Learning along the way

Published Categorized as english

Jelle has three meetings in three different countries and we decided to join him to provide him with food, love and some distraction. 
We dropped Jelle of in Pecs, 70 km. north of Osijek, in the south of Hungary. He had his meeting and we went into the town. We didn´t really have a plan. My computer had died the day before and I didn´t have time to prepare something special. 
I walked arm in arm with the girls, they were humming. Laurens jumping around us. A guy took a picture of us, he didn’t ask, but he hoped we wouldn’t notice. (yes, we might appear in some magazine or newspaper in Pecs… ha ha.)
We walked on and played with the doves, having a lot of fun and cheer, enjoying the day as it came.
We walked on and enjoyed the old buildings, listened to music coming from a window somewhere. And when the big tower, with the old bells told us that it was 12 o clock, we entered a bookstore, in search of the English department. And there we lost track of time and place and wandered into strange places and times. …
Judith and Femke found the World Record Book, never mind it is all in Hungerian! Laurens got himself into a biology book about the body, never mind letters. He knows now how a baby grows in a mammy’s belly… important information, knowing where you come from.
And Marijke and I, we found this row of English books and were lost. We amused ourselves with the story of Márton Scepzi Csombor. A Hungerian traveler who travels through Europe in 1620. His book is called: Europica Varietas.
We sympathize with this traveler from centuries ago, inspired by his way of writing.
He writes about all kind of places he visits, but what he writes about Holland makes us laugh a little. If you are having Dutch roots somehow, you might still recognize some characteristics in yourself or your family;) 
There are great wealth of meadow land on which are countless cattle, and the cows there are as big as any oxen in Hungary. And the cheese is exceedingly good, (this I agree) white, red and green alike. The folk are kindly and cleaner than any nation under heaven. (not me anymore: my life is a messy business.)
The people here have the nature of the waves of the sea, very seldom yielding to another but standing against all, hospitable in their manner and in their dress following a style different to that of any German nation.  
He visits Dordrecht just a few years after the synod of Dord 1619-1619 and meets a few times people who are singing the old Genevan psalms. And this is what he writes about the Dutch skating customs:
By artfully fastening iron to their feet and by kicking and pushing they set off in the sight of all the people and move so fast that no horse on earth can catch them. Their ordinary gait too is sheer elegance, and there is no Cleopatra, no Camilla, no Amazon to compare with them, so very tall and exceedingly slender are they.
Such… and much more is the vitality and sparkle of Csombors very personal narrative. The youthful  author stands out as a vibrant, energetic personality, a shrewd observer and commentator with a lively interest in the variety of the places that he visits and the people that he meets. No wonder that I identified myself with this traveler from four centuries ago.
Our day ended, we left the bookstore, walked back, enjoyed the art at the water pump, the story of John baptizing Jesus. Laurens needed to touch the dove and remembered the story and we had tea and lovely conversations by our friends on top of the hill where our colleagues live.
Jelle finished his meetings and we traveled on 4oo km to the East of Hunggry to stay there for a couple of days in Szentisvan, an hour from Debrecen, (Hungary), two hours from Oradea (Romania), two hours from Uzgurad (Ukrain), and two hours from Slowakia. Our trips were to these places and that was rather adventurous because among them, one country at war. I promise to write about that in the coming days!
When we entered the little village of Szentisvan in Hungary, another adventure waited for us as we searched in the dark, in a sleeping village for the place to be for us. We found the house and it is nice, robust and comfortable, a place where history meets the present.
Without internet or tv, but with my parker pen and paper and with a lot of Dutch books and nice beds we will enjoy ourselves. A few days set aside in solitude and reflection, miles away from anybody we know and in silence, if that is possible with a family of six.
I laid my tired head down on the pillow and thought about all the subjects we had touched today: history, Christianity, biology, writing, singing, reading, math, photography, travelling, patience, music and more.
And half a mile away the tall poplar  looks down on us, a tall sturdy tree, which reminds me of the tall sturdy Dutch man whom I married, something I have never regretted.