Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Beach

Well, we've all heard talk of European beaches but I don't think it every really sinks in until you see it for yourself. We are in the middle of a heat wave at the moment so I thought a quick dip in the sea might not be a bad idea. The last time I was at the beach it was before the summer holiday started, not as hot and not as crowded. When I got down there this time the place was packed and as I was trying to find a place to mark as my territory I was caught off guard by what I was seeing. There was a moment when I asked myself why all these skinny men had grown breast before I remembered that this is Scandinavia and what I was looking at were women. Topless women.

There were others there who were more modest, but that only means that they were wearing the other half of their bikinis and those of us with one-piece swimsuits were obviously in the minority. I think the strangest part of it was how normal it felt. Because everybody was mostly naked nobody paid any attention ...except me, that is.

So here's another experience to add to my life. Sorry guys, no pictures.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Lates News

I've been quite busy lately with lot's of interesting things. We had another holiday on June 23 called Sankt Hansdag (Sankt Hans being the Danish name for Saint John the Baptist.) At least this holiday didn't require everything shutting down. It was a celebration of Midsummer, a bit on the pagan side and had very little to do with John the Baptist. In the evening people go outside and light huge bonfires that have a doll sitting on top that's made to look like a whitch. In the old days that used to be a real person sitting up there. These bonfires are big community events a bit like we have for Canada day, with the early evening being fun for families with kids and then beer, beer and more beer. I was over on Jylland that day in a city called Vejle which is right on a fjord so we could look across the water and see all the other fires burning along the shore. The thing that really has me in awe, not just that day but all summer, is the amount of daylight there is. I didn't get there till almost 10pm and it wasn't anywhere near dark. Even last night I was walking home at 11:30 and there was still a sliver orange in the sky.

The dance group was in Vejle that weekend and the next day was spent doing a lot of consultation. Many of the members are getting older and over the past year it has been hard to get people to stay committed. We have also been very aware that the Danish Baha'i youth in general are growing and we really wanted to take a look at where things are going in the future. After a long time the dancers decided that this would be the last year and that after the summer holiday -and one last performance- the dance group will end.

Now, everyone back home knows that this was my original reason for coming to Denmark but I am actually quite happy to see the way things are turning out. It is refreshing to see the mature way these youth are handling a difficult decission making process instead of just letting things drag on and peter out. I will still stay here to finish my year of service but my energy will be spent on helping to set up other youth activities. The Danish community is in the middle of many changes right now and it is a very exciting time to be here.

End of Danish classes

This picture was taken at the end of year party for the Danish school. The two women on each side are my class mates and the blonde one in the middle next to me is our teacher. She will not be returning to her job next year because she got a grant from the government for a reseach project on imigration. The two girls with me that day were from a Baha'i family who asked me to babysit. There were about seven other students in our class who didn't make it that day.