Baltic to Balkan

We’re now in Serbia on our way to Athens, via Macedonia. The drive down through Finland and the Baltics was punishing in lots of ways. The van took a beating on the roads in Lapland and its needed an oil change sooner than we expected and a new set of tyres. The water pump stopped working in Estonia and the door fell off in Latvia as well! We managed to get everything fixed without too much fuss though. There’s always someone around to help. Our headlamp kept blowing its fuse but we pulled into a small garage this morning and a man quickly fixed it with a pair of pliers and some electrical tape and didn’t charge us anything. Magical helpers have sorted us out at every turn.

On our way through Hungary we recorded love songs at a festival called Ordokatlan. The festival takes place in 4 villages in the South West part of Hungary near the border with Croatia. We were parked up there for 4 days and recorded over one hundred songs! Everyone was very happy to sing for us, and the folk song tradition in Hungary seems very alive as everyone, no matter what age, knew a folk song. We also had the opportunity to visit some singing groups in the villages and record them singing which was such a treat. The membership of the clubs is dwindling as they get older. Its mostly elderly widows left in the clubs (our oldest singer was 90 years old!) and where they were once 70 strong they’re now down to a handful of members, but the strength of their voices was really beautiful to hear. We feel very lucky to have met them and to have their voices as part of the broadcasts.

Our next official stop to record songs is in Athens so we’re now steadily making our way there in the heat so fingers crossed nothing else goes wrong with the van!