Slideshow image

Budapest 1993

Before I moved to Angoon, I took a month to backpack around Europe. I was especially interested in the former communist countries, but I relied on the hospitality of friends so went wherever I could find a free bed. These were the days before cell phones and easy money so I had traveler's checks and a phone card. 

Through a whole series of wild connections, I ended up in a train station in Budapest trying to talk in German to a friend of a friend of a friend. She couldn't figure out which train station I was at and I was running out of minutes on the pay phone. I was starting to run low on money and Hungary was still coming out of the sparseness of communism so hostels were hard to find. It looked like I was going to have to find a place to hide and stay the night at the station because communication was not going well.

I still have no idea how my friend twice removed whose name I've forgotten found me, but she did and it was one of the happiest moments of my life. We spoke broken German/English and hugged and laughed. I still remember the sweet little apartment where her mom made us a traditional Hungarian dinner (fried chicken and mashed potatoes). Budapest was beautiful, but my highlight was going to university with my friend. I got to teach the English class and then all the students went out to lay in the grass, watch the clouds, and talk about hopes and dreams. 

I don't remember any names or really any of the sites, but I remember hopes and dreams. There was still a lot of lingering gray from the cold war days, but vibrant color was starting to erupt. I wonder sometimes what happened to those students. Were they able to hold onto the color, onto the hope?

There's no great moral lesson or insight other than thinking how often when I'm scared I think of that overwhelming train station and sense of doom. I remember how connection felt impossible and how hiding seemed like the only option, and then I picture that grassy hill full of young people dreaming. 

Travel has helped my faith by opening me to the surprise of life. My agenda so often gets flipped and I have to trust the spirit to open doors I couldn't even imagine. 

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We reserve the right to remove any comments deemed inappropriate.