On Tuesday I ran around Hungary’s capital city with 23 students and a coworker. By the end of the twelve-hour day, we took one boat, one metro, one train, and seven buses. No one was lost in the process, but we did get stuck on Budapest’s highest peak for two hours due to a wicked thunderstorm.
We started off the day meeting at the school at 07:45. We then took two different buses to one of Budapest’s public boats – D11 – and rode it from Újpest, Árpád út to Szent Gellért tér. During the summer time this service can be used with your transportation pass. As most readers could probably guess, I loved every second of it. Although I love boats, I am a poor swimmer. I made sure a student or two could save me if we capsized (got to look out for number one, you know).
We took a tram to Széll Kálmán tér, got some fast food, and took a bus to Normafa where one of my students, Kata, and I modeled for a bit. After the modeling session, we made our way to a ropes course center down the road.
Kata, you’ve finally made it into my blog. hahaha.
I accompanied this class to another ropes course last year and the result was metal-burnt hands, the inability to move for two weeks, and a story that will haunt me until the end of time. Feel free to skip the story (it’s ridiculously long).
The [really long] story: Although I am afraid of heights without railings (I am afraid of falling), I was game for the ropes course. When given the option between the easy and hard routes, I chose the latter – a good portion of my students were already halfway through and I am a pretty athletic person in general. Horrible mistake: It completely slipped my mind that I have no pull strength – my tree trunk, fetus-sized legs would serve me little in this endeavor. Everything was going pretty well until this one obstacle – logs with foot placements dangling from ropes. The slightest touch would make the logs shoot from side to side. Frustrated, I semi-leaped, shoving my bulky tennis shoes into the first foot hole. Alas, another mistake. My foot ended up getting stuck. In an attempt to free myself, I ended up losing balance and falling. Now my shoe was stuck and I was too far from the platform to reach over and pull myself up. A woman who worked at the center was clearly annoyed with the situation and told me the most obvious piece of advice: “You have to pull yourself up!” Due to the fact that the logs moved every time I touched them and my lack of pull strength, I dangled like an old pair of shoes hanging from an electrical line. A few of my students ended up making a human chain and pulled me to the platform. I took the walk of shame (I backtracked) and decided I was done for the day.
One student, however, told me to try the zip line. I did a zip line back in my college days (with great results), so I figured I would give this a go. Mistake of the year: It ended up being one of the most painful experiences ever. The zip line was broken into four long parts – you went from one tree to the next. I joined my students and climbed to the highest point of the course. I propelled myself forward, bathing in the cheers of my coworkers, Judit and Erzsi, and my students. I immediately knew I was going way too fast. At the end of the first line, a wooden board jutted out and I couldn’t move my legs up in time – I smashed my shins into it. Bruised but not defeated, I moved on to the next tree. This time I smashed my face (and cut it) on the “cushion” that was on the tree. The pads we were supposed to crash into were probably as thick as a lower level children’s book, which meant I made my dream of being George of the Jungle come alive. With two more to go, I was ready to be done.
The third line proved to be my worst nightmare. I went so fast that once I smashed into the tree, I started to fly backwards. I tried to hug the tree, but to no avail. I grabbed the cable in an attempt to stop myself, but just ended up with some serious metal burns. Stuck in the middle with no pull strength and burnt hands that could no longer grip anything, I tried to pull myself to the platform. Halfway through my arms felt like noodles and I needed to rest them. I thought, “Surely if I put both of my arms down to rest I won’t move too much.” You guessed it, another mistake. I slid all the way back to the middle. I started yelling for the boy who tricked me into this hell and while he was running my way I heard this, “You’re still cool, Miss Jennifer!” Apparently I had backed up the line, but my students were trying to support me in the best way possible. Thanks guys! The woman from earlier showed up and looked pissed. After listening to her give me more obvious advice, I told her that I had tried already and asked if she could just get a ladder and get me down. Turns out that they didn’t have ladders. She went to “show me” how to get myself down, but couldn’t because “it was too hard.” I, without hesitation, told her to call the ambulance then because I was going to undo my harness and jump. Realizing that I was serious, she “figured out a way” to help me. She threw a rope to me and I wrapped it around my feet. She then ran to the platform, dragging me in the process. I was then supposed to thrust myself forward and make it. Small problem though – the platform was outside of the park and there was a fence in the way. She pulled me only as far as I got last time. The woman was then “too tired” to do it again, which left it up to my coworkers, in their fifties and sixties, to pull me. With their help I made it. After making it to the ground, I told myself I was done with ropes courses for a lifetime.
This ropes center was definitely better equipped than the one from last year. I would have considered monkeying about, but I had to be in prime health for the One Direction concert the next day. We played the “Number Game” first. We were split up into two teams – white and green – and each person had a number one his/her head. In order to get someone out, you have to say the person’s name and correctly yell out his/her number. You are not allowed to cover your number with your hands or things you pick up from the ground, but can use your teammates’ bodies and surrounding trees. In the end, my team won – Kata, Brigi, and I were the last ones standing. Victory! The children then dangled from the trees for a bit before being told to get down due to an approaching storm.
My students, coworker, and I then took the Gyermekvasút (Children’s Railway) to János-hegy. The Children’s Railway is operated with the help of children volunteers. My boss and her husband actually met there. Once at János-hegy, we were given the option between taking the stairs or a trail. I hate stairs more than most things, so I opted for the trail. Two students, Kata and Anna, decided to join me. We ended up taking the wrong trail (THANKS, KATA), but luckily didn’t get too lost. We just ended up taking a solid thirty minute detour. Halfway through our hike, Kata got a phone call from her mother saying that there was a horrible storm – “huge ice blocks” were falling. We panicked, ran, and finally caught up with everyone else. As soon as we ended the building that would take us on the chairlift down (Zugligeti Libegő), the worst storm I have encountered in Budapest hit us. We were then stuck in the building for two hours. We couldn’t take the open air chairlift down and the closest bus stop was a thirty minute walk away. In the end, we had to run to the bus. Everyone had rain jackets except for me (I had an umbrella), so I ended up getting completely soaked. Thank goodness I live more than an hour and a half away from János-hegy! On the bright side, I tried to channel my best Hilary Duff, Backstreet Boys, and JoJo.
Overall it was really fun. In school-related news, my 8th graders graduated on Friday. I cried like a baby. To all you guys reading my blog: I love you all so much! It was an honor being your teacher these past three years. Know I will always be here for you and please keep in touch!
My next blog post will highlight my trip to Vienna to see my boyfriend, Harry Styles, perform with the rest of his band, One Direction.
A Lesson from Miss Jennifer: Be mindful of your weaknesses.