Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

People We Met on our Christmas Trip

Hello all,

Laura, Jay (her fiancé), and I travelled to Europe the day after Christmas. Originally planned for June, we did our best given the shorter time window. Telling you about all the sites* you yourself have visited or heard about seems silly so below are several interesting people we met etc.



Laura & Jay met several couples and individuals to hang out" with: Lebanese, French, and Aussies among others. We shared a table New Years Eve with an Aussie couple who just completed teaching in Thailand. I enjoyed seeing L & J have a New Years Eve experience with so many young people from around the world.

On the streets, it got a bit dicey. Seems the hooligan types have a tradition of chaos on the streets. Jay took pictures of people jumping from car to car in front of the Stock Exchange. Something ironic about that! I saw news broadcasts showing the extreme violence in Paris and Amsterdam - cars burning etc.

Bruges - A wonderful New Years dinner at Brasserie Chagall.


Red Light District

Laura I took a walk near Amsterdam Centraal (train station) and the end of trams lines. I wondered aloud if we might we venturing into the Red Light District. Shortly the sex shops came into view. Laura had us make a hasty retreat! No place to be with your dad!!

By far our best accommodations were in Amsterdam, but then I have never paid so much for a room! Rooms are expensive and hard to find at New Years there. We both had large suites with great amenities.

Alkmaar - Jim and Nancy Forest

Wanting Laura and Jay to have an evening without dad, I had the opportunity to travel by train to a small town which is the cheese capitol, Alkmaar.

For me this was a wonderful evening. For those familiar with the Catholic worker and peace movement will recognize Jim's name. He knew well (often worked with) Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, the Berrigans, Henri Nouwen, Dom Eudes, John Dear among others. Jim shared a story with us at dinner about how the British MI5 boarded a plane from Paris with pictures of Daniel Berrigan hoping to keep this dissident out of the country. You know how peaceful opposition is so threatening to those in power! Thinking ahead, Jim was on that plane. Daniel came on a later flight unimpeded!

When I arrived, Jim took me on a walking tour of Alkmaar. He is a great tour guide. What a way to meet good people and to obtain a sense of the local culture.

Nancy provided a feast for a king, Moussaka. At dinner, Nancy´s soon to be 93 year old mother joined us. I would never have known she was 93. She had lived with them for about 18 months. She paints regularly and is quite talented. (See website info below.)

Good heavens! I went online to find jim´s www. so I could include it. In persuing it quickly, I went to photos to find his mother in laws picture photos. Under friends I found me with this
Phil visited us 2 January 2008 -- the photo reveals that he almost has a halo. Oddly, for me it is not a bad picture!

From Jim:

Mother-in-law's pictures

And the one of you with your almost-halo is here:

All in all on the trip, the most confusing aspect is using the keyboards!!! for example on this one, to type a ( one must hold the shift key and hit the star key which is next to the key labeled with (

To type a ) hold the shift and hit the key with the its opposite which of ocurse is the (

LOST! To type ½ one must hold down the Clt and Alt keys and hit the key labeled 5 which has no indication for ½. The proprietor has been unable to demonstrate how to type the @ or Euro symbol!!

Ok. Cheers.

Tomorrow we fly home! Happy New Year all!

1 comment:

Jim & Nancy Forest said...

For those who wish to see Phil and his almost-halo, this is the URL:

Jim Forest


Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.