I had every intention of coming to Hungary and I’m here purely by chance, luck, serendipity, coincidence or … you get the idea. There’s no point in my writing about the country as any number of books cover the topic thoroughly; and there’s little point in writing about Zalaegerszeg because, unlike San Miguel, it has significant substance and these days it seems substance has lost favor to fluff. It isn’t that San Miguel doesn’t have substance, but the casual traveler isn’t likely to find it. And by substance, I mean the parts of a place that have gravity – not gravitas – but gravity, and that – for me – always, always, always comes down from people, not the mystical powers found in crystals or the ether. As San Miguel shifts gears from those who sell art to those who sell real estate, as one hears more frequently that one can “reinvent oneself” more easily in San Miguel, it became more difficult to get to the substance of that place. I imagine all those discarded selves floating about, clouding the night sky.
Zala county is one of those places affected by the Treaty of Trianon after the first world war. Territory was taken from Hungary and given to other countries, and so, in those countries, there is now a Hungarian-speaking minority. Some of my students are children of Hungarian-speaking parents; they live in Zalaegerszeg during the week and go home to Slovenia or Croatia for weekends.
Ah, the serendipity that led me here. I visited Hungary (Budapest) twice in 2016 thinking that I might want to move to the country. I wasn’t able to make it work, went back to the U.S. for a bit, then back to San Miguel where I received my certificate to teach English as a second or foreign language. The house where I lived in San Miguel was sold, a teaching position opened in Zalaegerszeg, and here I am.