Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Simeon in Europe

Last year was the best year of my life because when I came back from Mexico I flew off to London for a summer of "work-vacation" in Europe. 

I stayed for a couple weeks in "Soufeast London" with family, which has a lot of British-Jamaicans. I then took the train to Paris and then the TGV to the middle of nowhere in the southeast where I worked a kibbutz-style collective in the kitchen (there was also a Montessori school and a very environmentally friendly construction project). I showered with "watery environmentally friendly soap" and used which was pretty much "mud" for toothpaste; it was lovely, a very earthy tone and flavour! 

We cooked pure vegetarian food every day and I enjoyed my 10-hour days as a dishwasher and prep cook. I had to pay around 3 Euros a day because everybody pools money to support the initiative, but for me my involvement was all about French practice. 

I enjoyed philosophizing with the French hippies; I felt soo good when they thought I was from Paris, apparently I can put on a good French accent! I ended up losing my passport there though and had to go to the Paris Embassy to get a new one. This was kind of stressful but I ended up staying for 3 days at a friends apartment who was finishing up her exchange there; she showed me all the sights and I had a good low-cost vacation so it ended up working out. 

I then took the train to Villars-sur-Ollons, Switzerland for my official summer camp job, which I was late for but didn't matter. I spent a month there, had the time of my life with people from all over the world, using all my languages (even the Portuguese that my Angolan and Brazilian "brothers of colour" taught me in Mexico) and can't wait to go back this next summer. 

After I took the train to Paris and then a LONG overnight train ride down to Spain to work at my old summer camp that I worked the year before outside of Burgos. I had a great two weeks there, lots of crazy Spanish-style unorganization, parties, and long hikes to little villages. After two Brits and an American colleague and I went back to Madrid, another two-day vacation (walking around the hot city, picnics and hostel laziness). 

I then flew up to Amsterdam to stay with a buddy of mine for a week. It was my first time in the Netherlands and the highlight was a floating concert on one of the canals. At the end of the concert, they sang a traditional patriotic Dutch song and everybody sang together in streetlight-lit night, it was touching. Afterwards, I went back to London, spent some more time with the family and then back to Waterloo in time for school starting. 
Throughout my travels, I was surprised at the kindness of strangers where people gave me money, rides and even free hats and other blessings. Canadians have a great reputation abroad; therefore being personable and friendly, not judging certain people who may seem poor or "sketchy" by Canadian standards has great rewards for those who travel.

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