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Showing posts from August, 2015

6: And finally... Today on Lake Geneva after a few days in the Alps with friend Roger Bauer before heading home... With a nice seafood salad :-) Happy days!!!

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5: A swimming pool in Saint-Brieuc (less exotic) last week for a 2.5km swim in under 1hr, after which an evening walk with good friend Frère Bob and our traditional crêpes and cider...

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4: A beach west of Les Cayes (nearly 2hrs drive on pretty rough roads) with our Brothers from the Les Cayes community...

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3: The Bassin Bleu (Blue Lagoon) near La Vallée de Jacmel... paradise!!

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2: With the Brothers from our community at Jacmel during our 2nd week tour of southern Haiti with my good friend Frère Lamy...

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It's been a summer of swimming rather than cycling for me this year: 4 times during our Haitian Educational Project (Team Win!) trip - 1 = a private beach north of Port-au-Prince with the youngsters from St. Louis Primary School, Delmas...

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This is my life

It's summer and I'm feeling philosophical...
I'm in a train crossing through France, watching (on my fruit-flavoured tablet gadget) the lovely "Before Sunrise" with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke (dir. Richard Linklater - "Boyhood") whose characters first meet on a train crossing through Central Europe... Hawke's character comes out with a statement that summarises so well how I feel much of the time: 
"I always think that I'm still this 13 year old boy [i would say 17, myself] who doesn't really know how to be an adult, pretending to live my life, taking notes for when I'll really have to do it... kinda like I'm in a dress rehearsal for a Junior High play..."
... Except that the dress rehearsal IS the play, and it's for one night only!! 
Thoughts like this make me think back on my life and on all that has happened in the years since I was 17 and that simultaneously terrifying and reassuring moment of realisation in my he…

Haiti 2015 - Day 9 (part 2)

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As we were only staying one night in Jacmel our hosts, the Brothers at Jacmel (and ourselves) wanted to make the most of our time there. So once we’d had a quick tour of the property and the chance to get our sleeping arrangements sorted (youngsters on mattresses with their portable mosquito nets in a balcony area and the Brothers in the bedrooms that came off the balcony) we grabbed our swimming togs and the picnic lunch we’d brought with us and we headed for a beach about 20 mins. drive away in Lamy’s vehicle that he had the use of for the duration of our trip (a kind of imitation Jeep, Toyota-style, borrowed from the Juniorate community at Pétionville, just outside Port-au-Prince). This beach had a zoned off safe bathing area where the slope away from the shore was more shallow. The waves were still reasonably big though and you had to be careful of the current. In the end, I was the only one who went in for a proper swim (Max had a lengthy paddle), the rampant algae (seaweed) that…

Haiti 2015 - Day 9 (29th - part 1)

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So, it was Day 9, and time to say goodbye (for now) to Delmas…

We headed south, with Bro. Lamy as our driver, through mountain passes at over 1,000 metres altitude to the south coast and the Brothers’ community and school at Jacmel, a community that had once been described to me by a French Brother friend of mine as the most beautifully situated of any of our communities anywhere in the world.


Driving in Haiti could, at times, be a little traumatic when passing through crowded villages or towns (especially for Bro. Francis and whoever else was squeezed in with him in the front seats), with traffic flying around in all directions and no quarter asked or given. It is truly a “who dares wins” environment where if you want to pull out into a main road at a busy junction you simply pull out and everyone else has to stop for you. Priority to the one who sticks his nose out… except when faced with the rather intimidating Mack lorries that populate the country. Then it was simply “priority to…

Haiti 2015 - end of trip round up (with Day 9 + onwards to come later…)

We got home from our 17 day adventure 3 days ago, absoultely knackered after losing 5 hours on the way back and therefore basically missing a night’s sleep, but very, very happy with the overall experience.

Haiti is a wonderful country with warm, friendly, dynamic people. Our Brothers there welcomed us with open arms and couldn’t have been more accommodating and generous in their time, effort and energy that they put into our trip being such a success, none more so than my fellow former Novice (of 25 years ago) and good friend Bro. Lamy.

Haitians are very proud of their homeland. This is borne out by the number of emigrés who, once they’ve made a career for themselves abroad, mainly in the US and Canada, invest money back into their country of origin through various projects (including many of the 9 schools our congregation run there) and also have homes built in the home areas for them to retire back to and to which they return for holidays before retirement.

One consequence of this …

Haiti 2015 - Day 8 (28th)

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This was to be our last day with the youngsters in Delmas. We'd grown very fond of them and had come to recognise and appreciate their different personalities. Our teens had become more and more confident as the week went on in terms of their interactions with the children and their willingness to not let the language barrier become a problem. It was clear that we had made a connection with these youngsters, as was shown by the warmth of the thanks that they and their parents expressed to us at the end of our time together.
After one last YMCA, we began our final day by demonstrating to them how to play Dodgeball and then getting them to join in with us. Turns out that they already knew a variation of the game. Bro. Jacques in particular took a malicious pleasure in repeatedly finding his targets with unerring accuracy.

After Dodgeball, our teens began to prepare our final set of arts and crafts activities: bracelets, cut-out hearts to decorate for their parents (which rather touch…

Haiti 2015 - update

Last full day of what's been a wonderful, at times breathtaking educational project trip to Haiti, a country rich in potential, where there is a starker contrast between rich and poor than I have seen anywhere else I the world. 
Wait till you see the photos (will post then at an airport tomorrow sometime) of the "Bassin Bleu" that we were taken to up in the mountains around La Vallée = a blue lagoon of crystal clear mountain water, complete with waterfall, rocks to dive + jump off... As good a potential "paradise island" tourist spot as anywhere in the world. Some of our group said it was the best place they've ever been to/best thing they've ever done. A fitting reward for all the effort they put into our week with the youngsters. Bro. Francis was actually interviewed there by American news reporters doing a feature on Haiti's potential as a US tourist destination.
Today we've a visit to a market for souvenirs and then an afternoon providing ente…