In August 2013 we set sail to new horizons. After living in France, Virginia, Senegal, Mexico and Pakistan we came back to Europe, thinking we were coming back to a more familiar land. Except this land is Hungary and this country could be a continent on its own it is so different from its neighbors. This is at first sight because the Hungarian language resembles no other, not even Finnish people say it is associated with … over a 1000 years ago. In the end, once you learn some rudiments of the language, Hungarian are charming people with great food, culturally rich cities and cute villages. So it feels like home. Again.
A minute of geographical background on my new ‘home’ country. The Republic of Hungary is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is home to only ten million inhabitants, less than Paris-Ile de France where I lived for several decades. They may think it is a lot compared to neighbors such as Slovakia, Slovenia or Serbia but we just came from Pakistan … 200 million inhabitants. Hungary is a flat country with only 2% of the land exceeding 300 meters. We lived at the foothills of the Himalaya. The highest summit is Mount Kékes at 1014 meters. In Mexico City we lived at 2400 meters. It may be head spinning to always compare this to that but this is our new life (more on this later): we move every year or two so we can’t help thinking about the differences between home number 17 and home number 21!
Note to self: Count exact number of physical addresses I have lived in so far.
Second note to self: Explain in a further post why I wrote physical address and not just address, why each time we move we are actually juggling with about six snail-mail addresses. And having to update many vendors and having to remember which address is given to who …
A minute of historical background. The Romans called the current Hungary Pannonia and settled north of the current Budapest in Aquincum now known as Óbuda. Then Attila the Hun came in 409 BC. Then Nomadic Magyar tribes, led by Prince Arpad from the Ural Mountains, arrived in 896. In 1000, their leader István (Stephen in English and Etienne in French) embraced Christianity and the pope crowned him as first Christian king. From 1541 to 1699 the Ottomans ruled the Transylvanian part of Hungary (now mostly in Romania). The northern part of Hungary is taken by the Habsburgs who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918 – period including rebellion against the Habsburgs in 1848. In 1919 the Bolsheviks took power and the Treaty of Trianon in 1920 gave parts of Hungary to Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia (modern days Croatia and Serbia). Hungary shrunk to about one third of its original size! Then, except for a brief period in 1944-1945 when the Nazis took over, the Russians ruled Hungary via some Hungarian communists until 1989 – including a quelled revolution in 1956. Finally, in 1989, Hungary was the first central-eastern European country to put an end to the Soviet rule. In 1999 it joined NATO and in 2004 the European Union. Hungary calls itself Magyarország which means the “land of the Magyars.”
And this was my second day of over 500 words of the 31-day challenge!