01 March 2011

The Lung of the Earth

Ahem. *Clears throat* I'm back.

As every cultured human should know, Katy Perry's "Firework" music video was filmed in Budapest. Without hesitation, a few friends and I made a pilgrimage when the opportunity presented itself to us in the form of Semana Blanca: a week off from school for no reason. Que guay! ("Guay" means "cool.") We even tried (without success) to shoot fireworks out of our nipples in the Buda Palace and over the Danube in KP's honor.

In the airport, we met a three-year-old named Penelope who danced like her young life depended on it in front of the RyanAir check-in desk (she's an inspiration to the world, really...a firework, if you will), and within an hour of being in the city, a young man dressed in a priest costume halted my friends and me on the street and muttered to us in rapid Hungarian while pointing his cigarette at each of us in turn. Creepy? Funny? Your choice. Our hostel deserves the highest praise, mostly because in the kitchen there were informational leaflets on Mandrakes taped to the wall. "Oh, like the Mandrakes, or Mandragora, that revive petrified Basilisk victims in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?", you may ask. Yes, the very same! Near the hostel were weird establishments like what I thought was a cafe but was just a room with a single wooden swing in it, and a creepy alleyway lined with mirrors and colored lights. What else happened in Budapest? Oh, the guy working the Metro ticket booth got irrationally furious that we didn't speak Hungarian and that we didn't know how to ask for tickets, so he quite literally SCREAMED at us in rage. All we could do was whimper and bask in the shame of being stupid Americans.

Plies over the Danube River
Our trip was overall very educational, and it included visits to museums like the House of Terror, which is about the Nazi occupation in Hungary, and commemorates its victims. Heavy stuff, my friends. To lighten the mood, we took a train to Croatia.

Valentine's Day 2011 entailed a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships, which is a museum in Zagreb that's full of objects that people from all over the world donate that represent their ruined relationship. I loved it. I was actually jealous of the couples visiting the museum hand-in-hand that day, too, because if I am ever in a relationship, that is precisely the type of activity I would want to pursue on V-day. Also, Zagreb has cool grafitti. And when we went to lunch, we met a pregnant dog.

We stayed two dreamy days in Split, Croatia, and I felt overwhelming tranquility as we walked along cliffsides that lined the Adriatic Sea. There was a little inlet of land that was shaped too similarly to a penis to be ignored; we've dubbed it Cape Cock. Appropriately, on the way to Cape Cock, we encountered an area of the beach that was full of used condoms and wrappers. (Durex is apparently the preferred brand of Croatia.) The ruins of the ancient city were beautiful and enchanting and mysterious and other similar adjectives, as was the labyrinth below it. I hate to reference Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets twice in a single post (wait, no I don't), but I honestly felt as though I had stepped into the Chamber of Secrets itself. It was a very spiritual experience, I would say. We also went to a boring museum-- the Split City Museum--which luckily Maura made more enjoyable by loudly humming the United States national anthem in the stairwell. Most importantly, cats run amok like squirrels in Croatia, and I watched one piss on a car parked outside the city walls. This would be entirely uninteresting if not for the fact that this cat's body shook violently the whole time it was peeing. It was unlike anything I've ever seen.

There was a wig in this tree.

Cape Cock at Sunset

I couldn't sleep on the bus ride to Dubrovnik because everything was so achingly beautiful. Good god. Mountains! Sea! Salty air! The hostel we stayed in was the upstairs apartment of this nice but crazy Croatian family. When we got there, the mother of the house apologized constantly while wiping off chairs so we could sit and eat chocolate wafer cookies.
At sunset our first night there, I battled heartburn all evening because my body didn't know how to contain or absorb so much beauty. I was in physical pain, so I hugged a tree to feel better.
While exploring the ancient castle walls the following morning, we were greeted by a much appreciated, unruly, wild wind. I've missed wind greatly-- it's mysteriously absent in Granada-- and our reunion was a joy. Everything seemed to be breathing. The pulsing sea moved up and down like a lover's tummy, and when I closed my eyes, the sound of the waves was indistinguishable from human breath. The wind and heaving sea and dancing trees were nice, necessary reminders that the Earth is ALIVE, as am I, and that I (and you) are part of this collective breathing process. The Earth's lung is a happy place.

Side Note: Throughout the journey, Maura took hundreds of pictures of me doing mundane tasks like buttoning my pants, climbing stairs, and pelvic thrusting on the balcony.  Examples:

Somebody please explain this to me
An hour before our scheduled departure, we heard music and the sound of clanging pots and pans coming from the Old Town, so we ventured down to the castle to see what was a-happenin'. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw when we peered over the wall. Illuminated by the light of the full moon was a collection of grown men (and a few children) in plump feathered chicken suits with golden pans attached to their waists, hopping up and down in a circle. What?

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