Sunday, August 20, 2006

Blasted in Budapest

The rumbling of fireworks and thunder battling one another continues, now 20 minutes since the storm that seemed to come from nowhere hurled itself upon the gathering of tens of thousands of people along the Danube tonight.

Torential rain, heavy wind and the debris carried with it pelted down upon us only minutes after a fireworks display began in celebration of St. Stephen's Day, a national holiday that saw a naval and air show during the daylight hours with hundreds of stalls selling food and beverage dotting both sides of the Danube between the three main bridges connecting the Buda and Pest sides of the city.

Panic set in immediately, first among the screaming children, then quickly throughout the massive gathering as branches the size of people started tearing from the trees and flying into the crowd. Fast flying debris struck myself and others in the face as we looked around in disbelief, trying to survey the scene, while others simply ran in any direction that took them away from the river, from which waves of water were lifting out and further drenching anyone within 100 or more feet of its edge.

Strangely, the fireworks continued, its colors now clashing with the blue flashes streaking through the clouds, its crumpled rumbles mere finger tappings to the oversized cracks of sound rippling through the sky.

The hostel we're in is now full of dripping, overexcited young people, eagerly exchanging stories of where they were and what it was like when it happened. Outside, the storm continues, heard best through the broken window in the hostel kitchen.

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