It would not have been a typical DnA bit of travel without the frantic scrambling around, shoving clothes in to suitcases, rushing to the bank to tie the last few loose ends together and only making it on the plane by the skin of our teeth. But we made it safe and sound to the Sheraton Center in the heart of the sky scraping city of Toronto. Drawing back the curtain in our room I could definitely feel the Sheraton scratching the sky lit night. The television set in front of our bed assured us of the soft down-right down quilted, hypoallergenic/ hyper-cosy, hallucinogenicly delicious bed and with that we slipped into bed and into the land of nod. Quite posh.
So you may ask – why are we here in Tronno? Well it’s the PF Convocation 2007 of course. Anna has been working at PFI – an association of national prison ministry groups in over 100 countires – for almost 3 years and the focus of her past few months has been this big conference here in Canada. And I am here for the ride, and quite a ride it has been. Anna had been preparing me for this trip for quite some time and the first real taste was at the staff dinner.
Let me paint the picture for you. Right from the onset of convocation the air amidst the staff was thick with excited anticipation at the arrival of the 900 some guests arriving from 130 countries with all their unique flavours and colourings. The first day we spent many hours stuffing welcome packs, organisng then re-organising, thinking and re-thinking of strategies to get the crowds in and settled as smoothly as possible. A few hours arranging name tags by first name and then after some bright spark had a brain wave, re-arranging by last name just to gain a few seconds on the clock. But PF is full of good cheer even on the brink of such a humongous event. So, at the end of a pretty intense day spent in a room far, far away from any naural light, about 30 of us stepped out in to the sunshine for a stroll toward a resataurant for a real treat.
As our eyes adjusted to the suns rays we were pleasently surprized by the hip part of town that PF had decided to take us to for the staff dinner – plenty of cool, unique bars and clubs. As we approached Hooters the pace started to slow, indicating that we were near to our final destination but alas, a few more steps and we arrived at Foozolis Italian restaurant. Great food, better conversation and then someone got hold of a mic! The rest of the night turned in to… well its hard to put it in to words – my best shot at it would be a multicultural talent show extravaganza! From a singing duet from France, a dance from and chant from Africa to a sing along to “The Wheels on the Bus” from the US. I might add that as part of a sing along we got to change the words to “the paper in the copier goes woosh, woosh, woosh!” Ha, hilarious!
That was a few days ago now and since the crowds have gathered we have met, eaten, sang, walky talkied with so many people from so many different places and backgrounds that its hard to fathom. I would like to write about our main task here, which was to set up an exhibit with incredible pieces of art done by prisoners – but I think that deserves an entry of its own.
Oh yeah and today I had Fruit Loops with a Greek Orthodox Bishop. Oh yes I did!