The low in Antibes – In Antibes, barely 3 weeks into our training I had my breaking moment with tears and sobbed calls back home in the middle of the night. Plans were made to fly out of Florence and back to the Netherlands where I would find some sort of accommodation. The other cooks saw me in this state and a beautiful thing happened. Apart from just them comforting me and talking me through it they also sat down together and asked if anyone else was feeling this way and what particularly was troubling them and talked through it. A beautiful thing is people supporting each other even when they themselves need supporting. It wasn’t just the cooks either, it was everyone.
The high in Rome – After my low point in Antibes came a strange time in Rome where I felt invincible. For 3 days I felt this strange energy sitting at the base of my throat carrying me through. On our first night I ran around trying to locate lost keys for people close to tears. I comforted those who wanted to leave, I found the energy to be interested in the Rome walking tours! Somehow I always was able to find a smile those days (to my memory) even though it was also the point when I became so tired that I started seeing things. Loosing many people on our last day did bring me down but I still felt better after Rome than I had before it.
|Pool party in Venice|
Dancing in Florence and Venice – On 2 occasions we were forced to stay up and dance. This may sound strange and it was. In Florence I thought it would kill me. I was already feeling down and we had had yet another big day and we thought we had already had our night’s activities at the Karaoke bar (which had actually been fun). I was just ready to go and do my pile of study when we pulled back up to the campsite at 11:30 but we were told to go change and be back in 15 mins at the nightclub. I almost cried. But I didn’t, I didn’t, I pulled myself together, got ready and went down to be locked in until 2am. They gave us drinks but I refused them, worried as I was about being watched. I did end up having a great time keeping everyone buoyed up and for one of the first times, doing something normal with the group. I remember ballroom dancing with Mihale, watching Crispy do the worm, the trainers joining us and just everyone pulling out their own moves. At 2 we were allowed out (The trainers were checking us off on a list) and told to check back in at 5:45. Boo, back to the game.
|Masked party in Venice|
In Venice it was a little different. We were a much smaller group who had bonded for a lot longer and I had just finished my day as cook and it was great so I wasn’t worried at all when they said we had a masked party to attend. I was thrilled to dance away the tensions of the day! Roma gave us all masks and this time I allowed myself to drink. I danced with the trainers and the GM who was also there. Again I remember Crispy’s dancing (He is a good dancer!) and this was the night Pete got his nickname. Previously quiet Pistol Pete pulled out all the moves and later would be the only person to come out of training with a nickname. Again we were let out at 2am but this time I was a little more reluctant to leave.
- Cleaning out the coach in Krakow and our defiance – In Krakow we were so close to the end. We were down to just 6 chefs and we were pulled out to the carpark in the dark and the cold and told that our mess under the coach just wasn’t good enough and we were going to clean it up now. We just shrugged our shoulders and got to it. Bessie stood there getting into us “how could you have let it get to this state” “what did you think you were keeping that for?” “I thought you guys were on top of this, apparently I was wrong”. But for some reason that night the words were just water running off our ducky backs because we almost ignored her, choosing instead to talk to each other. “How about I clean that bit” “Oh I’ve been looking for those herbs!” “Ha! Look guys, MORE corn!” we got it done and didn’t feel downtrodden. Success!
The classroom in Krakow – That night continued to be one of successes (although many did feel tortured by this exercise) we were led into a classroom in the hotel and told that we were being questioned on trip codes until we could answer correctly. This started around 11pm. The way it went was that they gave you a trip code (PT for instance) and you had to tell them the real name (European Adventure) how many days it is (34) and all of the stops. It was hard. Barry was the first to get out. He was given the UK/Ireland trip and he rattled off each of the stops as fast as he could, gathering his things as he neared the end and finished by calling ‘and goodnight’ to the open mouthed trainers as he walked out the door. Confidence! I think it took me 3 or 4 goes to get it right, by which time it was 1:30. Some people were there until 3.
Pete shone in this test. He didn’t know much English at the time and the trainers were asking him about the shortest trip (11 days) and ridiculing him because he didn’t even know that. He just told them that he was sorry but he only knew the ME (Mega European, longest trip, 49 days) The trainers laughed, crossed their arms and said sure, go ahead. As Pete worked his way through the long list of countries and cities, they sat more forward and their jaws dropped a little lower. When he finished even they stood up to applaud him. Then in a wonderfully kind act Pete refused to leave as he felt it was unfair for the last few people to be stuck there on their own and so he stayed with them until the end.