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The end of my time in Budapest felt a little like slow motion. The week program was ending and I had agreed to stay on for the weekend, a smaller session with Hungarian business folk. So, most everyone else was making their departure save myself, Caroline and Mike, and our coordinators. I was already feeling restless to leave the country, yet reveled in not packing my things and having the room to myself to watch TV, in dubbed Hungarian, and walk around naked. Which I basically did immediately, but the weekend program was starting soon so I only had a short time to shower and lie down briefly, desperately trying to relieve myself of my hangover and prepare myself for new persons to interact with. I was prompted by Seb to collect myself and get downstairs for the new arrivals, and it turned out to be a nice transition between the week and the weekend, and the atmosphere was more calm and collected, but not necessarily more serious, even though our students were actually all there for business related reasons.
We had our introductions and icebreakers and the new Anglos included a young pianist from Cali currently living in Prague, and Alice was an Australian living in London, and Sarah, was basically a vagabond like me, traveling for months, but she was looking for somewhere to settle in Europe, born in Iran, raised in LA, with sights set on Barcelona. And Caroline and Mike were still there from the weeklong program and I was really happy about that because they were super chill Canadians. We all had mentees again, although the program was condensed, they were still to give presentation. I met with mine and she explained her two jobs, one with Access Consciousness, a kind of program that taps into mental capabilities with a head massage, and another with her husband having to do with multi-level marketing, and she was very proud of both and wanted to present on how they were similar. I had trouble following exactly what she was trying to say, I was still a little out of it, and she was also really self-conscious and kept stopping herself before fully explaining anything. I felt bad about that, but also it was very confusing that she seemed to work with people trying to help them access their power of mind and potential yet had a mental block about her English abilities – she quickly convinced herself that she was less than the other participants in skill level. She barely spoke at dinner that night and wanted to leave the next morning. For someone who believed that energy is everyone’s first language, I felt I had said something with my energy that off put her, and it unsettled me.
I was very glad to speak with Gabriela, however. She was an anesthesiologist and a positive and upbeat little lady. We started talking about our families as I inquired about her daughters, of which she has 5. She had divorced her husband not long after they were married, the eldest daughter studying and about my age. She spoke about her younger daughters, the youngest about ten, and their cellular devices and their slamming of doors and how she removed a door from the frame the other day. She works hard and is learning English so that she can get a better paying job in the UK to take care of all these girls. I spoke of my sisters and my family a bit and I asked her if she had any sisters. She used to have 2, but now she only has 1, and 4 of her daughters are from her sister that died suddenly of an aneurysm. That was quite startling but so impressive, her perseverance and attitude about the whole thing. Truly inspirational.
We had a nice dinner that evening and Zoltan treated us to palinka, of course, not that I needed anymore, frankly, but gotta be polite. We spoke a lot about traditional Hungarian food and lifestyles over the meals that weekend. Our entertainment hour was fishbowl, and I instructed everyone on how to play and joined in, and it was really fun with a smaller group. I think everyone had a good time and Caroline mentioned how the game was much like our conversations with each other, trying to guess and gesture what the other means. And it is fun how creative the Hungarians are when getting their point across because their associations with words are automatically different. Breakfast the next morning was a bit awkward because suddenly the hotel was crowded and there was not a lot of room for us to sit, and then Eva really wanted to leave, convinced this was not her way of learning English. The Hungarian coordinator said she was like this a few months ago when she stayed for a week, and I was trying to not be offended that it was just me she did not want to speak with. Was I not encouraging or coaxing her enough to speak English? We eventually did have a very nice conversation about her daughters and her husband and traveling, but she really did not want to speak to me about any sort of presentation.
Anyway, I had a great conversation with Zoltan, who owns several grocery stores and was really a very successful business, who later gave a lovely presentation on his family and life and job. He was very interested in everything and very attentive and adorable. I also had a very nice albeit probing conversation with Attila, (a very popular name in Hungary because of their ancestry to the Huns). I learned from Seb later that he had a rough period of life that he turned around and chose to be very positive and curious about everything from then on. He was very pleasant, but I found myself quite surprised at the provoked introspection, even though I have been doing so much of it anyway, I realized that I had not come to any verifiable conclusions quite yet. I told Seb that, later on our walk that afternoon, that I may require further processing at home before I do reach anything conclusive thereof. I have not spoken much of Seb, or Sebastion, but he was very present throughout the week and even more so the weekend, with a smaller crowd to entertain. He definitely wanted everyone to have a good time, but I got along with him well, anyway. He liked beer and was happy to provide random alcohol. He was very kind and really did a great job hosting, or MC-ing, as he reluctantly called it after I mentioned that was what his job was called in the German program. He encouraged me that I would do well in a position like his.
Seb ran a few workshops that weekend so we got a lot of free time and I found myself in the sauna and the thermal pool with Caroline and Mike. Truly a lovely couple. They had started traveling about 6 weeks ago and got a long with everybody. I was curious about traveling with a partner so I asked them how long they had been together. 3 years, and they both liked to do similar things and to drink, but Caroline was more insistent on walking tours and Mike needed more sleep than early tours allowed, so that would lend to most of their arguments, but for the most part they got along really well. They had another 10 months ahead of them so I hope so. They made me think of Kate and Antony, the New Zealand couple I had met at Englishhaussen who were traveling for a year while Antony worked as an accountant and Kate kept the blog and made the travel plans and arrangements. They had it a bit more together than Caroline and Mike, who were younger and more carefree, but I think both couples did a great job at being cute and together and also individuals. Although part of me yearns for a man to travel with, I know that it would completely change the experience I have had thus far, so I will wait patiently for the right one to come along, and enjoy my travels as a single gal for now.
Small world, Sarah, an Anglo there for the weekend, met Kate and Antony at the Angloville in Czech Republic. Sarah and Kate got along really well because Kate loved their time in Iran and was planning to go back for a few months.
Our last night in Monor, we played some more games and Alice shared her jager with everyone. It was a casual evening and the Anglos ended the evening with a few more beers and a discussion about the world and politics and if the world is more dangerous or if were just more aware of it because of social media and such. I have come to the conclusion that its the latter. I really enjoyed Alice’s company and her and I planned to go out with Seb the following evening when we got back to the city.
I was pretty checked out that last day, but had nice conversations with Zoltan, Noora, and Andrea. The latter were mothers of young boys and were lovely women. Presentations took place after lunch, and Gabriela’s was one of the most adorable because she gave hers on coffee. I gave her my email and told her to send her daughters to Chicago whenever she wanted to, and she said I could come visit her in her big house anytime. Mike had come down with something that day so Gabriela was so sweet to take them to the hospital and finagle a meeting with a doctor for free. We all said our goodbyes and it was a simple parting as we boarded the bus back to the city and I felt like I was finallllly leaving this little hotel.
We got back to Budapest and Seb suggested I come back to his in order to find exactly where my host lived and contact him, so I did, and it was so cool to see his busy little flat. Super multicultural with roommates from around the world, exotic animals and cute dogs, and his friend from England was visiting him too. I did not stay too long since I was going to meet up with them after dropping my stuff off at my couchsurfing host, Tito, who I met at the open mic 2 weeks before when I was there with Jules. Tito walked me to the popular bar Szimpla to meet up with Seb, Rich, Alice, and their adorable Italian friend. Sarah was going to meet us at Szimpla, but did not, and I was okay with it there was something about her that I did not like, and I have been trying to figure out what it was exactly, and I think it is that we are similar in our traveling ventures, and understood each other, but she has a more assertive personality, where I think I am more passive, and it made me recognize that about myself and I was not sure how to feel about it. I do not think it is necessarily a bad thing, and Seb told me he finds me a very chill girl and easy to be around, which I am glad about, and Sarah is not exactly not chill, but just more forward about if she wants something or not. I think. I dunno. I have not gotten to the bottom of that yet, and I find it interesting that even people that you do not completely enjoy can teach you something about yourself.
We caught a cab to the boat where the concert was, so fun, and it was very chill and we all got along really well and had good conversation amidst good tunes on a slightly rocking boat. The lovely Italian girl, Kat, and I talked about how her boyfriend lives in Lisbon and how they enjoy traveling back and forth, and that unfortunately she won`t be there when I will be. We wandered around the city a bit and jumped on the tram illegally, ! something I have been so curious about because there is such a system of trust all over Europe when it comes to transit and tickets, minus the fact that you get a big fine. And we got so lucky because we got off the tram when Kat did just as the guards were boarding to check tickets. Close call and my only time not buying a ticket, I swear. Sooo lucky I am. We had a few more drinks and chatted as we wandered until we found a bar and had one more palinka before heading back to our our places of accommodation. Alice and I agreed that we were equally welcome to visit each other because we both warn people not to invite us if they are not serious, because we are those people that actually do come. Sydney, you’re on my list 😉
Getting back to my host’s place was simple, but getting in touch with him without wifi was not, so I found a little mart and got wifi from the guy working there and bought some snacks and some beer as I contacted Tito. He was still out but agreed to come back, so I waited outside his place eating my snacks until he arrived, and then we had some beer and some wine and ended up chatting until like 5 or 6 am. He was from Ohio and we talked about being American and being an expat and our Republican fathers and just everything and it was a little nuts but pretty fun. I wanted to go to the spa the next day, but Tito ended up sleeping all day, I think that was something he did on the regular, so, I did too.. all. day. and I was okay with it, for the most part. I had walked all over Budapest and I was tired of being a tourist, and I did not feel like talking to anyone, really. It is hard to constantly be having conversations with people you do not necessarily want to have conversations with.
Finally, I got myself together and headed over to Seb’s so that we could go altogether to the open mic that Tito was hosting that night. I was happy to be back at Seb’s and soo glad to meet his girlfriend, Lucy. His flat was full again with roommates and one of their parents, and everyone was going to the open mic that night! But not before Lucy and Seb fed everyone some delish veggie Marsala, such sweeties they are. I was thankful because I had not eaten, due to sleeping all day. Seb and I had talked earlier that week about him buying my guitar, coincidentally it was one he had already been considering, and here I was, not wanting to carry it around anymore. I was really sad to part with it, but I knew I was not actually going to do any busking, if I had not already, and I could of course use the extra cash, and I can get another when I get home, and really, I was a bit disheartened about my guitar playing abilities, and should focus on finding an actual guitarist so that I can really just focus on singing. And my last flights home would be cheaper without checking a guitar. Good bye my lovely seagull. I will miss you.
We had a great night at the open mic. I played, Rich and Seb played, and everyone else that played was really good, and it was a full house. Lucy was adorable and kept talking about possibly spending next summer in Chicago, so that was really fun for me to tell her about the Chi and what to expect and to definitely hit me up if she needs anything. I played Tove Lo’s Gotta Stay High and Beyonce’s Daddy Lessons, and it’s always fun for me to play that one and then have everyone guess who the original artist is, which shocked everyone that night. It was a nice expat crowd again, but instead of going out with everyone I just headed back to get some sleep and prepare myself to leave the next day for France. I went to the much touristed spa, because I could not decide which one to go to, there are so many, and I must go back to Budapest someday to explore the others.
I had one more drink with Seb and Lucy and Rich, (after running into Mike and Caroline again, random!) and it was really nice to feel like I had made some solid friends in Budapest. We got a drink at the bar that has a layer of water for the ceiling, and it was a relaxing time of just hanging out and chatting before going to get on a plane, and Seb snuck some Hungarian forints in my bag so I had fun trying to spend those in the airport before boarding. And I totally broke the rules and drank my little bottle of Hungarian champagne on the plane. oops. Bye, bye Budapest! Cya next time! (appropriate because scyia means hello-goodbye in Hungarian) 🙂