At last! I have the time to resume this blog feature!
My sophomore year in high school, I took a class called Model United Nations. Other than learning debate skills and the joys of international beaurocracy, we raised money and did research for a trip to THIMUN (The Hague International Model United Nations; other military-base schools participated, as well as many European ones--there may have been folks from beyond Europe as well). We "represented" Russia, and I actually represented Russia as part of the mock Economic and Social Council. My partner and I put just about all of our time and energy into one particular resolution (can't even remember what is was about--something that was of grave import to 1994 Russia, no doubt), but the allies we had been working with in the ESC completely disintegrated on us and made it impossible for us to move forward. Thus the working part of the trip for me involved praying that time would somehow move faster during the meetings. It's not fun to be mocked, even if it is in a mock forum. But the folks heading up the ESC would often ask why Russia was silent on a particular issue, or question our vote. I felt like I had shown up to test on Ancient Egyptian, but I had studied for a test on German.
Understandably, most of my memories from this trip are centered on what I did when I wasn't at MUN. It may also help to point out that I was on a trip with a couple of my very good friends with little to no supervision. It further illuminates the picture when I mention that The Hague is a very short jaunt away from Amsterdam (not that I went, but it helps for the punchline of a joke later).
By far the most entertaining parts of the trip involved the train rides to and within The Hague (actually, they might have been city-run busses in the city itself; having trouble remembering).
Getting from our military base to The Hague involved a couple of tight train switches. I'm sure it was very interesting watching a passel of high school students run across train stations, dragging their luggage behind them. What we had to do in order to make sure we all got on the train with all of our belongings was have someone run ahead, secure one cabin, and open the window. Then the rest of us tossed our luggage into the window and sorted everything out later. It was insane. The train ride itself was interesting. One of my pals thought it would be fun to tickle my feet in his lap. He thought it was cute that I was extremely ticklish there--until I inadvertantly kicked him in the groin. We even had an interesting moment getting off of the train at our destination. Our teacher had reserved several taxis or something for us to get to the hotel, but they were taken out from under our noses by another teacher from a rival high school. My teacher held up three fingers to the man and said, "Read between the lines!"
Our hotel was right on the coast, which made for a lot of very strong winds. So we would get all dolled up to look like proper Russian diplomats, only to wander outside and have our hair whipped up into tangled turbans and our smartly pressed suits rumpled like crepe paper. But it was like that for everyone, apparently, as the coat check in the THIMUN location became the impromptu windblown hair touch-up spot.
One night when all the pot-smoking, red-light-district-gazing hopefuls tried to hop on a train to Amsterdam, my good friend and I went in search of Pizza Hut pan pizza. Our journey took us quite far on the tram/bus network to a nifty, more historical part of town. We had a fun dinner, then picked up some goodies at a grocery store near our hotel. That was so we could play poker and order room service the next night while watching MTV.
Thus we had to get caught up on the story when the entire group went out for dinner on our last night there. One of our number was being teased left and right and looking decidedly shame-faced. Seems he hadn't been able to make it to Amsterdam (no one did; there might have been some sort of curfew in place), but one of the older and wiser seniors on the trip told him where he could still score some pot. The eager shmuck followed the senior and gratefully accepted the hand-rolled. A few puffs in, he reported a happy pot high to the extreme laughter of the seniors watching the show. Turns out he had smoked some oregano. The poor guy was red-faced all the way back to school.
Because the trip was packed during the day-time with the THIMUN stuff, I really didn't have much of a chance to explore The Hague. But I liked the glimpses I caught, and it strikes me as a town that I'd like to visit again.
Next week: Wales, 1992