Szoboszlo then Miskolc then Szikzso then Tiszaujvaros then Budapest then Amarillo (from Aaron)
Our last couple of weeks in the apartment in Szoboszlo was harder for me than the first 2. The anticipation of moving on with this journey affected my ability to sleep soundly and although everything was pretty regular before, not so regular now. (for those of you were wondering how that was going from my first post.)
On Hungary’s version of the 4th of July, March 15th , it is a beautiful day (Thursday) and George from Szoboszlo talks me into a couple of beers with him, then on Friday the day before we leave he corners me again and this time with Chaba, read “Underbelly of Szoboszlo” for background on this guy. I think to myself, I cannot wait to get out of Szoboszlo and get on to the next place. This encounter with Chaba, which is during the day and there are a lot of people around, still makes me nervous. George and Chaba call me over to their car right near the walkway where everybody is walking. He opens up his trunk and takes out a couple pair of jeans for me to consider buying - stolen or heisted, or shoplifted, no doubt. I say they don’t fit and reiterate that I have to go meet my family. He brings out another little pair of jeans, and I say they are too small. He then produces from the truck a large packed link of Csipos Hungarian Sausage, (hot sausage). I say, ah no thanks but I appreciate it, trying to tell him that I have just eaten. Then George and Chaba talk to each other and George says, “here it is your gift from Chaba.” And Chaba hands me the sausage link which is marked 1200 forint or about $6. George says, “you are our friend, no!” I exited quickly and didn’t see them again after leaving the next morning. I also should say that the first time I met George he wanted to have my skype address and I gave it to him. He called me in the apartment about a week ago and that conversation was short and nobody really understood anything.
|George and Chaba peddling their wares from the trunk of Chaba's car|
We arrived in Miskolc on Saturday. It was a beautiful day!! We kept commenting on how different the weather was from when we left. There was a street fair or something going on right outside our hotel. If you remember, our hotel is on one of the main streets in Miskolc as the city train runs only on this street. I felt invigorated, high energy, like the first weekend of college football or something. The mood was festive. We ate lunch and then went down an ornate alley off the main street and low and behold……..we stumbled onto an afternoon beer festival! There were stands setup with different beers that you could by with different food stands. Kimbo and I looked at each other and said yes this is it. Even the boys had some things to do and play on. See pictures. It was called Fozdefest and it translates into beer and food folk art festival. Okay, perfect for the Saturday afternoon.
Miskolc is a testament to the tough economy in Hungary. Kimbo looked at some nice coats that we considered buying the first time we were in Miskolc when we were there. This little shop was just about 50 yards from the hotel. So we said, let’s wait and see what they have when we are back in about a month. So Saturday we go back and the shop is cleaned out and closed! I went to the store next door and the lady who owns that store gave the lady’s card and said please call her. So we called her and she met us at the hotel lobby a few hours later with a couple of the coats. I asked her why she closed and she said, “no business in Miskolc, nobody has any money.” By the way we got a great deal.
By the way, Kimbo and I watched a fruit stand and a book store close overnight in Szoboszlo. One day they were there the next day they were gone.
Sunday the 18th we attended church at the beautiful Minorite Church 5 minute walk from the hotel and enjoyed Sunday mass in Hungarian again. It felt good though, last mass in Hungary, it was about 50 degrees warmer in the church than when we were first there for our first mass. It was symbolic, like we were coming out of the big freeze and getting to go home. After mass we toured again the Avas Hill Church and cemetery close to the hotel. This is one of the earlier structures of the city and it is beautiful, mysterious and spooky all at the same time. It feels like a Transylvania novel with some vampires lurking about. As we walked up the steep hill to the church I can hear the pipe organ playing and as I arrive at the entrance their service is getting out and there are a lot of well-dressed people attending the service.
|Shot of the Avas Hill Cemetery, some headstones date to 1700's some to as recent as last year|
Monday the 19th. D-Day
We knew Monday was going to be a big day so we took it easy and went to bed plenty early Sunday night. This is the day that we sign the final papers in Szikszo about a 20 minute drive from Miskolc. Why we go to this smaller town for this I don’t know. You would think it would be Miskolc, the 2nd largest city in Hungary but no.
This takes about 1.5 hrs to do all the paperwork, this process is very harmless with lots of pleasantries and small talk between us, the boys and the ladies preparing the paperwork. Neither Kimbo nor I are too emotional here, even though we are officially changing everyone’s lives with the stroke of a pen. But, we already knew for a long time we were doing it so…..
We have to high tail it with the “official papers” back to Miskolc to another government office so they can make new birth certificates for the boys. We got there and Kimbo went in with the social worker and the translator. They emerged about 20 minutes later with birth certificates that said that Samuel Zsolt Sage and Andrew Christopher Sage were born in Miskolc but Kimbo and I are the parents we live at 3213 S Milam Amarillo, TX. Pretty amazing.
To really close out their existence in northeast Hungary, we have to go to a village Tiszaujvaros to close out their “bank accounts” at the OTP Bank of Hungary. This is sure to be interesting and adds a little lightness to the rest of the day. On the way there, Kimbo and I debate how much money is in their account. I thought early on they told us there was 14,000 forint or about $60 and Kimbo thought she heard 30,000 forint or about $140.
Ding ding ding ding ding ….. pull the lever all the cherries lined up! They each have 32,000 forint for a total of about $300 between the two of them. We joked that Sam will eat that much in groceries in one week, man that kid can eat. I asked the social worker why they would even have a bank account much less one with anything in it from what we knew of their background. She explained that the Hungarian government makes the parents open bank accounts for each newborn and the government puts some money in. Okay, thanks Sam and Drew, the seed money for your college funds.
After closing the accounts, we go to Budapest, about a 2hr drive, to the passport office. Here we will submit all the paperwork and pay to have their passports expedited so we can leave on Thursday. We check into the Hotel President (see other post regarding this place) and settle in for the next couple days while visas and passports get sorted out.
The architecture and buildings in Budapest amaze me. We saw the “Buda Palace” the Basilica of Saint Stephen (they have on display the actual hand of Saint Stephen from the 13th century), the Parliament building and numerous other places. They have open air markets that are enormous that have rows and rows of meats and vegetables. Budapest seems to be very different than what they call the countryside of Hungary. Kimbo and I met one guy from Dallas who works in Budapest for Price Waterhouse accounting firm and who is also an Aggie! Cool! He told us that everyone considers there to be 2 places in Hungary, Budapest and everything else is “the countryside”
|Hungarian Parliment in Background|
St Stephen Basilica