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Searching for the Blue Danube
If I rise on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:9-10
There’s nothing quite as terrifying as being lost by yourself in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. This has happened to me more than once. The most memorable time was when I was twenty-five, and I got this ridiculous notion in my head that I should travel to Budapest, Hungary alone. I was already in Eastern Europe visiting a friend, and my friend had to work the day of my Hungarian adventure. I didn’t want to waste one minute in Europe by sitting around her apartment when a whole continent was right outside the window.
I took the train from Bratislava to Budapest without incident. I felt confident I knew where I was going. I had a map and a travel guide—what could possibly go wrong? I figured I’d find the Danube River and would be able to follow it on foot to the Castle Hill district where the museums and other tourists would be.
Outside of the train station, I started walking, and I walked, and I walked, and I walked. I got farther and farther away from the train station and no closer to the river. After walking for a half hour and finding myself not in Castle Hill but in some type of industrial neighborhood, I realized I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere, and knowing my sense of direction, it was the first turn out of the station door.
With limited options, I walked toward the only establishment I recognized. It was a Burger King sitting catty-corner from me in between several huge office buildings. It’s amazing how pervasive American culture can be so soothing overseas.
A Hungarian teenager was working at the counter. I asked her in English if she knew where the Danube River was. She replied in Hungarian. I shook my head that I didn’t understand her. She shook her head back that she didn’t understand me either.
The young girl behind the counter was crestfallen that she could not help me. “French fries?” she asked.
Without knowing what else to do, I nodded. “Yes, French fries.” I paid her and took my small fry to a window booth and ate them while mulling over my dilemma. Obviously, trying to navigate the city on foot had been a bad idea.
After finishing my fries, I retraced my steps back to the train station and found a taxi that drove me to Castle Hill for an exorbitant amount of money.
I was never lost to the point of no return while wandering around the city, but at the time, it felt that way. I should have remembered that God was watching over me through the whole ordeal. It’s something I constantly have to remind myself as expected and unexpected challenges and disappointments pop up in my life. God’s presence doesn’t mean those challenges and disappointments will get any easier, but there is someone to turn to if you are alone and frightened.
In Maid of Murder, India Hayes, a college librarian and reluctant bridesmaid, is thrown into the role of amateur sleuth as she hunts down the person who murdered her childhood friend and framed her brother for the crime.
When bride-to-be Olivia turns up dead in the Martin College fountain and the evidence points to India’s brother Mark, India must unmask the real culprit while juggling a furious Mother of the Bride, an annoying Maid of Honor, a set of hippie-generation parents, a police detective who is showing a marked liking for her, and a provost itching to fire someone, anyone—maybe even a smart-mouthed librarian.
Amanda Flower, cozy mystery author of Agatha Award-nominated Maid of Murder, is an avid traveler. She has visited seventeen countries, forty-eight U.S. states, and counting. She is a member of the Clash of the Titles staff. Learn more at http://www.amandaflower.com/