You’re the first Romanian I’ve ever met
I’m Romanian. Say what you want about my people but one thing I can vouch for: there’s not many of us traveling around South America.
Here’s a typical, almost daily scenario:
Where are you from? De donde eres?
Germany? Alemania?(bear with me, it makes sense when you say Romania and Germany in Spanish, apparently they sound very similar)
Ahhh. Ohhh. It’s in Europe? Es en Europa?
Ahhh, you’re the first Romanian I ever met. You’re the first Romanian to ever do this tour. First Romanian to ever stay in this hostel. First Romanian I ever talk to.
Every now and then there’s the odd one who’ll know a thing or two about Romania. Hagi, Nadia, Mutu, Dracula, Transylvania.
In Chile, people know about Romania because one of their biggest money-fraud criminal went to Romania to hide from the authorities, check out the story here. We’ve also kicked their butts in a friendly football game a few weeks back so they’re not our biggest fans right now. *insert ironic smile*
Chile also hosts a bunch of mine workers up in the surroundings of La Serena which have been lured there by an international collaboration program. Chile had mines, Romania had miners.
In Bolivia people look at me with a blank look whenever I say Romania, I’m very exotic here. Same in Argentina. I’ve gotten to a point where I have a little story prepped up for all the wide-eyed interested gents and ladies who have no idea where to put me on the map of the world. It goes like this:
So, how’s Romania?
Well, it’s always a surprise. Few people know we’re actually a Latin-speaking country situated in the Eastern Europe. So that’s a first surprise. Thanks to our geographical position in the east of Europe, most visitors have no idea what to expect. And then they realize we’re warm people, love to host others and have a passionate take on life. We used to be part of the Roman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Byzantine Empire which makes the mix of influences very diverse.
All in all, you can have it all. Seaside, mountain side, medieval cities, loads of countryside villages, diverse architecture, parties until 6 am, food that will make you drool and unzip your pants so you can eat it all.
And why are there not more travelers from Romania?
Romania has a communistic past, we’ve become a democratic country 28 years ago so it’s still a developing country. In a way, our past and our religious background have contributed to the traditional society we are today. We’re also a collective society where stability and owning property are very important. My generation is now aiming at getting out there more and traveling is definitely becoming more important. It will take some more time, but you’ll soon see more of us, no worries.
But why do you speak Spanish so well?
I’’ve studied it for a few years in highschool and to be be honest, I kind of just grew up with novelas. Thanks mom, thanks, grandma. But our language is also Latin so for us, Romanians, it’s not very hard to understand and learn languages like Spanish, Italian, French, or even Portuguese.
Can you say something in Romanian for us?
Ma numesc Madalina, sunt din Romania si locuiesc in Olanda. Calatoresc in America de Sud de 2 luni jumate si mai am inca vreo luna jumate. Imi place sa calatoresc incet, sa stau in casele oamenilor pe care-i cunosc si am o curiozitate imensa pentru culturi, obiceiuri si diferentele dintre oameni.
Oh, but we didn’t understand anything.
That’s because Romanian has Slavic influences on the superficial level of the language. We have a few sounds that you don’t have in Spanish and it confuses you. Sounds like s, t, a, a are the slavic influence. But I guarantee you that if you were to read a text in Romanian, it would be way easier to get some of it.
Romania, how interesting, we didn’t know anything about it until now.
Dear gentlemen and ladies at the Tourism Ministry of Romania, if you’re reading this, somebody call me, I’m doing all of this ambassadorship work on my own money, it’s time we have a serious chat.
Joke aside (seriously, CALL ME), it’s quite an interesting challenge to constantly refer to others about your own country, also knowing that any stereotype they’ll start thinking about will be influenced by the way you behave around them.
And before you ask me, yes, the gypsy topic comes up now and then particularly if the person I’m talking with is a show off or an asshole.
How do people react to your nationality when you travel?