>velveeta bus rides
>budapest has become a series of fire crackers and dropped jaws. yesterday morning, 3 of my new hostel friends (married couple kevin and chrystal from france/uk, and toronto-bred james) and i took a velveeta 2 hour tour bus around buda and pest. although we were gawked and mocked like all predictable hawaiian-shirts-and-fanny-pack touritsts, it gave me an adequate intro to my host. bronze-turned-green statues of political heroes from centuries past. key words like communist, executed, destroyed, war, used-to-be all kept being repeated at different locales.
i can’t help but feel an immense sadness at the turbulent fates tha hungarians were designated. the 17th century neoclassic-baroque-gothic architecture doesn’t whisper the demolitions time has broken-telephoned it.
entire quarters gutted and goose-stepped on like tragic pages in history. the city burns with rich tapestries. the Danube cackles as it beats murky waters ashore.
the tour took us to the citadelle, to museum squares, oktogon “circles,” suspension bridges where the lion’s mouth lacks a tongue, to government buildings, châteaus, and red churches. christianity has been the cause of so much history erasure. christians came as liberators and then ruled as tyrants. they levelled mosques and erected cathedrals. but the air here carries the same scents as toronto.
after lunch with my nouveaux amis, i decided a walking tour was in order. my feet carried me through as many crafted side-streets and bursting thoroughfares as possible. i stopped with a heavy heart at the TerrorHaza museum which was home to 2 shameful organizations. it was party headquarters for the Hungarian Nazis, and the AVO and AVH communist terror organizations’ HQ. there were photos of prisonners severed in half. prison cells the sizes of closets that held 15 people for weeks. a padded room where no one could hear you scream. a locked slot in a wall to keep you standing, cramped, breathless and dying. artifacts like a hangman or torture belts and whips. videos. documents.
what struck me the most was a room whre an officier got changed in the morning. it ws nothing much, looked like a boiler room. it had a locker, a desk, an antiquated typewriter. but leaning on a ledge was a small, scratched mirror, where the officer no doubt groomed , preened and postured before he got dressed. i just imagine him smiling at his pleasing and svelt reflection, right before he experiemented on starving human beings. i left crying.
i’ve been photographing all areas with my hand in the shots. i want to remember that places my hands travelled to.
later in the day, i was sitting on a chilly park bench on the corner of LISZT Ferenc Ter and Andrassy UT, staring at two patriarchal statues of Ady and Jokai. Where are all the female statues? (not including Elizabeth, whom they call “sissy.” how ironic).
my last full day in budapest is today (next stop: vienna), where i hope to get my toes into a turkish bath before nightfall. the sky sags with grey. the streetcars are too rustic to be ugly. the structures’ façades are inviting and neglectful . . . like the emotions of men when they touch my skin.