Seriously, I know I have blogged three times today, but you would not believe what happened to us today... (And I warn you that this will be long!)
We went downtown once again, this time to go to the Terror House and Heroes' Square, just as I had stated earlier. We noticed as we were driving down Andrássy út that there was no parking and gates up everywhere. We did find a little side street to park on that was open. I assumed it was all due to another concert or something, just like last week. The radio came on automatically as we were driving and said something in Hungarian (obviously) about Hősök tere. Of course we didn't understand what, but again, just assumed it was about a concert so that certain roads would be closed or congested.
We went to the Terror House and waited for Audrey to meet us there. As we waited, there were car, buses, vans, and trucks filled with police (rendőrség) going up and down the streets. They were dropped off at every corner and stood near all of the fences and gates. They started putting on their vests and getting ready. Not sure what was going on, and we called Nusi. She told us that there was going to be a "Gay pride" parade, and they were expecting a riot with the skinheads. She told us to avoid that area, but it was too late.
So we got into the Terror House, which was haunting and chilling in so many regards. You cannot help but feel bad for the Hungarian people after all that they have been through. Apparently it is quite controversial for many reasons, especially with the fall of communism only in 1989 and many of the victims and victimizers still alive today. It amazes me that it wasn't that long ago, even when I was alive! I remember watching the fall of the Berlin wall on television and hearing of this part of Europe, but it was so far removed. Little did I know back then I'd be living here one day...
Anyway, Josh, you would have really liked it. I want to go back and spend more time there. There was SO much information, and the only English was a piece of paper in each room with typed up info. Next time I'd like to get a headset to wear and have it all translated it for me. I skimmed through the papers, and I really want to spend time reading through it all and digesting the information. It was so sad to see how inhumane man can be to man. This museum was in the actual headquarters of the secret police, so we got to see the actual cells where people were put and the room where they were killed. I can't even describe how I felt going through this. I'll just have to stop there.
Seth is getting pretty hungry by the end, so Kevin and I kind of speed it up to get outside and feed him. My mom is left in the bookstore to get a book for my brother but has to wait for my dad and Audrey who are behind her and have the money. We walk outside and realize that we have been locked in by the gates. We walk down the road and are allowed out. We call Audrey to let them know that it's gated and we won't be able to meet them out front because we won't be able to get back in so to meet us back at the car. They call back and aren't far behind us, so we decide to wait for them. They meet us with us WITHOUT MY MOM!!! They thought she was with us, and we thought she was with them. Audrey and I head to the car to get the applesauce for Seth while my dad and Kevin go back for my mom.
Audrey and I get a call from my dad saying that the police will not let him back through. He keeps telling them that his wife is there and LOST. They keep telling him to wait, and they don't understand. In the meantime, some Hungarian argues with them because he wants to get through and they won't let him. He ends up running, scaling the wall, and jumping into an open window in the building! The police go after him. Finally some police officer understands what my dad is trying to say (the English was quite limited), and they had to escort him to go get her. My mom did remarkably well. She said she knew we wouldn't have left her. I prayed a lot during that time!
I am ready to head home at this point because all of these police and their MASSIVE vehicles and all of their protective gear is scaring me a bit. Kevin calls back and tells me to meet him at Heroes' Square because the police said it was fine there. So we go.
We end up going to Gloria Jean's to get something to eat and drink because there weren't any restaurants or anything open that we can really get to. We got inside and there was no power, which meant no drinks and no bathroom, which was another need at the time. Moments later the power came back on. YEAH! We sat there and enjoyed our treats.
There were a few other American women in there who were gathered around the window. We went to see what was going on, and the riot had started between the police and the skinheads. Apparently the little parade was over. They were throwing stuff, and the police fought back with some tear gas. We were safely inside Gloria Jean's with a front seat to all the action. Actually, they ended up locking the gate to help with safety and security, so we were locked in Gloria Jean's. Not a bad place!
(We found out through this that these American women were actually wives of men in the service who are currently serving in Iraq on a 15 month tour. Two of them are even pregnant, and they live on a base in Germany. I can't imagine what they're going through, or anyone in similar shoes!)
Things looked like they had died down, so we thought we should just get out now, especially just in case it got worse later. We got outside, and started walking back to the car when it got even worse. We were literally in the middle of this riot. We had some Hungarian men come up and tell us something in Hungarian about the "baba." We told them we didn't speak Hungarian, so then they told us in English that we needed to get the baby out of there because there was lots of gas going to be sprayed that would be bad. So my mom, Audrey, and I with Seth took off to get as far away as possible. My dad and Kevin decided to try and catch it on camera.
I thought we were a safe distance off until all of a sudden all of these people are running from behind us down the same street. Natural instinct...RUN! I got really scared at that moment. At that point we could breathe in the gas, but fortunately it wasn't too bad. My dad and Kevin were taping all of this when it got worse because they were throwing flares, bottle rockets, cement, rocks, and gates into the crowds. It wasn't until everyone started sprinting away that they realized that they too should get out of there. There were also several helicopters circling and hovering during all of this.
We did finally make it back to the car safely. The car was not touched in any of this, praise the Lord! We didn't have any clue when we went down that this would be going on, and we ended up parking right where it was happening. By the way, all public in this area was shut down, and we didn't feel comfortable leaving Audrey there by herself to get home in this situation, but we didn't have room for her in the car. She ended up lying down in the back, like she was being smuggled across the border or something. That was a good laugh.
An incredible day, one that I will not forget nor want to experience again. Most important thing, we all made it home safe and sound!