Last days: Day 22 - Mon 30th + Day 23 - Tues. 31st

We were now in the home stretch... an overnight flight from Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) late Monday night took us back to Paris for a last day of sight-seeing around that most elegant of cities. The flight wasn't really long-enough to get a solid night's sleep, presuming that you were actually able to sleep in the first place.

It was an indication of the character of our group's members that they were still "up" for a day round Paris after a short night and 3 weeks of adventure, tummy upsets, etc... But, we couldn't push them too far physically and so had to make good use of public transport. In the end, a visit to the outside of the Louvre and its pyramid, a walk along to the Place de la Concorde through the Tuileries gardens and a metro trip to La Defence (the modern Arc de Triomphe) suffised.

The Louvre and its pyramid

The Brothers of our community at 9 rue du Commandeur (where I lived as a student for 4 years in the late 1990s) generously allowed us to leave our bage there for the day. One of them (another Bro. François) even offered to drive our bags to the airport and meet us there.

The big question for me personally was 'would I last the day without keeling over?' It was a very close run thing... the toilet visits went well into double figures for one day, including on the plane from Paris to Liverpool, much to the amusement of our group (I had to stand in a queue for the longest 10 mins. of my life).

La Défence....

.... the view from it back down the Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe....

... and the La Défence arch itself.

It was symbolically appropriate that on our way out to Africa we visited the old arch (Arc de Triomphe) and on our way back the new one (La Défence). Our 3 weeks working with Togolese children had changed each of us. We were coming back as new people having learned so much from these wonderful people and having also learned a great deal about ourselves.

Before we left Paris, some of the group were already discussing "next year's trip".

I am very proud of this tremendous group of young Liverpudlian people and would consider it an honour to organise another trip next year.... Watch this space!! :-)

To round things off, at least in terms of the blog diary, here is a little slideshow of about 50 photos from the trip, to the accompaniment of "Give Until There's Nothing Left" by American Christian band Relient K ( In the next message after that I'll put some of Paul H.'s photos that he gave me recently.

After that, there'll be some photos from my 10 days just outside Rome in August for Brothers' meetings on Vocations and account of the night I heard Pope Benedict play the piano (really!!).... and more.

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