Wellness back home

This blog is about my exchange student period in Romania. Will reflect my personal view about the socio and health care sistem here and very personal experience in carying of a terminalli ill brother. Blog will tell about the culture, way of living ,differences between Finland and Romania, experiences my guests from Finland are having here in Romania while visiting my home village and its beauty and wondar.

Enclosure of my exchange student experience in caring for terminally ill loved one

 Words fail most of us when someone we love is dying. But beyond hugs, words are what we have left.
We need finding new ways to speak about the unspeakable. But what to say when you dont know what to say?

 Sree Chakravarti: “I think only through suffering all our wonderful human qualities come out in us. Unless and until you suffer, how will you understand other’s suffering?”
But how can you be most helpful to someone in need when hope appears lost. What is the best way to  deliver news to a terminal diagnosis? What is the most reasonable and thoughtful plan for terminally ill care?

The terminal illness of a loved one is one of the most devastating things that a family can experience. It has the potential to break down the bond that holds a family together, causing stress, anxiety and issues of conflict among otherwise healthy, loving individuals.

My brother passed away at home surrounded and supported by all of his loved ones.The moments he passed away I had my hands on his forehead and with my tumb was wiping away his last tear.

 Professional care need to have the capability to handle the complex issues that are involved in the care of a dying person. Also, they need many special skills: ability to deliver bad news, knowledge to provide optimal end-of –life care, and the compassion to allow a person to retain his or her own dignity. Critical to talking with someone who is dying is practicing the art of listening: be present and wait… Or ask a question and wait…One of the greatest gifts you can provide, whether you’re a family member or professional carer is the gift of touch. Even when words can no longer be spoken, the gift of touch is a potent form of spiritual communication.

The individual who is caring for a terminally ill loved one will simply find burdened with a great deal of mental anguish. As time passed by,  I have found much peace in the knowledge that I made a difference to the quality of his end of  life and it has given me the strength to go on with my life.

 If you learn from your suffering, and really come to understand the lesson you were taught, you might be able to help someone else who’s now in the phase you may have just completed.
Maybe that’s what it’s all about after all…

 ” Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it”. Helen Keller

And memory will never fade away…


Balneology, balneotherapy and wellness in Romania

Romania has a very big potential to became a  very important destination in Europe for Spa Vacations. Romania has an important natural potential for Spa and balneo treatments. Romania abounds in hydrothermal resources. More than one third of Europe’s mineral and thermal springs are located in Romania. There are almost 2000springs: trace water (cold and thermal) , carbonated, alkaline, salted, iodite, ferruginous, sulphurous, sulphated and they are being known for their curative properties even in antiguity ( it can be seen the ruins of spas the Roman Imperium have builded in Romania). Geologically, most of the spas in Romania are formed in a continous salt layer. And bath can be taken in salt lakes which were appearing  after a wall of the salt mine collapsed.In different areas there will be different chemical composition of the thermal water, therefore it will be used for different diseases. To the use of therapeutic geothermaly heated mineral waters are attributed many cures and health benefits. The hot springs effect on the human bio energy system has been much studied.

The large range of Carpathians Mountains are the host of a lot of Spa and Balneo Resorts. Some of the oldest and largest salt mines as Praid, Turda, Slanic Moldova, also  are in Romania.
Started by Romans 2000years ago and unique in Europe  today Romania’s 70 natural spas treatment centres located in picturesque, vivifying surroundings  provide relief for many medical disorders and illnesses including rheumatism, endocrine, kidney, liver, respiratory, heart, stomach and nervous diseases as well as nutrition, metabolism and gynecological disorders.

Balneology is the study of natural spa waters and their therapeutic applications. Throughout Europe and Japan, balneology and hot springs therapy is very much a part of routine medical care. Medical prescriptions are given by licensed doctors for the treatment of a wide range of conditions, and utilizing mineral waters as a part of preventative medicine is widely recognized and encouraged.

Balneotherapy is the practical study and application of the health benefits of water. Bathing and cure treatments have been playing an important role for a long time as the healing power of water was already known in the ancient world. Waters were believed to have supra-natural properties, especially if they were peculiar in respect to their taste, colour or temperature.
The hot spring source is related to the  two primary classification of hot springs: filtration hot spring and  primary hot spring. A filtration hot spring is a geothermally heated mineral water that is initially fed by rain water that seeps into the Earth through faults and fractures. As it travels into the Earth, it becomes subject to increased energy from natural geothermal heat, and is exposed to gases and  wide variety of minerals from rock and mineral deposits. The water absorbs the minerals via leaching, is heated by the geothermal heat source, and then returns to the Earth’s surface. A primary hot spring is a geothermally heated mineral water, where direct volcanic activity plays  greater role in the process of the hot springs formation. One of the fundamental physical distinctions between a filtration spring and a primary spring is the mineral and gas content of the water, such as radon and bromide. Primary hot springs are often “powered” by magma chambers which exist miles under the Earth’s surface, as well as in volcanically active regions.

A mineral spring contains greater than 1000 mg/l ( PPM ) of naturally dissolved solids.And accordingly to PH level the hot spring  waters may be classified as acidic, basic, or neutral, according to the balance of hydrogen in the water.

 European medical doctors have conducted research into thermal therapy, and have found that: hydrostatic pressure in the body is increased and this results in increased blood circulation and cell oxygenation; the elimination systems of the body are thus stimulated, improving the body’s capacity to detoxify; the body’s metabolism is stimulated and this results in improved digestion; 3 to 4 weeks of regular thermal bathing can assist in the normalization of endocrine glands and assist the automatic nervous system.

European balneologists have extensively studied the therapeutic value of mineral waters. Mineral springs with different mineral content are often recommended above others for various therapeutic uses.

 Not everyone should utilize high-temperature hot springs for therapeutic use. The state of one’s metabolism and the  presence of medical conditions is the determining factor when considering the most safe and healthy water temperature to bath in.

Contraindications to Hot Water Natural Mineral Springs Therapy: conditions involving high fevers,extreme hypertension,malignant tumors and cancerous conditions ( internal ), liver, kidney, or circulation disorders,conditions presenting the risk of hemorrhaging,anemia.  Conditions, pregnancy,congestive heart failure, recent stroke, or recent heart attack, bathing under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


Via Baltica Transylvania trip

As an extension to my exchange period and lobby I continously make for Romania, I have got oportunity again to bring two Finns to visit Romania two weeks ago.We have been driving via Baltica,and Eastern Europe was founded interesting, as it is an area of many contrasts: farmlands, mixture of fertile plains and high mountain ranges. The central position of Eastern Europe has opened it up to population movements from all directions. Down to the ages Eastern Europe has also been at the crossroads of trade routes between Western Europe and Asia.  Therefore you are met there with a mixture of languages, cultures, traditions and  architectures. The ancestors of the present inhabitans of the area settled there mainly between  the fifth and tenth centures AD after they have been driven  out of their homelands: the Slavs originaly came from central Russia; Hungarians originally came from Central Asia and settled on the central plain of Eastern Europe from the tenth century onwards; the Jewish began moving into central areas of Poland and Lithuania from the twelfth century after persecution drove them out of Western Europe; the Rroma people  made their way up from nothern India at the end of the tenth century.There is also a strong influence in Romania of the descendants of the Germans settlers who came to the Transylvanian Alps in the thirteen century. Romania is located in the Balkans near the Black Sea. Romania enchants travelers with its diversity: be it natural or cultural .Over the last decade it has known significant development and is one of the most recent members of the European Union. Still it may surprise some of its visitors who are used to Western Europe.

Romania is a large country which can sometimes be shocking with contrasts: some cities are truly Western Europe-like while in some villages locals live as they did a few centuries ago. While it has significant cultural similarities with other Balkan states, it is regarded as unique due to its strong Latin heritage. In fact, the Romanian language and grammar are so similar to old Latin that some might not tell the difference. Things for which Romania is famous for include: the Carpathian mountains, Constantin Brancusi, medieval fortresses, Dracula,wine, Gheorghe Hagi, the Black Sea, monasteries and the Danube Delta. The mountainous Romania,is believed to be the most beautiful country is Eastern Europe. Romania contains by far the largest area of the Carpathians, and forms the eastern and southern boundaries of the region. 55.2% of the Carpathian region is located within Romania.  47.4% of Romanian territory is part of the Carpathian mountain range.

The tour of the main romanian sights  are included in the UNESCO heritages list. A journey through the history and culture of Romania  will include old cities, castles, fortresses, monasteries and churches.

The Wild Carpathatia is characterized by  varied landscape owing to the different types of relief particularities (glacial, karstic, riverine, structural-lithological), the alternation of mountainous and depressions units, gorges and valleys and the diversity and configuration of the vegetation. The fauna of the Romanian Carpathians is extremely rich and varied. They contain the highest concentration of large carnivores in Europe, with estimates of over 6000 brown bears ( biggest concentration of bears in Europe), 2500 wolves and some 1750 lynx living in the region.

The Romanian Carpathians represent an exceptional tourist attraction.Nature has been generous with the land of Romania, characterized by variety, proportion and harmony. So you can walk or climb just about anywhere you like, both during winter and summer time, as well as in spring or autumn. The Carpathians can be a great experience. There are  large range of opportunities for hiking, mountain climbing and winter sports or about the natural therapeutical conditions or the coziness offered by the resorts which lie on this itinerary.  

Transylvania is the mysterious medieval region with a rich and long history, mix of cultures, traditions and legends. You can see castles and fortresses, fortified churches at every step that you make here, you can find more of the myth and reality of  Transylanian legends, try local food and experience local traditions. As a result of almost nine centuries of Saxon presence, Transylvania, located in central Romania, claims a cultural and architectural heritage unique in Europe. This region is home to nearly 200 Saxon villages, churches and fortifications built between the 13th and 15th centuries. Seven of the fortified Saxon churches were designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. A visit to these quaint villages will give you a taste of the long-gone medieval times.

Transylvania is also home to the exquisite medieval town of Sighisoara a perfectly intact 15th century gem, one of the most  preserved medieval city from Europe, (former Dacian settlement  and also called “the pearl of Transylvania”) was founded by the German immigrants in the second half of the 12th century and it was turned into a city in 1407. It has nine towers, narrow passageways and cobbled streets, burgher houses and ornate churches.

 

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sighisoara is also the birthplace of Vlad Dracula,

nicknamed Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes), ruler of Walachia from 1456 to 1462. It was Vlad who inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional creation, Count Dracula. His house is just one of many attractions here.Others include: the Church on the Hill, with its 500-year-old frescoes; the Church of the Dominican Monastery, known for its Transylvanian Renaissance carved altarpiece, baroque painted pulpit, Oriental carpets and 17th century organ; and the Venetian House, built in the 13th century. Clock Tower and History Museum,Birth place of Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), Covered stairs, Church on the Hill.

 After visiting Sighisoara, we have been driving to Sibiu, former capital of Transylvania, designated European Capital of Culture in 2007 is  one of Romanian best  pedestrian centre, filled  with restored  Gothic, Renaissance and barogue buildings. Sibiu  was the largest and wealthiest of the seven walled citadels  built in the 12th century by German settlers known as Transylvanian Saxons.

Some interesting facts about Sibiu: in 1797, Samuel von Hahnemann opened in Sibiu the world’s first homeopathic laboratory; Sibiu is home to the first hospital in Romania (1292), the first pharmacy (1494) and the oldest museum in Romania, the Brukenthal Museum, opened in 1817 ; the first book in the Romanian language was printed in Sibiu in 1544. The Brukenthal Museum is the first open museum from Central and East Europe. Was erected in the late of 15th century in the palace of Samuel von Brukenthal, the Habsburg governor of Transylvania and who established its first collections around 1790. The old city of Sibiu was ranked as “Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live” by Forbes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Sibiu we drove to Turda, anciest Potaissa town,conquered by Romans during the rule of Trajan, between AD 101-106.

 

We  eat in a Dracula theme restaurant…  and slept over in a very medieval syle hotel.

 

 The guardian of the Dracula´s reastaurant

 
My son sitting on Dracula´s throne
 
This you can see in a corner of the restaurant..
 

 ..and then you just feel like psying a visit to the stylish toilet..

..then bed would be a nice relieve.. 

 

 After a good sleep,and stomach back in shape, we were heading to Salt Mine Museum in Turda. The exploitation of the salt started about 2000 years ago, during Roman occupation. This  was closed in 1932, since then becomming a genuine history museum of salt exploitation.

 

 were we took a boat on an underground lake inside the salt mountain.

 

From underground visit, we drove all the way up to 1100m above the see, in the Wild Carphatia,  Apuseni mountains.

Our trip to Transylvania started and ended in my small village.

Village considered the heart and the soul of Romania. It is the place that combines simplicity with kindness.Nowhere else in Europe the medieval ways prevail as they do here and where the peasant culture remains a strong force. A trip to a Romanian village is a lesson of history, culture and geography without a teacher. Just look and listen carefully to the show that surrounds you.

Nature is majestic place around, and local life, so quiet but so rich, will not let you indifferent. The smell of burnt wood, smoke from the chimneys of houses, beautiful scenery, carts on street … All those brings you to the image of old villages where the pace will slow flowing and people are there … Masters of the places for centuries.

Villlage talks about life, about man´s power of owning and knowing.

A places where moral and spiritual values ​​are kept and each becomes a man.

A natural world where you feel the earth is a part of you.

 

And where the woods will make you come back to the basic joys of your existence

 

 

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Reflexions over witnessing nearing death awareness

My brother and I  travelled  on his last journey together, miles of emotions, spirits, courage and strength. I am grateful that I  was granted  with the courage and the strength to walk beside him to his life’s end and for the peace I found in the knowledge that I definitely made a difference.
Living in expectation of a loved one’s death is like sitting on a time bomb, knowing it is going to go off and being powerless to stop it.
Caring for a cancer  terminally ill loved one is overwhelming, sometimes even catastrophic experience.

To bear witness to the ravages of  the disease,  to want and need to do something, to know you are powerless to stop it, to refuse to believe  that there is nothing that can save, to wish  and hope and search for miracle only to find that there are none. It is a huge burden. Physically and emotionally exhausting.

When come the  time to accept that the one you  care for it is actualy dying, you begin grieving for the loss in your life. Your  grief  is compounded by your sense of  helplessness. There are so many frightening and unanswered questions. Will there be much pain?

 My acceptance of my brother`s impending death came with a fierce determination to help him achieve quality of  life for the remainder of his days. As I witnessed his incredible courage, it brought forth in me a fierce determination to ease his journey. My knowledge allowed me to be one step ahead of the disease progression and gave me the opportunity to have medication — and later, some physical aids. My knowledge regarding pain management and symptom control, enabled me to take an active role in his care. The object of pain management is to always be in front of the pain. Pain in cancer is debilitating, it dramatically affects  ability to participate in daily routines and in most cases takes away the will to live.

I have remained strong and I believe I was helping him to die well. It comforted me that he was not afraid of dying. He knew that his long courageous battle was almost over. He has accepted it and was  at peace.

I got also  the  opportunity of a glimpse into the spiritual realm through the eyes of the dying person, who experiences a  heightened sense of awareness,  especially when death is imminent. I am sure that my brother knew instinctively the time of  his death, and was able to “see” visions or images of someone or something, and  experienced a sense of calmness or serenity prior to his death.

The journey with  my terminal cancer ill brother has taught me many things, above all, the true meaning of  love, and the strength of the human spirit.

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Back to Finland:grieve stress management

My son&I arrived in Finland late in the night. A friend picked us up from the airport.

Next day, I was bringing my son to a playing ground and join a painter friend to see her exhibition where some of the paintings were about the beggars from Romania on  the streets of  Helsinki.

Coming to Jyväskylä and being here, starting over again or continuing my life in Finland  I have got to experience a weird feeling of freedom. And I am sure that I have got that sense of freedom by letting go of resistance. Instinctively, I knew that letting go resistance and create awarenness of the present moment will be effective and instant stress management tools. To lose someone dear,a family member, a brother it is painful. Emotional suffering.  The pain is there, the grieve is there, the stress is there. During summer I have suppress my grief, I kept strong, I was needed for others, expecially my son and mother.

I let go resistence one evening when lightning a candle on the  kitchen table and looked outside my balcony saw a beautiful sunset over the lake. I remember how much my brother liked watching same lake,  one year ago he was my guest in Finland, how much he wanted to get better and come back to Finland.

I start crying peacefully, and had a weird feeling that he is there with me, or that he knows I miss him, I am sorry he had to go, and I will carry him in my heart. I wanted to keep his watch and wallet. Both he got it from Finland, from his good friends. Feels good with his watch on my wrist and wallet in my bag.

I have experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt. It  felt like the sadness will never let up. The  feelings were frightening and overwhelming. But  I knew they are normal reactions to loss.

I think feeling I have experienced most was a profound sadness. A profound emptiness. And I was emotionally unstable. Among physical symptoms were terible fatigue, aches and pain, some weight gain and insomnia.  In school  I have had great difficulties in concentrating, understading, gathering thoughts together.

But I have allowed myself  to feel what I feel. I have understood that it’s important to be patient with myself and allow the process to naturally unfold.

And I knew that I have to accepted them as part of the grieving process. I knew that it is necessary for healing.And I took it easy. I gave time to myself, to feel, to recover emotionaly.

My son was going throught same grieving process as me. He was talking much about my brother, they had a very close relation. He woke up many time in the morning and told that he dreamt about him, that he wasn´t dead, and that they did different things together. An he was crying often.

Everybody goes through the stages of healing in their own way. Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. There is no right or wrong way to grieve — but there always are healthy ways to cope with the pain. 

I tried to do all the regular things that need doing: eating, exercising, going to work and  school, socializing. There were very many things needed to be  done. I took one think after another, and some  were forgotten or postponed.  Tasks  were  done, one after another, and each time felt like great relieve. And I have seen my friends regularly, they come visit us, we did things together.

 Many people prefer shielding themselves from friends in their moments of pain and I think  that is a wrong approach. Grief that is expressed and experienced has a great  potential for healing. And, in the end, that eventually can strengthen and enrich life.

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Leaving Romania

Was a very hot day, even thou was end of August already.  My son was prepared to leave, he was missing very much his friends and daycare. He took  on his bag back and went waiting outside the gate much early before taxi was supposed to came pick us up for the airport in Budapest.

 

In the beginning of summer I have explained to him that we will stay in Romania as long as the corn and grapes will be  ready and that will be end of August. We´ve already got to eat plenty of them and the day has come. Some neighbours as well as cousins came to say goodbye.

They all were weeping, and told they will miss us.

Last hug to my mother and words of encouraging: she has lost her son, and now her daughter and nepfew are going to living abroad.

The village with its simplicity, warm hearted people and beautiful landscape was left behind.

Very soon one of the car tires broke, and driver was swearing about Romania´s roads. He was not very happy to fix a tired under the hit of 36 degrees. While we waiting in the car, along one village street, I watched villagers and grapes and fruits on trees and animals on the street, car passing by. Noticed two men and a little girl aproaching. Time was 1 a´clock, 36 degrees and girl had uncovered head. She start crying, and one of the men, who was holding a bottle of beer, hit her over the  head. She cried even harder, men hit  her one more  time,then took her hand and drag her after him. It made me very upset to be eye witness to such scene, and thus , the last memories and feeling about Romania which I took it with me and followed me all the way to Finland was of bitterness.

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Returning

I have now been back in Finland for two months. There has been very much to process after the summer exchange period experience, and found it really difficult to  gather my thoughts and to write it down.

Now there is some distance from the happenings  and I got my time  in  recovering and managing stress due to the death of a loved one.

 I find myself   now  able to talk again about the summer events, and sumarise my  acquaintances in caring for  terminally ill loved one.

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Child in exchange

As going for an exchange and as a single mother, I took my son with me. It was guite a convenient situation, I could actually say that it was a perfect match: for the student that the child was with grandmother and relatives when doing school work and travels and for the child, a child brought up and educated  in Finland, that he could be in our home in the country by origin for a long period, from late spring to beginning of autumn and he had witnessed all the field works and willing and very interested in  taking  part of them, from sowing to harvest, he saw animals being born and growing under his eyes, he got an understanding of where food comes from ( and that must be  an important aspect, nowadays when most of the children think e.g that the milk come from supermarket) and a certain sense of responsability for work. He is also so much enriched by having got the chance to see that there is another dimension of life, to see that people can leave differently than he was used to in Finland. One of the best of all was maybe that he got his mother tongue very well. But he was missing very much his home from Finland, his friends and daycare. And it made me happy to understand that he hasa sense of belonging. And he also got acquanted with the situation of seeing  someone  very sick and with the lose of someone very dear. One time he told me that I am his hero because I managed to fix one toy but I assured him that he is actualy the hero of the place.

 First spring flower in the wineyard

First spring bouquet for mama

Jumping on own bridge

Puting  potatoes with grandmother

Making a demonstration of Finnish style

Making an engel on the ground

With uncle and our pigs left out to run in the yard

The favourite animal

Feeding the chickens

Hiding in the hay

New born rabits

Own dove

Cooling down the puppy

New born chickens

Runing the geese

Having fun with friends

A ride with horse

Fishing by the stream outside the house

 

Hoe the wineyard

 Picking up first  pumpkin

Getting first corn

First grapes

Cooling down in the summer hit

Learning how to make bogracs

Walk in  the village

Horse ride around the village

On the edge of the village

 Wonder of a sunset in the village

When mother-student  was really busy with the writings, he used to build around  the desk our `home`

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Teacher´s visit to host institution

On the second day of my teacher´s staying in Romania we visited Caritas Catolica Marghita, my host institution for home care nursing.

The manager of the place was missing that day, so we meet the two nurses of the place. We were invited to coffe, and soon after that we got launch. We got company for launch, some noisy pupils from Step by Step Program from normal school in town.The feeling of the moment was that everyone there is free and egual.

After lannch, we visited the home care which was upstairs. There were 25 patients.The place was nice, clean, and the pacients were well taken care of and pacients looked happy.

The best of that day was when one of the pacients, 84 years old, asking where my teacher is from and when I said Finland he start singing one Finnish song, he learn when he was young. Teacher was very pleasantly surprised and also th eman was surprised that teachet knew the song and they start singing together. And when they finnish the song, both of them had tears in their eyes. Guite a touching moment.

After that we took a round together with the home care nurse to some to some of the 35 home care patients.

The nurse was young and warm hearted. She had something nice to say or a warm hug to each of the pacients or relatives. My teacher noticed what a bless the nurse is for those people. How much they like her and how welcomed she is. How much hope and emotionaly confort the nurse brings to those people.

At the end of the visit, teacher`s conclusion was that the home nursing care is preaty much as the home care nursing in Finland. So, my host institution was accepted for exchange place.

Two different generations of nurses. Two different countries. Two different socio-poiltico-ecomomical sistems. But one mission: to care.

Next day,we have returned to same place , to met the manager.He was very nice, warm and charming. He gave us lot of informations about the institution, about financial aspects and about the new project of building a new, bigger home nursing place for people. He was proud to tell about all the achievements they have, and all the help they can give to people in needs.

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Eternity was born in the village

 A Romanian poet, Lucian Blaga, wrote that eternity was born in the village.

There are some places that many of us do not even know they exist. There are some different places than others. Different from everything you´ve ever seen. Places to  breath and live with you. Places to talk about life, about man´s power of  owning and knowing. There are places where moral and spiritual values ​​are kept and each becomes a man. A natural world where you feel the earth is a part of you.

Village is considered the heart and the soul of Romania. It is the place that combines simplicity with kindness. Nowhere else in Europe the medieval ways prevail as they do here  and where the peasant culture remains a  strong force. The  traditions, architecture, music, traditional crafts , original customs , folk costumes will express the intense spirituality. All those together with the landscapes and rich history will make up the whole  that gives today’s Romania a unique, irreplaceable and special atmosphere.

A trip to a Romanian village  is a lesson of history, culture and geography without a teacher. Just look and listen carefully to  the show that surrounds you. Nature is majestic place around, and local life, so quiet but so rich, will not let you  indifferent. The smell of burnt wood, smoke from the chimneys of houses, beautiful scenery, carts on street … All those  brings you  to the image of old villages where the pace will  slow flowing and people are there … Masters of the places  for centuries.

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