Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Vojvodina Farm House Pics


Just like downtown Sombor, when you're driving in this typical Vojvodina village the whole thing looks like one tall wall punctuated by doors and windows. All the houses are attached together down the street and round the corner and so on. But when you open the solid high gate (too high to look over) and walk inside it's a whole other world.

This is a shot of the courtyard and side of a farm house (remember that "L" shape I talked about in my last post?) once you step in the front gate. The living part of the house is on the right. Then the long wing going down the right side is a series of rooms that only open out to the court-yard, not to each other. Each is for some type of specific storage: firewood, garden produce, farm equipment, and of course the all-important still and home-made brandy supply. (That was the only side room I saw evidence of human activity in, there was one lone plastic chair inside. Naturally I cracked a joke about it which all enjoyed.)

Along the back of the courtyard are what used to be stalls for horses, oxen and wagons. Now the family uses them for various cars and vans of all ages. Many families do still keep horses and wagons here as well though. The area is famous for it.

The wall to the left side, which you can't see in this photo, is of course the next door neighbor's side wall for her wing of storage rooms, and so on and so on.

In the far corner of everyone's inner courtyard is a door out to the back garden which you can see open here:
When you step through, you are again in a whole new world. It's a huge garden plot complete with fruit trees, tomatoes, cabbages, hot red peppers, mild red peppers (no one grows green bell peppers here which I think is really weird in what is practically the pepper capital of the planet.)

Here's the other funny thing: see those rooftops at the end of the garden? Those are the neighbors on the other side of the block. You see the whole block of houses is like a group of covered wagons circled for the night. From the outside they present one closed wall to the world from all directions. As you climb inside the wagon there is your private space. But then when you climb out the end of the wagon, there's this vast open space of light, land and life. There are no formal boundaries to mark where one neighbor's garden ends and the next one begins. Everyone just sort of knows.

The women socialize out here as they work their individual kitchen plots. (The men socialize like Greek men do, sitting quietly at little neighborhood cafes watching the world go by - or not - for hours.) As we were standing out here (I was greedily stuffing little tiny ripe tomatoes the size of the tip of my pinky into my mouth), one of the neighbors came strolling by. She peered up at me, and wanted to know who is this? I showed off my four or five words - pointing to a huge pumpkin saying "Big, Beautiful, Good!" several times in Serb, feeling like an idiot, but hey it's about all I can say yet properly besides hello and swearwords. Satisfied, she gave me one last sharp look and marched off to see to her own household's dinner.

1 comment:

elektrokuhinja said...

It s a so called "swabian house", very common in Vojvodina. Those are the houses of germans that left after 2nd world war (actually they were expelled from the country), so new communist government just gave these houses to people. Now it s a bit of a problem because some germans want their houses back, but I don't see how it's going to happen. So many years passed, and some houses changed their owners few times, so now noone knows whoom they actually belong.