Hungarian ramblings....

Trip Start Oct 15, 2007
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Trip End Dec 20, 2007


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Thursday, October 25, 2007

I'm feeling a little remiss as a blogger lately....all these things are going on and I jot down raggedy notes as they unfold but never quite get to the posting stage ...well I'm going to change all that right now.....I've been here one week...ok now its one and a half... and it's been busy.  First, a few random thoughts about Hungary....
...no way can I speak any part of or understand the language...wish I could
...most Hungarians don't speak English...German is more the second language here...
...Budapest is a far bigger city than I ever thought...2 million people...and I keep feeling like I'm in NYC while I'm Budapest and upstate when I'm in the countryside...
...I really appreciate the no smoking laws in NYS
....the money is forents...not Euros...Hungary is still working on being fully in the European Union...
 ...great public transport in the city...not as great out to the countryside..
....the couchsurfers here really got it going on!!!! A very friendly community, the friendliest people in Budapest to my experience, super nice people...and they're totally into helping you out...
...Hungarian food ....mmmmmm
....the servings of coffee could be far larger....no doubt...
 
Now for the raggedy notes with some editing and reorganization to be sure...
 
Well, clearly I find Lisa and the luggage....the luggage taking a bit longer...we've both got that zombie-overnight flight fuzzy-headed thing going on.  Got to stay up to get our clocks going in sync with the rest of the country.  Now to explore this new country.   Michael, our  couchsurfing host orients us a bit...maybe you all knew this but the city is divided by the Danube River, with the Buda side to the west and the Pest side to the east.  The two have historically been divided by class and there's still this attitude that you'll have more fun on the Pest side with the Buda side being a little snootier.  Who knows?   But it's a pretty city, quite cosmopolitan... there's lots of restaurants, shops and the famous Buda castle right in the center of town.  I'm really glad it's got the river cause it helps keep you from getting lost...
 
An old friend of mine has given me the name of this high energy woman who's heavily involved in environmental sustainability in Hungary .  I immediately contact her and we meet for a meal and an inspired discussion and she starts making calls and sending emails to connect me with people that have projects going in various corners of the country.  So before I know it I'm on a train out to Tata to meet with these folks at the Natural Lifestyle Institute...not really knowing what to expect but I know they're expecting me. 
 
I spend an amazing day with them...they show me all over this nature and educational center and it so happens they're having a teacher training there that weekend so I get to act like a part of it - I'm participating responsively to the presentations even though I can't understand a word.  But I get to hang out with a delightful young woman Veronika who translates a lot for me.  She's got all sorts of ideas for the center but she's new to the place and it appears, still proving herself.  Well I thought I was going back to Budapest for the night and with that in mind did not bring fresh clothes or even a toothbrush  but Veronicka is into hanging out so we do....I end up spending the night in her home...a cozy cottage in the country, no water though....we visit the castle and talk a lot....i'm glad to be there...but I've got to get up at five in the morning to make a bus to my next destination, Pencesgyor...pronounced Pen-zesh-dior.  It's only 60 miles away but it takes  three hours of zigging and zagging all over the countryside on a bus plus a one hr layover.  It's a little harrowing cause I'm never sure I'm on the correct bus and nobody around me speaks English.  Got to have faith and I do get there.  Then it's a matter of finding this place, Pangea, an organic farm that's an educational center and a really important NGO within the world of environmental sustainability in Hungary.  I can't find the place at all even though the town is just two perpendicular streets...but finally, when I write the name Pangea on a piece of paper and show it to everyone I meet, one old man tells me to get into his little car and he drops me off at the door.  Excellent...
 
Ok...right now its about 2AM and I'm isolating myself on this computer cause I'm so tired I can't talk to anyone else right now...I mean, its been an amazing few days but now I'm ready to sleep and I really can't cause there are these people in the kitchen about 5 feet away from me doing Hungarian rap to this record....party is still going on...there are about 25 Pangea volunteers here to get the farm ready for winter....they're obviously a tight community...a bunch of young earthy organic types...and from them I've learned a lot of stuff about all sorts of things...from the waste disposal system on this farm....to Hungarian life in the countryside...to the drinking habits of its inhabitants...to the historically ever changing boundaries of the country, etc.  etc. I'm on this organic farm way out in the country...spent the day working on the farm and talking and videoing and feeling like a long lost Hungarian friend....and eating and drinking...the food and liquor flow like a strong current...can't seem to avoid either...these folks really know how to eat and drink....from beer to wine to all these homemade brandies with 4 to 52 percent alcohol called something that starts with a P...Palinka?  And at first I tried saying no thank you...until I realized that was futile.. so I got in the party groove but they've got me wayyyyy beat...like this morning I was in this little town, Csakbar, between two bus legs and it was 7 am Sunday and the bars were already open with people in them drinking....i was barely awake and they're putting away shots....amazing...so I've tried to take a sip of each drink as its offered and then put it down and inevitably someone else picks it up and finishes it off...seems to be a viable strategy and satisfies all...better get off the computer...I don't want to seem antisocial...and I think I can handle another round...of conversation that is..
 
Its been an amazing three days....from one visit to the next...met people who are really motivated to change the world...environmental activism in Hungary....a dedicated community...I would love to see some of my students hook into this group...i know they would be embraced by their community....I hadn't intended to be gone so long from Budapest so I've been wearing the same clothes for far too long...and now for too much detail - no shower opportunities or even a toothbrushing...but on so little sleep and so much stimulation, that all seems to not matter much.  I'll go back to Budapest and clean up and sleep and try to really take in all that has been offered to me during the past three days....

Ok...the last big surprise...I'm having a conversation with this guy Marty as he drives me back to Budapest after leaving Pangea...tells me about his aunt who live in San Francisco...a writer - into spirituality....who is it?  none other than Z Budapest...who may not be familiar to some of you but she is a very well known person in the world of womens spirituality/ pagan stuff etc.  ....so I got a glimpse into the world of Z Budapest from her nephew....very cool...
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Comments

shoefits
shoefits on

hi-ho rawhideone!
I have been humming the blue danube while reading your post. Sounds AMAZING. xoxox

yukieto
yukieto on

Hey Karen!
I loved looking at all the pictures and reading your blog. But, you know me, my heart skipped a beat looking at the beautiful ceramic stove. It's gorgeous! I have yet to travel around the world, but Hungary may be on my future 'must travel to' list just to look at and use the stoves. Sounds incredible what you are experiencing. Know that I am absolutely appreciative of your communications with us and all the efforts you are making to keep us informed. Satoru and I especially love looking at your pictures. He still says 'Kawen Kotla' often. With lots of love - Yuki

kdjaffee
kdjaffee on

sounds like my kind of place....
Wonderful to hear of your continual adventures and couchsurfing sounds like the ticket to meeting the natives.

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