Monday, November 14, 2011

Thomas's cycle story #3: last kilometers of the Cycle Flag Tour and compliments to British cuisine

First I'd like to come to the final point: I arrived at Fairthorne manor. Happy. Very happy to meet some of the guys supporting me all my way down to Botley. And even it was raining I enjoyed that moment.

But you may ask: How was it? Cycling in UK!? Well … it's different. Not only because of the left-right-driving-thing, but also because of the status cyclists seem to have here. The National Network is obviously trying to develop and establish proper bike tracks but there's still a lot of work left. I was trying very hard to find a good way along the Southern coast and found a huge variety of ways the British call „cycle path“: footpaths, bridleways, side-strips on a highway, promenades, etc. And some entertainment is also included: the signposting starts and stops randomly.

Don't get me wrong. It's lovely to cycle in UK. You can see  a lot of interesting landscape and pass by several beautiful villages and towns. And just because of the difficult navigation you talk to quite a lot of people along your way. Once in a while this will take you some more time because you need to explain WHY you're traveling that way. And there's a good reason for that question - I've asked myself serveral times, too.
It. Is. Windy. Windy and flawy. And sometimes even stormy. Most of the time I was scared of my hair-do … and the remaining time I spent on complaining about hills, rain and signposting. Or maybe I was just fooling around because of that wonderful journey.

„What goes up must come down -  spinning wheel got to go round.“ - my catchy tune for these 2 days. Fittingly a song by Blood, Sweat & Tears.

And all of a sudden I arrived all the places I had on my list going West to Brighton and Southampton. MPB enjoyed the seafront and climbed the cliffs. Enjoyed head wind and leant to the side wind. Kilometer by kilometer. Mile by mile. And again there had been nice people to have a chat and talk about Volunteering and the intercultural experiences you get from doing things like that. I've learnt that much. Again. And it's so nice to realize this. I reached that certain point of happiness right before starting my last stage.

I spent the last night at Fiona's house and enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by Jim – while my good old fellow (the wind) was just waiting for me at the seafront. Ready to push me ahead.

Accompanied by Fiona and the flag (!!!) MFB made its way along the seafront. Ready to meet everyone at Fairthorne Manor. As it happened during the last 5 days I met people, talked a little about the GA in Southampton and *new* awarded myself by having a proper lunch. Those who are scared of British cuisine: there is a good reason for that, but basically you can find nice meals – even in UK.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thomas's cycle story and the Flag Tour is at it's end

With 800 km in his legs Thomas had reached Botley in UK to join Alliance Staff meeting and General Assembly participants who welcomed him with the big applause.

We have celebrated together with Concordia board members who came to support our work and to see the impressive presentation of the whole year tour.
The Flag events were hosted by 33 organisations in 25 countries - mostly at various workcamps, workshops, exhibitions, but also at different campaigns or celebrations.

More pictures will be shown soon... :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thomas's cycle story #2: Crossed fingers are quite uncomfortable while cycling!

Happy Halloween to everyone! I saw people carrying pumpkins in Belgium, staffing homes in France and today I met several British kids on their trick-or-treat-mission …

Some of you might have already guessed it: MPB (aka me, the print and the bicycle) moved on. After a lovely Saturday night at the hostel in Brussel and some nice chats about our youth work it was time to go to France. But to finish you have to start first – and that became quite difficult: Brussel turned out to be a tricky town and I took me some more time to find my way.

On the last stage we learned to deal with hills along the way. Therefore the Belgians were great hosts and challenged me on the next level: Head wind.
They just forgot it's Sunday – cyclists grab their bikes and take a ride to get out of the house. That's a worldwide ritual. By that the first part in the surroundings of Brussel was a question of group dynamics. Once I met some other cyclists I was happy to stick to their rear wheels and enjoy some minutes without wind blowing into my face. Unfortunately that nice tradition stopped Southwest of Brussels and MPB was fighting its own way …

Slowed down by the head wind I entered France in the late afternoon and had to hurry up in order to pass the city limit of Lille before dusk. And  have a question to the experts: Why are so many donkeys in the area of Roubaix and Lille? I never saw that many … but they seemed to recognize me as one of them. Grouping up again. Probably the topic of that day.

Next morning I was disappointed for the second time: most of the breakfast was served in those little plastic packages. At least they avoided to use paper dishes and plastic knifes like last time. That's crap! Most of us are trying to reduce consumption and pollution and by things like that the whole effort is destroyed instantly. I left some comments and shared some experiences at the front desk and just hope that might change their minds. Keeping my fingers crossed.

But crossed fingers are quite uncomfortabla while cycling – so I stopped for a while. Because there was not that much time.  to reenter Belgium and do a loop to Dunkerque. Headlining the stage by „I neeeeeeeed to get the ferry!“ Some more than 120km and less than 6h. Tough job.

Therefore I was rushing down the way to the coast and had to pass too many battlefields, cemetries and memorials before entering the happy world of seaside vacation. I'm still wondering how many guests find their way south and have a look at this historical places. At Ijzentoor I found a nice plate placed on a wall built up with old grenades and planted with beautiful flowers: WIJ WERKEN AAN VREDE, VRIJHEID, VERDRAAGZAAMHEID. I'd rather translate that by „We work on peace, freedom and tolerance“. The lady at the ticket office told me it had been a project of the local community. Maybe they can be supported in the future.

My future was to catch the ferry and I did. They tuned …

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Flag Tour in Mexico City and more ..... with Vimex

Dear Friends Around the World!!!!!!!!

We wish to express to all of you our hapinness to Host the Flag of Volunteering in Mexico City first and then in different cities and localites of our country and in projects that VIMEX has presence. We host the Flag since the 21st. September until the 4th. of October . We never can imagine how many organizations, young people, universities, people in general will meet this Flag during its time in Mexico.

The first thing is that in VIMEX we thought that the Flag is not only for our organization, that we had to share with many ONG’S and volunteers that exist in Mexico and that day by day they are working in the promotion of volunteerism, to work for people, for education, people of third age, environmental, social work, ecology etc. Nowadays the Voluntarism in Mexico is in process to be more know, to be more listening, to be more present in our society. That is why this wish to share with our collegues of many mexican organizations and volunteers .

The objective was to impact our society with the Flag of Volunteering, that we all know that represents the efforts ofthousand organizations and thousand and thousand of volunteers around the world in the help of others. The impact, the happiness was incredible in the places where the Flag was present .

The most important fact was the reaction of the young people and the people in general, in the universities with the students, the teachers, the authorities, of the schools, with our parner mexican organizations and with the volunteers, everibody were really happy to see, to touch this Flag that represents the Volunteering around the world. We had different events as I told you, but this was possible with the help of our mexican partner organizations, in this case our mexican network called AMEVOL “ Alianza Mexicana de Voluntariado” (Mexican Alliance of Volunteering - MAV) that we have in Mexico and VIMEX is member of it. AMEVOL it is compouse for 14 different organizations that includes ngo’s, one university (our biggest by the way and the most important UNAM) and corporative volunteering.

Places where the Flag of Volunteering were:

  • 23 Septemberat UNAM in a Parade of Flags in Mexico City

The idea of this parade was that the students from UNAM design a Flag of Volunteering. There were 15 Flag designs, very interesting the designs but the concepts in order to design these Flags were the most enrichment ideas, minds of volunteering, how the students understand the volunteering. We have around of 300 persons.

  • 24th. September at UNAM, too in Mexico City
  • Here you can see the II National Volunteer Fair with more than 100 organizations and around 1,500 persons

  • 25th. of September Volunteer Walk at Chapultepec Forest in Mexico City

It was the promotion of Volunteering . It was a parade begining at the Monumento de los Niños Héroes (Heroes Children Monument ) to the Chapultepec Island Lake. We have here more than 1,000 people (one thousand ) in this event.

  • 26th. September Welcome to the Flag at Millenium Tech. in Morelos State.

In this event more than 500 students took part given the Welcome to the Flag