Sunday, October 24, 2010

Switzerland

Ok, so I last left you at the end of the Jamboree.  Of course, at the end of it all, camp does have to close sometime.  The kids go home, and the staff pack things up and do the same.  But what about those of us who are awfully far from home?  Well, we have our ways.  It turned out that the Swiss Contingent had driven over to the Jamboree.  So we asked one of the guys, Sam, if we could tag along.  The official answer was maybe.  He said he’d ask the others in his car, and they would work out who was leaving when.  On the day after closing, we finally got a proper answer.  It was probably about 20h00, and we were enjoying the evening, being finished with dismantling for the day.  Most of Outdoor had come down easily, with only the major posts for the ropes course left, and Antarctica was in a similar boat, with only their large tents to take down.  We were standing up on the road talking, looking down into camp, when Sam came up to us, with an awfully disappointed look on his face.  We assumed the worst, of course.  And thus we were pleasantly surprised when Sam asked us if it was ok for us to leave with Valentine that night.  The reasoning was that it was better to have three people in one car and four in the other (one of the girls, Selina, had left a few days before) than to have 2 in one and five in the other.  So after a long day of taking things apart, and an awfully quick packing-up, we ended up on an overnight drive to Switzerland.  And we ended the drive in Winterthur, about an hour (by train) from Z├╝rich.

This is Winterthur, and the view is pretty similar to what we saw from the Scout House.  Photo © Stadt Winterthur

In Winterthur, we stayed in a scout house.  Now, unlike home, it seems that Swiss scouts have figured it out; they have spaces available to rent out to other groups, set up almost hostel-style, though the booking process is different, and there are no staff on hand.  The plan had originally been to either camp at the site beside the scout hall, or possibly ask if we could camp in the backyard.  Instead, we ended up staying inside, as the group occupying the hall had some extra space.  It worked out well for us, as it meant not having to put up a tent, as well as availability of showers and somewhere with light to sort out the fast-as pack job from the night before.  Having sorted out somewhere to sleep, we wandered into Winterthur itself, and proceeded to see… a lot of it, in a few hours.  We even found the swimming pool (for once, within walking distance of town!) and so, after going back to grab things, we went for our first swim in I don’t even know how long.  Never mind that swimming laps was pathetic and exhausting, it felt good to go for a swim anyways.  We spent the night with the group at the scout house.  They even fed us dinner and breakfast (my life pretty much revolves around the kindness of strangers lately, it seems) and were sent off away when we asked if there was anything we could do to help them clean and pack up.  So we wandered off, having a couple hours to kill before meeting up with Sam by a nifty wooden sculpture of a giant in town (that we both entirely neglected to take pictures of).  We ended up grabbing wireless and weak tea, and then heading off to our meetup.

Speaking of wireless...  (or, not really) This is a Swiss keyboard.  Ten points (and maybe a postcard?) to the first person who can tell me what's wrong with it.  Gonzo, you don't get to say.

When we met up with Sam, it was pretty obvious that he hadn’t been home for long before coming to meet us.  Granted, he had driven (with a couple others) through the night, so it’s forgiveable.  After a couple of hours hanging out and talking scouty stuff, we headed off to Nesslau, where Selina still lives with her and Sam’s parents.  And dang, was the road to Nesslau pretty.  All winding and twisting and turning around hills and through valleys and basically a welcome change from two weeks of topographically-challenged Holland.

This is Switzerland.  It has mountains.  Mountains are good

We spent the next day and a half in semi-rural Switzerland.  We had “proper” swiss food (a process of eating called raclette by which there’s a grill with space underneath, and basically every person gets a frying-pan like dish in which to melt cheese, and then pours said cheese over potatoes and whatever else happens to be on the plate.  Grilling things before cheesing them is optional.) which involved cheese with bacon in it (bacon makes just about everything taste better) and had some time watching schwingen, the Swiss national sport, which involves special leather shorts.  And throwing one’s opponent on his back by holding on to his shorts.  It was actually a lot of fun to watch, and something we’d never have even considered if we had gone to Switzerland by ourselves.

This is Schwingen.  The shorts are provided.  Photo ©R McCoy because I forgot to take any.

So, until next time!  It gets interesting then.  And involves A LOT of trains.  I'm still trying to figure out how to break up the train-to-train-to-train travels, for the sake of posting.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jamboree, and, perhaps, getting into better habits re: posting

So, since I've garnered an overwhelming response (read: 2 comments) I've decided that for my own sake, and perhaps yours, I will post bits and pieces of the trip, in chronological order, with pictures. The chronological order may or may not be interrupted by daily goings-on here in Oz. I'm not sure yet, because there's nothing particularly interesting on the horizon until the Moot, and that's in December/January. In any case. I'm going to start with the Jamboree, since that's where the last bit of real content came from. From there... We'll see how it goes.

So. First off. The Jamboree.

Scout camp is always fun. And I do mean always. Even when it is pouring rain, scout camp is a pretty good time. So going to a Jamboree, even when I don't speak the language, was pretty good. Even more fun, sometimes, exactly because I don't speak Dutch, since me trying to speak Dutch was occasionally hilarious (I tend to substitute French words for the ones I don't know when I'm speaking anything other than English) In any case, some of the highlights of camp were:

Adventures in Hand Sewing
While working at Outdoor during program sessions, I'm meant to be wearing an Outdoor tee. Of course, being a somewhat last-minute addition to the team, there were no shirts in my size left when I got mine. There were Larges, and X-Larges. Now, I am neither an L nor an XL in shirts. No problem. Three nights of sewing later, I had a me-sized Outdoor t-shirt. All sewn by hand. And it fits darn well, though I had to adopt diamond-gussets in the underarm because I didn't cut the body quite right…

It used to be a mens' XL, honest.  The tag even says so. (Photo care of the HotAir Vents, aka the Canadian Contingent to JubJam)

Inclusive Scouting night at Outdoor
One night, we set up Outdoor specifically for the scouting groups focusing on "Inclusive Scouting." Those would be the groups set up for, or at the very least, including, individuals needing special care or those with disabilities. We had part of the rope course open, as well as part of the climbing wall and the abseil tower. The best part of the night was just watching these kids' faces light up when they were able to come and play "like everyone else." Also, playing koala when I wasn't helping people stay safe.

This is Kit, pretending to be a koala, but really just bored and waiting for the next person to come along.  (Photo taken by Joren, on his iPhone.  Not bad...)

Hanging out in Subkamp Antarctica
Now, I've never spent a large portion of any Jamboree in a Subcamp. It turns out that I was missing a lot of fun. Because Gonzo was working for Antarctica (something about it being the closest subcamp to Australia…) I spent a good portion of time there, for the sake of sanity and sensible (and fast) English. Later, I also went out there because the subcamp staff became my friends, too, and because it was good to hang out with people who knew my name, after a day full of 30-second interactions with people, usually in Dutch. And the evening program activities were always interesting. Talent shows, and food festivals, and boat regattas… the list goes on.

This is Ivo.  He's very proud of his marshmallow-and-licorice penguin

Leaning to wrikken
First, I suppose, I have to explain what, exactly, wrikken is. The very first day of camp, when Gonzo and I had nothing in particular to do (the IST weren’t assigned jobs until the evening of the next day) we were wandering around camp, watching different groups set up. And we saw some people out on the water, with boats (usually 2) rafted together, and they were bringing them in towards shore using a single oar from the stern. Never having seen this before, we thought this was pretty much the coolest thing ever. Since then, we’d sort of put it in the back of our heads as something interesting, but we weren’t sure what to do about that. But a few days into the jamboree, we were hanging out in Antarctica, and Ivo was making a poster about water activities. We figured out that two of the titles were sailing and rowing. But the third, wrikken, had us totally stumped. So we asked. And he explained, and then we got really excited. We got even more excited when he offered to teach us. So the next free day we all had, we went out on the water to play. And spent the next hour (or more? We kinda lost track of time) teaching our bodies (and our heads, which I think was the harder part) how to wrikken. We’ve since learned that the english word for it is sculling, though most people assume we’re talking about a specific kind of rowing, then. So wrikken it is :) And no, I really can’t explain how to do it. I understand how it works, but it’s an awfully complicated movement. That being said, I now want to see what else I can wrikken, Dutch-style steel canal boats being somewhat scarce outside of the Netherlands…Perhaps canoes, or maybe kayaks, or, just for fun, surfboards?

This is me, trying to wrikken.  Apparently, I have already spent quite some time in the sun...

Chocolate Fondue at Outdoor
On one of the last nights at the Jamboree, the Swiss contingent got together and made fondue for their respective work groups. They managed quite well, actually, because 3 of them were working for Communications (2 photographers and a writer) and the other 3 were working with Outdoor, versus being spread out all over the place. As it was, there were still an awfully large number of people waiting for fondue when the time came. 30-some-odd of us from Outdoor, and about 20 (I think?) from Communications. And so fruit was cut, and chocolate prepared, and in the end, the fruit ran out first. But everyone had fun, working their way around the tent, conga-line style, forks (or chopsticks) in hand, getting chocolate everywhere. I don’t know how much chocolate there was left at the end, but it was a lot. And of course, while waiting in line, there was singing, and teasing, and all the things that go along with a bunch of scouts who are (patiently?) waiting their turn for some dessert.

At the end of it all, the Jamboree was excellent. Are there things I would change? Of course there are. Would I go back? I just might. You never know. But I might also take the chance to go somewhere else entirely, just for fun.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Settling in

Ok, so I did promise that once I'd settled, and unpacked for more than a couple days, I would post. Clearly, I've been procrastinating, and I haven't posted, and meanwhile, the most recent post says I'm in Bangkok, which, if you're been following the map, is clearly untrue, since it's awfully difficult to be in Melbourne when one is still in Bangkok. But now, since I've fallen awfully far behind, I'm going to leave it up to you (if there's anyone out there who's still paying attention) to choose what you want to hear about. Do you want more pictures and details about Europe? Do you want photos from Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore? Do you want any of the travel stories? Do you (god forbid) want to know about Cuboree? Leave a comment (on the blog, not on Facebook, if you will, please) and let me know!