Saturday, July 21, 2012

Boat Tour of Geneva (Geneve)

Wednesday, July 11th
Another fabulous, yet crazy busy and exhausting day in Europe. haha! How awesome is that? To be able to say I'm in crazy.
Anyhow, today started off with a very long and tiring walk to the breakfast hall (my feet have never hurt so badly in my entire life), where along the way I stopped to take a picture with a very sweet older man.
The very sweet and silent older man.

After breakfast, we divided into a bunch of smaller groups. One group of guys got ready to go to the US Open, a group of about 15 of us girls got in a group to go to a women's shelter, and the first group got ready for the boat tour of Geneva. The rest of us would have an opportunity to go on the boat tour after our volunteer work.

Those of us who were a part of the volunteer work at the women's shelter were put in the Sayer's group, which was a benefit due to their language fluency and connection to the lady who runs the shelter. The shelter we went to was called ASFAG, which stands for: Association Solidarite des Femmes Africaines.

Ok, so in English: African Women's Solidarity Association. It's a women's shelter for African women of all walks of life. Those who have come from abusive relationships are welcome there, and refugees are welcome there. The things that they do for women in horrible situations is really quite amazing and wonderful. Unfortunately, I really didn't get any pictures inside of the facility. The lady in charge (I have forgotten her name) asked us if we could help her out by cleaning the facilities from top to bottom. Apparently, the facilities really only get cleaned once a year and she can't do it by herself. We said, "Of course we will help!".   She wouldn't let us begin work until we had some refreshments. She made us some homemade beignets, which are essentially really doughy donuts that are deep fried in vegetable oil, and she offered us an option of Hibiscus juice or Ginger juice. The beignets were absolutely delicious. I tried the hibiscus juice, but because it is a flower, it did have a bit of a grassy and weird aftertaste. Overall, I still enjoyed it.

These are the Beignets
Cleaning that place was a lot of work! A small group cleaned the dining room/kitchen area, while the rest of us cleaned the seating/living room area. I decided to take on the sweeping of the living room and hallway floors leading into the kitchen. OH MY WORD! It was so much work! I am so out of shape. I was so exhausted afterwards. All 15 of us girls, plus Sis. Sayers were completely and utterly pooped afterwards. But let me tell you, the place looked immaculate! After we were all disgusting, we took a group picture with the lady in charge and one of the members of the shelter. It felt really good to participate in something like this. I felt really useful to be able to help some ladies who genuinely needed it. We finished at the shelter about 1:30pm, but had to be at the docks for the boat tour at 2:00pm, meaning that we had no time to stop for lunch. We had to suppress our hunger until after the boat tour, and none of our stomachs were very happy about it. Our bellies growled in ravenous hunger and anger.
ASFAG group picture
The boat tour was EPIC. Seriously, it was so amazing and beautiful. I took way too many pictures, but I just couldn't help it. I think for the first time, it hit me. I am in EUROPE right now: I am in SWITZERLAND; I am on a BOAT! It was just such a surreal moment for me.
Oh-and I saw swans for the first time! No biggie!

After the tour, our group was finally able to eat lunch. We went to this Pizza-Kebab place that had the most delicious food ever. My New York buddy Sarah and I shared a Margarita Pizza, which was nom-nom for sure! After we ate, it was back to work for our group. We stopped in front of the United Nations to sing and hand out some more fliers. Little did we know, while we were working our bums off, the rest of the groups went souvenir shopping! We were so mad when we found out. Now that we were full and upset, it was time to meet the rest of the AYC team for dinner. Dinner was at a fancy restaurant, but I will admit that the food was not so "nom-nom", it was gross. After the yucky dinner, we took to the streets for what was dubbed "Pillar of Fire" by Bro. Tony Puckett. Basically, all seventy-something of us reunited and took to singing in one giant group and we walked throughout the streets. We ended up in front of a giant Catholic church that is now a museum, and we sang a concert as an organized group. People walked over to see what we were doing. Some were moved, some asked for prayer, some stopped to watch, and others just laughed and walked away. Overall, it was awesome.
 After this impromptu concert, we headed to another location known as the "Parc de Bastions" which featured the Reformation Wall with statues of four influential Catholic influences in Switzerland. One of the statues was of John Calvin, and another was John Knox. We had another concert there. The funny part, is that as we began to sing there, a random guy in the audience stood up and started dancing to our voices. He was doing a mix of ballet and interpretative dance. I found him to be immensely entertaining.
Reformation Wall in the Parc de Bastions
We ended the night with a long walk and tram ride back to our hotels. On the tram ride to the hotel, my Canadian buddy Lauren (I hung out with her in NY) was the victim of an attempted pick-pocketer. She said that she noticed the man sitting next to her pulling his hand out of her purse and then putting something into his pocket. She decided to confront him and ask him what he took. The man was unresponsive to her questions, so a few of the AYC guys tried to stop the guy and retrieve whatever he took from her. One of the guys, John McAlpin (who was already in a boot due to an ankle injury), got punched in the face by the thief, who promptly ran off of the tram. An eventful tram ride, to say the least.
When we got back to the hotel, I hung out with Melinda, Danita, Kayla, and Natalie in their room. I stayed until everyone except Melinda and I were asleep. Since everyone else was fading, Melinda and I decided to eat a whole box of her gourmet Swiss Chocolate.
It was divine.

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