Journal - Napló

Days 1-4. First days (Hungary-Serbia 1.)

Posted on March 10, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Hungary – Serbia


Day 1.


  On the day of the departure, 10 a.m. on Tuesday, they called me from one of the TV channels and a tabloid. Kenneth did not yet have a backpack, I had no shoes and some other ”trifles” were missing, as well. However, if we wanted to be in the evening news, we had to do the interviews around 2. p.m. We didn’t know exactly where to depart from, but we agreed to set up a fake departure. We went to the airport just to say good-bye to two Norwegian friends and one Hungarian friend and afterwards we went home and my mother took us to road no.5. One and a half hours later she came as the first car to ”take us.” We got the missing equipment, had a huge dinner, checked ourselves in the news, packed up and then headed to road no.5. We said good-bye to my mother and my siblings around 10 p.m. We kept trying to get a ride until midnight, and – to the great delight of petrol station employees – ran around amongst the fuel dispensers throwing a tennis ball at each other. Eventually we took to a nearby forest and set up a tent. We had a Tokaj wine to celebrate the departure(s) and then fell asleep very soon.


Day 2.


   We woke up at 8 a.m., we packed our stuff together quickly, and, while eating a sandwich, we walked back to the melon vendor, where the media set us on our way a day before. We had to wait no more than one hour when a bus stopped; Mihály was taking it for repair down to Kiskunfélegyháza. He told us about his travels with the bus, about his wrestler-boxer son, and while he went out of his way to take us to the other end of the city, he let us know that the giant concrete structure that stands (rots) at the great roundabout only served the money laundering of local mafia men (it is a huge building. If it were a bit re-structured, it could become a great playground!).


   After 10 minutes we were sitting in a car again. Feri took us down to Szeged, and meanwhile he told us about his past in the diving and car industry and his adventures as a musician. He travelled the seas on huge liners as a keyboards player for years. The car industry “spit him out” recently due to the crisis. Now he is looking for work, he dives over the weekends, but his heart wants to take him to England and behind the keyboards.

   We stood for almost 2 hours in the sun at a roundabout and finally we decided to walk. Based on the signs the cars made we concluded that there must be a fork in the road nearby. After ca. 5 kms of walking we found the divergence. Our backpacks weighed ca. 25 kgs. Too much. But in a few days it will become clear what are the unnecessary stuff and then we can make them lighter.

   Soon we sat beside Zita, who took us to the border and then rushed back to her 2-month-old child. As we left her car, another appeared, having blue, white and green colours. A quick check of IDs and they even told us which way to go. Another long walk along the queue of trucks (of course not on the shady side) but soon we were able to fill up our containers with water. We had no problems getting past the Hungarian part. We had to walk another 500 metres to the Serbian side, and when we reached the end we realised that we left our “hitch-hiking” sign at the washroom on the Hungarian side. I ran back (without a backpack) and tried to explain the border guard why such a sign could be so important. I couldn’t finish – he laughed and let me through.


   During the adventure with the sign 2 hitchhiking guys “overtook” us – they were going to the Exit Festival.

   We waited for a while to get our turn, but then we started to walk. At a nearby petrol station we asked for a ride, we stood for a while at the entrance to the motorway, but the night came upon us. Following the advice of the petrol station employees we walked down to Horgos. In half an hour we were sitting on a bench and got high on the smell of holy “manna” coming from a nearby bakery. An elderly gentleman tottered about and Kenneth greeted him in a friendly way. In the next thirty minutes we had the chance to listen to a complete life story, which was however presented in a way we were unable to follow.  In the meantime Dániel joined us, who, as it turned out, was a guy from the local radio. We had a beer together that evening, he came with us to the outskirts of Horgos and we agreed that we would meet the next day in the neighbouring town, Magyarkanizsa, where he worked.

Day 3.


   We only missed the appropriate place for a tent with a few metres. For, we woke up under a large walnut tree, but it cast its shadow exactly beside the tent in the morning sun. In other words, we woke up in sweat. As there was nothing better, we had sunflower seeds for breakfast – Kenneth had it as it was, I peeled it and let some traces in the grass. After a few minutes of waiting Robi took us to Kanizsa, showed us the road towards the river Tisza and afterwards ran into the nearby shop to buy us two beers and thereby indicate that he likes the whole Kepesita idea.


   The water of the river Tisza was surprisingly warm, but still, the majority of the people who came to swim chose the nearby pool. Kenneth beat me in chess, but my defeat (and, I hope, Kenneth’s victory) was forgotten soon after Dániel arrived. He showed us the city, the huge park and of course we “had to” try the cevabci in the small restaurant at the market. We did our job and ate the giant, family-size meat. Our new friend did the organisation over the phone between two bites so that we could go with him to a rehearsal of his guitarist friend&band in a pub of a nearby village.

   Krisztián had been to England, Canada, but he returned to be able to play music at home. He told us that he used to work 15-16 hours abroad for a minimum wage, but eventually he had enough. Here he earns less, but he also works less and is able to make ends meet.


Day 4.


   Friday morning we had a swim in the river Tisza again and while sitting on the pier we thought about boating down the river to Zenta or even to Belgrade. I went to ask some people how this could be done. It turned out that you don’t need a licence for a boat without a motor but even a run down one would cost 100 euros. The two fishermen were quite closed (not surprisingly) and they did not encourage us because even if a wood carrier ship goes our way it is not likely that the captain would trust two strangers and let them on the ship. At the lumber-yard it turned out that that the transport with the wood will only be in a week but there are gravel transport ships that go almost every day. They offload part of the transport because they can only carry a certain amount through the border. Two fast rounds and then they go back to Belgrade. We agreed that we would stay for the day in Kanizsa, look for Internet in the city, and the day after try to get on a gravel transport ship. Dániel, when saying good-bye, wrote up the address of the local Retirement Home, where we wanted to do some volunteer work.

   We did not find a place with wireless internet, so we sat into an internet café – to be more precise, the internet café. While Kenneth was trying to find his way among the millions of cables so that we could charge our cameras and wrote E-mails to some couchsurfers in Belgrade ( I went to see the head of the Retirement Home. He refused our offer kindly, referring to the conservative legislation and recommended that we go to the Exit Festival instead to listen to some music.


   When I got back to the café, instead of writing (with which I was lagging behind considerably) I started talking with two other guests. Karesz, a caricature artist, Zoli, a vet, were drinking fröccs, a wine-sparkling water combo. They invited us for a horse event for the day after. And as we were to have a 40 km ride on a horse carriage and set out at 3.30 a.m., they thought it would be best if we slept at Karesz’s. Who thought about the gravel transport ships by that time?! We invited them for a fröccs and in the meantime they played jokes on each other and Zoli told us about his past as a hitch-hiker.

   ...when they were in London they illegally boarded a ship and travelled first class to Amsterdam, where they were, however, caught when getting off. First they wanted to take them back to England to jail them for half a year. They checked all their belongings and found out they only had 300 German marks as their property. The captain finally said: “200”. They let them go and even left them with 100 mark. We talked with the guy for about an hour and had great laughs. We were unable to persuade Zoli to join us the day after so we said good-bye. Karesz invited us to meet at his place at 8 p.m.


   People are peaceful here. Dániel explained that here there are no major conflicts between Hungarians and Serbs. If there is the slightest fight – even just over a glass of alcohol – politicians exaggerate it and portray it as problem concerning the two nations living together and so they get their financial support from Hungarian parties. This, however, influences the way people think and makes living together peacefully in the long run difficult.

   People are not rich, but they have money for bread, fröccs, and petrol for their Zastava. And the bread is soft in the inside, crunchy in the outside, fröccs cools you down and the whole family can fit into the Zastava.

translated by Szegi

Categories: English, Serbia, by Peter

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