Romania: Daia – Storm Bells Ringing

June – August 2016

I’m not sure what Daia means in Romanian, but in my mental dictionary it is ‘authentic, beautiful, rustic, irresistible’ 🙂

Meadows at Daia

It is hard to remember that all the world used to be like this. No car noise – merely the sweet chirps of sparrows, and the whinnying of horses.

The streets are old, and stray dogs play in them.

Daia streets4

This is Transylvania at its purest. Daia is everything that a medieval village ought to be. And the transects! If there’s a more beautiful corner of agricultural Europe, I haven’t found it.

Daia transects1

Walking in these meadows is to be lost in a fragrant dream. Crushed thyme infuses the air with every step.

But like all the best parts of the world, Daia is moody – the weather spins on a dime from suffocating hot to something entirely else:

July 29th

Hear the loud alarum bells– Brazen bells! 
Bells, bells, bells! What a tale their terror tells of despair! How they clang, and clash, and roar! What a horror they outpour on the bosom of the palpitating air! Yet the ear, it fully knows, by the twanging and the clanging, how the danger ebbs and flows… (Edgar Allan Poe)

Bells cry from the church tower. Not continuously, but after each peel of thunder, and today there are many. I’m told it’s a ritual; people here believe it will drive the storm away.

The light levels are dropping although it is only 5pm, and wind is licking around the tent corners, but so far no rain. The thunder is more than weather; it sounds like the sky itself is rending like a –

Plastic sheet. I think that’s what I meant to write. In the middle of that sentence the wind slammed into my tent like a tidal wave. I was ready (in the sense of having footwear donned) so grabbed my laptop bag, slammed the laptop into it while running, and bolted for shelter. These clouds are painting grey blotches, circling overhead like aerial hunting creatures.  It’s like being inside a plughole watching the torrent circle.

Storm coming2

Lightning strikes, sheet mostly, and from all possible directions. The sky is a living thing that roars at us. Nearly the whole expedition huddle under the lecture room roof, save the botany team, who are getting a swimming lesson somewhere out on transect.

Bells, bells, bells! They’re still ringing…

The storm consumes itself, and the sky is given over to night.

Daia church at sundown

4 thoughts on “Romania: Daia – Storm Bells Ringing

  1. A nice, vivid post, Adele!

    It would seem that you were treated to a meteorology demonstration, Adele … They can present valuable information, as well as a spectacular show. Unfortunately, I’ve always been one more fond of the latter, rather than absorbed in contemplating the former. My folk have always had to drag me in by main force, to avoid me being incinerated by lightning.

    In more primitive areas and earlier times, storms were given great respect, since they could do so much damage. I’m glad you had the bells to alert you, and the sense to get yourself indoors.


    1. LOL, yes, lightning – like grizzlies – is best admired from afar.

      I’ve had to dodge thunderstorms in all the expeditions that I’ve joined. Romania was the most entertaining because the terrain was so open. Storms in the Mexican jungle posed less of a hazard. I did have one unusual evening in Croatia where I was taking some students out on a night drive to look for nocturnal mammals, and the sky exploded so violently, one would have thought that a volcano had erupted. We beat a hasty retreat.


  2. Ha, that storm seems to have been a major one. And the wind… in 1990, on my way to Budapest to my first Kendo seminar and tournament, a train that I was travelling with, got hit by a wind storm that rushed over the Hungarian flat lands in amazing speed. The moment it hit, the whole train composition shook for about 5 seconds, it felt like an earthquake 😀
    I like those photographs of fields from the beginning of your post, remind me (again) on Croatia. That street, though, looks very old…


    1. Wow, that must have been quite an experience. I’ve heard stories of windstorms in Alberta allegedly derailing trains but Europe certainly has some very dramatic weather too.

      Daia was the most ‘unimproved’ village that I visited. Everything about it felt old and authentic. Like the other villages, it dates from the Saxon era but I don’t know exactly how old these houses are. I can imagine that people have been bringing the hay home on that street for many centuries, though.


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