The Forest Gypsies

The Forest Gypsies – Foragers of the Forest

The Forest Gypsies (Khashtalo) are found living between the stream (their water source) and forest (their gardens). While Europeans cultivated the valleys, the marginalized Roma harvested the forests where they scavenged their daily source of income.The sad – lonely Forest Gypsies – known in Roma society as “Khashtalo” – linger at the very bottom of the Roma hierarchy.They are the outsiders – the outcastes. They stand alone, rejected by their Romanian neighbors because they are “gypsies” while at the same time by  their Roma brethren for having lost the Roma language and culture – as the Roma proverb attests:  “who is ashamed of his language – is ashamed of his mother” These are the Khashtalo – the untouchables of Roma society.

Visiting the Forest Gypsies of Hetea is a virtual journey back in time… It’s a horse and wagon community, where automobiles do not come.  Water is hauled out of a single well while their daily meal comes from the blessings of Mother Nature. Europeans cultivate the valleys while the Gypsies freely gather their needs from the backyard forests. The foreboding forest act as their gardens where they gather mushrooms, berries, and wild greens that they hawk through local villages and city markets.




  • Gypsy horse and wagon ride with Khashtalo
  • Meeting the Musician
  • Meeting the basket-makers
  • Khashtalo (Gypsy) Woodcarving workshop