Council Meeting, Double Decker Bus and Xochimilco

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ardith Toogood – CFUW CIR

No need for an 8:00 am CFUW Caucus Meeting this morning!  Breakfast was leisurely – but is there a cost to daily bacon??  Surely the papaya and watermelon cancel out the cholesterol.  Better have some low-fat yoghurt as extra insurance against unwanted weight gain!

Lisa Chenier Texting in Lobby

Nora Kudrenecky Reading in Lobby

Marianne Haselgrave, IFUW President 2010 – 2013, chaired the 91st Council Meeting (similar to our CFUW Post-AGM Board Meeting) and introduced the new Board who sat with her at the front of the room:  Vice Presidents Anne Negre (French Federation), Jenny Strauss (Australian Federation), Willemijn Van Der Meer (Netherlands Association) and Treasurer Catherine Bell (South Africa Association) serving a second term. Vice President Patricia Galeana (Mexican Federation) was not able to attend the meeting.

IFUW Board 2010 - 2013 and Secretary General 91st Council Meeting

Among the ratifications of appointments was that of (CFUW member and Past President) Roberta Brooks as IFUW Assistant Treasurer.
The roll call for Council and Conference Meetings is always taken by Leigh Bradford Ratteree, the Secretary General of IFUW whose headquarters are in Geneva.  There is such a feeling of pride as the names of all the IFUW countries are called and the Voting Delegates raise their cards in response.

Among the items of business discussed under the Conference themes of Education, Development and Empowerment was Marianne’s comment that we need to emphasize “action” in the Program of Action – for example, making an inventory of the IFUW scholarships, an “appreciable asset worldwide” for which we are “good at doing but not good at selling.”  I will let you know when the new Program of Action for this Triennium becomes available on-line.

Marianne asked that countries willing to host the 31st IFUW Triennial Conference in 2016 let her know sooner rather than later.  The CIR from Egypt, sitting beside me, immediately stood up and offered her Association as the host.  Soon after, Nigeria also expressed interest, as did India!  Naturally, a formal request would have to be forthcoming from any NFA (National Federation or Association) willing to undertake this responsibility.
The meeting ended at 11:00 am.

After renewing my Internet service, I spotted Nora Kudrencky reading in the lobby.  She had some “found time” having mis-read her plane departure date and wished to do a bus tour of Mexico City.  That sounded like a great plan to me and I mentioned that the top deck of the double-decker tour bus had been recommended as a great place to view the architecture and street scenes of this historical city.

Just before we set off, along came Glenda Hecksher from the Mexican LAC (Local Arrangements Committee) who said that the Government had offered 40 tickets for a canal tour to the Floating Gardens at 4:00 pm that afternoon.
Nora and I glanced at each other.  Would there be time for us to do both?  All of  the other tours had begun on “Mexican time.”  We would chance it and buy a ticket, packing two tours into one day.

Double Decker Tour Bus Entering Zocala Area

Off we scooted to grab umbrellas, hats and sunscreen and then a quick bowl of delicious chicken soup before setting off for the bus stop a few blocks away to catch the 1:00 bus.

The city tour was excellent, with headphones available for commentary in the language of your choice on the many points of interest including the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts)

Mexico City Art Gallery

made of 84,000 tons of marble, the Zocala (Plaza of the Constitution in the old, walkabout historic section), the Art Gallery made of stone with teak-coloured wood framing on all of the windows, the historically significant Monument of Independence with its 105-foot-high golden angel, The Avenue that is modelled after The Champs Elysees, and the National Auditorium – an historical theatre.  Of course, the many street scenes captured constant interest, from the ubiquitous red and gold taxis to the police with their bullet-proof vests to the families out for an afternoon stroll.

Monument of Independence in Mexico City

We stayed on the open top deck of the bus the whole time and finally the two-and- one-half-hour tour returned us to our original stop after three-and-one-quarter hours.  Hmm!  Could we still catch the bus to the Floating Gardens? As we entered the hotel block I spotted a bus, and ran the rest of the way to see if it were ours and to hold departure.  Yes!!  They had waited for us.  Off we went, as soon as Nora arrived, for the half-hour or so drive to the canal.

The canal was once the main route between downtown Mexico City and Xochimilco (meaning “flower field place”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering an area of 122 square kilometres and located about 28 kilometres to the south.

On the Canal, Heading for Xochimilco

We boarded the roofed boats, sitting on benches or chairs facing each other along each side.  Small, soft motors propelled us through the water with its floating foliage and water fowl to the Floating Gardens which were artificial islands formed by rooting twigs in the mud and gradually building up the soil.

Kathleen Laurila, Griselda Kenyon, Heike Mensch at Steam Bath Hut

Indigenous Woman Selling Dolls Curbside

After viewing the carvings, the steam bath huts and the natural beauty of this environmentally-protected and now privately-owned preserve, we were served tacos and tamarind juice in an open-sided thatched hut while serenaded by two marimba players (remember Cielito Lindo?).

Marimba Players on Floating Islands

As usual the dark clouds rolled in behind us as we made our way along the series of canals towards the clear western sunset, enjoying the dulcet strains of the marimba which was partially under cover on our boat, exchanging information about our IFUW activities and boarding our bus just before the downpour.

It was only 9:00 pm when we arrived at our hotel – well before the usual end of IFUW activities.  Maybe I should make use of that Internet time I had booked, and do some blogging!


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