Taizé is more a commune than a camp. No staff are employed and so everyone participates in keeping the community functioning. I was assigned to rubbish collection or ‘spazzatura’ as the Italians call it. We were a jovial group consisting of Italians, Spanish, American, Portuguese, British, Germans and me, South African.
It was one of the Germans that I approached for this date. The intention was an afternoon stroll through the neighbouring sunflower fields, but rather quickly it became evident that this was a bad idea as we needed to see each other’s hand gestures and body movements to
fully comprehend vaguely follow what the other was talking about.
I suppose trust had been built up while we sifted through rubbish to find recycling prior to the ‘date’ (romantic?) and so despite his incredibly limited English, it wasn’t a painful afternoon at all. What pure fun. It was the dramatic process of recounting the stories of our lives and cultures that provided us with such genuine entertainment. Everyone loves charades right?! We told tales using our hands as representative maps of various countries. One story illustrated in this fashion was his hilarious description of how he and a friend had caught trains, hitch-hiked and walked (well over 100kms) to get to Taizé.
It really was just fun and laughter.
And we’ve agreed to keep in touch – with the kind help of Google Translate.