We woke up choking and desperate for air. It was August and we’d slept in a tent past 10am in the middle of an open field. My sleeping bag stuck to my skin and my brain felt like it had been microwaved.
Adi made tea and cooked pasta for breakfast. I lay down and held my book above my head. It was a suspense thriller my Mum recommended, easy to read and a damn good sun-blocker. We spent most of the day like this.
People from the Rainbow came over to us every now and then. They asked why we weren’t camping with the rest of them. We said because we wanted to be in the sun, but this was only partly true. Frankly we are pretty antisocial sometimes and it was too early to enter into the Rainbow spirit. We were perfectly self-sufficient in our patch and there was no need to leave it. Only a tiny feeling of guilt led us to brave it after lunch and join the group in their circle around the fire.
We stayed and chatted for a while. It was pretty chilled out and not much was going on. When we went back to the tent to get some water it was only natural that we got caught once more in the pleasantries there. We sat with Fruzsi and Krisztina outside the van, had a couple of beers and listened to music through Fruzsi’s speaker. We were soon joined by a few Rainbow people for a smoke.
In the evening we all gathered around the fire and had food together. We ate a bizarre mix of boiled leaves and overcooked pasta. Adi’s Tabasco and sweet chilli sauce was welcomed by everyone and just nudged the meal into the realm of being palatable. A guy was playing the guitar and a girl was singing. I laid my head on Adi’s shoulder and listened, warmed by the fire and the music. When I could no longer keep my eyes open we walked across the dark field to our tent.
We woke at 8am and dragged the mats and sleeping bags outside again. We decided to leave today to visit Lake Balaton and wild camp there for a few nights before heading slowly towards Slovakia. Apparently there was a festival happening on the weekend in Bank –a village about 26km from Budapest -so we thought we’d try to get there too.
Things started to rattle and uproot, jars toppled over, nuts scattered, and soon we were being flung out of our seats. Every bump produced laughter that became more nervous the harder we landed. One set of bumps threw us upside down, violently smashing us against walls, cupboards and flying objects. We shouted “Stop the van”, but Fruszi was unable to hear us from the front and had no idea of how the terrain was affecting us in the back.
The back doors swung open and a few objects tumbled down the dusty dirt track behind us. We continued shouting. Adi held on to the rim of the door and with the next bump lost his grip and flew out. I knew within a matter of seconds I would be next and the girls in the front would be none the wiser. So I screamed. Loudly.
They finally heard, stopped the van and we ran to Adi. He was covered in dust and holding his back, but otherwise had a big grin on his face. He clearly found the whole episode quite funny.
Apart from a few bruises and scratches he’d escaped relatively unscathed. A pain in my shoulder began to surface as the panic wore off. I pulled my top down and underneath the torn material were a couple of gashes that were bleeding.
Krisztina cleaned them up and covered them in iodine. Fruzsi was horrified that she hadn’t heard us, but we assured her that it wasn’t her fault in our post-shock-giggling way.
We decided to walk alongside the van while Fruzsi carried on driving over the worst of the track. We were grateful for the feeling of solid earth under our feet.
When the road was smooth and flat we climbed gingerly back inside.
After an hour or so of driving, we reached the lake.
When we stopped, a guy approached the front window and asked if he could take a picture of the van. His name was Peter. Fruszi said yes and told him we were going to the lake. He said that all the beaches around there are private now, which means you have to pay. Luckily though, Peter was in some kind of Yachting club so had free access. He was happy to take us to the lake whenever we wanted. He also had a big house and garden and kindly invited us to stay there. After our morning, it sounded like a great offer.
Adi and I walked to the village and bought beer, wine and food and then met the others at an outside bar. We sat in the sun and eased our wounds with white wine spritzers, courtesy of Peter. He spoke to Fruzsi and Krisztina in Hungarian and Adi in German. I got drunk and understood everything.
After a few hours we drove back to his house and had a meal with homemade wine on his balcony. We brought a speaker upstairs and played music.
We talked and drank into the night until we were exhausted. Peter lent us a spare room. It was massive with a drum kit in the middle and huge patio doors. We opened them and sat looking out into the garden while Adi had a cigarette. I put a new dressing on my wound, went to bed and shuffled from side to side trying to avoid my tender afflictions until tiredness overwhelmed me. We would see the lake tomorrow…