Pride and Concrete

Petruț Călinescu

During most of the year, some Romanian villages are deserted. The gentle, bucolic sounds of small scale agriculture have been replaced with the muffled murmur of concrete mixers and village elders strut around on building sites, inspecting progress. The first to go abroad were the inhabitants of the village of Certeze. Before 1989, in communist Romania, people from Certeze were known as seasonal labourers within the country’s borders. Renowned for their endurance, people from this region were used in massive land clearance projects to gain more agricultural land and while the work was hard, it was also well paid. When Romania’s economy hit rock bottom, people in Certeze were adding another floor to their houses. After the collapse of the Ceaușescu regime, they were ideally placed for the itinerant life of a migrant labourer, living in tightly knit, mobile communities and enduring an austere lifestyle in order to save as much money as possible. Enterprising workers were soon paying guides to take them through the forests across borders toward Western Europe, determined to find their way to the West and make their fortunes.

 

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