21 May 1980

Visa, food and dreaming the West

Quick trip to the consulate of the Hungarian People's Republic for our visa, which we'll need as we are going to transit through the country on our way back to Italy. Ann, Andrew and I, as "locals" (because we are "permanent" students here) pay only 160 sloty, but Cathy, who is not permanent enough has to pay in dollars: six dollars to be precise, hardly breaking the bank but they want hard currency for the Western visitor.

After which we all go for yet another great lunch at Borzena's. I just can't get used to this, it's just too much. There is always a bit of a sad atmosphere during these meals, despite our by now deep friendship with the family and mutual trust. Borzena's father joins us today he has a day off work. He is a pilot. He was in the air force, but now flies small planes to spray crops in the countryside.

Her brother is a cool guy, handsome and soft spoken. He does not say much but he, too, dreams of a free life in the West. In fact our conversations at these meals are a bit repetitive when it comes to this. Our gracious Polish host do not relent in their uninterrupted litany of complaints about, well, Poland. I fully understand them, and agree with them. It's just that I feel a bit frustrated in hearing the same stories over and over again when I can do very little that is of use.

Actually maybe I can. Borzena's desire to visit me in Italy, which I will do my to fulfill, just might open the door for her (and perhaps the rest of the family?) to move to a better life in Western Europe or America. Yet their problems are the same problems of all other Poles we met in the last three months, and I certainly can't help all of them.

Lunch at Borzena's apartment

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