Sunday, June 13, 2010

Your Tax Dollars in Action!

I'd like to tell you a little story about our trip into Hungary.

We went on a tour outside Budapest to the Lazar Equestrian Park, home of Vilmos, and his son Zoltan Lazar, both of whom have won championship awards for competitive carriage driving. Though Arabs
and quarter horses are used, the Hungarian horsebreeding program centers on the Lippazaner horses. At this famous Equestrian Park, we saw all of these horses and others and very entertaining demonstrations of this carriage driving and other activities of the Hungarian cowboys, called czikosak. (See photo at left).  Before lunch another activity was a carriage drive out onto the pustza (the Hungarian range). We noticed a group of young men waiting to take their carriage ride; we interacted with them somewhat because Amos wanted to take their photo. They were in a happy mood and a couple of them knew a little English. But they never agreed to a photo.  But they were clearly having a good time. After the equestrian demonstrations we were ushered into a huge dining room for our Hungarian lunch. (Delicious, see below!)
     At lunch we noticed that again there were lots of young men sitting at least at a dozen tables. I noticed that they were all "hunks." Amos asked a young man at the next table where they were all from and he said they were men from Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, and Hungary training to be police officers. Amos asked this young man if this meant that our boys would be able to come home soon. This young man either didn't understand the question or didn't know the answer. He just smiled and sort of noded his head. The lunch was being served. A gypsy band was performing for our luncheon entertainment and after their own set, they were passing among the tables and asking for requests. Each table of the young men had requests and got very involved in singing them and clapping and generally being exuberant. It didn't bother us but we began to wonder more and more about all these exuberant young men. After we had finished eating, a clean cut gray haired gentleman came over to our table and in perfect American English said, "I saw you folks speaking English and thought I should come over. I apologize if my young men disturbed your lunch. They needed to have some time to blow off some steam." After lunch we went outside the dining hall and saw this gentleman standing to the side. We went over to talk with him again and asked him where he was from. We learned that he was from Oregon, but had not been home for 2 years. He worked for the US State Department and was in charge of a training camp for police officers. This young group of men and 2 young women had been training there for 7 weeks and would graduate in one more week. He said that they needed to get out and let off some steam and that was why they were all there today. He had been directing these 8 week camps, one after the other for the last 2 years.  Amos asked this gentleman the same thing he had asked the young Kosovan across from us at lunch: "Would this enable our young men to get out of Kosovo?" Just like the young Kosovan, this US State Department man in charge locally could not answer that question.

To the left is a photo of the performing gypsy band. When they came to our table, I asked them to do Hava Nagilah for Amos. They performed a very rousing rendition. They could very nicely perform at a Jewish wedding. When we were chatting with the US State Department gentleman, in sharing where we were all from, I said I was from Milwaukee, WI,  and that was where we lived, but that my husband was originally from Israel. The US State Dept man said, simply, "I know." So he had been doing his job, and had noted that we had asked for Hava Nagilah at the request time. Very astute!

Here is a czikos with his donkey. This segment was amusing, we could tell though it was all done in Hungarian. It reminded me very much of visiting a ranchero in Argentina outside Buenos Aires on the pampas. There was a similar segment there with a donkey and the rider not knowing which end to climb up on and always managing to mount the donkey backwards. For cowboys from all over the world, it appears that a humorous donkey segment is universal. This whole day was a very enjoyable one for us. We had no idea that such a life existed in Hungary.

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