A friend of mine, who lived on the Big Island in Hawaii for many years, made me laugh one time when they said they were looking for a vacation house on one of the smaller islands. I thought it hilarious that someone living in a place so many people see as paradise would be looking for somewhere to get away from it all.
I was reminded of this when I received a text during the week from a mate living in Thailand who’s well ready for a three-week break. That made me smile, too, as they have a fabulous place on a golf course beside a lake in a country that so many Westerners view as paradise. How we live and where we live mean one thing to us and another to those looking in from the outside.
I’ve been banging on for ages about how much I love my village. It’s my happy place. It’s no longer my getaway place; it’s home. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be. But then on a walk by the banks of the Zala River, as it runs alongside the shore of the Kis-Balaton, I found my getaway place, were I ever to be in need of one.
It definitely looks lived in. But strangely, there was no egress to the cycle path; it would have to be approached from the other side. I could see the laneway, well-worn by four-wheeled vehicles. The grass in the ruts has never had time to grow back. It looks old, with its tin roof, something that, once commonplace, is a rarity around these parts today. But it doesn’t appear on Google maps, on satellite or street view. An invisible house to match the invisible village?
We walked a kilometre or so beyond it before turning around. And for those two kilometres, I imagined living there, at the edge of the forest, metres from the river, and metres more from the lake. The only traffic I’d see would be from the kitchen window – cyclists and joggers and others walking their dogs or themselves. The occasional fisherman might take up root but they’d be barely recognisable in the distance, and well hidden by the sloping banks of the river. A knock on the door would be cause for alarm if whoever was knocking hadn’t called ahead to say they were dropping by. My nearest neighbours would be quite a ways away – not a bad thing – but perhaps not a good thing either.
Zala is crisscrossed with cycle paths and walking trails and down each one is something waiting to be discovered. If anyone knows anything about the cottage, let me know. I’d be ever so grateful. I’m definitely interested!