Zala Cup, Hungary, 1983, M35

This was the public race after the 1983 World Champs in Hungary, using the map that was used for the individual final (this was the first year there was qualifying, and there was just one individual distance). I was eager to see what the terrain was like, although it looked like it was going to be hilly and thick.

It was not as thick as I expected, in keeping with the central European practice at the time to map as white only the nicest, cleanest, most carefully swept and manicured forests. So light green was like white back home, and so on. But it was hilly, even if I tried to avoid the hills when possible.

I remember having a very good run, just a little miss at number 8. And the woods, when they were white, were very fine.

What I remember much more distinctly from Hungary had to do with paying the bill. It didn't seem to be required to pay for the U.S. team in advance, and financial transactions with Eastern Europe were quite difficult, so I crossed the border from Austria with roughly $6,000 cash. I felt quite relieved when the car wasn't searched. We were there for roughly 2 weeks, and days passed, and then more days passed, and no one seemed to want any money. I knew it was too good to last, and a couple of days before the end, the main organizer suggested it was time to pay the bill.

We went up to his room, and first things first -- out came the bottle of plum brandy, a couple of glasses were poured, and we got in the right mood. Then came the figuring, all in Hungarian forints, and since all the Americans seemed to have arrived at different times, the figuring for all the lodging and meals and transportation and training maps and entry fees was quite complicated. In fact it filled up a whole sheet of paper, with the final number at the bottom something in the vicinity of 260,000 forints. Well, fine, I said, but I don't have my money with me, I'll bring it tomorrow night. And I tore off the bottom of the page with the final number so I wouldn't forget how much we owed.

The next night I see him at dinner, and after we'd eaten we went up to his room again, and, of course, out came the plum brandy again. And then more figuring, like a video tape of the night before, a whole page filled up with numbers, only this time the final number at the bottom was something in the vicinity of 245,000 forints. Well, that seems better, I thought, so we did the exchange based on that and I gave him a lot of $20 bills, though not quite as many as I had anticipated. One more glass of brandy to seal the deal and I walked out a happy man.

Except that the next evening, at the final banquet, our last night in the country, he comes up to me at dinner. "Peter," he says," I have a problem." My heart sinks. "Oh?" "Can you come with me?" Not up to the room for more brandy, this time he is clearly worried about something, and we go off in a dark corner of the room. He reaches in his pocket and pulls out one of the $20 bills. "See, it has a tear in one corner. That is not good. It will be trouble at the bank. Do you by any chance have another one that you could trade for this?'" I took care of him with pleasure.