With our impromptu Rainbow Gathering moved from the police parking lot to a field behind the police station, we continued to show our support loudly. We were allowed to send a representative to visit Diane daily but weren’t allowed to see the children, which worried us. Diane said our chants and songs gave her hope while incarcerated.
Rejected at every turn, we tried to get the children out of police custody. The children had been moved and were no longer at the station. Our group decided that Donna and I, having the only American passports, would have to go to the US Embassy in Budapest for help. Someone volunteered to drive us there while the others remained behind to support Diane. So we packed up our tent and said goodbye to those staying behind.
US Embassy in Budapest
We arrived too late to go to the Embassy in Budapest, so we parked at a tiny little park near the highway for the night. We stayed close and didn’t wander far from the van. The following day, our ride took us to the American Embassy. Our drivers wanted nothing to do with government officials and went their way.
When we arrived at the US Embassy, we went through security and marched ourselves up to the counter, refusing to accept any other action than to talk with a representative. We had previous experience, as you may recall, of being sidelined. The children were much too important. Escorted upstairs to an office, we recounted the story and the two children, “What?! There are two children,” interrupted the Embassy agent with surprise. “We knew about one child. I’ll be right back!”
We waited in the office for about half an hour until the agent returned and said, “We found the boy and are getting him back! I don’t like to see them slip between the cracks. We’ll do what we can to take care of this situation. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.” We found out much later, after our Embassy intervention Diane had been released from jail and rejoined with the two children, after which they were sent back to America. While not related to her Hungarian adventure, unfortunately, her story continued into another tragic episode of her life.
What to do when you are in a new city and running low on cash? Find a nice spot, pull out your guitar, and busk! So, that’s what we did! It was a pleasant way to continue the day, celebrating our success at the Embassy. After a while, we decided to find a place to chill out before the sun went down. But after we walked away from the pitch, Donna looked frantic. “Where are my bag with the camera, notebook, and stuff?”
We ran back to the bench where we had been sitting. “I had put it down right here just under the bench.” But it was gone. Our writings, camera, photos, guidebook, and piece of material from our Guatemalan journey, are all gone. It was a frustrating and sad moment for us both. What is it they say?’ No good deed goes unpunished.” What to do? We continued.
Skeet on Margrit
Budapest is two parts of a whole, the Embassy was in Pest, and the other side of the river is Buda. In the middle, between the two, is Margrit Island. We decided to stay on Margrit Island for the night. We hitchhiked the short distance, crossing half of the bridge, and arrived at what looked like a costly luxury resort. A little too rich for us.
Some land on the end appeared closed off and looked abandoned. A place in the fence had previously been pulled back, allowing us to crawl through. It was lovely and green but littered with bits of clay pottery. Upon closer inspection, we realized that it was a skeet shooting range! It appeared that there had not been any shooting of skeet here for some time, and we found ourselves a nice little place hidden in the bushes. Cleaning the skeet shards out of the way, we set up our tent well before darkness fell. We had a romantic view of the city from our private island.
That following day we made a delicious little breakfast on our portable camp stove. We had decided the night before that this was the day we would experience one of Budapest’s famous spas. The healing properties of the region’s thermal waters became evident as early as the 15th century. Excited, we quickly packed the tent and the sleeping gear, and soon we were walking across the second half of the bridge to Buda.
We had decided that the Gellert Thermal Bath was our choice. Founded in 1918, the Gellert spa has a rich history and beautiful art nouveau architecture, including marine-green Zsolnay mosaics, neoclassical statues, and more. We went for the full treatment of thermal baths and massage, which were amazing! I was so relaxed by the end of our sessions that I felt as though I was made of rubber! If we had the funds, we would have stayed for a month of Sundays! But alas, all good things come to an end, and life continues.
We stayed in Buda one more night before we left. As is our great fortune, we ran into some other Rainbow travelers on their way to Munich. They were even going to the teepee village by a lake we had been told about. “Could we catch a ride with you?” We asked.
“Sure! We have the room!”
“Perfect!” The next day, we loaded into the small van and left Buda, Pest, and Margrit Island behind. It had been an adventure! On to the next!