It's been a fabulous day of quirks, quaintness and quality. The entry into the EU was dream-like--no line-ups or interrogations! They did not stamp my passport! I am in a hostel run by a progressive local collective that began by a group squatting in an unused garage and inn, then being awarded funding to run services. Actually, I just came from the garage, which is now a pub and venue for activism I experiences a local brew with a local comrade, and joined in an impromptu activity at the request of a culture activist who asked patrons to make footprints in green ink for a political action of squatters in Switzerland. Now, I am on a single bed in a private room feeling locky to have it because the place is full. There were students of a training program here last night, and now there is a team of girl gymnasts occupying much of the place. Our organization is paying for the room because they normally billet visitors but with some sickness going around, it is not possible to billet me. The building of the hostel is old--classic Holland. It is a warm and pleasant space through service is quite limited.
I rented a bike. I could not quite find my way to the meeting this morning but I did not get stranded because I found the train station where I arrived and was able to phone a friend to come get me. Someone guided me back on the bike this evening, but he got confused trying to locate this hostel. The main problem is that the office is unmarked without a nearby distinctive landmark. I suppose I passed by the meeting venue a couple of times though I missed it. I was a bit upset this morning, but probably due to fatigue and exasperation.
In the meeting, we went through all the reports and discussed the developments in different regions. It has been great seeing these activists again and experiencing the headquarters. Of course, there is drama. There have been dramatic breakthroughs due to stoic efforts like in Indonesia and Mexico to build the organization internationally. Other reps present are from the US, Canada, Philippines, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong. They all reported, as did several Commissions on areas of work such as social development, peace, human rights, migrants and culture. We have a great cook making fine meals for us. It is hard to stay seated all day in the little room, I must say, despite all the benefits.
There is a good story concerning the guy who guided me back to the hostel. When I treated him to a couple of beers, he told me something about himself. He has been a refugee since 2003 because he was lecturing abroad when there was a declaration that he was named on the authorities' black list and that meant he was a target of political killings in the Philippines. I discovered he is from Mindoro, a place I toured on a human rights mission in 2005 where a lawyer and others were found murdered in rice fields. It so happens I was wearing the t-shirt of that mission today. I understood the situation he was talking about and the kind of terror he faced.
I cannot see what I am writing well but I am persisting because it is noisy and I cannot sleep right away, anyway. The girls are excited and groups of passers-by have been shouting and cackling as they linger and make their way casually along the street outside the hostel. It sounds like the girls are from the UK. The chaperons keep telling them to quieten down but you know how futile that would be in such circumstances. I will have to use the ear plugs.
It was nice in the morning except that I woke up at 4:30. Then the sweepers passed through sweeping and vacuuming the streets around seven. However, a sweet bird sang and the old cathedral bells joined in with a lovely melody around six. The dining room did not open until eight so it was excruciating waiting to get a good cup of coffee. Because I am being fed at the meeting venue, I did not opt to buy a breakfast here, although the whole grain bread etc. were beckoning, so tempting that I had to ask for a bun and I got one.
(Initially written by hand in a notebook on June 5th.)