Posts

Doomsday or holiday?

Many things about Hungary – and Budapest in particular – fascinate me. I can’t fathom, for instance why the BKV feels it needs to tell me, a great fan of public transport and a regular passenger, that I can take one wrapped sapling tree with me when I travel. I can’t for the life me of understand the logic behind the ticketing system in the post office. And try though I might, I can’t quite see the need for nine types of wine spritzer (dependent on the ratio of wine to water) other than finding creative ways to celebrate the fact that Ányos Jedlik, a Hungarian, invented soda water. But what baffles me most are the supermarket queues the day before a national holiday.

supermWhat is it about the Hungarian psyche that drives it en masse to the supermarket the day before a national holiday? What sustains it as it waits patiently in ever-lengthening queues to pay for groceries that are far from staple necessities? And why does this happen the day before every, single, national holiday?

I will hold up my hand and admit to a mild dose of consumerism-driven panic the first time I witnessed the grand-scale closure of all shops on a national holiday. I had been warned, admittedly, but I paid no heed. But then I realised that my local corner shop stayed open and the carton of milk that I thought I’d have to do without for a whole day was in reach. That same corner shop also had eggs, bread, and bacon, alongside beer, wine, and (back then) cigarettes. Panic averted. Yes, I might have had to pay a few forints more for said same items, but at least they were available.

sumerpmI can think of better things to do on a holiday than hit the shops to shop-shop, so the mass closure of all retail establishments for 24 hours doesn’t impact my life at all. Ditto with the bank and the post office. So why the queues?

All I can think of is that it is a reflection of times gone by. Perhaps it’s ingrained in the DNA of those who have lived under Communism? Perhaps it’s hereditary? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the option to spend is removed, however temporarily. I just don’t know.

I’m a hoarder … of sorts. I must have a spare bottle of washing-up liquid, a spare tube of toothpaste, a spare moisturiser, deodorant, shampoo… a spare everything. I hate reaching for something to find that it’s empty, that I have to disrupt my day and go out to buy a replacement. The alternative – not doing what I had planned to do when I’d planned to do – is unthinkable. In an effort to find out why I’m like this, I read an article a while back on the neuropsychology of consumption – about why we shop. The authors (Stetka and Yarrow) posit: ‘Buying usually involves relationships in one way or another. The motivation for almost everything we buy has something to do with connecting with other human beings.’So perhaps it’s not the fear of running out of food that feeds this almost maniacal need to stock up in the face of a national holiday, but that it could be our last chance to socialise for 24 hours?

English novelist J. G. Ballard reckons that ‘people nowadays like to be together not in the old-fashioned way of, say, mingling on the piazza of an Italian Renaissance city, but, instead, huddled together in traffic jams, bus queues, on escalators and so on. It’s a new kind of togetherness which may seem totally alien, but it’s the togetherness of modern technology.’ Perhaps that’s it… it’s not the goods per se that are the attraction – it’s the act of queuing, something that is practically guaranteed no matter what time of day you go.

First published in the Budapest Times 9 May 2014.

The right to bitch

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a wide-spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible. I wish I could claim that as my own but English philosopher Bertrand Russell beat me to it. And he makes a good point.

When I’m looking for excuses not to do what I should be doing, I like to scan expat blogs, check out the many expat forums, and read through the myriad Facebook comments, in an effort to see what the expat world thinks of living in Hungary. While many comments are at best rather inane, others border on outrageous.

This week, for instance, an advertisement seeking a native-English-speaker to work in an office here in Budapest got this response to a follow-up question as to why native English was a requirement, given the number of Hungarians who speak better English than a lot of native-English speakers:

“As someone who’s employed a hell of a lot of expats and ‘Hungarians with excellent English’ – let me share a common consensus when it comes to employing Hungarians in the future…. NEVER AGAIN. English is invariably sub par, general attitude problems are rife (how to motivate someone who struggles to smile??), pay expectations beyond reason (often due to a degree in something pointless) and to top it all off a real ‘no can do’ attitude.”

Thankfully, subsequent comments to this one showed that this is far from the common consensus the author claims.

voteI’ve long since held that if you don’t vote, then you shouldn’t complain about those in office. If you don’t get involved, you should keep your opinion to yourself. If you don’t engage with the community, then you should put up and shut up. But as the election approaches next week, I’m all too conscious of the fact that I don’t have a vote and yet whatever is decided at the polls is likely to affect how I live my life. It’s a scary thought.

But when it comes to my earned right to complain as a tax-paying, law-abiding, active member of the community, I’m left wondering where I draw the line.

Is it okay for me, say, to complain about the arbitrary nature of Magyar Posta’s ticketed queuing system, which by virtue of the fact that it’s automated should mean that everyone is seen in turn but rarely is? Or the fact that the ticket for a concert I attended as part of the Spring Festival on Tuesday night cost me €13.00 online and yet the printed ticket I received said 3000 ft (which is no more than €10.00)? Or the fact that as the hot weather approaches, alleyways and side streets are starting to smell like public urinals?

I say yes – I can complain. I live here. I pay taxes. I engage. That gives me the right to express my opinion. I’m not claiming it’s a common consensus. I’m not saying that I represent a majority. I’m not speaking on behalf of anyone but myself.

But if I were an expat living in Budapest who thought that the English spoken here was ‘sub par’ (vs Hungarian-language fluency level of foreigners living here???), who thought that pay expectations were beyond reason (sure, as a qualified teacher in Hungary, is it ridiculous to expect to take home more than €300 a month???) and that the country (which is buzzing with entrepreneurial talent) had ‘no can do’ attitude, then I’d do the sensible thing: move on or go home.

First published in the Budapest Times 4 April 2014

Dead men, dead horses

Eighteen thousand men. Fifteen thousand horses. Dead. In just 90 minutes. And this before bombs or weapons of mass destruction were invented. Twenty thousand men facing an opposition of one hundred thousand all the while knowing their fates of most were sealed. A rather hopeless situation in any era.

IMG_0560 (800x600)All this happened, in Mohács, on 29 August 1526 when Hungarian soldiers took on the might and force of Süleyman’s Turkish army in a fight for Hungary. The memorial site, with its visitors centre built to resemble the Crown of Hungary, marks the mass graves in which the bones of these soldiers lie undisturbed by time. Over a hundred wooden posts in various shapes and forms testify to the hopelessness of their plight. This video depiction will give you some sense of what took place.

IMG_0569 (800x598)Intricately carved by four Hungarian artists, they represent the people, the weapons, the armour, and the horses all lost to the battle. The young King Louis the II  died that day, aged 20.  It’s hard to imagine a 20-year-old today having to face what he faced or make the decision he made.

But he to battle he went: ‘So that no one can look at me as an excuse to his own cowardice, and so that no one can blame me, I will on the morrow go, with the help of the Almighty God, to the place others are loath to go without me‘.

IMG_0576 (589x800)IMG_0567 (596x800)Unlike traditional grave markers bearing names and dates of those interred, these carvings are more representative. Some are painted: in black for old people, in blue for children, and those having suffered a violent end are red. The paths are circular, with a rather labyrinthy feel. And as I walked around, I wished I had someone with me to explain what I was seeing. [The English guide we’d booked had been hijacked by another English-speaking group minutes before we’d arrived. Looking for a woman in a fur coat among the teeming masses was like finding a 10-forint coin in a bag of a thousand 50-forint pieces – not impossible but time-consuming.]

IMG_0570 (800x600)Although the IMG_0574 (494x800)site has been designed and well planned, there is no pattern to the placement of the poles. They’re scattered randomly, tilting this way and that in a manner that seems both deliberate and haphazard. It’s hard to decide whether they’ve been beaten down by wind and weather or placed this way on purpose. Perhaps it’s an artistic rendering of how the best laid plans in such a situation are subject to change.

Despite the crowds, there’s a sense of awe about the place, an almost hushed silence that hangs above the chatter of those wandering through. The death bell adds further to this sense of reverence. It’s said that to ring the bell is to salute those who perished.

IMG_0584 (600x800) (2)It wasn’t unusual then for mothers to kill their sons rather than see them face a certain death in battle – capture by the Janissary(the elite infantrymen that were the Sultan’s bodyguards). History has it that the local lady of the manor (or rather Siklós Castle), one Dorottya Kaniszai, went straight to the battlefield when she heard of the defeat and once there, buried many of the soldiers herself. Amazing fortitude, these women. Not for the first time am I wondering how I’d have reacted had I been there. What would I have done? Sat home with my embroidery?

IMG_0575 (598x800)It all started because Louis II refused to pay tribute to the Sultan. Annoyed, Süleyman decided to visit Hungary, capturing Belgrade on his way. Louis managed to rally some 25 000 men and left Buda to meet the approaching Turks. He could have waited for reinforcements from Transylvania and Croatia but didn’t. It was an expensive decision. Süleyman continued all the way to Buda but then decided to go home, taking with him more than 100 000 captives, and beginning 150 years of Turkish rule and the demise of medieval Hungary.

IMG_0577 (800x600)The future would see Hungary divided between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs with only Transylvania remaining free. There territories belonging to Louis, who was killed in flight, passed to Ferdinand I, a Habsburg who later became Holy Roman Emperor.

Admittedly, when István Fulop insisted on adding the site to our day-trip to Mohács for the Busójárás festival, I thought nah – not my thing. But I’m glad he did. And I’d go back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A hairy-man sandwich

Being caught in the embrace of two hairy men, their arms wrapped tightly around me as they shook me up and down all the while shouting madly, their bells clanging and their faces menacing – well, it wasn’t quite how I’d envisaged spending a Sunday afternoon in March.

IMG_0649 (600x800)The unique festival of Busójárás is celebrated in the town of Mohács, on the banks of the Danube. It’s so famous that it’s acknowledged by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. Dating back to the eighteenth century, it’s the locals’ way of scaring away the winter. They parade through the town wearing hideous busós (masks), making quite the ruckus. It has to be modern man’s way of dusting off his cave-man tendencies and giving free reign to his neanderthal dream.

IMG_0725 (800x582)IMG_0785 (800x600)The festival itself runs from Thursday to Shrove Tuesday with the main events – the parade, the lighting of the bonfire and the floating of the coffin – all packed into Sunday. It’s the best known of Hungary’s carnivals – the season itself (Farsang) precedes Lent, starting on the feast of Epiphany (January 6th) and it ending on Ash Wednesday. If you ever wanted to see what it’s like to stock up on a good time in expectation of 40 days of fasting, don a busós and take to the streets of Mohács.

IMG_0762 (512x800)I had seen pictures, of course, but nothing quite prepared me for the childish glee that came with watching these asexual beings (perhaps they all were men but who could tell…) run riot, poking and prodding passers by with their sticks and accosting anyone who dared to make eye contact. Strange red-tipped objects occasionally protruded from the fleecy folds suggesting an even more devilish intent but they were so fleeting, it was easy to think I was imagining things. And on a Sunday. But then I saw one – for real – being paraded down the street, dangling from the end of a pole. And I did a double-take, twice. To be sure to sure. All in the name of fertility.

IMG_0645 (800x684)IMG_0866 (800x600)The masks are disconcerting. It seems that the eyes behind are looking directly at you – even if they’re not. And they get up close and personal – in your face. And you find yourself smiling inanely, hoping for a reaction but always being met with that wooden implacability. The childish antics are greeted with squeals and giggles as everyone – just everyone – gets involved. I saw one old dear chase after a hairy man to retrieve the hat he’d stolen from her head. Anyone caught in a sandwich and jiggled to within an inch of their life couldn’t help but join in the fun. Mohács, on this particular Sunday, is no place for the bad-tempered or the sulky.

IMG_0721 (800x600)IMG_0641 (600x800)Other, even more sinister-looking bodies float around in stocking masks. These are the Jankele, the helpers. The Limerick duo – The Rubberbandits – would have been right at home. Masked women regaled in bright colours brought a bit of style to the proceedings while others were brandishing their ugly genes like badges of honor. And believe me, at times, it was hard to tell what was real from what was not so good were the effects and the in-character depictions.

IMG_0913 (598x800)IMG_0737 (600x800) (2)IMG_1165 (800x600)That evening, in defiance of every health and safety manual I’ve ever come in contact with, the bonfire was set alight. And heat was fantastic. The effigy that was winter was set alight and the crowds went mad. Sparks flew. And yet the people, phones held aloft in unison, pressed forward, capturing it all on camera. They stayed to the bitter end.

STA_1196 (800x600)Fifteen of us made the journey from Budapest, following the call of István Fulop of the IHBC. All of us made it back. Unsinged. Tired. Replete. And in fine form. It was a great day out and an experience not to be missed.

There’s a lot to be said for living in a country that has so much on offer by way of culture. And there’s a lot more to be said for living in a country populated by a people so willing to share their culture with foreigners, be they expats or tourists. Without exception, everyone I met on Sunday was on top form, willing to pit their English against my limited Hungarian. And with a country this rich in tradition, there has to be plenty more to explore…. ahem… István? Where to next?

IMG_0830 (800x600)

A change of fortune

To go from relative obscurity to international fame in a matter of days could be a dream or a nightmare, depending on which angle you look at it from. Personally – I’d prefer the obscurity. But for Győr resident László Andraschek, news of his good fortune was picked up the Guardian and subsequently newspapers in places as far flung as Taipei and Zambia. His win, relatively modest by many lottery standards – HUF 630 million (€2 million) – is certainly news – but international news?

lottoWhat makes Andraschek different is that prior to purchasing his winning ticket, he was, in fact, homeless. He actually won the lottery last September but it’s only now coming to light. Andraschek attracted international attention when he made a significant donation to a homeless shelter in Hungary. It was that good deed rather than the win itself that made the news, coinciding as it does with a series of protests worldwide against the new law that allows local authorities do what they need to do to protect ‘public order, security, health and cultural values’.

In Budapest, the measures taken include banning ‘habitual living’ in public places. These include underneath bridges, subways, parks and playgrounds, and much of the tourist trail in the city centre. The city of Debrecen has followed suit banning its homeless from the city and from the neighbouring Nagyerd forest. Violations of the law result in fines, community service, and possible imprisonment.    Hungarian embassies and consulates in Paris, New York, Vienna, Lisbon, Dublin, Brussels, Essen, and Istanbul have witnessed demonstrations from their windows in recent weeks. And more are planned.

lotto2Buying the ticket was a last-minute decision apparently, a spur of the moment thing that certainly paid off. He has bought flats for his three kids, paid off his debt and that of his relatives, donated to the shelter, and is now setting up a foundation to support addicts and victims of domestic violence. He also plans to travel to Italy. He says he hasn’t changed as a person and that he will invest cautiously. I hope so.

I Googled ‘lottery win ruins lives’ and was a little taken aback at the number of stories it coughed up. It seems for that for many, the overnight change in fortune goes to their head. Binging on designer clothes, fancy cars, and a lifestyle that would mirror that of a B-list celebrity, things start to go wrong very quickly. Perhaps they should have listened to the wise words of Somerset Maugham: Money is like a sixth sense – and you can’t make use of the other five without it.

lotto1I’d be lying if I said I’ve never daydreamed about winning the lottery. Who I’d tell (no one). How I’d spend it (anonymously). Where I’d go (everywhere). A fortune-teller told me once that I was destined to be rich (I thought she was referring to monetary wealth rather than that which comes in the guise of good friends, health, and happiness) – and part of me is still holding out hope. I wonder how much my life would change. How much I would change. I’d like to think that like Andraschek, I, too, could say that the money had little effect other than to give me to means to do good. But I’d have to win it first to see.

First published in the Budapest Times 21 February 2014.

The great citizen sell-off

Driving to my hotel from the airport in Malta last week, I fell into conversation with the taxi driver. He spoke English, the language of business in Malta. But like many others on the island, it was a second language for him, and a poor relation to his mother tongue, Maltese. I asked him what was new in the country, politically. Malta has a new Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, a man who shares the same birthday as my taxi driver’s daughter. Both have just turned 40. To have such a young PM bodes well for a country methinks – particularly in the aftermath of my recent visit to Italy which boasts a gerontocracy with an average age of 64 and, from what I saw and heard while I was there, is the bane of young progressives who have little room to make their mark.

BT 2014 06Muscat is apparently turning Malta on its head. Young. Energetic. Focused. According to my taxi driver, he’s come up with a brilliant new idea ‘to sell 1800 citizens’ and make in excess of €1 billion in the process, money that would then be invested in ensuring that there are no more poor in the country. A laudable ambition by any measure. I was highly amused on two counts: the idea of selling off citizens (as opposed to citizenship) and the idea that this was Muscat’s brainchild. In this taxi at least, he was getting full credit for the idea.

Austria and Cyprus already offer investor immigration programmes that offer immediate citizenship. Malta joins this group with a lower minimum investment requirement of €1.5 million (compared to €3 million and €2.5 million for Austria and Cyprus, respectively). Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Hungary all offer residence programmes that give access to Schengen countries with a minimum investment ranging from €250,000 to €500, 000 (Hungary is at €300 000). Ireland and the UK have similar programmes although both are outside the Schengen area. In the rest of the world, Singapore, Canada, and the USA have variations on the same theme. It seems that money can buy just about anything these days – including citizenship and the right to live and work in another country.

Since it introduced the residence bond programme in December 2012, Hungary has reportedly sold 430 of them to non-EU nationals who want to reside/work in an EU country. My understanding is that a residence permit will allow someone to work in Hungary and travel freely within the Schengen zone but, unlike citizenship, it will not entitle the holder to work in another EU country … just in Hungary.

Given all the deals that are out there, Hungary seems to be the best bang for your buck. Of the initial €300 000 required, €250 000 is refunded after five years but the residency granted is for life. Divide that cost between a family of, say, five (three minors), and it comes at a price tag of €170 per person per month for five years. A good deal, no?

So why isn’t there a longer queue?

First published in the Budapest Times 7 February 2014

An interesting engagement

There nothing like the onset of an election to unleash myriad perspectives from people who till now have never expressed an opinion on politics, one way or another. It seems as if, suddenly, everyone has an opinion that they’re more than willing to share. And I’m fascinated.

Daily, I hear people I know and respect argue in favour of politicians I have little time for, or indeed argue against the only one that I have any time for at all. I remind myself that the world would indeed be a boring place if we all shared the same opinion, so rather than challenge their views, I’m relishing the fact that they have opinions they’re willing to share with me in the first place. For democracy to work, people have to engage. I wasn’t born in Hungary and my command of the language is basic at best. So for me to understand the vagaries of Hungarian politics, I need to hear it all: I need people to talk to me and tell me what they think.

electionPolitics, like most things, is about perspective. We interpret the actions of a particular government or party or individual politician based on what we think is right or wrong, good or bad, smart or stupid. If we have a vested interest in, say, higher education, anyone who does what we’d like them to do in this area is likely to win our vote, regardless of what they might do for another sector of the community in which we have no interest at all. If we think we’re paying too much tax, then our vote will most likely go to whoever promises to lower it. Political parties and their politicians play to this. They recognise human nature for what it is. We are conditioned, in this part of the world anyway, to think of ourselves, to put our own interests, and those of our families, first and foremost.

American columnist Franklin Pierce Adams had it right all those years ago when he proclaimed that elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.

ubuntuI read a Facebook post recently about an anthropologist in Africa who set a basket of fruit some distance from a group of kids. He told them that whoever reached the basket first could have all the fruit. Instead of making a mad dash for it, the kids held hands and ran together. They all arrived at the same time and shared the fruit. When he asked why, they replied: How could any one of us be happy eating the fruit if everyone else was sad? In Africa, this is known as ubuntu. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language…It is to say. ‘My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours’…

I wonder what the government would look like if we proved FPA’s claim to be false and instead voted with ubuntu in mind.

First published in the Budapest Times 24 January 2014

Where has all the wine gone?

Awash with wine as we are in Hungary, it’s nigh on impossible to imagine that globally, we could be in crisis. If anything, I’m noticing more cellars adding their bottles to the supermarket shelves, which may simply mean that marketing has upped a notch or two. Or perhaps I’m being a little more adventurous and dipping my palette into new waters. My current favourite wine region is Szekszárd; I’ve happily drank my way through the region’s rosés this summer and have even dabbled in a red or two.

As my wine reach broadens, I’ve had a couple of wow moments when I’ve opened a bottle of what turned out to be a particularly nice tipple. Anyone heard of Áldozóhegyi and the Áldozói Aranyveltelini 2003? I can’t for the life of me remember who gave it to me but it’s worth tracking down (and if it was you, drop me a line!)

IMG_4454 (800x600)Hungary’s wining apparently dates back at least to Roman times. There are 22 wine areas in the country which, depending on the day or publication, are grouped into 5 or 7 regions, some being more popular than others. Mind you, I suspect that this is more to do with savvy marketing than the quality of the wine. And, for the trivia heads amongst you, seven grape varieties are said to have come from Hungary, including Ezerjó and the popular Irsai Oliver.

When I read today’s news that the world is facing a global wine shortage, I was a tad concerned. According to the BBC News:

Research by America’s Morgan Stanley financial services firm says demand for wine “exceeded supply by 300m cases in 2012”.

Compare this to 2004 when supply outweighed demand by about 600m cases. So where has it all gone?  Apparently the USA has doubled its wine consumption since 2000… mmmm…. and China is up there with them, too. Thankfully, (and selfishly) a 2012 EU report tells me that my intake won’t be adversely affected by supply.

Sharp production decreases in Italy together with smaller decreases in Portugal and Greece were offset by higher production in France, Germany, Romania, and Hungary.

Vague memories of my economics classes and the concept of supply and demand tell me though that wine prices are likely to increase. Now, that’s not good news. But then again, when I can get a perfectly decent bottle of Hungarian wine for €3, I’m not too worried.

Stop the world… I want to get off

No matter how good life is, or how much everything seems to be going in the right direction, bad days are inevitable. What we do with them says a lot about who we are. I’m a wallower. I don’t wallow for long, or indeed indulge myself all that often, but on occasion I have to fight the urge to scream at the world to stop… and let me get off. I get a perverse enjoyment out of being miserable. I can feel sorry for myself with the best of them.

A mate of mine sent me this photo of his dog, Hammer. I’m not a huge animal fan, having lost a series of pets as a child to traffic, poison, and bigger animals. I learned early not to get attached, but Hammer … him I like. There’s an empathy there – I swear he can talk and read minds.

Hammer1

Today – a holiday here in Hungary that dawned warm and sunny, and started off well with some exciting creative prospects in the offing and a lovely breakfast with a good mate. And then, just as a sudden storm might brew, or a  cloud disgorge an ocean of  rain, my inbox swelled to overflowing. It seems that everyone wanted a piece of me…yesterday.

I worked for hours on a particularly nasty proofreading job and found myself increasingly wondering about the possibility of a career change. This is unusual. I like working with words, without human interference, just me and my track changes or my red pen. I like it so much, in fact, that I don’t even consider it work. But today, today was different.

Today I wanted to disappear. To get on that boat. To go somewhere without Internet. Without people (well, maybe not all people). But I have a deadline – a series of deadlines in fact – that forecasts pretty much the same for the next few days. So I stopped and took time to wallow. And then I looked at the second photo PM sent.

Hammer 2And I could just hear Hammer saying: Silly cow – just get on with it. You don’t know how lucky you have it. But I do, Hammer, I do. It’s just today…

 

Save

Save

My new house

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to where I’d move, if I had to move. The political situation in Hungary is getting a triffle sticky and the next election in 2014 will tell all. The results will most likely make up my mind for me. In the meantime, like any good scout, I’m getting prepared. If I were to change my address, this one wouldn’t be a bad one to have:

IMG_2080 (800x600)

IMG_1806 (599x800)While in Hawaii, I kept an eye out for places I might consider. I was looking for a bargain. This site apparently dropped from 1.5 million and what the fine print reportedly says is that most of the 71 acres are burial sites and the one lot that you can build on is at the very top, near the road, far from the water. But seeting as my bank account would haven’t that much in it, in forints, burial sites or not, that oceanfront property ain’t for me. The 180-acre lot wouldn’t do either as IMG_1805 (599x800)contrary to what the sign implies, you can’t own a beach in Hawaii. Undaunted, I continued looking, even though I could never live in Hawaii year-round. I’m a cold-weather girl and too much sun would do my head in, literally. Not having a winter wardrobe would drive me mad. I like the cold. I embrace it. And it’s all based on the premise that there’s a limit to what you can take off, but no limit at all to what you can put on.

But to come on holiday for a couple of months every year… that’s not beyond the bounds of reason. Not out the question at all.

IMG_1941 (800x595)I quite liked this one – it sits right on the edge of the beach and if I could get used to having a global beach population traipsing across my line of sight, then perhaps I could consider it. But I think it might play to the latent voyeur in me, the one that’s been held at bay by my not having a television and not being subjected to reality TV. Most of the houses here are built ‘post and pier’ so that the bugs don’t get in and the house has a little more sway.

IMG_1945 (800x600)This one is more in my line – partially hidden from view, I could pretend that the beach populace wasn’t there. But then, who knows what’s hiding in those bushes and trees. Mind you, with my new, refurbished 2013 luck, it could well be a modern man who can hunt and fish and still hold open the door for me all the while listening to my valuable contribution to conversation. Not much to ask for is it?

IMG_1823 (800x600)For views though, this one has them all beat. With a west-facing lanai (balcony), this is where I sat, each evening, and watch the sun go down. I don’t think I could ever get tired of the view. Yes, you have to come down the hill in first gear and while walking down to Ili’ili beach would be fine, getting back up again would give me calves only a cow could love. But the view… the view…

IMG_1820 (800x600)

IMG_1817 (800x600)

IMG_1821 (800x600)