Gypsy children and purple nail polish

One of the coolest experiences of my life:

Between the tram stop and our apartment in Romania there is a gypsy camp. It’s not exactly the safest route to travel, because gypsy camps aren’t particuarly known for their security, and it’s kind of tucked back in this maze of alleyway-ish roads. Once while I was walking back there a taxi came through the alley, and I pressed up against the wall of the alleyway to get out of the way, and the passenger in the taxi reached out of the window and grabbed my arm as they passed by and tugged me along for a little bit before letting go, so it wasn’t the safest place. The funny thing is, stuff like that happened to us so often, it wasn’t until I was back in the states and reading through my Romania journals that I read that and realized how unsafe and how bad of a situation that could have been, but at the time it was just one of those things that happens on a daily basis.

The gypsy camp behind our apartment that we walk through everyday

So, we were walking through there and we saw these gypsy children drawing on the side of a painted van. We stand out as outsiders in Romania, and so the children of course started talking to us, showing us their temporary spiderman tattoos and sandals (the few of them that had shoes on). When we couldn’t understand what they were saying they would teach us new Romanian words to help us understand. I had some bright purple nail polish in my pocket that I had just bought for the kids at the hospital (they love having their nails painted) and so I pulled it out and the girls eagerly came forward, holding their fingers out for me to paint. Their little fingers were so grimy! After each painted nail we would exclaim, “Oh, frumoasa!” (Oh, beautiful!). This tiny little gypsy girl with big, solemn brown eyes, came up to me and held out her tiny infant-sized fingers all cover in dirt. I painted them and she held her finger very carefully in her hand, keeping it close to her body so that it would not get smeared. I showed her how to blow on it to help it dry faster.

(This is not the same time that we painted the kids' nails, but this is the same group of children)

(Football in the street)

As we painted the girls’ nails we could feel the boys patting our backpacks and back pockets for spare change or lose cameras, or anything else they could steal. Isn’t that crazy that these kids are trained at such a young age to steal? It’s their means of survival, begging and stealing.

(I love the clothes gypsies wear!)

Anyway, I think that was possibly one of the coolest experiences of my life, to get to paint the nails of gypsy children.

I am pretty sure this is a gypsy camp as well, but not the same one we walk though

1 comment:

  1. I love everything about this post. thank you for sharing this story!