17 Jun Is this real now or what???
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On our way from Austria to Romania we cross the endless stretches of the Hungarian landscapes. Hour after hour we follow the highway which winds through the fields and forests like a white string.
We would like to arrive in time for the Unschooling Festival in Dragus, to meet old friends from Bali and to get to know new ones. Therefore, we only stop for a longer lunch break in the shade of the next tree. Steve can rest from the exhausting drive, I prepare lunch and the children cook a witch soup on the dirt road.
In the afternoon, when we no longer feel like driving, we spontaneously turn off at the next exit and start looking for a parking space for the night. Unpaved roads lead past abandoned greenhouses, tiny Hungarian settlements and golden brown wheat fields. Children on the streets stop in their play and look at us bewildered as we attempt to navigate our huge motorhome safely through the rough terrain. We feel a bit like aliens in a white spaceship and I just hope that we don’t get stuck on the sandy grounds. Turning around on these narrow paths is not an option. Considering the many barking watchdogs and the attention we attract here, we continue to drive for a while hoping for an unseeable spot where we can stop for the night.
A few streets further on, a small dirt road turns to the right and we can spot a hint of a small forest at its end. In this moment, the evening light breaks beautifully through the grey clouds and enchants the landscape. We stop spontaneously to take a picture in the harvested field.
I’m helping the kids on a bale of hay when Steve suddenly laughs in disbelief. “Hey, come here and see what’s growing over here!” The roadsides are lined with cannabis plants, growing peacefully. Now, I also notice the unmistakable, sweet smell that fills the evening air. We laugh and wonder. Are the plants descendants of an illegal plantation not far from us? Did the farmer perhaps plant them for his own pleasure after work? Only later I learn that the plants are not intoxicating marijuana plants, but wild hemp that is native to Europe and grows wild wherever it has not been extinguished
We collect our children, who have a lot of fun climbing on the hay bales, drive a few meters further into the forest and look for a sheltered area in the underwood where we can park for the night. To our left, the forest opens up into a small clearing. When we stop there, I can spot the remains of a ruin behind a flat hill. A few wooden signs are also placed there and explain historical details about Genghis Khan and his raids through Europe, especially of course in Hungary, in the 12th century. Some floor plans are also shown there. We are standing on the grounds of an old monastery! “How exciting for the children, an excavation,” I think and walk a few steps around the hill to see if we can stand behind it even better.
Behind the hill lies the excavation site right in front of me. I climb down the grassy slope and am about to jump over the dugouts to the other side, when something white lights up from below. I can’t believe my eyes. “Steve! Zoe! Neo! Come here and see what’s over there!” Dozens of skeletons lie open in front of us in the dugouts. Even a child’s skeleton is included. The children are amazed and a little intimidated.
We look at the bones for a long time and wonder who was buried here? Unfortunately, there are no details of the dead lying here on the signs. Are it perhaps monks who fell victim to the raids of Genghis Khan? Or is this place a more recent cemetery? Unfortunately, on this Sunday evening nobody is at the excavation site that we can ask, and the dead keep their secret.
We are actually thinking about parking here for the night, but it ends up to be too scary for the children. A friendly Hungarian family finally shows us the way to the abandoned bus station in Bugac, where we can stop for the night.
On this day, we learned a lot about anatomy, archaeology and war. I finally know who Genghis Khan was, and in the evening we had a long discussion with Zoe about life and death. Default lessons in biology and history were not necessary today. Life itself gives us enough opportunities to learn and grow if we are open for it!
Thank you, Hungary, for this exciting day!
PS. For all travel enthusiasts: Here you can find the address and some information about the ruins of Bugac, that we discovered this day by mere chance.