The temperature peaked around 55 degrees on Saturday and we enjoyed a brisk little drive through several small villages in SE Hungary: Klárafalva (Clara’s village) and Ferencszállás (Frank’s accommodation). At one point our phones thought that we had crossed into Romania. I don’t think that we actually went over the border, but cell phone towers are almost as good a border-crossing indicator as anything these days.
I enjoy driving through these kinds of villages. Klara’s and Frank’s are somewhat more run-down than villages in the north and west, but not totally unusual. They are sandwiched between Szeged, where there is a big international student, science and arts population and Makó, famous for its onions and garlic (and also, unfortunately, its trough, which contains one of the largest natural gas fields in Europe. Drill baby drill!
There really isn’t any industry in these villages. Farming is slow right now, not only because of the winter, but because the fields have been flooded for weeks, slowing early seed and bulb planting. The Hungarian newspapers have said that the property values have decreased by 50% and unemployment is critically high.
The photographs that I took on Saturday are not typical of all of the homes and businesses there. I feel like I must mention that, because no doubt someone will Google “Hungarian village” and my pictures of a flooded field and messy yard will come up and he or she will think yeah, that’s what I thought. There are many nice little homes that speak to the generations of people who have lived in them. Sometimes it seems that time is moving more slowly there, but no one is really bothered by it. The trabant or polski fiat parked next to the side of the road. Or the stands of onions, garlic and potatoes at the foot of every other driveway. But I guess that day I was caught by the way the sun seemed to be working to better certain dilapidation. Sun on the elongated drain pipes, dropping rain into the creek. Sun on the bricked-up windows. Two dogs behind the panzio, barking at the Romanian semis. I’m a sucker for contrasts. They get me every time.