It has not been all fun and games. In addition to the excursions and cultural experiences there has been the planning meeting for the shared school projects. And there have also been a couple of meetings to sort out itineraries, both for the second half of this visit (the Czech Republic), and for the next two visits, to Hungary and Turkey. There was a collective intake of breath when Mujde indicated the price of the hotel in Turkey – but it’s in Istanbul, the capital city, so it’s not going to be cheap (or if it was, you really wouldn’t want to stay there). And it’s still significantly cheaper than, say, London.
I didn’t really pay attention during this meeting, because Nic is our co-ordinator and she was making notes. I was making use of the hotel wi-fi (which is only available in reception – in the rooms we have a cable connection to the internet, how quaint) to bring myself completely up to date with Facebook and Twitter. But I was aware of the discussions going on around me. The fabulous thing, when you get a group of 18 people trying to sort something out in a language native to only two of them, is the immense confusion over simple things like dates and locations. In the end Nic had to practically tie the Hungarian representative to his chair to establish the details of the Hungary visit, because of the calls of ‘No, that’s on the 8th’ and ‘The 10th is a Thursday, no Tuesday’ and so on, ringing out around the room. People also tend to have sub-discussions in their native tongue about each detail as it’s released, so they then miss a subsequent correction, or throw in a new question about the issue that everybody else has just moved on from.
But, even with all the debates and the confusion, it is really rather great to be part of something so international. It’s almost like living in the Eurovision Song contest, only without the music. Which reminds me (I am keeping a separate list of things I’ve forgotten to mention, but this one can go here) – the drummer was with us for the Bratislava trip today. And we found out that he is a big Manchester United fan. ‘It is my life,’ he said, enthusiastically.
Athough we are still in Slovakia, and at the school in Abraham tomorrow morning, I sensed it was with some relief that this evening Mata handed over the leadership to Leos, from Czech Republic. We are now in his coach and he is in charge of the itinerary. Dave and David, who are replacing Nic for this part of the visit, arrived safely at the hotel this evening, although there is no point in them unpacking anything given the early check-out tomorrow. I’ve decided not to confuse them by trying to tell them who everybody is. I’ve now sorted out who belongs to which country, and I know nearly all of their names. But they’re much better off finding out this sort of thing for themselves.
Medical matters: well, I was rather looking forward to a fortnight in which my legs could recover from all of this summer’s insect bites and I might start to lose the scars (the first bites from three months ago are now finally starting to fade, but I still have a lot of hideous scabs). But yesterday, as we arrived at the miniature park, I felt myself bitten once on each shin, and shortly afterwards on my big toe (I was in sandals – it has been lovely and warm here, even when it’s not sunny). I took an anti-histamine last night but even with that, the bites are now in a dreadful state, and there is also one on my thigh (which, when I thought about it afterwards, I did remember rubbing a lot at one point, I just didn’t clock it at the time). Each bite has a huge lump and is weeping copiously, and the two on my shin (with less flesh in which the lump can spread) are reddish-purple and painful. I’m not going to cry, but I could.
I think they are horsefly bites, apart possibly from the one on my foot, and as I was wearing trousers at the time I think this is a bit unfair. But perhaps they were bites from some dreadful disease-carrying insect. I should probably check the internet. That’s always a reliable source of information.