For centuries Gypsies have been nomadic. A documented history doesn’t exist, because Gypsies never had a written language. Their past is full of legends, distorted in time with the continuous passing of word of mouth, from father to son. They have been nomadic since history exist, and through time they never been adventurers or conquerors.
Because of their lifestyle they lived with only the few possessions that their nomadic life allows them.
They had moved throughout the centuries, adjusting in the way nature adjusts. They follow the motion of the stars, moon and sun, changing with the continuous changes of climate, over the different locations on the path of their peregrinations. They believe in nature’s creation which has to be equally owned by humanity and where anybody can borrow from what nature offers, but use it sparsely and save for the future. Only in this way the Bari Wesben Dai (The Great Forest Mother), would recompose them providing the essential needs for their lives.
Gypsies by nature are secretive and magical people. They possess mystical healing powers, and can cast spells; as well as lift them. They have powers of forecasting a person’s futures as well as they have inherited magic powers to cure ill horses, and they know how to charm wild animals. Through the centuries this has been part of their lives as well part of their culture and heritage, and they use their magical powers in their contacts with the gaujo (the non gypsy) to ingratiate them.
Joko, as the chieftain, was the one who preserved the legends and kept alive the tradition of the past, narrating to his people the colorful stories, during the long nights, while they sat around the campfire.
Joko was in his mid-fifties, strong as the eagles of the Transylvanian Alps, where he was born. He was fierce to the Gypsies’ enemy, and a good father and adviser to the people of his clan.
He wasn’t very tall, well planted on his feet and strong as Goliath, capable of lifting a Gypsy wagon, whenever a wheel needed to be changed.
He dressed in fustian pantaloons, well creased around the knees and back, because of the long use, and neatly rolled up above the calves. He wore strong riding boots, weather-proofed with animal fat rubbed periodically into the leather.
The jacket matched the pantaloons, tailored with the same strong fustian, and having a deep pocket across the back, used to store small game when hunting.
He completed his outfit with a large black brimmed hat, and a knotted red checked scarf around the neck.
Joko was still handsome for his age. The nomadic life had made him an athlete capable of any physical work. His skin had the light ebony patina and highly polished with continuous oil rubbing. His eyes, dark black, sparkled with the power in him.
His nose resembled the beak of the Transylvania’s eagle and his hands were large and powerful.
He commanded respect between his men as well as struck terror in the enemies. Nevertheless under this multiform vestige of power, Joko was able to understand the needs of his people.
The Gypsies crossed the Danube at Baja, south of the central Hungarian plain. The flooded waters had just recessed into the riverbanks, after the usual springtime flooding. It was again the calm and somnolent river, moving over the great Danuban plain. The existing plateaus nestled along the riverbanks regurgitated with luxuriant fresh lucerne. This offered an ideal camping area to the Gypsies. The wagons were parked in a horseshoe formation, creating seclusion from the road and with a commanding view over the pasture, where the horses were kept enclosed. The formed courtyard between the wagons was used to light fires and where people busied around in their normal chores.
Baja is a rich rural district with fertile farms. The town offers a river port to the many cargo boats navigating along the river transporting grains and many goods across the country. The farmers and the port authority were always shorthanded of casual workers, and the gypsies, passing through, were welcome to feel the vacancies.
The local farmers employed the Gypsies, skilled blacksmiths, in forging horse shoes or sharpening farm utensils.
Gypsies women instead kept busy, moving door to door, in the town’s streets, doing what they knew best, spelling the future to the local women, reading their destiny with the Tarot or the palm. Normally at the end of the day, the Gypsies women earned more than their male partners, they were really the breadwinners in their community.