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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In Hot Water, A Tale Of Budapest

I've mentioned before that I'm intrigued by the way our minds work. I find it interesting that sometimes a random object, or a piece of music, or maybe even a movie or television program can take you to another time or place. And that's why when I was in the kitchen the other day and put a packet of ramen noodles into the cupboard, I was suddenly remembering Budapest. I know, it really seems strange, doesn't it? Well, stick with me, and I promise it will make sense.

The journey to Budapest was a difficult one for me. In October, we decided that we would be going to Budapest and other parts of Hungary (and Paris, too!) the following April. From the first night that we knew we'd be going, I started to have trouble sleeping. It was a combination of things that kept my mind going more than usual. First and foremost was the the excitement of going to Hungary and finding my family. I would finally be seeing the village where my mother and siblings were born, and I would be meeting my family for the first time. In fact, it would be my first-ever contact with them. There was the underlying fear that they might not want to see the child of the man who had ended their sister's or cousin's life. Would they hold that against me? Who knew?

I was also excited because I had never traveled internationally. Anywhere. I had never even crossed the border into either Canada or Mexico! Added to that was stress over the fact that my sister wasn't sure if she could take the trip or not. She had a neighbor/friend who was an airline employee and offered her some "buddy passes" so that she could take the trip. She planned out the first leg of her trip, and I helped her plan the part of her trip that would take her from Germany to Hungary. She had no computer or internet at home, so I arranged a flight and an overnight hotel stay for her. She would be traveling separately from us and we'd meet in Budapest on the same day. Sounds simple, right? Never trust that feeling!

Liz was leaving on a Saturday and we were leaving on Sunday evening, and would all arrive in Budapest on Monday. I went to bed on Saturday night, filled with excitement. I finally got to sleep, and then the phone rang at midnight. It was Liz, and she was crying, and nearly hysterical. She couldn't get on a flight, and in true Liz fashion, said she was going home and cancelling the trip. Luckily, when I called Marie and Thayne the next day, they came to the rescue and arranged flights for her, and she got to Budapest the day after we did. But by the time I got on the plane, six months of poor sleep and one sleepless night and stress-filled day caught up with me. And I was sick as two dogs on the nine-hour flight to Frankfurt. Seriously, one dog couldn't have hurled that much.

When we got to Budapest and were in the fresh air, I immediately felt better. We hit the ground running after we got to our little rented flat, and went to some shops and out for a delicious dinner. When we got in for the night, I knew I would feel much better if I had a nice shower before I went to bed. Our bathroom had a small shower with a very nice shower head and several jets to spray the body as well. I was excited to try it out. And this was when I discovered that the water heater was really doing a great job. I had set the temperature on the tap to about the middle, turned on the water, and...ouch! I felt like a chicken that was being made into a nice pot of soup. Who knew that you could boil your boobidies in a shower? Seriously, folks, I was nearly scalded. Yes, I had bravely taken the first try at the shower and was able to warn everyone not to turn themselves into chicken soup. But Marie still managed to get caught once, accidentally. Luckily for both of us, our quick reflexes saved us from being actually hurt.

So what does all of this have to do with ramen? Well, our little kitchen had a stove and refrigerator, and even a tiny washing machine, but no microwave. One day we bought ourselves ramen noodle cups to eat that evening while relaxing in our flat. Not having a microwave was no problem at all. And we didn't waste any time with boiling any water on the stove, either. The water from the tap was hot enough to cook the ramen noodle cups quite nicely. And you thought I was exaggerating when I said it was really hot, didn't you? Not this time! Ever since then, whenever I turn on a tap and the water is really hot, I chuckle and think that the water heater must think it's from Budapest. And I remember the time that I was literally in hot water!