By the time the Gathering peaked, more than 3000 people were attending the food circle. The food servers would bring out the large pots of food cooked up in the single kitchen. To accommodate the space, we all formed a circle within the circle joining hands and Omming one hugely resonant Om. Some would Om in multiple tones, a skill I picked up there.
After the Om, everyone would sit down, and the servers began to dish out the portions to all. That’s over 3000 chapatis and bowls of food! At the same time, many musicians would move around the circle singing the ‘magic hat song.’ The food was always tasty, and everyone got their fill.
Since language tends to categorize people into groups, that is how the different groupings of encampments tended to organize themselves at the Gathering. Deutch speakers grouped together, French speakers, the various Scandinavian languages, and Israeli speakers. Every group also spoke some English as it’s a common language around the world of travelers. Peter and Karen had just attended a local gathering in Israel in ’93 and felt a close connection with the Israel family. Britta had been hanging out with Gabby, also of the Israel family, and we were hanging out with them as well. After some great evenings together, we were invited to go to the next Israel gathering in October. Karen told us that it was a truly amazing place that we needed to experience. That sounded good to us!
“Land, lots of land!”
We made plenty of new friends at the Gathering. Among them was an American lady, Diane, that had married a Hungarian man, Karresh. They were excited to tell anyone that would listen that ‘there was “Land, lots of land!” Plenty of incredibly cheap land for sale or even homesteads around the village where they lived.
The village needed ‘new blood’ as the young people had all moved to the big cities and needed young people to continue the town. You could even grow fields of marijuana without fear of being arrested, as they had been doing for some time. The community loved Karresh and was considering making him “mayor of the village.”‘ Diane and Karresh would like to lead a caravan of Rainbow to the village to check it all out and consider building a life there. We thought that if true, it could make an exciting base from which to explore Europe.
Clean Up and Shut Down
As the Gathering wound down, the Hungarian caravan discussions became more frequent and began to coalesce into a reality. All in all, six or seven vans would make the journey. We asked one of the drivers, that were also interested if we could catch a ride with them, as did a few more people.
First, we needed to help close down the Gathering and help clean up. The idea is to make the area spotless of waste, garbage, discarded tents, sleeping bags, clothes, or other items left behind. We filled the trenches and reseeded the site with local foliage so that there would be no evidence we were ever there after the first rainfall.
Finally, we loaded into vans and began our journey to Hungary, the promised land of homesteading heaven. Several of the other vans were faster than us as we brought up the rear. We watched as the vans disappeared ahead of us. We drove on continuously for the next eight-plus hours into the dark of night. By now, it was almost dark of the moon, and the only light on the road was from the headlights of the van. It seemed as though we were again in a tunnel that went on and on. Unfazed, our driver pushed on.
Welcome! Right, This Way!
Eventually, we arrived at the point indicated on the map, and just up ahead, we could see a policeman signaling us to turn down the road to the left. ‘How nice,’ we thought, ‘even the local police are helping direct us to their farm!’ We continued down the road, where another man was guiding vans into organized parking. As we pulled in, a policeman came to the driver’s window and said, “Nobody leaves the van. You are all under house arrest.”
We all looked at each other. Of course, it was all too good to be true. Looking out the front window, we could see several police officers searching around the area. Donna, who really can not abide being told what to do, says, “I’m going to go find out what’s going on,” and opens the door to the van. As she steps out, a policeman tries to stop her, to which she says, “It’s been a long trip here. I have to pee!”
Wisely, the policeman didn’t argue with her and said, “Make it quick.” She then went to some of the other vans to find out what they knew and then right into the house to find out from Diane what the story was.
Upon her return from the house, we all eagerly listened as she recounted what she found out. “Karresh has been arrested for cultivating marijuana. Diane is sitting on her bed, stunned into inaction. The police are about to leave soon, as it’s two o’clock in the morning, and will come back in the morning light for a thorough search of the premises and the vans. In theory, we are not to leave the vans.”
Soon, just as she had said, the police began to leave, after which everybody piled out of the vans. Some of the ladies went in to check on and console Diane while clearing the house of paraphernalia. Outside the house, marijuana plants were being uprooted and transported anywhere else but there. Some stuffed behind the neighbor’s bushes. Chillums, papers, pipes, and baggies of marijuana were cleaned out of the vans and buried in nearby locations. After a complete sweep, people returned to the vans and slept until the police returned.
Nothing To See Here
Morning came, and so did the police. They searched the property but only found one small nugget of hashish that Diane had left on her bedside table after everyone went to sleep. We all groaned at that bit of news. They asked to see everyone’s passports which the police quickly returned to their owners. They placed Diane and the two children, Karresh’s 12-year-old son and his friend visiting from America, into a police car.
The police then instructed us to follow the car to the station in a nearby town. We began our escorted tour of the Hungarian countryside with all the vans neatly lined up behind one of the police cars. We passed occasional groups of people that waved from the side of the road at the parade of hippie vans which was the most exciting thing they had seen in some time. News travels faster than we did as more people lined sections of the road to see the spectacle.
An Impromptu Gathering
We arrived at the police station and did the one thing they probably didn’t expect. We exited our vehicles and formed a circle, pulling out our instruments and began to play, sing and dance. Alexander played his pocket trumpet, accompanying several drummers and me as I bashed away at my guitar as loud as possible. We created a small Rainbow Gathering in the police parking lot, loudly singing songs and generally having a good time.
Occasionally, a police officer would come out and ask one of us to come into the station for questioning. After some time, they said they had finished with the investigation but had not asked Donna or me to be interrogated. Donna was pissed! “I want to be interrogated!” But again, we seem to have the correct passport to avoid involvement.
The police told us that we were all free to go and that we should do so.
No, no, no!
We asked, “What about the underaged children?”
“They will stay with us,” the police interpreter said.
“They don’t belong in jail,” was our group response.
Variations of this conversation ping-ponged back and forth until the interpreter said, “I’m sorry, but you can not stay in the parking here.”
“Where can we park while we wait?” Someone asked.
“There is a field behind the station. Perhaps you can park there.”
So, that is what we did. A couple of vans decided to leave, but most of us stayed in support of bringing the children safely out of the hands of the police. Pulling the vans into a circle, like wagons of the old west, we set up camp with a fire pit in the middle. Immediately, we began to play drums, sing and chant so those in the jail could hear our support. We were ready to stay for the duration.