Wednesday, 18 September 2002

A Bolivian Girl in Budapest

You know, travelling is a lonely business.

Sure, sometimes you have great times and you meet great people.

But unless you're travelling with a friend, you can often end up wandering the streets of new cities by yourself and you can't help but feel a little lonely and a little lost.

And then somebody comes along who makes you realise how just amazing travelling really is...

Hi. It's me again.

I'm writing to you from my favourite little hostel in the world, the Museum Guest House in Budapest, where Pixie is still politely laughing at my jokes and Monica is still asking if I want a massage.

I've been back in Budapest for two days now after catching a train from Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania. My last hour in Cluj was a disaster. Awful! I cringe as I write about it. Let me explain...

You might remember from my last blog entry that I went to Romania to take part in a voluntary project. After the project was cancelled and the volunteers left, the head of the hosting organisation said that I could spend the week staying in his office.

I had a bed to sleep in and I also had full use of the office computer. When I wasn't in an Internet cafe until the early hours, I would use the office computer to chat to people on the local chat site.

Anyway. It was my last hour in Cluj and I was bored, so I decided to look at some pornography on the computer of my organisation.

I don't often look at pornography, but I'm male and in my twenties, so I think looking at pictures of naked women is my God-given right!

So, I was looking at various sites and various girls and then, suddenly, lots of little windows started to appear and as quickly as I closed one, another one appeared. Before I knew it, the computer was full of these little windows and I couldn't get rid of them!

Somehow I had managed to overload the computer of a voluntary organisation in Romania with pornography. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't shift it. I tried turning the computer on and off. Deleting files. Everything. And it gets worse!

In trying to delete these windows, I managed, somehow, to add about twenty or so internet porn sites to the list of favourites for the organisation. And then, worse than that, I also managed to change the home page to a porn site too! Oh! My! God!

How I did that I don't know. They just came out of nowhere. And some of them had some REALLY awful names. I dread to think about what was on them.

So I was sitting at the computer, horrified, feeling numb, looking at a photo of a woman sticking a cucumber where the sun don't shine, when Adrian, the head of the organisation, walked in. Before he had a chance to look at the screen, I clicked a window and got to the Yahoo site, where I pretended to write an email.

He sat next to me (this was at five o'clock in the morning - a few hours earlier we had been at a nightclub together) and waited for me to finish so he could check his emails. I sat there, writing this email to no-one, hoping he would fall asleep.

Eventually he did and I slipped quietly out of the office and made a rush for a train that would take me to Budapest. I left a note for Adrian, offering my sincere apologies, and as yet I haven't heard anything back. I'm not sure if this is a good sign...

And that was my final, disastrous hour in Cluj-Napoca. The two days I have spent in Budapest since then have been much better. No misadventures with pornography!

Yesterday I explored a huge cave network under Budapest. There was about twenty of us, travellers from all over the world. We spent about 3 hours squeezing through the smallest gaps imaginable!

There was one in particular - appropriately called "the sandwich" - where you couldn't even move your head as you tried to squeeze through. It was insane - but great!

After exploring the caves I went to the cinema and watched The Sum of all Fears. It was crap. I fell asleep. At one point in the film a nuclear device is detonated in the US (a premonition) and this woke me up. I saw cars flying towards me and for a brief moment forgot I was at the cinema. That was scary! But the film was still crap.

But I think that, out of all of the memories I take home with me from Budapest, there is one memory that will stand out in years to come. And that one, single memory is a couple of hours I spent with a beautiful American-Bolivian girl named Teresa. We both arrived in Budapest from Cluj-Napoca on the same day but on different trains.

We were both tired and Teresa had to catch another train the next morning at 7am. And yet, despite this, we ended up walking the streets of Budapest together until five o'clock in the morning.

I think Teresa just wanted to see Budapest because she was only here for one day. But as for me...I just wanted to spend time with her. I knew I would never see her again. We were just ships passing in the night, travellers heading to different destinations.

And yet...already I find myself missing her. I don't often connect with people but when I do it's something wonderful. I told Teresa that travelling is not so much about seeing new places and trying new things, it's more about meeting people, and this is true.

The days I spent in Cluj-Napoca were not memorable because I never met anyone who really touched my heart. And yet Teresa, without knowing it, has managed to do that and in doing so she has made these days in Budapest special and unique.

I will remember this time in Hungary. I will remember the caves, the Museum Guest House and the capital. But, more than anything, I will remember a sweet Bolivian girl called Teresa.

She passed through my life in a heartbeat and yet she has left an impression that will last for a lifetime...

And now it is time for this Wandering Englishman to say goodbye. Belarus awaits. My train to Minsk leaves in just a few short hours.

Remember to wrap up warm and stay well.

So, goodbye my friends, goodbye Budapest.

And goodbye Teresa.

Love always.

From the memory box of a Professional Englishman.

PS May 2008: I never did hear from Teresa again. She returned to the US and quickly forgot about her travels and the friends she had made. I will never forget her though, and this blog entry will always serve as a reminder of that sweet night we spent together six years ago, when I was younger and the world was younger, too.

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London, ENGLAND, United Kingdom
This is me. Read a few entries and they will tell you more about me than I can fit into these few paragraphs. Many of these entries started their lives as mass emails. That was before I discovered blogs. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for visiting my blog and reading about my life. Both a work in progress.