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European Peace Walk: Day 9: Narda, Hungary to Szentpeterfa, Hungary

European Peace Walk

European Peace Walk

There is just one word that describes the walk today.  Fields.

The End.  

But really, there is so much more…

The morning comes quickly and I haven’t slept well on my cot.  With three loud snorers in the room, even the finest earplugs can not muffle the sound completely.

Senja and I have chosen to walk, while the rest of the group catches a bus which will take them within 10 kilometers of today’s destination in Szentpeterfa, Hungary.  I should have looked to the wisdom of my elders.  Instead, trying to be true to the EPW, I walk.

And live to regret it.

Leaving the village of Narda, Senja and I are in fields again on a deeply rutted path that tilts the feet to odd angles with each step. We pass through another seemingly deserted village.  The only locals we meet are the dogs behind every fence who bark as we pass.  A few kilometers in, and the path diverges away from the Iron Curtain Museum which is within a walkable distance and exactly the type of excursion that would seem appropriate for a PeaceWalker.

Hard walking across fields.

Hard walking across fields.

Instead, our guide directs us into the forest for a jaunt, and delivers us into fields.  Oh, how I’ve grown to disdain them!

We walk through a freshly-plowed field and each step pulls our feet in, and then pushes back, like we are walking on an ocean of marshmallows.

This field leads to a small canal which the guide book claims has a “small plank of wood across it”.  No such luck for us.  With Senja’s walking pole I poke through weeds to find the bottom and determine the amount of water flowing through.  Fortunately, only a trickle.  Trampled long weeds make a slippery slide to the bottom and a precarious scramble up the other side.  

With wet feet we continue on, avoiding the town (as per the guide) which might offer refreshment or hospitality.

Exhausted from the unrelenting sun and lack of wind, we stop for a break in the grassy shadow of a tree.  A whiff of sewage causes me to realize I am sitting beside a manhole.  Verbalizing my disgust leads Senja to tell me of her previous job working in a sewer plant.  Having a curious mind, I have lots of questions.  And soon, I have been given a virtual tour through the inner workings of a sewer plant.  Absolutely the highlight of the day so far.

Continuing on, the path is on blacktop which emanates heat like a dragon’s breath and makes my ankles prickle.  The sun shows no mercy, the aroma of manure sits still and heavy in the air, and we trudge on in hopes of seeing something.  But something never comes.

The frustration is evident in my pathetic video:

We walk beside the River Pinka, pea green and flowing slowly.  It does not suggest refreshment.

Eventually we arrive in the town of Szentpéterfa, Hungary, population 1000.  We pass the one restaurant in town and continue on to our accommodation in a schoolhouse where bunk cots are waiting.  While there are no pillows or sheets, there are lap blankets.

The man we left behind in Koszeg appears again.  He is extremely ill and coughing constantly.  Communal living/sleeping with an ill person is something I tend to reserve only for family and close friends.  While I feel compassion for his state, I do not appreciate being exposed to his illness in close quarters.

The ill man has decided to wash his entire wardrobe using the only bathroom facility in the schoolhouse which means that despite the feeling that magma is coursing through my veins and an aromatic coating of well-earned sweat, showers for Senja and I will have to wait.  Ironic that we are on a Peace Walk and the basics of respect can not even be worked out amongst eight people.

Although the guide book suggests that we will be meeting the mayor, sadly this does not occur.

Memorial to WW II dead in Szentpéterfa, Hungary

Memorial to WW II dead in Szentpéterfa, Hungary

Ivan, a young English-speaking local, appears to give us a tour of the town which given it’s tiny size includes one site: the Catholic Church and the memorial in front of it.  Ivan explains that the community is 100% Catholic and when the Soviets controlled his community, bribery allowed the people one mass a week to which the Soviets turned a blind eye.  A war memorial in front of the church holds the names of the many villagers who lost their lives in WW II and those Jewish families who were taken from the community never to return.

Raymond arrives.  He is coordinating the care of the PeaceWalkers.  He explains that the community is happy to participate in hosting PeaceWalkers and is hoping the walk will grow which will allow the village to build a more comfortable facility.  Considering that the average monthly salary in Hungary is just under $600 US/month, one must truly appreciate the efforts of the community to be so hospitable with so few resources.

At the restaurant a beautiful dinner of traditional Hungarian goulash (a soupy stew of meat and vegetables) is served.  The owner kindly prepares battered and fried cauliflower, zucchini and mushrooms for the vegetarian (me).  Vegetarianism is an unusual concept in Hungary, as it is in most places where meat is considered a luxury due to poverty.  Our meal is finishes with Palatschinke, traditional crepe pancakes filled with jam or chocolate.  Delicious.

After dinner we are delighted to listen to live Hungarian music played by Ivan, Raymond and two other young men.  This is a real spirit-lifting treat.  We are very grateful to them for sharing their time and talents with us.  And the music is excellent.  These moments of sharing, while few and far between, are so appreciated.

Thank you to Jennifer Lundstrom for sponsoring today’s walk and this post.

[mappress mapid=”18″]
Distance Walked Today: 23 kilometers (14.2 miles)

European Peace Walk – Day 9 Tips

  • Note:  If you want a day to skip, especially if it’s hot, this is it. If you walk it, BRING LOTS OF WATER and a HAT.  There is no escape from the sun.
  • Tip: The arrows were good today.
  • Tip: You can take a bus and then walk 10-12 kilometers instead of walking.
  • Tip: When walking into Szentpeterfa you will be at the “center” when you see a restaurant on the right and a covered hut structure across the street.  Keep walking forward another few minutes.  Accommodation is on the left.
  • Tip: Save your washing for the next day when your laundry can be done for you in a machine.
  • Tip: At bedtime, get out anything you might use for a blanket.  It gets very chilly at night and most of us didn’t sleep because the silk sleeping bag was not warm enough.
  • Terrain: Pretty flat.  70% dirt.
  • Accommodation: The cost is 9 euros per person for a cot in a schoolhouse.  Only tiny lap blankets available.  No pillows.  One shower.  Bring earplugs for communal sleeping!
  • Laundry: No.
  • Dinner: Will have at the restaurant in the center of town.  Vegetarian option available which was battered vegetables and potatoes.  
  • Wi-fi: Although wifi existed at the accommodation, they could not provide the password.  Some people were able to connect to a weak signal at the restaurant.
  • Breakfast: Available if pre-planned at the restaurant.
  • Baggage transfer to the next stop: Yes. And people too.  Cost was 1000 forints (or about 3.30 euros) per person

Photos of Day 9 of the European Peace Walk (click to view):

4 Comments

  1. The videos of you are a treat in each post.

    • Good. Treats are good!

  2. You DO have grit! It sounds very tough and you are trying to see the good in it but not surprising that you are having a hard time. I hope it gets better!!

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