Archive for November, 2009

It’s a girl!

I had my first doctor’s visit today (I know, I’m horrifically late, but with moving and traveling it just didn’t happen until now). Luckily they were able to see me before I left and they wanted to do an ultrasound to determine an acurate due date. I was okay with that because now I get to know we’re having a girl and that she’s doing well before I leave the country for 2 months. They say I’m due May third and I’m about 17 weeks along.

Behold, the pictures:

Little head

Little feet

Can you tell?

Her face from the front

Showing some leg

 She was really shy the whole time. She was facing my back and cross legged so tech had to get her to wiggle around a bit to see her sex. She was starting to make us a little nervous because she really didn’t want to uncross those legs… She also had her arms up next to her face almost the whole time and we almost caught her sucking her thumb.


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Night at the Museums

I forgot to mention Rooibos tea in my last post. It’s very good with cinnamon. Try it. What more can I say?

Yesterday was Stake Conference, and as I was leaving the Hardmans told me about the Múzeumok Éjszakája that had started an hour earlier. The Night of Museums is a Hungarian tradition celebrating St. Ivan’s day on Midsummer’s night (I realize it’s probably St. John’s day, but I prefer to think of it as St. Ivan’s). It has been so successful that this year they decided to do the same for St. Martin’s day (November 14) and I’m glad they did!

All throughout Hungary a 1300 Ft pass (about $7.00) will get you into any of the participating museums (30 in Budapest) and access to all public transportation. They even have special bus routes for the night. Though the festivities start earlier in many places, admission to the museums begins at 6:00 and they stay open until midnight. Many have special attractions such as live music or demonstrations. They also allow vendors into the museum to sell holiday food such as goose. If they are right and “those who do not eat goose on St. Martin’s Day shall go hungry all year round,” I guess I’ll lose weight since we didn’t find any goose.

When the Hardmans asked if I wanted to go I didn’t have to think long before I said yes. I knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity since they had everything planned out. They knew which museums they wanted to see and of course he actually speaks Hungarian which is surprisingly useful in Hungary. In particular it helps to read plaques and inscriptions of the type often found in museums. How else would I have known that those particular wines are good “in the company of women”? Or that the curator was encouraging us to take our picture holding the stuffed bear’s hand rather than chastising us for some infraction? My only regret is that I didn’t have my camera (though most museums didn’t allow pictures anyway).  I hereby apologize for the lack of pictures. Instead here’s a map of my adventures.

We began by going to the Közlekedési (Transportation) Museum which is right on the edge of the city park and perhaps 4 blocks from my house. I hadn’t gone yet because I didn’t think it would be that interesting, but I am definitely going to take Rachel when she gets here. They had everything from trains, planes, and automobiles to a model of Columbus’s Santa Maria and a Kocsi Kocsi, which is to say a Coach Coach. It may surprise you to know that the word coach comes from the name of the Hungarian town Kocs (cs makes a ch sound) famous for it’s coaches with steel suspension in 15th century. Not only did the museum have some gorgeous coaches and beautiful saddles but they also had some exquisite wooden model trains. Definitely worth another unhurried look in the near future, especially since it only costs 200 Ft!

Next we walked through the park to the Agricultural Museum which is housed in a castle originally made of cardboard and modeled after Vajdahunyad Castle in Transylvania (which of course was once part of Hungary). I personally love the building, and the wine presses were amazing, but the rest of the museum wasn’t as interesting as the Transportation Museum.

Next, we took the metro and one of the special Museum buses and headed to the Sziklakórház. The Hospital in the Rock is a secret hospital in the mountain under Buda Castle used during World War II. That’s about all that I know since we decided not to wait in line. We would’ve had to wait for over an hour and probably would have gotten in about 15 minutes before it closed. The fact that tickets are normally 3000 Ft is apparently enough to get people to wait in line. It’s okay though because Rachel will enjoy it once she gets here.

From there we took the bus, tram and metro over to Hungarian National Museum, better known as the Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum. Although I didn’t literally kick or scream when they kicked us out, I was reluctant to leave despite the fact that by this time I was quite tired. It was simply amazing–exactly my kind of museum. Lots of armor, weapons, books, scepters, crowns, coins, jewelry, etc. not to mention the building itself. We didn’t even begin to see it all. I can’t wait to explore this one more.

After they kicked us out at midnight we went to the Metro, only to find that it was already closed. So much for the easy way home. We decided to walk about 4 blocks to catch the tram at Ferenc Körút. Unfortunately, we walked the wrong direction and ended up at Astoria, where we hopped on a bus that looked like it was going in an okay direction (all the busses change at night and our map didn’t have the night routes). The Hardmans got off at Blaha Lujza tér to catch the tram and I rode to Keleti pályaudvar. There I transferred to a bus that looked to be going in a little better direction. I was worried for a while since I didn’t recognize any of the stops (I’ve only been to Keleti pályaudvar once), but then we got to Amerikai út and I walked the rest of the way home and went to bed after ingesting a few much needed calories. I suppose the moral of the story is, don’t worry about getting lost in Budapest at night as long as you have a good sense of direction and aren’t afraid of walking.

Oh and, St. Martin + Museums = awesome.

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I don’t know why I only blog about food–I guess I’m obsessed.

Saturday I was invited to go to Arriba’s Taquería. They supposedly have the best Mexican food in Budapest, but I have to admit, it’s not Mexico. In particular the tacos al pastor leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations based on the now defunct Las Tarascas in Provo and a little taco shop in Guatemala city whose name I can no longer remember. That said the atmosphere was cheery and the food was certainly not bad. I quite enjoyed the chorizo taco and it was good to have horchata (which normally isn’t my favorite drink). They speak English and Hungarian and even knew what I meant when I accidentally answered “Sí.” to one of their questions. :) It was also nice to eat something other than my own cooking.

Sunday I made gooseberry jelly (that’s Jello for those of you on the wrong side of the Atlantic). I can’t say it tasted like gooseberries, but I can’t say it didn’t either. I can’t even say it tasted green. Regardless of taste I couldn’t pass up green jello. It’s too bad I didn’t have any carrots or pears and cream cheese to add.

Residence Permit in my Passport

Residence Permit in my Passport

But enough food, I have the inside scoop for those who have been wondering what it’s like to be a legal resident of Hungary. As you can tell from the picture, it’s pretty cool. What the picture can’t tell you is all the trouble that you have to go through to get it. I first had to gather a large quantity of papers. It turns out my landlord’s parent are co-owners of his flat, so I had to get him to get his parent’s to sign a paper saying he could make decisions about what to do with his property. After that I had to get two Hungarians to “witness” it by signing. Thank goodness for neighbors!

Of course his parents don’t live in Budapest, so it took a while and I had to ask for more time to collect the papers. It’s somewhat awkward to be handed a blank sheet of paper and told to write a letter asking for more time. Luckily I could write it in English, but what exactly does one say? How much begging and pleading should one do? I must have done okay though, because when I brought the necessary papers back, the worker called her superior and after some deliberation announced that I had returned in time and they wouldn’t have to reject my application outright. She said it in a way that made me wonder if the proper protocol were to break out singing and dancing with joy. Sadly, you’ll never know whether I did or not sing “Miracle of Miracles” from Fiddler on the Roof since it was not recorded. At the end of it all, after a final trip, and another 2 hour wait I got a really cool sticker to put in my passport.

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Look what I found! One of Avery’s first few words was “cheek” because we’re always putting vaseline on her little dry cheeks. Today she decided to take matters into her own hands and quickly realized that her cheeks were not the only things improved by vaseline. Obviously hair, ears, noses and especially clothes need moisturizing too right?SDC10190SDC10189


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Okay, so first things first. I know I was really good yesterday with the accent thingy on Coba, but the whole thing is getting tedius and Chichen Itza is just going to have to be Americanized today. I’m sorry, but my keyboard is American, and so this post will be as well.

Chichen Itza was one of my favorite parts of the whole Mexico trip. It was a three hour bus ride, which was painful, but very worth it. Unfortunately it rained a lot and Avery had missed her nap so I missed the tour that the rest of my family got to go on. Consequently this post is going to be mostly pictures with a very little bit of explanation I picked up from signs and the very beginning of the tour, before the rain started.

First, the main temple. The temple was way impressive. I was really awestruck by it’s size and how it just juts out from the flat field the way it does.


Chichen Itza temple

 This picture is actually from behind the temple. The front face is more restored and even more impressive. The tunnel is part of an archeological project. They apparently decided to dig a tunnel under the temple and as they did so they discovered another smaller temple underneath the big one. Inside were two statues. They think the bigger temple was built over the smaller temple when two cultures meshed around 400 AD. Other details support this theory. There was also a Mayan ball court that Dad and I saw from a distance that everyone else saw closer up.


All wet and soooo sleepy

About ten minutes into our tour it started pouring and Dad and I went to find refuge under an awning to keep Avery dry. It didn’t really work, but while we were gone our tour group moved on around the park and we never did catch up with them again. Eventually, in spite of being soaked, Avery fell asleep for a few minutes.  After the tour the rest of the family managed to chase us down, but we had wandered into the older part of the city and never made it back to look closely at the main part that the tour covered.

Here’s what we did see.


 A mayan hut. They made them rounded so they wouldn’t have any corners for the evil spirits to hide in.


These columns seemed to go on forever. Some of them you could still see engravings on and it was fun for me to imagine how impressive they would have been when they were new and held up a roof.


I’m not sure what this building was used for, but I liked it because you can see the snake head sculptures on the sides of the bottom of the stairway. In the older city there are no snakes and there are no signs of human sacrifice. They think that around 400 AD when the older civilization and the newer one (possibly the toltecs) meshed the newer one brought both these traditions – the snake god and human sacrifice.


A lot of the buildings were little more than rubble.


This was a church in the older city.


I liked the carvings on this building. They were remarkably clear.


Another cool building.


We had a good time in spite of the rain and lack of nap and Avery even got a cool pink hat that she refused to wear. I really wish I could have heard more of the tour, but maybe I can check out a book from the library or something. It was really an amazing place.

About five minutes from Chichen Itza is another cenote. We took a side trip with some of the group we went with to go see it. It was really cool and really deep. I don’t have any pictures because the rain at Chichen Itza did bad things to the camera, but there are pictures here http://www.wohlmut.com/Maya/Ik-Kil.htm The water was 150 feet deep and you can swim in it.

We hadn’t brought our swim suits, but Linden, Clair and I jumped in anyway. I was in jeans and man was I worn out after swimming around a bit. Wet jeans are HEAVY. It was totally worth it though, even though we froze in the air conditioned bus all the way home. The place was really beautiful and there were even little shark-like fish swimming around. If I ever have the chance I’ve told Ivan we’re going back there to stay in the little hotel right next to the cenote for a second honeymoon or something like that. It was lovely.

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Mexico Part 2: Cobá

While Mom and Dad were off picking up Nathan in Tuxtla Gutierrez the rest of us divided up into two groups and went to Cobá on consecutive days. We divided so that one group would always be home with Avery.

I felt a little like the trip was falsely advertised because it said we were going to Cobá. We did go to Cobá, but in reality we spent half of the day in other places.  The first half of the day we did the adventure activities. Grandpa waited in the van through most of those, but not all of them. After all the exciting high risk stuff we went to the actual ruins of Cobá and walked around.


Zip Line

After the two hour bus ride over about a million speed bumps and honking at about ten dogs to get out of the road we arrived at a jungle-ish area where we changed into swim suits and headed out. We hiked a little bit to a zip line. Clair was pretty scared of the zip line (I think she was scared of about everything adventurous that we did) but she was a good sport and didn’t make too much of a fuss.

The zip line went over a field and a small pond. It was a nice view but kind of short for my taste. I was hoping to zip line through a full jungle scene, but it was fun none the less. After the zip line we walked a little ways to a pond where we kayaked through a pond and a small canal to another pond. We saw some fish and the ponds were really peaceful. It was pretty nice.


Clair and Me Kayaking

Clair was hilarious steering. Mostly we did pretty well but we ran into a few river banks. After the kayaking we all got back in the van and drove to another site where there was a cenote. I think this was my favorite part of the day. A cenote is an underground cave with water filling it. First we had a blessing by a Mayan shaman to protect us from the bad spirits in the cenote. They Maya believe that the bad spirits will make bad things happen to you for three days after going into a cenote so he gave us a protective blessing in Mayan.


Mayan Blessing

The smoke is tree sap put on hot coals so it burns. He taught us a few words in Mayan but I forgot them almost as soon as I heard them. So much for my linguistic skills. After the blessing we crawled through a tiny opening down some really steep stairs onto a platform that was just above the water. After a quick talk we all got to jump in.



The water was crystal clear and felt really nice. It was nice and quiet and our guide grabbed some calcium from the bottom to rub on our faces for a “professional spa treatment.” I wanted to stay down there for about three hours, but we had to move on.


Our group. You can kind of see how clear the water is.

After the cenote we changed into regular clothes and drove to a cenote that had caved in so that there wasn’t any water in it anymore. We rapelled down the side into the bottom of it and looked around a bit before climbing some really steep stairs to get back out. This is the part my 82 year old Grandpa decided to participate in. Crazy old man!


Me Rapelling


Grandpa rapelling

He had quite a time getting back out of the cave too.

After the rapelling we had a traditional mayan meal made for us by the women of the village we had done most of our adventures in. The food was fabulous. Unfortunately from this point out I don’t have any pictures, as Mom and Dad had taken the camera with them to get Nathan. The pictures I do have and have posted so far came from the people who ran the tour. They put all the pictures they took on a CD we could buy at the end, and as I knew I couldn’t live without a picture of my Grandpa rapelling, I forked over the 20 bucks and now I can show all you wonderful people what we did.

The meal was vegetable soup, black beans, rice, two different types of chicken, tortillas stuffed with potatoes, homemade corn tortillas, jamaica (hibiscus tea, but it was cold) and tamarindo. It was fabulous. And they had spaghetti there for picky people like Clair, so she was happy too. Of course, we were all pretty hungry, but we ate up and everyone seemed to like it. At the end they gave us a desert made of sesame seeds and honey.

After the meal we drove to Cobá where we had a very serious and emphatic tour of a ruin of a government building and Mayan ball court before we went to see the main temple a mile and a half away. The tour was interesting. The buildings are oriented to the compass and the ball court had a carved picture at each end that was only barely visible anymore that describes the rituals of the ball game. It looked kind of grisly.

After the tour we hired a local biker with a bike set up to take two passengers in front to take us all to the main temple. It was pretty impressive and apparently they usually let people climb it (not that I probably would have, I was pretty beat by then) but they have been trying to restore it for the last couple of months and weren’t allowing anyone to climb it. It was big and impressive, although not as cool as the temple at Chichen Itza. It also wasn’t as well restored which diminished its impression a little but there were rocks with carvings on it and I can’t imagine how they got all those rocks piled on top of eachother the way they were. I’m glad I saw it before Chichen Itza, though, or I might have been a little disappointed.

We rode back in the same bike contraption and I bought a treat at the entrance of the park. Clair bought a bracelet and we checked out some of the things people were selling. Then it was an hour to Tulum where we had cookies and abstained from a free shot of tequila and then two more hours home. The tour guide told us when we got back that we had driven over 108 speed bumps that day. There’s Mexico for you I guess.

The next day Linden, Nathan and Nelson got up at 6:45 and they got to do the whole thing while we went to go get Grandpa a replacement pair of pants for the pair he tore on the trip.

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Mexico Part 1: Introduction

Last week my family (meaning my mom, dad, all my siblings, my daughter, and my grandpa) went to Mexico. Unfortunately Ivan was in Budapest studying diligently so he didn’t get to go. The basic info:


The beach from our balcony

We stayed at a resort called Riu Caribe in Cancun and it was lovely. It was right on the beach and had fabulous everything.



Avery loved the pool because it had a strip around the entire edge that was about a foot and a half deep. She thought it was the coolest thing to be able to stand up and walk around in a pool all by herself.

I wish I could have taken pictures of the cafeteria and things. They had artistically cut melons and all sorts of cool decorations, but I didn’t have a camera for half of the trip.


Mom and Dad left after a couple days to go pick up Nathan, which was. incidentally, the whole point of the trip. Unfortunately tickets to Tuxtla Gutierrez were nearly twice as much as tickets to Cancun, so only Mom and Dad flew to actually pick him up. In the meantime we went on an excursion to Coba (to be described later).

We spent one day on our Coba adventures while Mom and Dad were gone and one day in Chichen Itza after Mom, Dad and Nathan got back. Other than that I ate guacamole, french fries and chocolate milk every day and we sat on the beach and watched Avery go nuts in the waves and play in the sand.



Shopping was an adventure. Everywhere we went people tried to get us to buy stuff and I found myself to be an awful bargainer. I got better with time, especially when Nathan got back and started telling me what I could get for my money. The people at the historical sites were pretty nice and not too pushy, but we went to a market in Cancun and you almost couldn’t even shop there because you spent so much of your energy ignoring everyone yelling at you. “It’s my turn.” “I’ve been waiting for you.” “Come to my shop.”

I bought a dress, a bracelet, a pendant, a letter opener for Ivan and a chess set.

The last day we were there my dad treated all of us girls to a manicure and pedicure at the spa. It was fun and I got french tip nails. I’ve always kind of wanted to do that. Unfortunately, we think that while we were down there one of the hotel employees went through our stuff because each of us three girls in our hotel room found money missing from our wallets the next day on the way home.  So I guess you can say we had a full foreign experience, including being pick-pocketed – sorta.  Always use the safe right?


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