Friday, October 28, 2005

More Transylvanian stories

Somewhere between Torocko, where we spent the night, and Marosvasarhely, where we are heading. I have to write it down before I forget it, from last night: at dinner, Sandor was pouring us palinka. I was amenable to some, but asked, “Fél?” He smiled, nodded, and gave me half a shot. Laura said, “Én is.” Sandor laughed heartily and proceeded to give her a nearly-overflowing glass.

Right, so the “Death Bed” story. Last time, right before getting to Kalotaszentkirály, we had stopped at a church, where Hajni lectured us about the symbolism in the embroidery. She mentioned, about 5 or 6 times, how things in pairs are a sign of death. So, in Hungary, when you bring someone flowers, you never, ever give them an even number of flowers. Well, we got to this house, and what is on the wall above my bed? Two pictures. Two embroideries. And many, many plates, all in pairs. But now I’ve survived it twice, so maybe it’s only fatal to people with more Hungarian blood than I.

Yesterday, we stopped at Körösfö, which had nothing in the way of tourist attractions other than the dozens of shops and vendor stands lining the single street. We piled off the bus, slightly crazed and drooling over the merchandise. We grabbed, we drooled, we ogled, we ran from stand to stand. We felt, we tried on, we goofed. We bargained, we puzzled over forints, lei, and new lei. Then we ran back to the bus and took off.

We also stopped at Kolozsvár, to hear Horváth István give his speech (third time for me now, twice here in Romania and once in Beloit) and then walk around the time. Wow, that wasn’t what I wanted to say. But I think I’ll leave it, it’s funny. And maybe you get the sense that I’m typing on a bus, looking out the window, one earphone in, the other ear listening to Laura and Harpswell, the music the bus driver playing on the radio, and Andras occasionally throwing out a tour-guide tidbit.

After Kolozsvár, we went to the Torda Canyon, which was amazingly beautiful to walk in. Unfortunately, it’s a canyon, meaning that after you get down into it, you have to get out somehow, which involved an extremely unpleasant trek back up this massive mountain. Hajni said, never again. From now on, only the Killer Lake and that canyon, which has a nice paved road that the bus can take us down. After the trek, out came the homemade wine and I think yesterday I mentioned the potency of that.

The evening was spent, as I mentioned, in Torocko. After dinner, which as you already know involved palinka, we went to the local bar. The adult sector of CETP did the prudent thing and left after one drink. The rest of us stayed. Eventually, the middle-aged farmers sitting across the bar worked up their courage and came over to attempt small talk with us. By us, I really mean myself and Laura. The guys (Andras, Chad, Janos and Jeremos) showed up just in time to save us. Actually, not really, because one stayed and talked to me in Hungarian, mostly through Janos, which I’m sure he loved. I didn’t catch all of the conversation, and I think that’s probably for the best. At on point, Janos told the guy that we were married, and as proof, pointed at my hand, where thank god I was wearing my ring on the appropriate finger to indicate that I was taken.

Overall, a great evening, although I almost couldn’t find the house again. This morning, after wine, palinka, AND beer, when I first opened my eyes I was afraid to move. But I got up, took a walk to the village limits and back, and I feel pretty great now. Actually, kinda hungary.

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