Monday, April 6, 2009

The Brothers Ivanics

Quickly now, let me tell you about my new friends Ferenc and Istvan Ivanics.

You see, I took a weekend away from the safety of my friends to visit the port town of Malaga. The city is not much to look at, and all I had to do that day was look at it. The famed Picasso museum had closed most of its best galleries to some kind of renovation. (What could they be renovating? The 16th century building has already been renovated to the tune of 66 million euros.) I paid the fee and saw the work of Max Ernst, a few Picasso drawings, and one Picasso painting the museum assured me was “the most important one.” I can’t even remember it. After that, I wandered the back streets and city center alone, the feral cats scattering into the derelict and crumbling buildings. I wasn’t having a very good time. I thought I’d bug out on the next train, and return to my little flat in Sevilla.

I didn’t. I don’t know why.

It was Carnival, and people were everywhere dressed in costumes of varying interest. There were a few amateurish street performers collecting coins from the tourists, and two guys with backpacks seated against a corrugated steel wall. They had a sign that boasted they were two years and 5,200 miles into a six-year and 25,000-mile walk around the world. What? I passed by thinking them just another street performance. I passed again. I passed once more, and this time I stopped.

“So, you guys are walking around the world?”

“Yah. Yah. We are walking,” Ferenc said, without ceremony.

It was true. They left their home in Hungary two years ago, walked across Europe, south through Spain, crossed into Morocco, and then walked down the coast to Dakar, passing through the Sahara. From there, they tried to ship passage on a boat to Miami, to continue their route across the USA. No luck. So they hitched rides back to Spain to try and earn enough money to catch a flight from Madrid.

I considered that if I had gone home when I thought I might, I would not have met these guys. Many times just when I think I'm all washed up, the most beautiful thing happens.

I invited them up to Sevilla to talk to my classes. They agreed, and are here now. In fact, their laundry is drying in my open window.

No, no. Of course I don’t mean to ask you for money, but of course the brothers Ivanics need just that to continue their journey. They have a blog, which may interest you: world walk--peace tour.

The other day I asked them what keeps them going? “Why don’t you quit and just go home?”

“Ah. We are going home,” Ferenc said. “Just we are choosing the long way.”


  1. Thanks for everything !

  2. Thanx For everything !

  3. Dear Kurt!
    You made our friends, Ferenc and István, laugh!

  4. Ah, that's wonderful. I wish them the best!