National Geographic : 1969 Jun
were designed for the needs and pleasures of man. In most places, narrow trails meander from a man's fields or his home to neighbor ing homes and villages. Often the mountain farmer knows only his small valley and can offer scant information on how to reach near by communities. Traditionally, the Carpathians have been a refuge from conquest for Rumania's plains dwellers. Mountain colonies long insulated from the outside world may also have helped preserve Rumania's Latin-based language. Today the high valleys are a last stronghold of independent-minded farmers, who seek to preserve private property in a nation that now preaches the benefits of state ownership. One farmer told us emphatically, "A few officials tried to exceed the law by collectiviz ing small farms in the mountains, and some older men gave in. But we younger ones held firm; we refused to let them have our land." As a result, most mountain farms are still privately owned, though the forests around them are state property. Landholdings are small, usually only an acre or two. There are taxes on the livestock a man owns, limiting most farmers to a few cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens. Farmers speak with pride of the land and animals they possess. Fellow Hikers Wore High-heeled Shoes Beneath the jagged twin pinnacles of Rarau Peak, which rises to 5,423 feet, we came upon a large state-managed cabana,or moun tain hotel, offering us and other hikers com fortable shelter for the night. Many similar well-equipped lodges are scattered through out the Carpathians, each capable of accom modating dozens of hikers (page 810). To our surprise, many of these Rumanian mountain-goers wore street shoes and sports jackets, or-in the case of women-flimsy, high-heeled shoes. What surprised them was the quality of our hiking equipment. "Where do you get frames like that?" they asked, touching the aluminum bars of our U. S.-made packs. My cut-off jeans intrigued them. "Why did you cut them?" they inquired sadly, for a full-length pair of American blue jeans is a treasured possession in Rumania. Women giggled at the frayed edges and asked who my tailor was. We spent the night in a 10-man bedroom for 20 Rumanian lei each, the equivalent of only $1.10. Food and wine cost the same as in the villages below, and tasted better than that of most city restaurants. 816 Oasis of Christianity, Sucevita Monastery, 10 miles from the Soviet border, lost its orchards and herds to the state when the Communists came to power. But this Rumanian Orthodox cloister, with its fresco-decorated church, won state aid as a tourist attraction and as a symbol of the nation's cultural heritage. Built by a Moldavian boyar-a wealthy landowner-in the 1580's, it served as focal point for village life. Through the centuries clergy and laymen studied at its school, its artists created glowing manuscripts, a press printed books, and monks advised parishioners on both spiritual and practical matters. Today a handful of nuns offer room and board to visitors. The Americans, eager to try out their tents, camped on a slope nearby. At daybreak the mother superior waved a white handkerchief to invite them to breakfast. Procession of saints, still bright after nearly 400 years on a facade of the Sucevita church, once helped educate and inspire peasants.