Down to business (almost)

Our first full working week (working is used very loosely). We spent time trying to submit papers to the police for residence permits and meeting potential project partners, but mostly drinking coffee in Buje. We were given a couple of shifts to work in the Ethnographic Museum of Buje for the upcoming Grape Days festival, and we were told about an event hosted by the Italian community of Buje where we would present ourselves, where we come from and why we are doing EVS.

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The clock tower in Umag

Whilst on our coffee drinking work-time we met a friend of Elena, called Bojana, a Buje local, she studied Political Science and is now working on the city council in Buje, I think as a rare woman in politics. She had even been to the Labour party conference in Liverpool to see Ed Miliband give a speech. Currently, though, her opinion of English people comes from seeing how they act at festivals whilst on holiday here, so I will do my best to change that (or unwillingly reinforce it).

In our abundant free time we did a little exploring, and visited Umag, the closest town, at the coast, and an obvious tourist destination as surrounding the small old town restaurants lined the sea front, with waiters inviting us in, in a multitude of languages, and large, ugly hotels and casinos just outside the old town.

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To the rescue

 

The weekend brought with it the Grape Days festival in Buje, the biggest weekend of the year, this was a full weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) with lots of sports events and evening activities. On the Friday we watched a zumba demonstration and saw a brass band leading a procession through the open wine cellars. We found Nina working behind the bar of the Italian community, and spent some time there chatting and watching some live music (as well as enjoying the quality local wine).

The Saturday night had the awards ceremony for the best wines followed by a traditional grape pressing. This contained some theatre as the girls who were to press the grapes were abducted, and taken into the church tower. Luckily, there were some rescuers hiding at the top of the tower, who abseiled down the tower before breaking in at the bottom and saving the girls. From my point of view this was a bit back-to-front, but I’m putting that down to cultural differences.

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Dancing on the grapes

 

After this we were jumped by an American, Robin, who was very excited to overhear us talking English and proceeded to enjoying talking it with us, giving us the full recent history of the area (she lives in Brtonigla, researching for a PhD in social anthropology). She may prove to be a useful contact to have, even if it is just for someone to babble with in English from time to time.

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