on the 36th World Vegetarian Congress
- by Gerry Coffey for the Spring 2005 issue of VUNA VIEWS
Marly Winckler and world-renown
songstress Dionne Warwick have a lot in common. They both Get by
with a little help from my friends. Marly spent two years of her
life and called in all her friends favors in order to pick up the
pieces and make the 36th World Vegetarian Congress-- the first time in
South America--a smashing success! Held at the beautiful Costão
de Santinho Resort on the Isle of Florianópolis Brazil,
the facilities, overlooking the sea, were spectacular. The varied beauty
of Brazils landscapes is matched only by its people. No effort was
spared to make attendees feel welcome. The diversity of interests regarding
animal, human or environmental welfare, were open for discussion and debate
on how the advance of vegetarianism can benefit all of them.
Lectures, presentations and food demonstrations --led by world-renown
speakers, with simultaneous translations where appropriatewere timely
and informative. They were punctuated with food choices that were magnificent
in taste and presentation. Each bountiful buffet was a culinary delight.
Other thoughtful activities arranged for our indulgence included yoga
at sunrise, dancing, cruelty-free fashion shows (viewed by over a thousand
people), hikes up the hillside overlooking the ocean, bus trips around
the island, and always-- the wondrous seascapes.
The balmy weather wasnt always quite so, but rain or shine, F.A.R.M.
President, Alex Hershaft, took his morning dip. We less hardy ones settled
for walking on the beach, running or yoga. The lazy ones slept in but
usually timed it so they didnt miss a fabulous breakfast.
Because the conference was set in such a beautiful resort area, it was
difficult to believe the post-conference tours could be more exciting,
but trips to Iguazu Falls (Big Waters) and Rio were truly
awesome. The late American First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, summed it up
succinctly after witnessing this wonder of nature: Poor Niagra,
she said. Indeed, whoever decided on the Seven Wonders of the World must
not have seen Iguazu. Words and pictures cannot begin to do it justice.
On our arrival in Rio, one of Marlys friends reported Marly had
just called: Take good care of my children, she was advised.
We children, can attest to a job well done! Our hotel in Rio
was on the famous Copacabana Beach! Using that as a home base, we took
in the sights by day and the nightlife in the evening. A friend of Marlys
arranged for us to see an exclusive Carnival (Mardi Gras)
Hundreds of people doing the Samba is quite an experience.
Eighty year-old George Pelton, from Denver, Colorado, said he didnt
know women could gyrate in so many places at one time. George put everyone
to shame the next night at one of Rios popular nightspots. He was
the Fred Astaire of the evening and danced with just about
every woman from
Speaking of which, even the bus trips were lively: VUNA Councilor Dilip
Barman kept us in stitches with his corny Vegan jokes. (Maybe
hell share them in a future VUNA VIEWS). Newly elected IVU Deputy
Chair, Saurabh Dalal, took on the role of a dutiful shepherd, keeping
count of his sheep at every bus stop. That was not easy considering
several others, including VUNAs resident Shrink, Kay
Sheehan, watched the dawn come up a few times.
And though Brazil and its people are an ocean away, the memories will
sustain us forever, thanks to Marly and a
little help from
her friends. If you ever come our way, theres a Welcome
Mat out in Alabama. --Gerry Coffey
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