When my friend Mary-Alice and I trekked around the world, we ended up being totally broke in Hungary. We had money before and money after, but in Hungary we were paupers. I am guessing our parents bailed us out, but Budapest just brings back memories of a stale crust of bread and a lot of walking.
Looking back, I really don’t know why we were so broke there. Are there no ATMs in Budapest? Did we spend it all on boos and goulash? I have no idea. What I do know is that our lack of money forced us to break the law. Tired as can be, we really wanted to take a cable car down this humungous hill, but we had zero cash. So we made up an elaborate scheme to shimmy under the turnstiles and hop on the car without paying.
As I subtly crawled under the turnstile and Mary-Al did her very best distraction song and dance, the 200 pound stout woman who ran the place looked down just as I was mid crawl. With the furry of Satan’s handmaidens, she started screaming in Hungarian and coming at me with her arms extended. Visions of her squeezing my head till it popped off flashed before my eyes as I backed up on all fours, stood up, and obeyed Mary-Alice’s ingenious command of “RUUUUUUNNNNN!”
We headed down that hill as fast as our impractical travel sandals could take us all while turning our heads to see if the thunderous Hungarian roar was hot on our trail. She was not. We were exhausted and broke, but we were not beaten up or arrested.
Did I learn any life lessons from this? Ehh, sure. Don’t break the law. It is wrong. But I still waited till I had $19 in my bank account to fly home that summer. And I had a blast because of it. As we all know, fun and money are not always linked and sometimes being a broke backpacker with no common sense is the most fun of all.