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MCH 2005 Meeting

 The Italian point of view - by Francesco Zezza

FOREWORD: Over the years the annual MCH meeting has become one of the “top” moments of the life (and activity) of this website. This habit begun in Belgium (2001: first meeting ever) and continued in two “steps” (because of Stefania’s pregnancy) in Greece, which the Belgian (2002) and Italian (2003) teams visited (on different years regrettably) to meet the Greek crew and friends … Then, eventually, the Italian event (that took place in 2004, in Rome) and the story was supposed to “re-start” from the beginning, but …

During last year/beginning of this one (2005) I had to travel back and forth (for job needs) to Brazil and actually stay there, in three “turns”, for almost five and a half months. This “South American Interlude” proved extremely rewarding (I stayed there with my family and had an interesting job opportunity) but, on the other hand, almost ripped in pieces any chance to plan our next meeting at our leisure (theoretically this means that six persons must synchronize their work schedules so that all of them can spend a few days together - while four of them will be thousands of kilometers away from home). To make a long story as short as possible we, in the end, decided to meet in Vichy (France) during the annual AFC (French Cichlid Association) meeting … a bit odd (Belgian, Greeks, Italians meeting … in France!) but this choice, beyond being the only viable one, allowed us to meet. Apart from that, I managed to meet – eventually – David Tourle and Sonia Guinane who (being deeply involved in the Madagascan Cichlids affair) were already in contact with George.

GETTING THERE has been – believe it or not! - the first “issue”: Frank and Hilde decided to drive there (from Belgium) while Italians and Greeks had to rely on airplane connections. Well … guess what?!?! The Air Company - REGRETTABLY - made a mess:

·         1) The flight from Rome to Milan took off delayed.

·         2) In Athens the flight had such a delay that George, Christine and Johnny had to postpone (by ONE DAY!) their departure being no longer able to get the connection – in Milan – to Clermond Ferrand

NOT BAD as an “appetizer”; isn’t it? Any way – in the end – we all got happily there, here comes my point of view of what happened … (you can read the general report on this event here). Let’s begin with some shots of the town of Vichy:

A view (early in the morning) from our hotel …

Vichy is well know for its thermal waters helping to treat many diseases. This is the interior of one (public) building (warm, large, full of light, lots of plant thriving in it) where you can have a glass of thermal water (the “Celestine” tasted great to me, the rest not that much). Many French people used to stop by for a few minutes on their way to job – to drink a glass of water and relax a bit: lucky them!

A colourful view of a Vichy corner, all Bistrot (sort of small restaurants) were serving tasty meals and good wine.

This is a shot – no flash used, following Frank’s tip - of the place where we had dinner on Friday evening. I liked it a lot, both the meal and the place.

A shot, under a cloudy sky, showing the typical, old  fashioned architecture of many buildings of the area.

FINALLY: At one point in time this area was part of the Roman Empire and many leftovers are still there to prove it (see the following images).

The column was (as explained in the dashboard; shown in the picture above) a sort of “road-sign” (milestone) marking the distance from Rome.

Actually, MCH meetings are a way for some people to keep a warm friendship alive. Here are some moments captured by the camera, showing exactly that. Regrettably, the time was really too short this time. The images that follow are not in order.. I just want to share some of those moments with you..

At breakfast: Hilde with Frank trying to take a picture of Leonardo (may be You’ll find it in his report), Stefania is trying to feed him but the boy doesn’t look that enthusiastic about it, shooting that pic is gonna be a bit tricky, I’m afraid …

My better half (Stefania): nothing else to add

Sonia Guinane (above) and David Tourle (below). I had exchanged only a few E-mail messages (with her) so it was really nice to meet them in person, eventually ! They are very knowledgeable aquarists (Dave, as far as I know, is involved in Piranhas) and, above all, very nice fellows. They run – among others – 25 tanks of Madagascan cichlids.

Dr. Lamboij (at right, listening to George), George (center) and me (the “fatty one” at left) eagerly discussing everything which is, even remotely, “cichlid related”.

A nice shot of Christine (during the AFC official dinner, on Saturday night)

continued in next page !

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