We live in a global community. These days, borders get thinner, and as we travel more and more, our world gets smaller, and it’s very hard to imagine that there are places still left hidden, and in plane site, non the less.
The Danube Delta is one of these places. A place of unaltered beauty, a haven for wildlife, with its unending canals and big lakes, the Delta is filled with tourists every summer and autumn. But come winter, it is transformed, and while for the tourists the Delta is still a warm memory, for the locals is anything but that.
A close friend of mine and the best photographer I know has dedicated his last 14 years documenting through his images the Romanian countryside, the hidden places, the people, the customs and he “contaminated”me, as he did countless others, with a love not only for photography, but for the (still) untouched beauty of our country. So, you can imagine that when he asked me to join him in an expedition to the Delta, in the wintertime, I couldn’t pass.
Oh, and what an adventure that was..The boat that usually makes the run to Sulina couldn’t make it because of the ice packed on the canals, so we decided to drive as far as we can and then see what we can do to arrive in Mila 23, our destination, where our friends in the Delta were waiting for us. But how do you drive in a place where the cars have no reason to be and therefore no roads are built for them? The answer is: carefully. And after a few long hours through mud, we made it to Gorgova. All we needed to do now was cross the 200 meters of the canal, which proved to be “mission impossible”. Lucky for us, the locals had warmer hearts than the weather outside, so we found shelter with a couple there, who took us in their home and gave us a place to sleep. And after we told them why we came, to photograph the Delta in the winter, to show people something they never saw before, the next day they took us on a “walk” across one of the largest lakes in the Delta, lake Gorgova. That was a surreal experience for me. The silence around us was broken only by the sounds of the ice cracking and by our heavy breathing. And we found there exactly what we came there to see: the local fishermen at work..and it’s a hard work. First, they have to break the ice and make tens of holes, every 10 meters or so, over a distance of a few hundred meters. Then, starting from one end they spread their 250 meters of fishing net under the ice, pulling it from hole to hole, and take it out on the other end. It’s an operation that takes all day, and many times with almost no results. For us it was an extraordinary experience, spending the day there, with them, talking to them and taking photos, the high point of our trip, and we could go back home the next day with a sense of fulfillment.
So if you had patience and got here with the reading..thank you, first of all. And second, if you find yourself “lost” in that tiny bit of South-East Europe called Romania and don’t know what to do, forget Dracula’s castle. That was a fictional character made up by an Irishman who was never actually there..instead, go visit the undiscovered country, the Danube Delta. :)
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