Travels With Myself

A Personalized Periodic Update, just for my family and friends, of the Ongoing Adventures of Your Favorite World Traveler

Name:
Location: Budapest, Hungary

After nearly 30 years in the financial industry in the US (mostly California and New Mexico), I decided it was time for my second life. I sold my house, sold my car, sold all my furniture, took a TEFL course and moved to Budapest to teach Business English to the business people of Hungary. Amazing mid-life change! I taught for about eight years, then pretty much retired. Now I travel extensively, and have been to more than 65 countries. I have had six books published, mostly about my travels - see my author's page on amazon.com. I have made friends from all over the world. Becoming an expat is the best move I ever made and I plan to continue my travels indefinitely. Come join me on this blog and enjoy the places I've been and the people I've met, past, present and hopefully in the future.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

FIRST STOP: Los Angeles

My two weeks in LA were an unqualified success. The standard rule for family visits is: relatives and dead fish all go off after three days. Morgan and Tony kept me pretty well occupied, and, of course, the grandkids filled in the rest of the time. Samantha (2 years, 11 months) and Nicholas (18 months) are definitely a handful. I'd forgotten what kids are like at that age, it's been so long. Everything I laid down within their reach was moved, fondled, bitten, chewed, rotated, stepped on or lost for short periods. Actually, I never did find my sunglasses.

But they are cuties. Lively and fun and with boundless energy. Samantha's a blond, as is Nicholas, and they asked endless questions and seemed to enjoy spending time with their "Nagypapa" (Grandpa in Hungarian). Pictures available upon request. The rest of the trip was also fun. I went through my stored clothes and household goods, and Tony and I took a truckload to Goodwill. All my beautiful designer clothes had shrunk while in storage. Bummer. Gotta write Armani and Versace and Joseph Aboud about that. Ate way too much good food: California Mexican, jambalaya, pastrami, sushi, corned beef, pizza, Krispy Kreme donuts, lots of seafood. The weather was great most of the time: when I arrived temps were in the 80s (American; 30 degrees Celsiuis for the rest of the world), and the weather stayed mostly bright and sunny for the rest of the time. I worked on my base tan before leaving for Australia.

I generally hung around Alta Loma with the family, which is actually about an hour's drive from LA. I did do a weekend in Long Beach with an old friend, scoping out the Queen Mary and The Pike tourist area, which was also fun. Morgan and I even got in a day of father-daughter bonding; it's been too long between bonds for us, so that was also good.

After seeing Morgan and Tony, and meeting the grandkids, however, the highlight of my LA visit was a trip to Morgan's school, spending the day with her classes. She'd been telling her students about me and my adventures, and even reading them parts of my first book, so they almost demanded I appear before them. They were great, high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, many of whom wanted to be teachers themselves. They asked tons of questions and seemed really interested in what life was like as an English teacher overseas. I got things like, "What music do the kids listen to?" "What sort of clothes do they wear?" "Do they have pancakes in Hungary?" (We call them palacsinta, and they're like crepes). "Do Hungarian girls shave under their arms?" (Fortunately Morgan was busy when I answered this girl's question with, "Hungarian girls shave everywhere!" I think the young ladies in the class were deliciously scandalized).

I also got in one of my best one-liners. My talks included an introduction to the Hungarian language. Being high-schoolers, I thought they'd like some of the more interesting language, so I told them what the Hungarian word is for cheek-kisses (Puszi, for those of you who don't know). "Give me some puszi!" They loved it, of course, snickering and pointing at each other and rolling the word around.

Anyway, after I had finished my impromptu presentation, one of the kids, a young black guy, came up to shake my hand and thank me for my talk. We did the handshake Olympics, and he said, "Here's the way we connect with each other here." He then proceeded to duck his head almost into my right shoulder, the kids' sign of thanks and respect. I liked that. I told him, "Cool, Bud, but you still can't have any puszi."

Well, the class fell apart. One girl laughed so hard she had tears in her eyes. Ashton was stunned, and for probably the first time in his young life had no comeback. He left the class promising me one, but nothing yet. Hah! I still got it!

At any rate, the trip was fun and happy and enjoyable. First time back to the states in 7 and 1/2 years. I didn't see any of the signs I thought I'd see related to fear of terrorism from abroad, and all seemed to be normal. Maybe under the surface, but nothing I could see. So, from LA it's on to Australia and all of my former Budapest mates. Check the next Posting for details of the next phase of my trip. Until then, your intrepid World Traveler bids you adios.

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