Happy New Year: The View from Patca (1)
Winter Morning on the Farm at Patca (01 January 2009)
Patca (pronounced something like pot-sa) is a microscopic village in SW Hungary, roughly 40-50 Km south of Lake Balaton and about the same distance north of the Croatian border. There's nothing much there except for a rough "theme park" modeled on a traditional self-sustaining Hungarian farm. In the Summer, children can go there and meet characteristic varieties of Hungarian farm animals; in the Winter - at New Year's, for example - large groups can rent space in one of a couple of dorm style lodges, use it as a base from which to hike around the countryside and nearby villages, find a suitable place to light a fire just before midnight, and party outdoors until everyone is frozen stiff. Then they hike back to the lodge and continue to party until nearly dawn. If everyone has more or less known each other for years, the communal style eating, drinking, and bunk bed sleeping arrangements work pretty well. Each family prepares their own food in advance or on the spot, and freely share with everyone else ("Hyena style", as one of the younger guys put it: "If you see a group of excited Hungarians, inevitably there's some food in the middle of it.").
This was the view from the front door as some of us left for Budapest on New Year's Day. Although it was freezing when we arrived on the 30th, there was no trace of snow, nor did any appear on the 31st - but a light dust was falling as we walked back to the lodge around 1 AM, and it remained on the trees to greet us in the morning.