Kevin posted again on his blog about the Father/Son time while I was out teaching ELI. There is even a video! The internet keeps kicking me off everytime I try to upload a video, so go see his of Seth. You can see a few others by going to our Picasa site. (Link is on the left sidebar)
Fanni was back in class tonight with her husband Zoltán. They haven't been there since I got back from the US. It was good to see them. I greatly appreciate Fanni's help since she probably is the best English speaker in the class, so she will translate words into Hungarian during vocab and some of that stuff. It was fun also to talk with Zsolt and Gabi tonight after having had them over for dinner. Gabi especially was much more talkative and less timid to try English or ask questions. We are looking forward to ice cream with them on Friday.
The car we have been borrowing must return to its owner tomorrow. We have been so grateful for their generosity! It was SOOOO nice to go grocery shopping when I needed/wanted to and not worry about how to get there or making a million trips to the more expensive grocery store that I can walk to.
And because we have had the car, I got to explore a few stores in the Budaörs area. I found a store that is a near equivalent to Lowe's or Home Depot. YEAH! We have been looking for a hardware-type store. Nusi helped us out with that. And Zsolt emailed us the other day about a baby store, similar to Babies "R" Us, only not nearly as big nor containing even a fraction of the stuff but nonetheless the best baby store I think they have here. People had warned me about how expensive baby stuff is here, and let me tell you, they weren't lying! A pack 'n play similar to the one that some families chipped in and mailed to us is almost $400 here, about four times the cost. High chairs are about $250!!! I cannot fathom why it is drastically more expensive. Needless to say, I didn't buy anything and am trying to figure out alternative options for the two things we do need. Oh well. Not worried about it now.
On my way to the stores in Budaörs, I had to go through Törökbálint, where there are several road construction projects going on. The difference between the way they do road construction things here and the way they do things in the US just makes me laugh. I am definitely not saying that one is better than the other because they both have their good and bad points.
For instance, when one lane of a road needs to be shut down in the US, they will put cement barriers up a mile before and after the actual construction as compared to Hungary where they will put up a little warning sign at the direct start and finish of the project. I like the way Hungary does that. However, sometimes they don't necessarily give enough room for more than a compact car to get back over into the lane before the stopped oncoming traffic. I saw a semi nearly take out a car today. So giving a little more space would be a good thing for the safety of Hungarian (and foreign!) drivers.
Also, I have seen many lane closure projects in the US where they put a timed stop light up for both directions instead of having a construction worker hold a stop/slow sign. They do that here, too. But today was pretty scary as both lights weren't working and instead of someone holding a sign or whatever, it was left up to the guesswork of the drivers on both ends. Both on the way to the store and on the way home cars from both directions met each other in the middle (the construction was done around a bend in the road so that you couldn't see), and it was interesting to see how the cars maneuvered around each other. By the way, those lights were working the other day when I drove through there!
That leads to another difference... They don't pave part of the side of the road for lane closures so that there is more room for cars to make it through. Many roads are barely wide enough for two cars to get through, let alone what happens when one entire lane is shut down. It can be rather difficult to stay on the pavement during the construction zones, hence why I drive slowly, hence why the drivers behind me are on my tail.
Oh, and my favorite construction thing is when they randomly shut down part of a lane by putting up some cones and then letting you figure out when it's safe to go or not without any help (at least they have lights at the other places). I can't tell you how many times I have run across that situation.
All in all, driving here is never boring and always an adventure. I like driving a manual car. Shifting gears is fun, although I still get nervous when I am going up a big hill and see traffic slowing down. I have said this before, but the drivers here are insane. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago where I thought drivers were crazy, but they are way worse here. My parents can confirm that. But the weird thing is that despite their crazy driving habits, they are incredibly courteous! We are always glad for that as we have the "C" plate and are always messing up. (Foreigners with a Hungarian license plate have a "C" first on it.)