Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back to the Boatyard!

Let's transition from Europe to the boatyard with a peek at some Hungarian ones I found!

In Budapest, half marina, half boatyard:

On Petofi Island:

Kinda makes a girl want to get back to the boatyard...

Sunday, September 18, 2011


A tidy little Hungarian breakfast—more pepperoni, peppers, and cucumbers—in the quiet dining room with an attentive staff is a lovely way to end five weeks in Europe. No sign of Eva. I sit and stare at the stuffed hawk overhead, glaring at me, while CNN blabbers softly in the background.

The taxi arrives at the appointed hour, and once again, I find myself in an airport.

It’s always a little bittersweet to leave Europe. I love it here, and I love to go home.

The uneventful plane ride gave me room to think about the last five weeks, and start to distill down all that happened. In a few short hours, someone will pick me up at the airport and ask, “So! How was it?!” And that will be an ongoing litany for many weeks, from many people. What do I answer?

It took a full month to distill down the story I keep retelling—Tug & Ruckle. There are many others, of course, and images resurface, a Facebook post comes in, or someone asks for a photo, and I linger over the file, smiling, enjoying the hunt.

Time to close this chapter. After all, it’s time to get back to the boatyard…

Goodbye Europe!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tug & Ruckle

Day 3: two of our team succumbed to the effects of heat and jet lag, and were down for the count in the evening. Four continued on, working on tables in the garden, sketching the design on large oak-tag cardboard.

Day 4: our two stragglers are back in the game, but three more on succumbing…but still standing. We cut stencils—tag team when heat, fatigue or other duties disrupted. At least one finger should have been sliced open while we worked on them, given the speed with which we were working, the poor quality of the mat knives, and the chaotic atmosphere of curious kids. Periodically a wilted artist would go stand under the mister in Arnold’s garden for revival when necessary.

Now to coordinate execution: we numbered the stencils according to the sequence in which they would be sprayed, and assigned paint colors, and painters: 1 stencil holder, 1 sprayer, 1 brush painter; test for accuracy of stencil and design…um, or not. Time’s up!

We were an hour late for set up at the square. Attila came to fetch us, and dropped us off at the wood frame we needed for the canvas, which turned out to be too small. Agh. One trip to the hardware store later, with a staple gun, and plenty of elbow grease applied—but not too much, lest we rip the canvas—and we had jury-rigged the piece together. A bit of tug and ruckle, as Jacob declared (just before he began passing out ‘boiled sweets’).

Adi the Amazing and Chuck the Master Problem Solver attached braces, wired the frame to two music stands to hold it up. Now we could get it up on stage, ready for action…um, or not. The program had begun. We would have to bring it up on stage as we began, which would cut into our 5-min. time frame.

We laid hands on the canvas, prayed for a miraculous outcome anyway, and gathered our supplies by the steps up to the stage.

I then hunted down the DanceLink leader to consult on choreography (two dancers would be joining us on stage for execution of the wall). Next I ran for Bill, showing him where we might need some improv on the music. Onto Melissa: I would be the point person for the artists, and borrowed her cell phone for a timer. Rehearsing the sequence in my head, I timed it out…it could work, if we had no glitches—ha!

In the meantime, the “severe weather warning of torrential rain and damaging winds” was building up a head of steam; the wind was already high enough to nearly knock the drummer off his stand with the side curtains. Someone tied them up. Hmmm…could pose another problem for the painters….

I gulped down dinner; we had almost three hours to go. The sky threatened, but no rain yet. In fact, the sun was beginning to peek out under those mountainous clouds in a glorious sunset…if you've been following this blog, you know the outcome! If not, read this!

Well, this should have been a rain-soaked disaster of muddled stencils, artists and dancers tripping over one another, and paint never making it to canvas. But you know what? It never happened.

The stencils should have had at least a few mistakes in them. The paint never ran out, in spite of extensive spraying in the wind. The storm blew over us. The team should have clashed more, wilted more, flared up more in anger or impatience, or had hidden agendas. It didn't happen.

You never saw Him, but God was all over that event, and the team. Not only during the event, when artists and dancers meshed beautifully in an unrehearsed choreography, and paint actually landed on canvas in spite of high winds. But also during the week, workers rebounded from heat and jet lag, stencils were cut properly, and nobody ripped the canvas.

You don't have to believe me that this was anything extraordinary. I'm just telling you what I saw.

Order out of chaos. Csodalatosh: beauty in brokenness. In spite of impossible demands, overwhelming heat and fatigue, God showed up. In the pits of the depraved evil of Auschwitz & 9/11, God showed up. Why did Schindler help the Jews? Why did Corrie ten Boom? Maximilian Kolbe? Why did “Let’s roll” enter our vocabulary?

I don’t know how, but one day, Auschwitz and 9/11 will be redeemed. Because that God's specialty: redemption. Order out of chaos. Life out of death. Jesus walking out of the grave. And in Baja that Friday night, I got another little taste of it.

That's the story I keep telling...  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Poetry After Auschwitz

As I was writing up a report of my time in Hungary, I found that there is poetry after Auschwitz and 9/11. Or maybe more properly, I remembered. In the face of overwhelming evil, I forgot the hope. Ever been there?

But a story kept revolving around my head, and once again, God connected the dots. It remains one of the stories I find myself telling over and over again, shaking my head. I'm mostly telling other artists, who understand the technical aspects of this challenge, but anyone would get it to some degree.

It is one of those amazing, understated ways God works, off-the-radar. I guess that's why I like it--never a fan of smoke and mirrors.

It might take a couple of posts to get it all out. (If you're just joining this blog, you might want to reread some earlier posts; if you have been following, you might want to review!)

Picture this: 6 artists from 3 cultures, with varying degrees of skill and experience (both culturally and artistically, none of us graffiti artists) were able to unite in a foreign country, receive a prophetic word from the Lord within hours of meeting, agree on a creative expression of that, design it, figure out how to execute, stage and choreograph it, then execute it improvisationally and get a fairly accurate rendering in (almost) the allotted time slot, using materials we were unfamiliar with. All done while facilitating an arts camp, in 100+ degree heat, in jet lag. In four days.

It started with this simple request: Could we do a visual presentation of a song, to be performed Friday night at our outdoor concert in the main plaza of Baja? (Length of time: 5 min.)

Answer: yes.

That 'yes' unleashed a process; I’ll give you the blow by blow in two separate posts, but let’s begin with:

Day 1: discuss concept and goal of prophetic art, do a prayer walk as a first exercise; eat dinner together to debrief and share impressions, inspiration and ideas.

Day 2: art camp begins. Continue to brainstorm ideas for the main design concept and medium to be used; see which artist(s) felt comfortable painting on stage and decide who would paint. Buy art supplies; decide on color scheme in the store, because we only have a half hour.

Sketch ideas. Test materials (Hungarian art supplies may vary from American, UK or Canadian art supplies!); do mock up, scale version, of design sketch, to then fit actual canvas (2 x 3 meters); test model; adjust design.

Since we had decided on graffiti for style, we wanted a word. What was the Hungarian word for our theme of “Brokenness is the Beauty”? Team disperses to talk with translators, kids, participants in our classes, random passers-by...

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today I am watching some of the reports, videos, and photos of the 9/11 Remembrance, as I know many of you are. Speeches, reactions, blessings. Prayers, memories, songs. Facebook is alive with the static of remembrance. Here's mine.

In the midst of a day of painful memories, some dots connected.

Writing about Auschwitz has been difficult, to say the least. I didn’t want to relive the sights, sounds and smells of the death camps. I had almost succeeded in forgetting. It was fairly easy: the next few days were crammed full, including lots of travel. Any time the images returned, I pushed them away, distracting myself with busyness. Life went back to ‘normal.’

Resurrecting it all in this blog, and trying to move away from it again, I stumble into 9/11. Good grief. I resisted watching the visuals, as I resisted going to the death camps. Look but don’t look. Remember. You have to.

What bothered me was not the remembering, but the lack of relief. I want more than just a bunch of bad memories. I was actually lamenting the fact that I had to remember 9/11 with no apparent recourse except to feel bad for a while, until the images went away again.

As I said in my last post, I want to scream and wail and call fire down from heaven! But most of all, like many of you, I want answers. I want something or somebody to tell me what this is all about, that these are not random acts of atrocity, with nothing to be done. We live in a fallen world, and horrible as that is, justice will be rendered. That God didn’t intervene for a very good reason. I want God to talk to me about this. And there is my wrestling match, and there is my lament.


A piece of music plays in my head...

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard. It is also one of the hardest videos I've ever watched. You may want to turn your head away from some of the images, and you can listen without them here, but you will miss Dawn Upshaw's gripping performance. For those who have the stomach for it, click here.

The first time I heard this piece, it arrested me. I was touched in a place I didn't recognize. It haunted me for months. It literally gave sound to something we do so poorly in our culture—lament—and I’m not surprised I didn’t recognize this part of my soul.


My mind immediately jumps to Katrina, and a sermon I heard the day after. The pastor referenced Michael Card’s A Sacred Sorrow, and it wasn’t long before that book was in my hands.

As Card writes in his acknowledgements:

“Shortly after 9/11, I received a note from [Calvin Seerveld] in which he observed that we...had no songs to sing in response to the horrific attack…'You need to write laments,’ he said.”

Card defines lament as one of the greatest act of faith, and an act of worship, in which a heart in pain cries out to God for relief. That stunned me. Grief is an embarrassment to our culture, not 'allowed.' Card gives us permission.

He is a careful theologian: “...lament expresses one of the most intimate moments of faith—not a denial of it. It is supreme honesty before a God whom my faith tells me I can trust. He encourages me to bring every thing as an act of worship, my disappointment, frustration, and even my hate. Only lament uncovers this kind of new faith… lament was the only true response of faith to the brokenness and fallenness of the world. It provides the only trustworthy bridge to God across the deep seismic quaking of our lives.”

You can’t get more seismic than Auschwitz or 911.

“Lament happens when we experience suffering that seems inconsistent with God’s hesed, when the door to His Presence seems locked and barred from the inside. Such moments are often signaled by the word why.”

This is not for coffee club Christianity, or the weak-kneed. Easier to walk away from a fight with God. He’s obviously going to win, right?! But as one who has wrestled with God on a number of issues, I can tell you He fights fair. And He is supremely interested in relationship. The "bridge" Card writes about is being willing to shake your fist at God, and not walk away till he responds. No easy answers, but don’t walk away from the fight.

Card taught me the role of lament in my life, and gave me vocabulary. It's time to bring that language out again--the only response to the griefs of Auschwitz and 9/11--to get to good grief, the healing kind. I have certainly passed through anger, denial and bargaining. And stalled. To move on to acceptance, I need another wrestling match with God. It is so easy to stall here; I may walk away with a limp. But I know how I'm spending the next few hours.

No, I will never forget, but I will remember with my questions and wrestle. Then I will return to Auschwitz and 9/11 without the poison of anger, denial, incomprehension, desire for revenge.

So help me God.

There is a time to weep.—Eccl. 3:4

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Auschwitz 3

How is this possible? This is about the only thought I can manage. All my circuits are on overload.

Many ask how could God let this happen, but that is not my question; Old Testament Scriptures speak to that. But man's inhumanity to man--how is it possible that men did such things to other men? Things that, wails God through the prophets, “never entered my mind…” How is it possible?
How is Evil able to inspire such evil?

The camp commandant’s house, situated on one corner of Auschwitz, lies just a block from the crematorium. Life with his family went on within the perimeter of its gardens as if the “showers” nearby were not gassing upwards of two thousand people a day. As if walking skeletons were not staggering back to the barracks nearby, crawling onto hay to sleep a few hours before an 11-hour work day, or standing all night in one of the ‘standing cells.’ How is it possible to sit down for dinner with your daughter after that?

In the showers, one block over, I could almost hear the screams of the victims. A Jewish star is scratched on one wall. Keeping my head down, I head for the exit. I am done. Undone. Fortunately, the tour is just about over, and what is left is outdoors. I can breathe again. I remove the headphones. One woman, tears streaming down her face, grabs the tour guide and chokes out her question, “Didn’t anyone know what was going on here?” The tour guide answers with equal anguish; I can’t hear her answer. I’m having my own hard time. And if we can't believe what we’re seeing with our own eyes, who would believe it from afar?

We still have Birkenau to visit, a ‘sister camp’ a short bus ride up the road, but mercifully, most of this tour is also outside. We stand in the warmth of the sun, the grass green and lush from all the recent rain, and are dwarfed by the enormity of this camp, though not many structures are left standing. Like something out of a movie set, the train tracks dissect the camp in two, and the station, which I recognize from films, is still standing. We enter only one barrack, briefly, to hear more horrors.

I ask the tour guide a question which nets me about a 20 min. response, and now we are walking and talking side by side, tour over. She has taken a liking to me and we stop and get more personal. Someone joins us and asks about the career span of a tour guide in the camps. “Oh you can work here till you’re 70!” she answers. "No," the inquirer responds. "How long do you last?"

She looks down and says “At first it was hard. Then I got used to it. Now, I have a little grand-daughter…and it’s hard again.”

And then we were on our bus again, headed back to the hotel. Was there any conversation, or were we all lost in our thoughts? I don’t remember, but know I avoided conversation when I got back, and headed for my room.

I cannot recommend the death camps I know they must exist: “Everything exposed by the light becomes visible.” Exposed, the death camps render visible the historical fact of the Holocaust. Go, if you don’t believe it happened.

Exposed too is evil on a scale that chokes the breath and causes the mind to split off into denial. I don’t like looking at evil. I don't like looking at the evil we’re capable of; we become what we look at. I don't like seeing how Satan can so deceive people as to carry on such atrocities, or to believe this didn't happen. I especially don't like facing the fact that I could have been one of those people looking the other way. Do you remember Schindler's breakdown when he realized he could have done more?

One Holocaust survivor broke down when he finally saw one of the war criminals brought to justice. He had fabricated a monstrous sub-human in his mind; the man who was brought into the courtroom looked so ordinary, the survivor recognized himself.

Yes, Auschwitz must remain; unfortunately, it is a dismal truth in our collective story. And God does not gloss over evil, but calls people to account. Justice will be rendered one day.

In the meantime I want to call fire down from heaven to incinerate it. I want to scrape this abomination from the face of the earth--pour cement over it, bulldoze it, blast it into oblivion, annihilate it--anything. What a blight on our planet.

I cannot wait for the day when God comes and does just that. When He folds all our stories into His larger story, and renders justice for this and every atrocity.

God help us in the meantime.

"There can be no poetry after Auschwitz."—Theodor Adorno, German philosopher and poet.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Auschwitz—Part 2

It is such a beautiful day. The camp looks clean, orderly, and tidy, though it bends my brain to use such an adjective to describe it. The buildings are low, brick, solid, their scale surprisingly small for the monstrous proportions my imagination had cast. Barbed wire surrounds everything. My spirit is completely oppressed.

Strange, technological intimacy of earphones: suddenly I am cut off from banter with friends as a disembodied voice takes control of our mind and imaginations for the next---how long was it? An hour? Two?

Our guide was a Polish woman from the city, her English thickly accented, her eyes piercing, when I could get a glimpse of them. She was about my age. Was this the best job opportunity for her in town? Why would one take such a job, and how does one endure it day in and day out?

We pass the area where classical musicians played as prisoners arrived, creating a semblance of civility, averting panic. We arrive at the barracks and enter the first one.

Filing through room after room, barrack after barrack, in claustrophobic crowds, I got a surreal taste of what it must have been like to arrive and crowd into these cramped buildings—if indeed one made it past the ‘showers.’

There are few children in the crowd. I am with some. I don’t think any should be here. I’m not sure anyone should be here, unless that person doubts the Holocaust happened. I notice gypsies—a number of them died here—walking as somberly as the rest of us.

I disconnect over and over, splitting off from the reality of photos, eyes staring, smells, rooms full of eyeglasses, shoes, or cooking pots—articles gathered from the victims, who packed what they thought they might need, only to lose it all upon entering the camp, and learning they only needed to survive. The most grotesque was a room full of wooden arms and legs, prostheses of all types.

Expressions change the deeper we go in the tour. Soon no one is speaking, no one is making eye contact, no more photos are taken, or more are taken than ever before, as if to wrestle this reality to manageable Kodak proportions.

I thought I knew quite a bit about the Holocaust, including knowing a survivor, a family friend. But I was hearing stories, details, and facts I had never heard before. One of those might have been spoken matter-of-factly, the impact taking a few seconds to sink in, followed by a stunned look to a neighbor, realization in both our eyes: “Wait, but if that…then…” and the mind veering off before the sentence could be completed.

The guide drones on in her thick accent, betraying no emotion as she recounts horrors. As we progress she becomes more stern, insistent, angry, as if knowing numbness was setting in, to shake us back to look, learn, remember, honor.

Occasionally someone breaks down in tears as we file from one room to the next. I struggle and strangle a cry, a sob, a roar of anger.

I find myself leaning my head out of any open window I pass, gasping for air. I need to feel life—in the wind on my face, to hear it in the birds, see it in the trees and grass—anything to counteract the effects of this place of death.

Artists’ renderings and sculptures recall the trains crammed with people as they were transported—sometimes for days—from around Europe to the camps. No toilets. No food or water. Any kind of weather. No heat. No air conditioning. Maps show us the distances.

We learn more than we need to, I think. Should we know this much detail? I think of the Scripture that says we should be innocent in regards to evil, that we should “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them…it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” And here we have a whole death camp. Should we even be here? What was the effect on us spiritually, emotionally?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Poetry After Auschwitz--Part 1

This is not a poem
it is a rock
through a window--

it is a smash
and run---

Daphne Gottlieb

Maybe one day I’ll write a poem as piercing as Gottlieb’s, but I am far from that day. One month after the devastating and emotionally-loaded visit to the death camps of the Holocaust, I have no words. I lived many years in the battlegrounds of the first two World Wars; “grim” is the only adjective to describe what I saw in the museums, or heard from eyewitnesses. All that pales after a glimpse at what was happening on the other side of Europe.

The shock is so great to the system, like the grief of sudden loss. There is no preparation, and one can’t know how one will react until the shock hits. I was with hundreds of people going through the camps. Many broke down; some kept their composure. Everyone fell silent. No one smiled. Some took photos relentlessly; others’ cameras dangled unused from wrist or neck. I found myself splitting off into denial. Impossible reaction, prompted by the inconceivable.

I will list some impressions and thoughts, and leave it at that. I may write more someday, but for now, I still don’t know how to process this. Images come, and my mind changes focus as soon as it realizes where it has wandered. So, for now, imagine going yourself …

The atmosphere on the tour bus is festive as we go, people chatting and commenting on the beautiful landscape. We arrive with dozens of other tour buses, and are soon lost in a sea of people, but waiting for our tour guide. Nerves are beginning to show: questions as to what we’ll see and feel, how we will react, observing the people exiting, wondering at the strange disconnect of a tourist attraction over this most horrific of events, with gift shops situated prominently about. There can’t possibly be key chains or magnets here, I silently hope. What souvenir would one want? The crowds are uncomfortably thick and chaotic; I imagine the crowds of Jews who arrived during the war…and then our guide arrives and it is time to enter…

Monday, September 5, 2011

GEM Annual Conference

A few snapshots:

Picture this: Hundreds of missionaries and hundreds of Poles, mingling together over meals, in elevators, at the pool, in the lobby. Boy this is a tough language. Trying to shift gears from Hungarian, giving up.

Theme: Set your sails! Hmmm...I can get into that...

Training: T4T, brought by Steve Smith, a new model for church planting ministry. Book on desk, notes to self on iphone, ideas percolating.

Best conference moment: meeting Allison in the hotel lobby—more than an “Allison sighting”—a “God sighting”—“I will be with you!” How many times have I heard that as I jumped off a spiritual, emotional or vocational cliff?! Sometimes He shows up in the faces of strangers, other times it’s the faces of friends…

Second best conference moment: on the bus ride to Auschwitz, sitting with an old friend, having God moments back and forth, discovering a new book idea...

Worst conference moment: sitting in a chair during our first session, after weeks of being on the move, and realizing I now had to sit for four days! Definitely prefer thinking on my feet, improv and walking from one end of a city to another (even if I do whine about exhaustion and heat!).

Second worst conference moment: same as above, only in a Benadryl stupor, fighting a cold.

Food: outstanding. Best conference food I think I’ve ever had, in terms of quantity, variety, and quality. After weeks of almost exclusively carbs, I just about lived on the salads and fruits!

Scenery: also outstanding. From our dining room, we overlooked the mountain range, river and valley of Wisla.

Discovery: the seated, thinking Christ, Chrystus Frasobliwy, a common theme in Polish folk art. Kinda weird, kinda thought-provoking...good, bad and ugly examples abounded.

Discovery I wish I didn’t make: Auschwitz. Wish I could forget, but will write about next.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I’m not sure exactly when it was that we crossed the border over into Poland, but somewhere at or near that last bathroom stop, we were there.

Landscape and architecture changed slightly, and we left the highway for a serpentine two-laner that brought us through increasing elevations of some mountain range that I must Google.

One turn brought us over cobblestones and into a stunning, almost 360 degree panoramic view of mountain and pine forest. Curling through colorful and active villages, we were soon staring out of the car at Poles staring in at us. Village upon village, tourist crowds beginning to develop, wedding parties emerging or entering churches, and soaring pines, waterfalls, and a baby traffic jam… we kept winding our way towards Wisla, our destination.

No photos of this journey either, sorry to say! I went weak in the presence of beauty: a mountain wonderland which, I was to learn later, is one of Poland’s premium vacation regions.

Eventually we entered Wisla, to a folk fair being set up. Funny to see an American stagecoach from the 1800’s parked by the side of the road! One more curve over a river, up one more incline, and we were at the entrance of the Hotel Golebiewski, which took away whatever breath I had left in me.

After weeks of hostel living, this was entering the sublime from the ridiculous.

Wondering who I would still know in GEM, after four years off the field and three years since my last conference, I waded into the crowd of tourists and missionaries. Could I find a good conference buddy, since my usual one had since resigned the mission? I didn’t have long to wonder: as I entered the doors, there was Allison, my dear friend from France and Camp of the Peaks. We spotted each other at the same moment, let out a war whoop each, and hugged. From the vantage point of that hug, I spotted another friend, and another…and then a family I forgot had moved to France…and then there was the couple I used to work with in Lille…

Well, eventually I had to extract myself from hugs and happy reunions and check in. Disheveled from heat, hours of traveling and lack of sleep, I found my hotel room, flopped a moment on the bed with the goose-down pillows, then opened the doors to the balcony overlooking the pine forest. Yep, this is why I do this stuff.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Slouching Through Slovakia

Driving north through hundreds of wind mills (the tall white skinny kind, not the picturesque Dutch stereotype), we crossed the border into Slovakia. What a beautiful country! And compared to most Eastern European countries, looking quite prosperous.

And a relatively new country, having been birthed in 1993. Once a part of Hungary, once dependent on Germany, merging in and out of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia became its own after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia. It is now part of the EU. Once this country gets on the tourism map a little more for Westerners, Tour-o dollars WILL be spent here, if you ask me!

I didn't take any photos, but if you care to click here, and skim over all the flag, coats of arms and map images, you can get a peek at this beautiful country.

We passed through the city of Bratislava, curved around some ex-castles, and puttered through some quaint mountain villages, passing through the Czech Republic for about 5 min. before entering Poland. I became keenly aware that I was no longer with artists as I automatically drew out my camera for a couple of intriguing shots outside our first pit stop in Poland: grillwork and a blue umbrella upside down in a green basket. I'm not sure anyone else in our caravan even saw these wondrous sites, let alone thought to take a picture of them! "If these were artists," I thought, "there would be a half-dozen cameras out by now!" So sad...I took my shots, removthe my 'Art Junkie' pin from the lapel my jacket, and braced for re-entry into the world of the left-brained. But isn't this beautiful, this grillwork?! On a bathroom?!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"It's Good to Have a Snack!"

“There is no better way to prepare for dinner than by eating. To be a little sinful while waiting. Just a little bit—but often. Ah, it’s good to have a snack.”—Gerloczy Café

After some time at the synagogue, it was time to sit down and think, then head home. There is nothing quite like a good sit and think at a European cafe...

Heading back towards the river, we found Café Gerlöczy. Nestled in a quiet triangle of a picturesque street, with the sunlight dappling in at just the right angle, it was the perfect café for the occasion. We settled in immediately, and studied the menus.

“Quiche is a little surprise from Gerloczy, assuming that the sun is shining. If it is not, please make a complaint. Until we deal with your complaint, order a slice of quiche with some salad on the side. To cool down hot emotions we offer some vegetable sorbet. Is it all right now?”

Well, vegetable sorbet is a little bizarre, but absolutely no complaints! On the contrary, everything seemed all right now...

After sitting, lingering, taking photos, eating and drinking, we eventually motivated ourselves for the short walk to a delightful promenade along the Danube, stopping to watch the boats go by, and admiring the bridges.

Continuing on in the direction of our tram stop in front of the International Market, we said goodbye to Budapest and were whisked back to our bus stop at the edge of the city. A few travel hiccups later, we found our way back to Erd, and hiked up the steep hill back to our lodgings, just in time to meet Kwame, another dancer arriving for the second arts camp. We liked him immediately, and he proved to be a fantastic dancer and team player at the camp.

Another movie night, followed by packing for early morning departures, and it was time to close my time in Hungary. I would enjoy driving through the countryside up into Poland next, but for now, it was time to turn in. Another round of bug spray, another late night talk with my buddies, and we turned out the lights--with great appreciation for all we saw, learned, tasted and enjoyed in Hungary. Another day to say, “This is why I do this stuff.”