Leaving ön a train

Leaving_on_a_train

Our train from Budapest to Bucharest

Rush. Rush. Rush. It has been a dramatically packed preparation day. At last, we are in our tiny bungalow which is less than 2 meters long but it has a little sink in the compartment. The sink is a first for me.

There is something so authentic about European train stations. It connects with an essential and deep chord inside of me. There is a nostalgie for an earlier era that is still, somehow present in this station. And, it is, somehow, a metaphor for our connectedness as humanity.

The boarder approaches. Passport checks are upon us. Are you traveling with us tonight on this 17 hour journey?

RSS to stay abreast of this trip to Bucharest.

train travel for dummies

 

train_travel_for_dummies

Szent George, the dragon slayer and his story is beautifully portrayed on a corner building on St. Tereza Korut.

As the train belches and booms through the Carpathian Mountains tomorrow night, we will be settling down to the rhythms of that iron monster. I cannot keep my mind from wandering toward the foreboding tones of Vlad the Impaler’s Transylvania. A lesser heart might wonder at the coincidence of a midnight journey on the 31st of October.

Dare we ask? Are you brave enough? Would you accompany us on our trip to Bucharest, Romania and on to Razgrad, Bulgaria?

Two countries. Two District Assemblies. Two nights on a train. Five days away from home. Amazing stories guaranteed. Come on. Take a risk. Board a train bound for Romania with the Sunbergs.

train_travel_for_dummies_sunbergs

Ready for the journey.

the black butchering

IMGP8756‘A basement turned butchery was not the ideal location for an act of treason’, the thought swung through his mind in a downward torque like the handle of an axle before its blade meets flesh. After the first loud squeals had been silenced, the blackened room assumed the morbid rhythm of dismemberment.

hack. SPLAT. hack. SPLAT. hack. SPLAT.

The occasional pause to wipe away the sweat, the squish of feet on a red-river floor, maimed the rhthym but it did not kill the truth: an act of treason had been accomplished in the dead of the night. The butchery was open.

When had he finally decided that the options had narrowed to just this one? At what point had he valiantly wrestled reason to the floor and submitted to the truth; one life was worth the eight that weakly gripped the tether to this world upstairs.

Eight children. His eight children. Each one had entered this world with lusty cries and ravenous hunger that he was impotent to appease. Somewhere, sometime, in the half-life of their starvation, he had finally concluded one life was a small price to pay for the pot of stew that would silence their hungry eyes.

hack. SPLAT. hack. SPLAT.

He closed his eyes to the rhythm and imagined the ruddy return of health to the deathly pallor of his children. One life. One act of treason. One black butchering.

History Teacher

‘In pre-1956 revolution Hungary, times were desperate. Families were desperate. Hungarians were starving, much like the Ukrainians under Stalin. And in one act, my grandfather who had at one time been a prosperous farmer, became a traitor in order to feed his family.’

The history teacher. Our children’s history teacher, historian, father of four, theologian, takes a moment to straighten a stack of orderly papers. “When the State requisitioned the land, farmers were forbidden to feed their starving families from the fruit of their own labors. Filling stomachs became acts of treason punishable by death. It was called, ‘the black butchering of the pig’.

The authorities discovered the treason, as they most often did. They came for my grandfather. It was the beginning of the harvest season.”

live the story

the streets of Budapest

the streets of Budapest

On the eve of commemorating the Hungarian Felkelés (Revolution), it may be a surprise to find this post is birthed out of a different cultural perspective. It has nothing and everything to do with Hungary and the reminder of an anti-Soviet uprising in the streets of Budapest in 1956. The story of the revolution begins with students who demanded to have a voice. Their story ended in a bloody climax just 18 days later on November 10, 1956.  Is it fascinating coincidence that three decades and three years later the Berlin Wall would officially fall on the same date? Continue reading

борщ, budapest, and the berlin wall

 

Budapest

Budapest

Tonight’s menu is борщ (borsch) made like the Russian babas taught me at the dacha so many years ago. Almost every good memory of Moscow that I have, and there are a plethora, involve this Russian staple. Tonight, I am serving it to my family in Bulgarian pottery in our Hungarian home. Over the past twenty years, these three cultures have had an integral voice in who we have become and are becoming. They are a precious part of us. As each Autumn teeters on the verge of winter, we take a moment to remember the end of the Cold War. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was the beginning of our journey in eastern Europe.

Continue reading