I’m back. It has been about four and a half months since I last posted something here. Those months have been spent working in that little hostel in Budapest. The name, by the way, is Mandala. (If you want a quieter, mellower hostel in Budapest, I highly recommend it. It’s even one of the cheaper ones!) Now, for about a week, I have been on a farm, south of Budapest, doing… farmy things. Working in a hostel was good fun, and I had a lot of experiences with lots of different kinds of people, on various journeys, but it was time for a change. Some people think four months is a long time – but time flew by. It was my first real long’ish term stay in a city in my life. I think the thing I learned most about myself in Budapest, was that I don’t belong to the city lifestyle. That is not to say I hated it, or was even miserable. It just isn’t my place.
Besides the hustle and bustle attitudes that city life always seems to portray, and the rough unsmiling faces of so many people, it just wasn’t easy for me to relax with peaceful, productive thoughts. However, I am thankful that I was able to truly delve into how I react in such an environment, and how it gave me a new appreciation for nature.
On this farm I am now on, everything is mellow, and calm. The girl that is hosting me, Kata, is a lovely, kind-hearted lady whose love for her animals is overwhelming. She has five dogs – FIVE DOGS! Arco, Mark, Bendaguz, Dina, and Shlomo. I definitely spelt some of those names wrong. She also has two cats, Penu, and… Matchek? (sounds like Maw-check). I’ll be confirming the spelling of those names later.. And finally, thirty chickens.
My work on the farm consists of building walls, digging, planting seeds, and random labour-intensive stuff. It’s great. The air is so fresh, the natural colours of the end of winter/early spring are beautiful, and the stars at night! Oh I missed my stars, seeing the milky way, and no pollution from the thousands of lights of a city, or the factories that belch out their smog.
So here I am, still in Hungary, but slowly and surely on my way south, to Greece. I have no desire for a fast-paced adventure down there, partially because cold weather isn’t that pleasant for hitchhiking, partially because my route south will be through many mountains (though I miss mountains, and would love to see them again), and partially because travel isn’t just about seeing sights, having fun, and moving on – it’s about getting to know the places you pass through. At least, that’s one reason for my particular adventure.
While the Hungarian language is one hell of a mountain to climb, I have found the culture to be quite interesting. I had never really cared about this country before I came to it, which I think contributed to my interest once I arrived. The people are definitely of a ‘hard’ character, at least compared to Canadians, for reasons which I dare say are obvious (being a central European country can’t be easy, geographical location alone!). Smiles I have found are returned very rarely, even amongst the younger generations. But since my experience of Hungary has been mostly in Budapest, I would say that is likely just a part of life in a city. In this rural area, I have definitely seen more smiles, which is lovely to see again.
I hear many stories of the communist era, and how Hungary used to be larger, encompassing many parts of the surrounding countries, way back when. Some speak of these times purely as history, while others sound quite serious and almost melancholic about the old days. Past glories. Even the anthem, i’m told, is about pleading to God for peace and salvation from future troubles that may come across Hungary yet again.
Yet troubles are indeed on the rise in Hungary. I have noticed and read about the right-wing parties demonstrating in the streets, and gaining at least a small foothold with the general population. Students, as well as teachers demonstrate continuously on wages lowering and tuition fees rising. It’s sad to see things happening in a country that hasn’t really had a good break from troublesome times – but at the same time I like to hear about and see these things. I don’t want to be ignorant of the problems in the world. While I may be just one little individual passing through countries as a stranger, I want my knowledge of the world to grow, simply so that I can become a better person, spread what I know, and perhaps somehow help others when given the chance.
Am I starting to ramble again? I think so. I have five sleeping dogs laying around me, so perhaps it’s time to roll around with them for a while.
It won’t be another four months, promise!