Monday, March 12, 2012

Underbelly of Szoboszlo (from Aaron)

Well, I got my inside local scoop that I had been pining for.  I ran into a guy at the “Silver Macko,” this is a harmless looking bar just across the street from the apartment.  I went in there to mooch their free Wi-Fi of course.  And they have the fastest free Wi-Fi in town.   (you have to say “wee-fee” or they don’t know).  Its about 6 pm on a Tuesday evening, I skype with a few people at the office and the bartender is friendly and knows about 20 English words.  I also took the opportunity to rent a few movies from Itunes.  We have done this a few times on the trip and previously had taken about 1.5 to 2 hrs of free wee-fee time at the other restaurants.  I notice here at the “macko” that the Brad Pitt movie “Tree of Life” downloads in 20 minutes.  This is almost 2 GB of data coming through in 20 minutes.  But during the Skype and Download an elderly, high energy guy comes in and is immediately talking to the other 3 guys in the 8 ft x 15 ft bar as soon as he walks in.  Then he walks right up to me, and says “hallo, hows it goin der Yankee?”  I said, “yankee?”  He says, “yousz are Ameikan, no?”  I said, “I am, How did you Know.”  He looks at me sort of dumbfounded and says, “all these guys told me when I walked in.”  This in itself is an important lesson.  Don’t assume when you speak, that the people within earshot don’t understand you or know what is going on.  I am sure many times during this trip, people understood everything, but its human nature to assume that nobody hearing you speak can understand you.

So George is very nice, very forward, speaks good English and wants to know why I am in Szoboszlo.  If you are a local, you drop the Hajd from Hajduszoboszlo.  After visiting with him a while and determining that he is harmless, I tell him why we are there.  He talks about his daughter who lives in New York and then tries to get me to rent his apartment that he has for lease for the balance of our time here, which I am not interested in.  Then he wants to show me his resume which is online and he gives me the web address and we look at it together.  Seems he is an engineer and has experience in working in a lot of European countries.  We talk about governments, unemployment, different industries in town, the hot mineral baths that the town is known for and that the town gets 30,000 visitors a day during the peak summer season. 

I think he is probably out of work and seems to be a regular at this establishment.  So I had a beer with him and then I was off back to the apartment.

The next night about the same time, I am out looking for post supper dessert.  I go to the small dessert stand next to the Silver Macko.  As I walk by I see George in there, and a few other shady characters.  You don’t realize how desperate you get to have conversations with people besides your spouse.  Okay that sounded bad, but Kimbo would agree that we both need some interaction with people other than each other.  So I buy the dessert and then I can’t help myself, I have to see what happens just for the experience of it.    So I walk in and George immediately recognizes me and offers to buy me a beer but I tell him I have to get back and that I was just walking by and wanted to say hello.   By the way, he thinks we are staying at a hotel on the other side of town, I haven’t divulged where we live for this 4 week stay.  So we are talking for a while and then one of the shady characters walks up, he is of Roma descent, dark sport coat over a black T – Shirt and a distinctive gold chain.  George says, “this is Chabo, he is a Gypsy.”  I said okay.  Then Chabo says something to George and then George relays this very indecent and shocking offering.  I will leave this part to your own imagination.   I say, oh no, I have to be going.  George translates, then Chabo follows up with some “feature and benefit” selling and full description of the product he is offering.  I said “No Thanks.”  After a few moments of awkward silence, George says, “Chabo is like New York Mafia only in Szoboszlo.”  I think wow, this will make a good story and one for the journal, and then I think, “get out of there.”  Not the best situation to put myself in.   So after I decline Chabo’s offer, his sidekick muscle, gets up and says something to them and they say to George and me, Szia, (pronounced see-ya) a phrase everybody says here that is shortened version of “sziastok,” a Hungarian salutation.   I am relieved they decided to leave on their own, so I didn’t have to make a nervous looking retreat they might pick up on.  I decide to walk in the opposite direction to the apartment and come in the back way.  The apartment is literally 80 yards from the Silver Macko.  I get back and relay the story to Kimbo.  She thinks it is funny, but I am not feeling like I want to get any more local knowledge.  I think I just want to go back to Amarillo.

Two days later, Saturday, it is a beautiful day.  We go to the playground, shop for some souvenirs and decided that we are going to eat lunch at the Nelson Hotel Etterem (eatery).  The Nelson Hotel is the one of the nicest, stand alone, old hotels, and it is right in the center of town.   The restaurant is a little more expensive than the other ones, but it has more people and the food is good.  They also have a wonderful dessert selection behind a glass case close to the bar.  We get done eating and I walked around to look at the desserts.  As I look at them I look up and there is Chabo.  He is wearing about the same getup he was wearing the other night, but appears to be with his son who looks to be 11 or 12.  They are also looking at the desserts.  We notice each other about the same time, and I feel a searing jolt of adrenaline go throughout my body. He looks up sort of surprised and for a moment seems like he is a little sheepish about me recognizing him.  We say “Hallo” a couple of times and smile at each other, both acknowledging our encounter from a few nights ago.  Then I say Szia and he says the same and that was that.  I couldn’t wait to tell Kimbo that Chabo was looking at the desserts with me. 


  1. HILARIOUS!!! You should have bought the guy dessert! J/Kiddin'

    You did it. You found a local. Great job!

    Now . . . come on home.

  2. PS. Not sure if you found a "local" or a "locco."