Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bottom of the News… Friday, August 27, 2010

My European Report

Good morning my fellow Rotarians. Well, it seems I’ve been gone forever. I had the privilege to travel Europe for some vacation time with my family and then a conference in Barcelona. I thought I would use our news time to share just a few thoughts and experiences from my trip…

Two experiences at the Paris airport were a bit discomforting. First was security and customs. The sensitivity meter was set on super high and each of the four times I went thru, it set off alarms and caused more attention from the guards. Twice a full body search was not cool. They weren’t friendly, expected me to understand French and seemed down right irritated when they finally figured out that that my wedding ring was the culprit.

Second, were the armed military guys with dogs and AK-47’s paroling the terminals. We learned on the plane out of France that there had been a failed terrorist attack the week before, thus everything and everyone were on high alert. Two weeks later all seemed normal.

For Lonna, this trip was a long time coming and we planned ahead; Barcelona and France did not disappoint. We walked a lot and used the subway and buses more each day. Barcelona is a city of 6+ million people that never sleeps. Lonna’s favorite area was a former fishing village in France called Coloure, located on the Mediterranean in the Pyrenees Mountains. It had 500+ year old castles and a Notre Dame cathedral – I described them as very old! It also was home for many artists over the centuries; some dude named Picasso hung out there for 20-some years.

Logan, our 17-year old, was a joy to watch. He would use his “I’m an Americano” approach to meet lots of people, especially girls. He kept saying he couldn’t tell how old they were – right!

Did you know that Facebook is a universal language? Every time Logan met someone he would pull out his post-it pad and collect their name and FB ID and then each evening would connect again online. His goal was to get more international “friends” than anyone else at Kennedy and by the end of the week he had met people from a dozen different countries.

My favorite person was a nun from Australia. This 72 year-old was on a 2-month world trip she had won celebrating the 400th anniversary of her order. When we learned we were from the US she launched into how much she and her fellow sisters appreciate all the US does for them and the rest of the world. She said she gets so mad when people tear down the US. “They are ungrateful and quickly forget who always bails them out!” she said. And then, as we were leaving she got in my face and said, “Do me a favor when you get back to America. Kneel down, kiss the ground and thank God for living in a great country – please do that for me.” Wow, we all cried. We were speechless as we silently hugged and parted ways.

And finally, Logan also knew enough Spanish to get a lot done. Yet it took me a couple of days to figure out a phrase that I heard him say often, which would cause people to laugh. “Loco papa no Espanol!” Yep, that is correct; your crazy dad does not speak Spanish! It was awesome family time, a vacation filled with many memories. And yet, I am glad to be home.

And that’s my international report as the bottom of our news for this Friday, August 27, 2010.