Monday, July 31, 2006

Finland -- Jaakko Auersalo

JAAAAAKKKOOO. I can just hear it now. They liked to say his name and draw it out. After the camp we corresponded for a long time, but now more than 10 years have passed since I have heard from him. I counted 22 letters and post cards over the first 10 years. I hope we can correspond again. He and I talked about music a lot. I wonder if he was a fan of Lordi, who won this year's Eurovision song contest. He loved Hard Rock for a long time and sent me a cassette of Finish music. I still have it. He and I also talked a lot about films. He had some kind of student pass and was able to see a movie almost every day.

Jaakko is very tall. He had a long shaped face, long arms and legs and at that time long blonde hair. In the picture he sent me 10 years ago, it was cut short but you can still see that he is the same old trouble making Jaakko. He liked to stir things up. He drank a lot of vodka at the pizzeria in town. He was a lot of fun and I loved to write to him. I hope that I can find him again. Here are some pictures of him. The last that I heard, he was living in Helsinki with his girlfriend who is a kindergarten teacher.

I am really stupid. I have kept all the letters that campo members sent me over the years. I found some key info in them to help me track down some of the lost members. I forgot I had the box until I was frustrated that I could not find any info about some people on the internet. Then I remembered the box of letters. I sorted them last night and started to re-read them. Mika, I have 23 from you..before email. 22 from Jaakko...some very long letters. 16 from Lars. And Rolf, my dear, you take the cake with 25! I am so impressed with you all. I had the easy part of writing in English. But you all wrote letters, sometimes long ones in English. I am amazed at you all. My husband thinks I am crazy to keep these letters and to take them with me every time I move. Those letters have crossed the ocean 4 times now and also crossed the USA. So now I will re-read these letters before writing a post.

Pictures of Jaakko

I guess I have a limited space in the postings. I could not upload any pictures of Jaakko into the text. So here are pictures of Jaakko Auersalo. Remember to click on any pictures on this entire blog to enlarge them. Ok one of Jaakko eating lunch at the wildlife reserve near Pisa, that is Georg (Austria) in profile next to him.
Then we have 2 close ups of his face. The 3rd picture is of Jaakko and next to him on the right is Markus (Austria) wearing sunglasses.
The last picture is of Flag Raising Day. Carolle (France) is to the right and you can just see Guido's back(Germany).

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Photos of Rovereto and Maria Dolens

I can't get the pictures to load into the text for that day so I am creating a separate post for the Rovereto pictures. The same thing happened to the Florence pictures. I will post them later in a separate post.
Aernout (Netherlands) atop the cannon in Rovereto. I was there this year because my cousin now lives in Rovereto. The cannon has been painted with gold paint, more like mustard color.
I got this sticker in Rovereto. I think at the swimming complex.
Here is Leslie (USA) admiring the Maria Dolens bell.
A Depero postcard.
Maria Dolens again.
The whole gang around the cannon Bruno Grandi is there as well as some local Lions and government men.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pictures from the Awards near the Maria Dolenz Bell

Here are pictures from the awards ceremony. I think I took them but sent them to Nikki. She kindly sent them to me. thanks. Beth (USA) in the hard rock cafe t-shirt won an honorable mention for her poem. Alain (France) and Nikki (England) won the awards for their essays on Peace. I know I worked on something but somehow I don't remember finishing it. Alain took it very seriously.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rovereto -- we are the world.

Here is my entry from my journal dated July 17, 1986:
" Off to the hotel near Rovereto. There were not enough seats on the bus so I sat on Alain's lap and Peter (Austria) sat with us. Peter made some remark to Alain in German which made him laugh and made me wonder. It was a long ride. At the hotel, Beth and Cheryl (both from the USA) are in the same room with me. I have the bed furthest from the door. It was a very nice room with a TV. We went to the Depero Museum after lunch and swimming. The hotel has a pool on the roof above the dining area. Depero was a futurist painter. I liked the second floor's works better than the first floor. We met in the Municipal building. We went then to the Maria Dolens bell. They announced that Nikki (England) and Alain (France) won the awards for best essay. They won silver charms. It was very sentimental. We then all joined hands and made a huge ring around the Maria Dolens Bell and sang the song "We are the world". It was very touching, lots of emotions. Alain was very choked up by it all and so one of the Lions drove him and me back to the hotel in his Renault. Later we all went to a sport complex that had a water slide and olymipic sized pool. They had music and we danced and swam. We played pinball and fussball (table fussball). "

Here are the lyrics to the song "we are the world"
There comes a time
When we head a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all
We can't go on
Pretneding day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change
We are all a part of God's great big family
And the truth, you know love is all we need

[Chorus] We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me

Send them your heart
So they'll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stone to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand

[Chorus] We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me

When you're down and out
There seems no hope at all
But if you just believe
There's no way we can fall
Well, well, well, well, let us realize
That a change will only come
When we stand together as one

[Chorus] We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me." -lyrics by Michael Jackson

I was going crazy trying to find out the name of the hotel. I could not find it on the Internet. I had taken a picture from my hotel window and I could see the street signs. it was on the corner of via g. Marconi and via della terra nera. Anyway, I was able to find out that it was not in rovereto but in the next town called Mori. I wrote to the tourist board of Rovereto and they were so helpful. they told me that the hotels was called Albergo Italia and 10 years ago it was renovated and is no longer a hotel, but instead, it is apartments (flats). Ah, the internet. I love it.

I have a link to info about the bell on the list of links to the right. Anyone have any stories about this experience? I did not swim that night; it was too cold for me. But I did dance. It was a very memorable evening. I think there was lots of sex going on that evening, unfortunately not in my room..ever. Beth was ill and very awake in the bed next to me. I think, in general, there were a lot of people forming relationships at camp but I did not gossip about that so I am not certain. Anyone want to confirm it? It was all part of the romance and lure of the camp. The next year, they were much stricter about things and the girls and boys were kept very separated especially at night. Some couples were together for the whole camp. Others got together for a night and then parted. More about this topic later.....

Mika Naatula -- Finland

The next four members are all from Finland, two male and two female. The first in my phone book from the camp is Mika Naatula. He is one of the camp members with whom I still have regular contact. He wrote me many letters while he was doing his military service and then when every one got email, we continued there. He is a brilliant man. A computer genius. He has a lovely wife and two sons. His children are almost exactly the same age as mine. I think there are just a few weeks' difference. At the camp, he was very quiet. He had a habit of putting his finger in front of his mouth when he smiled or laughed. You can see it in the last picture. Do you still do that, Mika? He was one of the younger memebers of the group. In my phone book he wrote "it's hard to leave from this camp. I'll miss you all! Good luck!" I think that is exactly what we all felt at the time. Again, I don't have any stories to tell about Mika. He is a wonderful person and I am glad we have managed to keep in contact over these 20 years! Here are a few pictures of Mika. In one, he is at the Stelle Statue museum in Poggibonsi, he is the blonde. Next to him are Alexander (Austria) and Resat (Richard, Turkey). Another picture is of Mika with the two Icelandic girls Johanna Lara and Kristin. They are at the rock formation in Castelnuovo ne'Monte. In the third picture, I am on the left and Mika is on the right. This was taken at the big disco in La Spezia.
The worst part of the campo trip for him was that someone stole money from his suitcase. That is the only stealing that I have heard of. It does make things seem less rosy.

Mika is a real adventurer. At one point he and some friends bought 5 cars and drove from Sweden through the Sahara. 3 volvos, a peugeot and a jeep. The jeep only made it as far as denmark and that group had to turn back. The rest made it and they sold the cars in Africa and flew home! That would be a great book or film!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

the Toga Party by Guido Volkers

Here is a first-hand account of the Toga Party's origin by Guido Volkers from Germany. He is the mastermind behind the night.


How does one throw a Toga-Party?
You take one cheeky German, one tradition-conscious Egyptian and two crazy Americans and then it can begin. This is how it happened in Campo Italia in the Year 1986.

It was an afternoon like any other at Campo Italia. Then a member of the Camp, I think it was an Egyptian named Tarek, passed me by while wearing a traditional Egyptian garment. It was a gown than went down to the ground, similar to a dress, but for men. He was very striking in this outfit and you could not help but be reminded of a toga. So I asked him “hey, what are you wearing? A toga?“

I really didn’t mean anything bad by this question. Unfortunately I hadn’t noticed that the two Tommys were standing nearby. Before Tarek even had a chance to answer, the two yelled “Yeah! That’s it! We’ll throw a Toga Party!”

I think nothing would have stopped them. They both ripped the sheets off their beds and in no time at all they were wrapped in their home-made togas. Afterwards, they convinced the others to do the same. Those, like me, who had never been to a toga party, where shown how to tie one. They also tried to convince us that people wore nothing at all underneath. J Who knows if the two of them held true to this rule themselves….
In any case, that is how the famous Toga Party at Campo Italia in 1986 came to be, and it was great!"

Pisa & TOGA!

in my travel journal for the date July 16, 1986, I have the following entry: "Pisa --wore Turkish pants. We were off to Pisa today . We were dropped off and allowed to do our own thing. I paid 4000 Lira!!! to walk to the top of the leaning tower. there was one line going up and one line going down, no handrail and the steps were scooped out in the middle from the years of wear, so that you had only a small space to step on. Going up was not a problem, but down! I kept thinking that if someone slips it would be a horrible domino effect. So I was so careful not to be the one to set the dominoes in motion. I bought some roasted pumpkin seeds that everyone liked. We had lunch at a wildlife reserve. We rode through on the bus but never saw one animal. That was funny. It was very pretty there anyway. We went to the beach there but swimmng was not allowed. So they drove us to another town and we went to the beach nearby. the water was great for swimming, not like La Spezia. Versilia was very calm water. Got dunked my Leslie (USA), layed in the sun for a while. When we got back to camp we had a Toga Party. Lots of booze. I drank nothing. I didn't wear a toga at first, but then why not? "Porsche Guy" was there he was with Beth -- oh my! Some sleeze in a blach t-shirt was hitting on every girl, it was funny to watch. Alain felt it was his mission to take care of all the drunk peole. Richard was not happy about the party so he slept in Alain's bed where it was quieter. Alain slept in the hallway."

That was a long, amazing day. Most people know that you are not allowed to go into chruches in Italy if you are improperly dressed. Well, I was not allowed to wear shorts in the Leaning Tower either. Richard, actually, Resat, from Turkey was wearing sweatpants over his shorts so he took them off and loanded them to me so that I could climb the tower. So I climbed to the top in sweatpants. Funny, sweatpants were allowable but my shorts weren't. I am glad I went to the top. It is closed now. There were bells all around the top and had some good views of the area. The Bapistry is also there to see, it is rather plain inside. It was also market day in town that day. Or at least there were a lot of stands along the sides.

Does anyone remember the party at all or the trip to Pisa? Send me an email or post a comment here.

The Toga party. What can I say? I don't know whose idea it was, definitely one of the Americans. the two tommys (USA) sent me the picture of them together. The other is a shot of Cheryl (USA), Tommy (USA) and Vicki (USA). Vicki died on June 4, 2000. She had pancreas and liver cancer. She was a school teacher and every time I see her picture, I can't believe it. I have known her all my life. She was a year older than me. We went to the same school and lived only a few streets from one another. I will write more when it is her post. It is so sad and unbelievable. There is another picture of her on the post for Peter Mitterhofer in January.

I was trying to figure out the name of the wildlife reserve and I think it is Parco di Migliarino, San Rossore, Massaciuccoli. it is a strip of undeveloped land starting near Pisa and heading north toward Massa/carrara. I think that is the one. Anyone know otherwise? I searched the Internet for it and that seems most logical since we were in Pisa but had lunch at the reserve and then headed North to swim. I was not so keen on details then but with the internet I can fill in some of the gaps.

Egypt -- Tarek Hassan Abdelaziz

The second of the two Tareks from Cairo is Tarek Hassan Abdelaziz. I guess signs of age are setting in. I can't remember stories about most of the people but I can tell you only feelings I have when I see a picture or a name.
I guess that is what happens over the years, the details fade and the feeling remains. With Tarek I think of comfortable, stable, warm. He was like a teddy a good way. He was a buddy to people and pleasant to be around. I have no idea where he is now. Post to me if you have any stories about him.
ciao! Here are some pictures I cropped from larger ones. In one he is sitting against a tree in the wildlife reserve we visisted. Joao (Portugal) is seen behind him. Another he is raising the Egyptian flag, at the beginning of the camp. He is between Tine (Denmark) and Jaakko( Finland). In the photo where he is sitting holding a white paper (or envelope) he is sitting next to Isabella (Italy), she did not join us until later in the camp. I don't think she actually stayed in the camp with us.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

richest man in Bagnone

This is my entry for July 15, 1986 "Today we all just stayed at camp for most of the day. We walked around and then went to town for a while and sat at a cafe. I finally went to the river where everyone usually hung out. The water was so cold you totally lost your breath when you jump in. Back at camp we played ping-pong for a while. Everyone was still up in arms and talking about yesterday's disaster in Florence. Bruno wants to send people home--the ass. He said he will give us his decision at dinner tonight. Dinner: No one has to go!!! Party in town. Oh, yeah, this afternoon we went to the house of some guy, I think he was supposed to be the richest guy in Bagnone or something like that. I loved the house, lots of wood and antiques. the grounds were very nice, lots of flowers everywhere like a botanical garden."

I took two of these pictures. Alain (France) took the one of me in the red dress surrounded by flowers. The other pictures are of the interior of the house.With Karl (Sweden) standing, Beth (USA) and Stephen (Ireland) is in the chair. Then in front of the enterance to the house are from left to right, Rolf (Netherlands), Tommy (USA) holding hands with Ulf (Sweden) , Tall Tommy (USA), Karl (Sweden) and then the owner of the house.
I am sorry but I don't know his name. (He died a few years ago.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Two Tareks -- Tall Tarek

The next two people listed in the address book are both from Egypt and both named Tarek. There were also two Tommy's from the USA. So we usually refered to one as "Tall Tarek" and "tall Tommy". So next up is Tall Tarek. His real name is Tarek Hussein Gamgoum. I have no idea where he is now. He is now 42 years old. He was a bit older than most people at the camp. I tried to find him and sent an email to someone in Egypt with his name. I have not gotten a response. Tarek was very quiet. To him, the rest of us must have been like children. In the picture at the top first is Stephen from Ireland, then Georg from Austria is standing in profile in front of Tarek, Aernoult (Holland) you can just see his head behind Tarek and half of Tall Tommy (USA). In the second picture he is sitting next to Peter (Austria), behind him are Liselotte (Denmark) and Miguel (Portugal). Has anyone had contact with him over the years? I did get some letters in the first year after the camp, but nothing in a long time. I will send postcards off to the two Tareks now and see if I get a response. He did respond to the letter I sent for the memory book I made for the 10th anniversary, but I got the info too late to add to the book. He was then married wtih 2 children! That means his daughter is now 15! If anyone has any info about Tall Tarek, please let me know. You can post a comment here or send me an email.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Various pictures from Florence 1986

Here are some Florence shots. The first two were sent to me by Nikki Cooper (UK). Thanks!
A poisidon fountain.

The mother-of-pearl ceiling in room known as the Hall of the Tribune of the Uffizi museum. Be sure to click on this picture to enlarge it.

The famous Brunelleschi dome on the church of S. Maria del Fiore. The colors of marble and the enormous size of the cathedral was overwhelming.

The replica of the David statue. The real one is much smaller and is inside the museum, of course.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The behind the scene story about the search for Ulf

Here is Guido's inside story about the Florence Adventure. Thanks Guido!

"Florence – The Adventure Team
Here is the story of the 5 left behind in Florence: Leslie (USA), Sascha (Germany), Georg (Austria), Robert (Denmark) and me, Guido (Germany).

I simply want to fill in the missing parts of Margherita’s story.

As the bus stopped in Florence for the second time, our group of five formed to search for Ulf. Now, since Florence could be dangerous for a group of our size, it was recommended that we leave our valuables, especially money, in the bus while we searched ---a very stupid mistake, as we would later find out.

The first group of 5 was already underway and was told to be back in 45 minutes. We were in the second group and were ready to go look, when Bruno Grandi changed his mind. He said that the bus would leave in 3 minutes. We told him that that was impossible since one group was already gone looking. We also wanted to look for Ulf and be back in 45 minutes. Bruno Grandi forbad us from leaving, but we did anyway. What could he do when 10 people were missing? Simply drive away? We didn’t think he could, so we started our search for Ulf…

After 45 minutes we came back to the meeting spot that was prearranged. What did we see? No Ulf, no other group, no bus…ok… this was definitely a joke and Bruno Grandi was going to come around the corner any second, scold us for leaving and then we would all drive back to camp together. After a half an hour in the now very dark Florence, we stopped believing this and knew Bruno Grandi was capable of anything. We were immeasurably disappointed at this point in the camp members on the bus, who we thought had abandoned us.

Quick Supply Check
Who had money? No one!
Who had something to eat? No one!
Who had something to drink? No one!
Who could speak Italian? No one!
Oh, great!

Oh, by the way, on the river banks, where we were waiting for the bus, is a red-light district with street walkers/prostitutes. It is quite interesting to see what all is running around there at night.

We set our hopes on the local police and went off to find a police station.After a while we saw a small police station but there was no light on. We knocked and rang the bell until finally a light went on. A very sleepy police officer with his gun in his hand opened the door. “Hey, hey, it’s ok. We’re not from the mafia!” Apparently the officer also noticed that we were not a threat and tried to talk to us…it did not go well since he spoke no English, German or Danish and we couldn’t speak Italian. Somehow we understood that there was a larger station nearby and which direction we should take, so we left. There must be an Italian policeman who can speak English, right?

Some time later, we found the larger police station, but there too no one spoke English. We waited. Every time an officer came in or out, we asked him if he could speak English or German. Finally after many attempts, an office spoke to us in English. We were so thrilled that we started to cheer, but the policeman had nothing better to do than to slap Leslie, who was closest to him, across the face. It was his way to to tell us to be quiet. We were all shocked and were really very quiet from then on.

We explained to the officer, who we were, where the camp was, that the bus left, that we had no money and needed help. But the policeman was not in the position to help us. His only advice was that there was an American Embassy in Florence and since Leslie was with us, we could go there and get money for the trip back to Bagnone. The only problem was that the Embassy did not open until the afternoon on the following day. Oh, terrific. I wonder if Ulf had such problems too. Probably, we just had bad luck with the night shift.

Next, we decided to go the train station to see about the connection to Bagnone and possibly spend the night there at the station. Once we got there, we saw that there was no intelligent way to get to the camp from Florence. Then we got a really good idea. Sascha and I were with his parents before the camp started and they were still on holiday in Italy. There was a train that would take us close to the town they were in. We decided to go there and ask Sascha’s father to take us to Bagnone with his car.

Said it, did it....
Don’t ask me if we had tickets or if anyone checked us for them, I don’t remember anymore... At some point, while it was still dark, we got to Sascha’s parents and little brother. You could say they were surprised. Sascha’s dad was so nice and drove us back to the camp. Luckily, he drives a big Mercedes S-Class so we all had enough room. Dead tired, we arrived back at camp. I think that the majority of the campers were still asleep but some were there with big friendly greetings and hugs. Please forgive us if our joy was not so enormous, but somehow we were still angry at Bruno Grandi and at you all, and maybe also a little at ourselves….

Later, on the same day, we were informed that we had to leave the camp. Funny enough, this did not apply to Leslie, just for the rest of us. But Bruno Grandi did not consider the power of the solidarity of the campers. It was simply terrific the way the campers supported us and said that if we go, they would go too. Again, thanks so much to you all!! We could have hugged you and probably did. It worked! Again, Bruno Grandi changed his mind; we could stay. But we did not get away unpunished….did you miss us in Pisa????? We were not allowed to go. All five of us? I don’t remember any more but on the day you all were in Pisa, Sascha and I went to the big swimming pool. We had a lot of fun, flirted with the pretty Italian girls and got a huge sunburn. Directly next to the swimming pool was a supermarket that sold ice-cold Beck’s beer-mmmmmmm tasty! At last everything was right with the world.

…and how did our days at camp always come to a close? The day’s program was always ended with “tutti a letto”. I believe it is the only sentence in Italian that I remember, along with “ciao a tutti”!

--- your Guido"

Photo of the Fabulous 5 search party

Here is a picture of the fabulous 5 who were stranded in Florence while looking for Ulf. From left to right are Guido(Germany, Sascha (Germany), Georg (Austria), Robert (Denmark) and Leslie (USA). Photo was provided by Guido... herzlichen dank!

July 14, 1986 -- Florence (or Ulf is mising!)

Here is my journal entry from July 14, 1986, a day that all the campo italia members remember well.

" We got up late as usual. We finally got to Florence and immediately the group broke up and went separate ways. We had a tour of the museum, very nice but tiring. also went to the palace, very beautiful especially the ceilings. We had lunch at the restaurant of some local government official. Shopping sucked. I didn't buy a thing. We missed the rialto bridge entirely. I did get a picture of it. Sat for a while at Guidici's Bar (Remember to tell the Guidici family back home about it. I wonder if they are related?) It was time to meet at the bus again. Ulf was missing. Bruno grande told us that we had to be at the bus at 5 or he'd leave without us. Well, he wasn't joking. He left without Ulf. Ulf was the only one not there. The bus was in an uproar. Bruno would not stop and wait. We were scheduled to be at some farm of a Lion's member for dinner. Well, we got to the farm and no one got out of the bus. There were many arguements with us and Bruno. He was embarrassed in front of the lion memeber of course. we did not care. Some people were really hungry and did get off but the majority of us sat there, we searched our bags and purses for snacks and shared with the others if we found a candy bar or some other snacks. Solidarity! So we sat in protest until Bruno ate his dinner and we set off for the camp. Ulf has no or very little money, speaks no Italian and a little English. By now everyone is very upset. It has gotten dark and we go back to Florence. We want to look for Ulf. 5 guys get off to search for Ulf. Bruno tells them to be back in 45 minutes. 5 more leave to search. Suddenly bruno says, in 3 minutes we will leave. Great now 10 more are missing. he says that if you get off the bus and stay in Florence and are not at the camp in the morning, you will be sent home. As the bus starts to leave, 5 of the boys are seen approaching. So we leave. Now 5 are in Florence and Ulf. bruno says "we will look for the other 5" We don't, we drive straight back to camp. no one can sleep. We are all tired but too stirred up. everyone is angry at bruno grande. it was such a wonderful feeling. We had a big sit in and everyone was together. We were back at camp for about a half hour when suddenly in walks ULF!! It was too funny. It seems that as soon as he realized that the bus had left without him, he went to the police to ask for help. 5 are still in Florence. Finally at 7 a.m. the 5 boys are back! can go to sleep now."

Ok, that is what I wrote. Who were the 10 boys who went to search for Ulf? Any of you have a story to tell about that night? What about the 5 who came back at 7 am? Did you walk around all night? What did you do? I hope someone writes a comment to this. It was a special night. One one hand horrible and one the other wonderful. We were so united and I think that is what made the camp so special.

Please write your commments! ciao.