From Cluj we set out to the amazing Transylvanian countryside. Our destination was a village called Rosia Montana. Of course we didn't miss the opportunity to take a shortcut through the mountains which ended up being a gravel road passing along a few remote villages. As interesting as these sights were to us, we sparked an even greater amount of interest in the locals. After getting a little bit lost around the maze of gravel roads, we made it to our destination - Rosia Montana. Some background on what this place is all about:
To put it short, the region has the largest undeveloped gold deposit in Europe. Since Roman times, people have exploited its gold, however recently, a company called Gabriel Resources has emerged with a project to build an open pit next to Rosia Montana and extract the resources using a dangerous and controversial technique called cyanide mining. This would ultimately pollute the whole vicinity and locals would have no other option than to relocate somewhere else, which is exactly what Gabriel Resources wants to achieve. This company shadows over every aspect of life in Rosia Montana and just hearing the stories about it, you get the feel of a classic anti-utopic novel. When entering the village, you are immediately greeted by a sign that blatantly states "Rosia Montana exists thanks to its minerals". The next one says, "The mining company has invested 17 million in the village so far", followed by "We plan to invest another 70 million" and this goes on, they've put up signs on almost every house. It doesn't stop there though, their methods include bribe, intimidation, blackmail etc. The people, on the other hand, demand the most basic of things - to be left to live on their own property and work their own land.
As we entered the village, there was a car following our caravan. Turned out this was the police, we found two other cars parked around the central square waiting for our arrival. We later found out that they had information that a member of the EU parliament was going to visit and they expected at least 20-30 cars to come along with us. To their disappointment only us, five travel-weary adventurers staggered out of a dirty caravan. We couldn't really stick around to asses their level of disappointment as we were greeted by our host Calin, who took us on a short trek up to the property of one of the local activists - Eugen David. He and his family were just in the mid of planting onion seeds on their land. We sat on the fresh green grass and enjoyed the picturesque view of the Carpathian mountains, while waiting for Eugen to take a break. The serenity of it all was amazing. To add to that, Eugen explained that for him, this is the perfect life. Living off their own land, being outdoors, enjoying the air, the view. For him this is the true happiness and he's living it, in comparison, you have the complete opposite that the mining company stands for. In terms, this goes beyond the local level, it's a clash between two totally different world views and approaches. Eugen is happy with the fact that he can feed his family and live on his ancestral land, he is well aware of all the material things the modern world has to offer, however he doesn't actually need all that. He added that the biggest problem he'll have is if he ever starts to desire all those unnecessary things. It's worth hearing the interview we did with this man, as he has a lot to share.
The sun was already setting and we had a long drive to Pungesti ahead of us. We drove off hesitantly, leaving the beautiful Carpathian village behind us.