It’s all happening in the village today. Well, technically, it’s all happening a little bit outside the village in Kápolnapuszta at the buffalo reserve. It’s their annual fete, complete with buffalo burgers, buffalo gulyas, and the Hungarian staple, kürtőskalács (chimney cake). Back in my day, at the village fetes in Ireland, it was all about games and gambling. Buy your ticket to spin the wheel and win whatever was underneath the number you landed on. I can’t remember if we had a coconut shy or dunking games – I could well have just woven them into my living memory and transplanted them to Ireland. But they were an excuse to make merry and catch up on all the gossip. Pretty much the same as here in Hungary.
It did my heart good to see the young ‘uns keeping up the tradition with their headgear, dance costumes, and music making. It would be sad to see generations of tradition die out because it was uncool. That said, hats off to young and old alike for not breaking a sweat in this heat, even in their long leather boots and woollen vests.
Buffalo attract all sorts – the egrets and the horseflies. It was a biting frenzy. Shade was scarce, too, so it didn’t turn into an all-day affair. We walked through the museum and the cowshed and I took a wander down to the wallows, half tempted to join the hairless creatures in the mud. They sit there for 4-5 hours a day in the summers, cooling down and drowning the parasites that hitch a ride. It’s a tad surreal to see them grazing in Hungary … seems like they don’t really belong and yet they have a longer tenure than most visitors to the country. Domestic buffalo all but disappeared from Hungary in the 1950s but they’ve been pulled back from extinction and are now quite the sight to see.
We met the lovely people from Gyöngybagolyvédelmi Alapítvány over in Orosztony who devote their time to protecting owls evicted from their homes as collateral damage of church and barn renovations and such. They had a couple of young chicks who’d fallen from their nest and lost their parents earlier in the week. If you see a bird that’s been involved in a hit and run or simply fallen from a tree, you can let them know and they’ll come to the rescue. And, if you’re renovating and have owls, best give them a call, too. Language won’t be a barrier – they’re pretty flexible. [Note to self duly made to change my 1% next year.]
I enjoyed my buffalo burger and seeing the lads wallow. And seeing the schoolkids in action brought me back to the days when I played the melodica in the school band dressed in our red and white kilts, white shirts, and blue brats. Dem were the days. But we never had to march around in heat like this.
Open November to March from 9 till 4pm. Open 9-5pm in April, September, and October. From 1 May through till 31 August it stays open from 9am till 7pm. December times vary – best check the website.
All are welcome. Grateful to have it on my doorstep.