I spent two weeks in the farthest reaches of eastern Slovakia and could not agree with you more ["Culture Shock: In praise of easterners", by Chris Togneri, Vol. 7 No. 38, October 8 - 14]. Not only were the folks helpful, but they genuinely seem to care about you.
This region seems less affected by 20th century changes than other areas. Many of the old values and customs remain as they were 100 years ago.
That said, I continually fret about the exodus of the young to the West, to the cities, to better jobs. What remains is an ageing population, and my fear is that this culture is suffering a slow death. I hope not, but I fear so.
Rural areas worldwide have always remained a step behind (in the good sense) contemporary society. I hope in some ways that Slovakia's geographic isolation allows the culture to persist.
When I visited, I noted that my grandmother could have come back 100 years later and been entirely comfortable. While we in the West rush here and there on our busy schedules, those in the east of Slovakia have time to smell the roses, to stop and spend a half hour talking, to go out of their way to help.
Many days I feel they have their priorities in better order than we do. God bless them!
22. Oct 2001 at 0:00