Thursday, February 26, 2004

We must have walked 30 kilometers (18 miles) yesterday. Barcelona is chocked full of wonderful art and architecture... Gaud�, Picaso, Dal�.

There's so much to see, but so little to eat! Tapas bars are everywhere, but since the menus are in Catalan and not Spanish it's hard to know what you are looking at. I saw one menu that had "Olivas i sardinas" for 2.95 euros. Let me translate that for you... Olives stuffed with a bit of sardine for around $3.80 dollars. There were like 5 olives on the plate. Searching the tiny alley streets of the medieval barrio for food made up about 20 of the 30 km. we walked - but hey, if you have to forage for food, at least Barcelona is a nice place to be hungry in :-)

We almost broke down and ate McDonalds. That would have been breaking one of our cardinal travel rules... but hunger does crazy things to one's mind. Thanks to Annette and a promotional coupon she found, we avoided the tourist shame of McDonalds and dined on Baguettes filled with warm cheeses and slices of "jam�n serrano" (prosciutto) with a side of french fries. Pretty adventurous, huh.

We ended the day at a neat museum with a free Salvador Dal� exhibit (something free - at last!) The coolest thing was the architecture of the building called the "Caixa Catalunya". It had little lights all over that place - floors, walls, ceilings - and they changed colors and intensity. Very fun. We figured out how to use the little remote control that came with our digital camera and so were able to take this picture of the two of us at the museum {click to view photo)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

We're in Spain because of Felix Ortiz. He is a member or the Ra�ces team of which we are a part. Ra�ces is a youth leadership training movement made up of people from lots of different organizations who have voluntarily committed to work together to more effectively provide conferences, materials and online training for youth workers in the Spanish speaking world. Over the last 5 years 1200 youth leaders have received in-depth youth ministry training and another 250 have been trained as �trainers�. Felix invited the Ra�ces team to meet in his home city of Barcelona and since he is "a friend of the monastery" the Benedictine monks at Montserrat - just outside Barcelona - allowed us to use their facilities.

Felix is an amazing man. Six years ago when Annette and I did a survery of bookstores in Mexico looking for books on youth work, we only found about 45. Nearly half of those - and nearly all the good ones - had been authored by Felix Ortiz. He is a prolific writer, an engaging speaker, and a fun guy (see photo for proof)

Now that our official meetings have ended, we are hanging out in Barcelona enjoying the sites and tastes of this historic city and taking a more in-depth look at our future and Raices' with Felix.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

We have thoroughly been enjoying the architecture of Gaud� here in Barcelona. What a creative genius.
(click here for a bit of Gaudi's rooftop architecture)

Monday, February 23, 2004

Since we were already all the way over here , :-) we thought we'd take a few days of vacation here in Barcelona. What a great city. Felix Ortiz, an author and colleague, set us up in the apartment of some friends of his. A free place to stay and the Lonely Planet guide of Barcelona... we're set!

Click here to see a pic or us in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona. Beautiful building outside. Lame exhibits inside.

We actually enjoyed the grafitti on the walls outside the museum better than the Antoni Tapies exhibit inside.

Friday, February 20, 2004

We are in the Barcelona area for meetings with colleagues from Costa Rica, Columbia, Argentina and Spain. We are nearly all from different organizations but are voluntarily working together with the hope that this alliance will be allow us to have a greater impact on youth work in the Latin America. It doesn't hurt that we all get along and have a blast together. Which isn't that surprising since we are all youth leaders at heart - so basically fun and creativity are our staples :-)

The meetings are going well. We are planning conferences - one in Peru this summer, one in both the Dominican Republic and Honduras the summer of 2005. We are also discussing how best to distribute, coordinate and maintain quality control for the online "Foundations of Youth Ministry" course which Annette and I have been developing over the last year and a half (we still have another year of work on it to go).

But on to the FUN stuff... click here for a photo taken from the monastery where we are staying which is cradled up at the top of the Montserrat mountain outside of Barcelona. The city is somewhere under the clouds you will see in the photo. Incredible view, huh!

Once you've looked at the "heavenly clouds" photo above, take a look at this photo which shows you view from that outcropping back toward the monastery (we're in this one.)

I (tim) got up at the break of dawn this morning, grabbed my camera, creeped along the labyrinth of stairwells and hallways of the monastery trying to find my way to the monks' private and beautiful gardens. It was still dark and very quiet - since the the Benedictine order practice a vow of silence (when not in classed or chanting).

I finally found my way out and into the gardens and - wow - was i rewarded. There was a beautiful sunrise. Beauty or power in nature is the fastest way to direct my mind to God. I got a decent photo - click here to see it - of the mountains from the top of the monastery (foreground).

Thursday, February 19, 2004

"It's like staying in a living Museum... it's incredible," Annette says. We're all enjoying our stay in the Montserrat monastery where there is a thousand years of history and traditions all about us. Here is a photo of where we are staying (the red arrows - middle left - point to our room)

We eat three meals a day with one of the monks who, unlike the rest of his order, is not under a vow of silence. His name is Salvador, he's 50-ish and gregarious, and has worked in the vatican and lived years in an ecumenical community in Bethlehem. He's got lot's of fascinating stories to tell, so meatime is like "story hour" where "Uncle Salvador" entertains us with accounts of intrigue and redemption.

The plans we are hashing out during our meetings here are going slow but going well. It looks like Annette and I will have quite a bit to do when we get back to Mexico... especially in the area of online training for youth workers. We're talking about a sort of "Internet based" leadership university. If you have an y contact who might be able to help us in this venture, please email us. We can't do this alone, it's a project big enough for many people.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Annette and i are presently in Barcelona, Spain! We�ve been here a week so far in meetings - but what great meetings! We�re with a group of colleagues with whom we work training youth leaders around the Spanish-speaking world. The best thing so far has been the location... see the photo below which I took from our bedroom window in a Benedictine monastery at Montserrat.

We�ll be back in Mexico on the 1st of March.

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