I’ve spent one day on the Danube River in the city of Galați, Romania, connecting with some dear friends. It’s been a while since I saw the Danube but just in a few seconds, it reminded me of the best experiences I had with her. The Danube was part of my studies during college, part of the summers of my 20’s, part of my reflections, and my questions about life. I didn’t realize that the Danube was so important for me until I saw it again after so many years. That’s why I decided to write about the importance of the Danube personally and historically.
We associate rivers with symbols and ways of living. Rivers are present in myths and legends about the foundation of one of the most famous cities like Tiber of Rome. Rivers formed territories in Antiquity like Mesopotamia, a land rich in resources situated between Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Rivers are part of mythology and religions symbolizing the journey after death like the Nile in Ancient Egypt. Rivers created borders and were the cause of different disputes during History but most of the time rivers were a source of life and knowledge, a way to become more open and connected to the world.
The Danube is a symbol too, a part of our identity as a nation and a way of building and rebuilding our values. From Germany to Romania, Danube is crossing ten European countries, so becoming a symbol of unity and diversity, a binder of different cultures. That’s why, it’s considered that people of Danube are open-minded, fast learners, and mercurial.
For me, Danube it was one of my best confidants. I share with her so many fears, doubts, joys, and loves. The Danube was the quiet witness of one of my sincerest love and it helped me to wash it away too. It gave me the trust to pursue my dreams and to become a teacher. Danube gave me some sense when I turned 20 and I was so lost and confused about my future.
At the same time, Danube is an immortal witness of History, sometimes powerless, sometimes becoming a factor of change. For Romania, it’s the southern natural border, a way to stay in touch with other civilizations. For a long period, it was also the natural border of the Roman Empire, that’s why it became the center of my studies for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Basically, I made a catalog with all the inscriptions from the Roman Empire concerning the organization of customs points on the Danube. I discovered ancient stories of the customs officers and the way how the Romans viewed the territory from the Danube.
Beyond history, the Danube is about people, stories of people shared with this river along the time. I’d love to have the power to give a real voice to the Danube for telling me her life story from her perspective. I’m curious and excited to listen to it. In a way, Danube is already talking to us but it’s up to us what we understand from her stories.