Thursday, January 31, 2008

Live from Downtown Atlantis

(Just one of those titles: "Why didn't I come up with this?!" It's really a pity, because it kicks ass)

(By the way: Voting. Stories. Please. Enough said)

Mandatory concert for the World Music class: Mixashawn came to Trinity. Why is it that the word "mandatory" makes everything sound like a pain in... erhm, yes. But this is not the case with Mixashawn. Oh, not at all.
The only thing we were told was that we are going to hear some Native American music, so we were more or less prepared for that experience. Well, after the first 2 seconds (or rather, after seeing the instruments) we could throw that concept out the window. And we didn't mind at all (although I really don't have any problems with Native American music;)
He played the saxophone (and blasted my ears out - that's what I get for being a good girl and sitting in the front row), he played the flute (oh I just love that sound), he played the birimbao (which, dear Dr. Bones, is not a small kind of flute - come on, not even a wind instrument), he had rattles and a drum, and bells on his ankle, and the most amazing voice that makes the glass in the windows resonate. He told some stories, he told us bits about music and history, and sometimes he switched to poetry before we even noticed.
It was modern and ancient and very very interesting (really, I mean it), it was jazz and blues and rock and some griot tradition in the mix, and Native chants or sounds too, and he made us all sing with him, and clap, and turned music history upside down.
We had a great time; it was nothing we expected, and it was so much more.
It's all about the waves.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lunch at the International Table

(Stories. Voting. Polls to the left. January 19. You know the rest ;)

Another thing I would like to put in my pocket and take home with me: language tables in the diner. Turns out we have Tavola Italiana and Mesa Espanol and however it's called in German. Spanish should be the biggest and most popular - but it looks like students around here don't want to torture their brains with foreign languages outside class, let alone during lunch. In a totally packed, crowded, crazy diner the only table with empty chairs is the Mesa Espanol. Not that I mind.
All the international students (who have no choice but to torture their brains with English every day during meals and everywhere else... so switching to Spanish or Italian or German doesn't really make a difference) gather around these small islands of food, friendship and fun. Today it was our dear teacher from Bulgaria, two girls from China, two of us from Hungary and another teacher from Spain.
The conversation is lively and multicolored - one Chinese girl does not speak Spanish but speaks French, Dani does not speak Spanish but speaks Italian, the two of us speak Hungarian, the girls speak Chinese, and when we have absolutely no idea what the others are saying, we switch back to English.
Sounds like Babel? You bet! And it's more fun than any other thing you could do during lunchtime.
I really, really don't get it why the American students avoid the language tables. The people are nice, helpful, and they wait patiently till you put a sentence together (maybe because they are munching their lunch); we talk about classes, movies, our homes, our family (so it's not like you have to follow a deep conversation about philosophy or politics in a second... third... fourth... language). We laugh a lot, and get lost in grammar and tenses and sometimes we mix up everything within one single sentence. But hey, it's part of the game!
In my opinion this is the ultimate way to learn a language.
(No no no I just can't close the post with that sentence. Urgh. Go again.)
Those American students have no idea what they are missing!
(There.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Scrapbook Tradition

(You know, you know: the voting for stories is still on, polls to the left, story synopsis and further explanation under January 19th, or click right here)

I finally remembered to look up the correct definition of "scrapbook" in the dictionary.
I definitely like the idea.
Wherever I go I keep picking up all kinds of stuff, fliers, brochures, freebies, postcards, whatever; I tend to keep tickets and receipts... not to mention the photos I take, and the notes I scribble on the back of all the above mentioned stuff. I still have the rather worn out tiny red notebook with half sentences and fragments from my first trip to Rome, containing all kinds of valuable information (for example: "spiderweb on the Laocoon statue..." or "small oranges in the Palatine gardens - not edible..." and "lizard on Vicus Tuscus, dark green").
Problem is, as soon as I get home after these trips, I have to start composing a "normal" travel journal immediately, otherwise I forget the meaning of half of the notes... (I still can't decipher "Ostia, 6 hours... we are totally nuts" er... why would anyone be nuts who spends any time in Ostia?...)
Yesterday I decided it was time to start the semester officially with cleaning up my room. So I spent my afternoon sitting on the floor with an incredible pile of notes and fliers and papers, sorting through them, and putting scrapbook material into a separate box (a rather huge box, that is).
I think unconsciously I have been doing the scrapbook project all my life, I just didn't put it together. Now I will.
(*imagines grandchildren turning the pages of an enormous book and Granny Csenge saying "Well, that was my boarding pass on my first flight to the US..."*)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Semester of Independence

(The voting for stories is still on, polls to the left, story synopsis and further explanation under January 19th, or click right here) (and yep, I'm gonna keep repeating it till the end of February...)

One of the (many) things I definitely wanted to try while at an American college is doing an Independent Study. The whole idea is quite new to me (project, independent work, making my own schedule, being creative, coming up with ideas, and of course our favorite can-do spirit... nobody takes a single step without it), so I kept nagging teachers and students and other random people till I found out how to start...
And here I am.
The Role of Storytellers in Traditional Communities
(What, you thought I wanted to do an I.S. on Applied Mathematics?...) (er...seriously, where did you get that idea?...)
It's gonna be so much fun!
Well, maybe I went a bit hyper on my mentor: we (I) decided I'll write 3 shorter research papers on 3 different cultures, following the same list of questions. After almost 5 whole minutes of thinking, I came up with 2 of the topics: the griot tradition of West Africa, and the Irish bards (*eyes go pink and heart-shaped*) (er, sorry). I'm still not sure about the third one though (or even whether I, being a mortal human being who needs sleep once in a while, would have time to write three, or should drop the idea of the third...). Right now I'm getting interested in Chinese storytelling... (I came across a nice book about it while browsing the library shelves, looking for the Romance of the Three Kingdoms - one of those books that you start reading and the words just echo in your head... and just talking about those books I suddenly feel the itch to read Water Margin again... not to mention my best friend Sun the Monkey King... oops I got distracted)
So... yeah. Chinese might be the third one.
(And one day I will become a real traveling storyteller and visit all the places I read about... and then I will definitely have to visit a storytelling school in China) (sorry, distracted again, hehe).
Anyway. I thought I would be well off with making my own schedule... but I realized I have to make myself read and get the work done, and I can be more annoying than I thought... I'll get used to it, I guess. I started a new notebook for the notes (it's pink, blah. But this was the only one I could get), and created a pretty two-page syllabus (so funny, at home college teachers don't even know what a syllabus is, but now I can't live without it...) Now all that is left is to start doing my homework...
I just don't know whether the huuuge pile of Griot and African Folklore books on my table is the fault of the "teacher-me" or the "hyper-student-me"... eh, whatever.
Let the fun begin.


Lost in fine arts and lost again

I still have winter break adventures I haven't shared with you! (Nope, I have 24 hours in a day just like any other mortal - I'm just too curious to rest. Sleeping is for home; when I'm on a journey, my schedule is usually full from dawn till dusk - and God help anyone who decides to keep up with me...) So, here is another episode:
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
(Digging in my new scrap... scrapbox, I guess, I just found the stuff I bought there. Having lots of friends has the strange side-effect that every time I'm "somewhere else", I find stuff that just cries "She/he would love me!" and so it happens that I end up buying small surprises everywhere, and now I'm starting to get worried about going home with all those boxes and bags... not that I mind)
We knew that we need a full day for it. In fact, we even knew that one day won't be enough. But we tried anyway.
Have I told you that I can get lost in museums? In two ways:
1. I just so enjoy walking through exhibitions and reading labels and admiring artifacts that I forget about time and reality, and
2. I can actually get lost in museums. Totally. No kidding.
Both of them happened in the MFA.
We started with Ancient Near East, hoping that somewhere in the labyrinth of the museum we will reach Greek and Roman Antiquity and then some Middle Ages... but I've never thought they had this much Egyptian stuff. Not that I mind (*I heart Archeology*), but still, after a while it was weird - if I had to summarize the MFA in one sentence, I'd say "Egypt! (and the rest of the history of humankind, by the way)"
And now I could get started on Greek vases (and parents who intend to give their kids some early history education "Look, sweetie, that is a... er, no, don't look!") and Roman mosaics (some muffled squeaks from me, hands on mouth, and eyes go pink and heart-shaped again) and Renaissance paintings and Chinese furniture and Japanese prints (the Far East collection is the most amazing part of the whole museum - and also the one where we hardly met any people... I don't get it) and modern jewelry and African masks and that amazing map from Oceania and the touch-screen computer in the Ancient America exhibition (it looked like something from Star Wars, and we spent quite a few minutes playing with the images)...
...but then this post would be so long that no one would read it... (I wonder how many people read blogs, and who reads it frequently and who stumbles upon it via Google... and now I got distracted again).
The museum is amazing. Really.
And really easy to get lost in (even with the maps they gave us).
The problem is, there is a limit of time and effort, and if you cross that limit and continue walking around after a while you start to feel dizzy and your feet start to hurt and you are like "Another room of paintings, oh joy". We crossed that limit somewhere after 6 and a half hours... (including lunch in the museum café, with a menu that beats native speakers' English, not to mention mine...) (maybe because it was actually in French... who knows).
But the first 6 hours were just bliss.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Stories under the full moon

(The voting for stories is still on, polls to the left, story synopsis and further explanation under January 19th, or click right here)

The blinding silver light of the full moon accompanied me once again to the Hither and Yon meeting.
Nope, no fancy story talk this time - I just realized that somehow we managed to schedule every single storytelling meeting for nights of the full moon (yeah, I know, prepare those silver bullets). Not that I mind, not at all.
I also just realized that I haven't mentioned Hither and Yon before... which is rather shocking, because this was the fourth evening I spent with this great little group of storytellers.
If we lived in the Middle Ages, this would be a way more cool, with a campfire and the wind singing in the trees, and stars and the full moon, and weird people in colorful clothes gathering, arriving from the shadows to tell a story and then be on their way again, and we'd probably freeze our... everything off, because it's just so unfairly cold tonight. Ah, anyway. What was I going to say?
Oh yes, Hither and Yon. Even though in these lazy modern times you just find storytellers sitting in a warm, cozy room munching chocolate and sipping tea, it still has its ancient magic.
And there are countless useful things one can hear about at these meetings.
Oh yes. Very very useful things.
For example, today I heard about a king who "collected stuff", and then gave it all away (for a quilt, that is); I heard about a blacksmith, and a doll made of iron that could breath, and bled when cut (how cool is that); I heard about a leaf of the Tree of Knowledge that was blown away from Eden (nope, they didn't smoke it); and a cottonwood tree that learned to walk (I'd so like the cherries to learn that trick).
I picked up a lot of other stuff too along the road. For example... well, tidbits and shiny colorful nothings, such as hints of Japanese, and charms to rescue a changeling, books I must read one day, and 5 or 6 ways to become a real werewolf (from being born as one, which I think I missed out, to being rubbed from head to toe in boiled dead cat - so much about picking stuff up along the road...) (nope, I didn't try) (but hey, it would a creative way of recycling roadkill), and also the fact that sniffing around in Carol's garden for some legendary fruit can be an official part of a storyteller meeting...
I also add my own part to the meetings; today it was The Castle Made of Salt, and a handful of Hungarian Christmas candy; on other meetings, it was other stories and the fact that I tend to listen with eyes wide open, holding my breath, which can really motivate a storyteller (or just creeps her out).
Today I also discovered that someone wrote about me in the newsletter of the Connecticut Storytelling Center (and that really made my day). One of my friends from back home was musing about that "completely unknown part of the universe that is the storytelling world" just this afternoon, and it kinda made me feel like I was a free mason or something.
So, weird people in colorful clothes appeared under the full moon, they met, told their stories, talked about all kinds of everyday magic, and then they went on their different ways, carrying on their tongues a couple of new tales, and the taste of Christmas candy and jasmine tea.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Vote for stories, please!

The conferences are coming up! Oh my god, I just realized that Timpanogos is just a month from now! I should be working on my showcase... problem is, I still haven't decided which Hungarian tales to tell. There are too many to choose from, even among my favorites...
(What conferences?... Timpanogos, Northlands, Sharing the Fire. Three great storytelling events, where I will be presenting my showcase called The Land of Dragon Riders. It's about Hungarian folk and fairy tales. It's gonna be so great! Once I decide which stories to tell, that is...)
It's not like I have no idea what to tell. Quite the contrary. I have lots of different versions... I just can't pick one.
So, here is my dilemma. I already know two stories for sure, I just need to pick the other three. I have several options. I designed three polls, you will see why if you keep reading.
Now I need you all to help me and decide what you would like to hear!

I definitely want to include one legend about Hungarian fairies. Here are my Top 4 favorites:
1. The Secret of the Fairy Lake (Legend says the lake in the woods has magical powers; it can make anyone beautiful like the stars of the sky. What happens when a shy young girl, mocked by all the others, decides to go any try? Even if she can't swim...)
2. The Fairy of the Hany (Bittersweet legend; love between a mortal and a fae of the marsh, who can only be together during the summer. What happens when he chooses a mortal bride instead?)
3. The Legend of the Water Lilies (The fairies are leaving our world; the cruelty of mortals and the sound of church bells chased them away. But there is one young girl who would like to stay... can she?)
4. The Fairy Castle of Backa (Times are changing; church bells ring out loud; the fairy folk is preparing to leave. What happens when they don't want to give up their castle? Can they stand and fight?)

I also would like to include a castle legend (one of the hundreds we have... because I just love castles, and every one of them has at least one story...)
1. Beckó (I grew up on this story. A smart jester, a cruel lord, a castle built on a dangerous rock; and the fate of the lord whose people died, building his castle...)
2. Bátorkő (Another smart jester, who became a thief, and now has to come up with something very clever is he wants to avoid the gallows... love, intrigue, adventure)
3. Rezi (A princess who cannot leave her bed; a brave young prince; a wise woman, a prophecy, and the mysterious healing springs...)
4. Castle made of Salt (the last Queen of the Avar people; a castle made of salt; witchcraft, fate, a young hero, a magic sword, and a battle between fairies both good and evil...)
5. Eger (this is history, not legend; the siege of Eger in 1552 - the mighty Turkish army of 70.000 and a small castle with 2000 brave men and women to hold it...) (yeah, like Helm's Deep, except that this one is true and a hundred times better :D )

And I still need to pick one more. I'm not even sure about the type. So, here are some options...
1. A story about King Mátyás, our favorite trickster king (*apologetic glance towards all serious Hungarian historians*)
2. A legend of a Hungarian saint (the princess of the roses, or the brave knight king's duel with the evil warrior)
3. A Gypsy story
4. A fairy tale from a Hungarian author
5. One of the various legends of the Lake Balaton (water fairies, wizards of the forest, princesses, curses and heroes...)
6. One of the legends about the origin of the Hungarians (they are rather long, they need to be cut)

So... the polls can be seen on the left. Vote vote vote :) Please. Thanks!

Meeting the Fox People

(There is only one place missing from my unofficial and random Top 3 list; I think it would be this one. I really don't like setting an order between them. But I'm sure that if someone asked me "And what did you do over the winter break?" I'd say something like "Oh, LOTS of things. I stayed with a very nice family; they took me to all kinds of interesting places, it was so much fun! We even visited an Indian reservation..." And so it was.)

I always knew I just can't leave the US without visiting at least one Indian reservation. If I had to choose my favorite folktales, Native American stories would be among them... and I was just curious beyond measure. More than ever, after hearing Dovie Thomason and Gene Tagaban at the National Storytelling Festival. I wanted to know more about the First People, because I know that what I know now is close to nothing (except for the stories, of course. My latest favorite is Coyote and the Anthropologist, because it's so true... out dear Coyote's bringing down the folklore department... tricksters tricksters tricksters). Gail, of course, soon got to know all my interests, and she came up with another surprise.
Trickster Tales in the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. Do I have to say more?...
Yay!
(They call themselves the Fox People. Now isn't that just cool?:)
The first thing you see at the reservation is the casino. Because it's just HUGE. According to Gail, it looks like the Emerald City - she has a point. It's definitely bigger than the royal palace at home (nope, we don't have kings anymore in case you wondered...:). I'm not really interested in casinos (and the only form of shopping I pursue is shopping for books), so we just passed it on our way, huge, shiny, modern, fancy, great, so much about the casino.
The rest of the reservation was quiet, the sky was gray, the weather was dull, and it was half-raining, with patches of fog between the pine trees. The woods were deep and green-and-brown, smelled like pine needles and rain. It must have been such a wonderful place before the roads and... well, white people and modern stuff (and the casino. Okay, I admit it, I hate casinos, sorry) (random humming "Hate is a strong word, but I really really don't like...") (no worries, sometimes I just start thinking in lyrics out of the blue, you'll get used to it...)
The museum itself was much more quiet (surprise surprise), a nice modern building with glass walls and a tower. And the exhibition itself... whoa.
They told us it usually takes 3-5 hours for an average visitor to go through the whole exhibition (if he doesn't stop to read everything word by word). We somehow jogged through it in 2; we just didn't want to miss the storytelling...
First we had to go downstairs, back to the Ice Age, with white and dripping walls and all kinds of wild animals (huge wolves, yay:), and a reindeer hunt scene in the middle of the hall. Scientific or not, I decided I love dioramas (we have very few of them at home; museum people think they are not... professional... or whatever... enough.) I did not have the time to read all the info, but I couldn't miss touching everything that was there to touch, stone weapons, furs, everything. They did a very good job on the natural background too. And then there was that place where stone age tools and weapons were in pairs with their modern equivalents - fun fun fun. Goes on the list of good ideas (preparing for next semester's Museum Exhibition course, hah).
And then (and then, and then, and then... I could go on like this for days, insert 5-year-old me hopping on one leg up and down cheerfully...) there was the best part of the whole exhibition: in a big hall they set up a full Pequot village, with wigwams and a lake and a small fort and people all around (they looked like they would start moving any moment; very realistic). There were huge trees and animals and... really, everything. People eating, fishing, making tools, sleeping, tending the crops, women weaving, shaman healing... it made it so easy to imagine how life went back in those times. And even though I am not familiar with Native history, I saw lots of familiar things (ghosts of long past Prehistory classes came back to haunt me... not that I mind, professor, really ;) It was one of those walking back in time experiences which make the heart of a storyteller beat faster (and make her grin like crazy). They did an excellent job with the diorama, and the additional rooms of further information, the videos, the computers where one could listen to the Native languages (oh my god, those sounds... and I thought Hungarians were cool with the gy and the ű...) and of course, all the artifacts.
I think mortals like me have to go back there more than once just to go through the whole thing (or at least spend a full day in the museum). It's really, really worth it.
They even have a movie about the Pequot war, if it was longer it could be a "real movie", I mean, played in theaters. It's bloody and cruel and... well, history. "And then white people came." Not many cheerful stories start with this sentence... I was somewhat shocked to learn that the Mohegans of Granny Squannit sided with the English. The whole war started out as a personal offense, and ended with a nasty massacre... the movie was great, Native people spoke their language, the actors did well, the costumes were nice, and the main character... well, he had a beautiful face;) All in all they did a great job with it too, just like with the rest of the museum (which is now officially one of the places I would like to show to some people at home: "Now this is how it should be done.")
And we made it back to the main hall just in time for the storytelling.
The guest teller that day was Johnny Moses (his traditional name is Whis.stem.men.knee - Walking Medicine Robe); a fragile small man with a cheerful smile and face and gestures that can show you anything in a story. The program promised us tricksters, and tricksters we did get - he was one himself, for a start. He was funny and lively, and so were his stories; Coyote vs the great rock, and Octopus Woman vs Crow, and Ant vs Bear, and the kids all just loved them all (especially the gross parts - oh yes, every trickster tale has a gross part... at least one;). He speaks lots of languages, it was so much fun to hear him talk... well, he is a real storyteller, heart and soul and all. I realized again that I have so much to learn...
And of course I couldn't leave the museum without buying some small stuff for my Story Bag (a shell; an obsidian arrowhead; a small stone with the sing of the Otter, my other favorite animal next to the butterfly).
Before we left, we went up to the tower to look around - unfortunately the weather decided to get worse, and there was a heavy fog hanging above the woods and the hills, so even though with windows all around, it was like standing in an empty room with white walls... which of course did not keep me from pressing my nose against the glass and staring at the deep green ghosts of the trees below.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Magic on Wings

(A couple of days before the Friendship of Salem, and close behind it on my Top 3 list)

Remember Gail? I told you about her when I wrote about the Tellabration. (You don't? My my, someone skipped entries from earlier... never mind, you can still go back and read;) She was so kind to invite me over for Christmas break! The next couple of entries will be mainly about our adventures together, and the stories we shared... (don't worry, I'm not writing anything personal, I promised in one of my first posts...) (go back and read again ;)
This one is about my birthday gift from her and her husband Steve.
(Yeah, I am one of those "Happy New Year! Oh, and happy birthday, by the way" babies...;)
They didn't really tell me where we were going, and I didn't really ask; I was happy sitting in the car, watching the road and the woods and the towns and everything I could see through the window. We were talking, about stories and storytellers, and places we visited or wanted to visit, and New England in general.
When we stopped I still did not know where we were; we got out of the car, and that was when I saw the sign: Magic Wings, Butterfly Conservatory. And I was close to squeaking again.
(Check the top left corner)
If I have any kind of spirit animal, animal symbol, nature soul or whatever, I am 100% sure it's the butterfly. It's about the colors, the changing, the moving, the flying (even the whirlwind, which must be a close relative of mine...) and all kinds of things that are just... me. Plus that huge butterfly story and legend collection I have. I just admire them. (I'd write "I just sooo love them, they are so cuuuute..." but that just feels plain wrong XD Hello Kitty mode off.)
At first I didn't even know what a butterfly conservatory is. I was more than happy to discover that inside it was a huge garden, open to people, full of plants and flowers and live butterflies (I can't stand the ones stabbed to death and behind glass). Now that I think of it I think I was actually jumping up and down, and laughing.
The whole place is like a fairy garden. You walk in, and before you realize what's happening, something orange and light as a flower petal flutters in front of your nose and then flies away; and then what seemed to be a quiet garden at first sight starts moving, and in mere seconds fills up with butterflies of all color and shape. They were all over the place, sipping nectar, and resting on the plants. First you only see the small ones, with transparent wings, or black and blue patterns, and the orange ones that just loved my orange purse (I bet they thought it was a kick-ass big guy), then from the corner of your eye you catch something huge and blue and lazy, like a tipsy big flower, flying around your knees, and your jaw drops in awe (they were so shy, those blue ones. The instant they landed, they closed up, and gave us the ugly brownish back of their wings. They just didn't like being photographed.) I was wandering around, taking pictures, whispering "aaah" and "oooh" and "wooow", bumping into other people in the process (who were fortunately doing the same) (except for the kids, who were running around... well, chasing butterflies) (even though they had strict rules against molesting the butterflies, some of them looked somewhat... exhausted). I couldn't sit still long enough for them to settle on me (one sat on my head though, for a few seconds). I tried, I really tried, but there was too much to see, so after all it was Steve and not me who managed to attract a big blue one. It sat on his leg, and closed up, then shrugged (well, I didn't really see it shrug, but I'm sure it did) (eternal love to Mr. Kipling for The Butterfly that Stomped) and opened up, and it was shiny bright blue, and a little bit tired, and I took lots of pictures before it flew away.
There is a Native American tale about The Butterfly Man; he is red and black and huge and has wings like velvet, and he lures you away from you family, and you have to hold onto his belt as he leads you to his home; and he leads you across a valley, full of other butterflies, all colors and shapes, and if you raise your head and look around, and let go of him to catch another one, you are lost forever, chasing butterflies in the valley till you drop.

(Okay, let's do justice to the tale: it's called Tolowim-Woman and the Butterfly Man, and read the original one in the book called The Inland Whale by Theodora Kroebel, because it's amazing and beautiful.)

Big ships first

(It's gonna be totally random. I could go over the whole thing in chronological order, but usually when people ask you about a period of time when at least three amazing things happened every day, you tend to pick out the Best Of category first. So here is one of my Top 3 experiences over the winter break)

Two storytellers got into a car and went to Boston. And after two days of exploring Boston (Appreciate the adventure. Two words: Minus. Fahrenheit.) we went on to spend the last half a day in Salem.
The first thing you hear in the Tourist Center of Salem is "It's not just about the witches, you know." Well, hearing it after you passed two different witch museums and a couple of statues makes it a bit... hard to believe. We even watched a short movie about the history of the city, about trade and economy and stuff, and we came out of the theater and we thought "Nope, it's really about the witches."
And then they told us that there was a ship in the harbor.
Not just any kind of ship.
A sailing ship.
A real, big one.
You have to know one thing about me: when watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, every female in the room screamed for Johnny Depp - I screamed for the ships (all the way. Give me the Flying Dutchman, and you can have my heart. And any other inside organs you want.) But, Hungary being an inland country, the biggest I could get was still kinda small. Compared to a sea vessel.
Compared to the Friendship of Salem.
I jogged down the streets in the morning sunshine, Lethan following close behind, still amused, I guess, by my sudden rush of excitement (like a 5-year-old in a candy store). We turned around the corner, and I almost broke down the door of the tourist office; we signed up for the next tour, just in time. The office itself was amazing, with small models of ships, and maps on the wall, and books and a real sextant behind glass. For an inland girl who grew up on old and dusty books of sea legends, that place was "kinda near to Heaven".
And still not as near as the ship itself. When our small group walked down to the wharf, the sun was right behind the ship, making it glow with a clear and white light. The salty smell of the sea (even though the water was half frozen over, I could feel it - I guess my nose picked it up because I like it so much), and the seagulls, and the wharf with the lighthouse... and the Friendship. And it was all real.
Yeah, I know, I did know that it's "just a replica" of the original, 18th century ship - but still, it was real. It had bright colors and the smell of fresh wood and paint, and sails, and ropes, and we went on board (and I was grinning like mad). The guide told us about life on a trading ship, and the places they visited and the ports they were in, and the goods they brought back. We went down to see where the sailors slept and where they had the cargo, and the room of the captain.
We had three kids with the group, but I don't think they enjoyed it nearly as much as I did, and I don't blame them. Trading is not as interesting as pirates (unfortunately the pirate museum only opens in April) (one of the kids had a really weird Pirate Mickey Mouse hat on his head with the ears and an earring, on top of a Superman hat. I don't want to know who came up with that idea.) (Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me...)
I didn't really want to leave the ship, but after a while I had to (not till I took nearly a hundred photos, including some with me as captain... yeah I know, women on board, duh)
We walked up to the Customs House, that's really original, left there from the 18th century, and it was like walking through the door and back in time (this is the customs house where Hawthorne used to work) (no, I never really finished reading The Scarlet Letter) (but still, it was amazing). I suddenly became interested a lot of things at once; the list of taxes, the story the guide was telling us, the books on the bookshelves, Hawthorne's pens behind the glass, the stairs leading to the first floor, and the "dusty office museum smell" (totally unhealthy and so smells like home... I mean, the places I spend most of my time since I've been in collage, haha)
The rest of the day we spent with wandering around, visiting some historical houses with another guide (we missed the group tour so he was nice enough to tell all the stuff for just the two of us). The Derby House was my second favorite sight; it was old and full of stories, from Elias Hasket Derby's mismatched eyes in the portrait to the tea papers on the wall of the children's room.
So, by the end of the day, we concluded that Salem is really not just about the witches. It's about the sea and trade and pirates and ships (big ships!) (capital letters. BIG SHIPS. Like this.) and history.
And then we went to see the Witch Museum.

Long time, a lot to see

Back again. Looking at my two blogs, I think I might be a bit lazy about this one... (yeah, a bit... stop snickering!!!)
And as hard as I'm trying to come up with some kind of excuse... I can't. So here is the deal: instead of apologizing for the past two months, I'll start writing all kinds of interesting stuff, right here, right now, and catch up on everything new and story-related and fun.
Okay, here is the trailer:
One Girl
Two Months
Three celebrations
Four States
Five cities
Plus butterflies, ships, witches, Native Americans and stories stories stories. Comin' up.