“Bollocks!” Mesta Tempranillo 2016

Today began well enough, with a proper English breakfast (my favorite) and a short walk to Ten Downing Street, where I had the most interesting meeting I’ve had in a long time and learned a great deal about everything from the British government to the family history of a dear friend. I met great people, saw new things, had learning experiences galore, and may even have contributed in some small way to the understandings of others when it comes to a few small pockets of my own expertise — in short, it was an utterly terrific start to the day.

We eventually got to the English countryside, as idyllic and Dickensian as you’d expect, and I checked into the Lansdowne Arms Hotel, with a room right above the pub and the big street light outside my window, too charming to be inconvenient. I threw my bags in the room, undid my tie, requested a fan, and headed out with Nic and Ian to watch the England game. Croatia, who less than a week ago I was supporting in Sarajevo, was now the enemy. However, as you surely know by now, things didn’t end up the way we’d hoped. In a crowded pub full of Englishmen yelling phrases and expressions I hadn’t before heard yet inherently understood, I realized I was as invested in England’s victory as I often am in Husker (American) football games. I said a few choice words, joined the locals in applauding the team for a great World Cup, and headed home, disappointed with the outcome but with more on my mind.

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Dejected yet with a lot of work to do, I arrived at the Lansdowne Arms. I ordered a glass of wine, and started plugging away at tomorrow’s presentation, something I’ve worked and reworked a dozen times since my flight left Omaha a week ago. “I suppose you heard?” I said sadly to the barkeep. She shrugged. “It’s just football,” was her response, and I found it to be refreshing.

The wine I ordered, a Mesta Tempranillo 2016, was perfect for the occasion in that it required no thought, was plush and fruit-forward and drank easily enough but didn’t do anything unusual. Enough structure that I won’t call it flimsy, it’s a good weeknight budget wine. Palatable wine to accompany a late night of work — good enough, I suppose.

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Tomorrow marks the start of two days of work, two days of gratifying, important work that with a little bit o’ luck might bring teachers and students alike to a place of greater understanding and greater ability, greater empathy and greater curiosity, when it comes to the Bosnia, the war, and the genocide that took place there. That is my hope. That is why I’m here. And my presentation is ready. All that is left is to get a little bit of sleep and attack things with great vigor and great vim in the morning. Hopefully after tonight’s disappointing match our participants still attend. I’m ready. Wish me luck!

Cheers to the opportunities we’re able to seize,

Mark

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