Vichy 2004 - Report from an ill Frank - Part 2

Saturday should have been “THE” day to talk about so many fishy things, MCH, photography and much more, but the lack of sleep during the previous days and the long drive to Vichy allowed a virus to successfully attack my body. Why did I have to get ill just on the moment when I was in the company of the finest cichlid connoisseurs? Well, I tried to make the best of it, and after taking breakfast in the hotel we went to the Auction hall where our Greek friends were already looking at a pretty Cichlasoma salvini. Yes, the “cichlid lust” virus was also among us! I got an eye for some nice Heros ‘rotkeil’ too, but didn’t really bother yet. We attended the tribute to Jean Claude which was presented with great dignity and saw his movie of a cichlid journey in Madagascar, which was very nice to look at. It’s really sad that such a devoted and kind person had to pass away so soon… After dinner it was time to go to Ad Koning’s presentations, but I really felt too lousy so I had to skip it. Yes, I have seen Ad’s lectures several times before in Belgium, but nevertheless it was sad to miss it this time. Not seeing George Johnny and Thanassis made things ever worse for me. After all, one of the main reasons for being there was to meet them! But with the evening dinner and the journey back home on Sunday in mind, it was essential to take some rest. Some rest meant that I slept the whole afternoon! So far so good. After taking some medicine my headache disappeared for a while, and we joined the Greek team for the evening dinner. After switching chairs for a while I ended up with Thanassis sitting across from me. We discussed our hobby between the tasty food and my bad coughs, and I must say that he’s an extremely nice person to talk to! I’m very glad that he joined George and Johnny during this weekend! Well, the happy talking didn’t take very long. The headache an fever came back quite strong, so we have to leave the group too soon again! On Sunday we heard that we missed a striptease act… Yeah right!!!

Dave, Sonia and George having a good laugh on Sunday morning. Clearly the English humour was very much appreciated by everyone.

Hilde was also able to laugh, but my heath situation only allowed me to smile gently.

If you ever have questions about Madagascan cichlids, these men will be able to provide you 99% of the answers!

A very interesting discussion with Loic. Let's see if and when the Madagascan project really gets started!

On Sunday there was no miraculous healing either, even after sweating out many litres in the hotel bed, but as it was our last day together I wanted to stay as close to my friends as possible. We decided to skip the lecture once more, as all the seats were taken, and I really was not in the mood to stand up all of the time in this warm and humid room in this condition. Instead we took a seat in the conference hall where a nice discussion about a Madagascan project was started by George, Loic, Sonia and Dave. Personally. I am not very involved with Madagascar cichlids, nevertheless I enjoyed the enthusiastic tone of this conversation too. After dinner, it was time to get in line for the auction. In the meantime, I had my mind set on the Heros “rotkeil”. There were about 30 nice sub-adult ones with a very attractive price tag, especially when we took 5 fish at once. Stijn also wanted some, so we decided that I would wait in front of this tank and buy 10 fish while he would go for some other  cichlids that he liked very much. Luckily the 3 men in front of me didn’t take all of them, so there were still enough fish for me. When the person that sold these fish heard that we had to drive 800 Km with the fish, he realized that a bag would not be good enough to transport them, so he gave me a bucket. I really appreciated that, as this would enable us to check the cichlids during our stops on the way back. Once Stijn and I collected all our fish it was time to leave. Unfortunately, this is always the saddest part of a meeting. We hugged and kissed the Greek team goodbye, and there we went! The fish were put in the back of the car and Hilde drove us back safely to Belgium! Despite the short traffic jam in Paris we didn’t lose too much time. My parents were waiting at home, so we wanted to be there as soon as possible. After all they looked after our kids during the weekend, which was greatly appreciated by us. For the fish it was also becoming urgent. They had been in their tank at the event since Friday, and the water began to smell terribly, which was not a good sign. At Stijn’s place 5 of them were taken out of the bucket, and they really looked very weak. Ten minutes later we arrived home and my fish were slowly adapted with water from the 750L tank. They were also lazy and weak, but I decided to move them into the tank anyway. Next morning all the fish seemed to be fine, which was a great relief for me. Yes they had damaged fins, but they were quickly regenrated. You can guess my surprise when a pair was formed one week later and laid eggs shortly after. Yes, I’m raising about 30 Heros “rotkeil” juveniles now!!!!

Heros rotkeil Click for a larger image.

Well, despite my illness I have had quite a good remembrance of the 25th anniversary congress of the AFC in Vichy. I was pleased to meet fantastic people like Sonia, Dave and especially Thanassis. Of course seeing George and Johnny again, is always a feast. The organization of the event was very good. The food was very nice and the cichlids were omnipresent. Of course the illness spoiled part of the weekend, as I missed all the lectures. Francesco was also missed very much since his presence would really  complete the MCH team. All in all I will surely visit such an AFC meeting again and I can recommend wholeheartedly this event to everyone who is interested in cichlids!

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