch with delicious home made food. And home made wine, obviously. Later, with the travelling group, we sit at the same table, enjoying the same warm, home-like atmosphere.

The courtyard is big, with long wooden table and chairs just as in the court of my grandparents. A scene, a fireplace are provided for warm evenings with shows and concerts. When we were for the first time, the court was empty, only some puppies were playing in the grass. Today we made it lively as it should be. Some laid on the grass, some on the porch. At the wooden table, we were tough to weave with willow branches. Our teacher, an old local men, used to be a painter. He had strong hands and patience to explain to everyone “Hold here”, “Take that one”. Two baskets – a nice one (made by the master) and the one less nice (made by us) are now in our garden as a souvenir from the Căruța trip.

Oh, yeah, Căruța! “Căruța” means “carriage” in Romanian. In our test trip, Mosh Anton introduced us his friend that usually takes the carriage rides. He came with his niece. Since we are Căruța project, there could not be a trip without a carriage ride! That was our surprise prepared for our travelling group. A real ride in a carriage on the village roads. That was great!

Orhei district where Vatici village is located is famous for the thick forests – Codri, monasteries and historical places. We could not miss that in our trip. In the test trip, after visiting Mosh Anton, we decided to go to Donici village to check the local museum-mansion of a famous local fabler. The road was through Codri. The road was on Google maps. The road was confirmed by Mosh Anton. The road was not there, though. We were amazed how our little city car managed to try those improvised roads. After a few scratches and half-meter grass on the supposed road, we gave up our idea. “We will not bring tourists on that road” was a unanimous decision.

For the final trip we prepared a wiser tour. We went first to see the Donici Mansion (from the main road with asphalt). We saw the old house, the local Church built by the Donici Family, then we went to Curchi Monastery – one of the most beautiful in Moldova. Along with the history of the monastery we discussed about the role of religion, prophets and spirituality. And then we arrived to Mosh Anton.

“Bună ziua! Bongiorno! Gutten Tag!” he said and invited us in. How good is to feel like home even when away!

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