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Message In A Bottle Bobs Along Into Cyberspace Florida Girl’s Message Found In France; Now Using Computer To Write Pen-Pal

Lindsay Tsiotis’ message in a bottle is heading for the information superhighway.

A year ago in May, the 14-year-old Boca Raton girl took a cruise to the Bahamas with her church youth group.

At sea, on a whim, she opened her empty water bottle and put in a picture of herself, a dollar and a short autobiography. She tossed the bottle over the side and wished it well.

“I’d heard of people doing it so I thought I’d give it a shot,” Lindsay said.

Almost a year later, the phone at her Boca Raton home rang at 6 a.m. It was Paris calling.

Aline Arnold, age 12, had found the bottle while vacationing with her family on Belle Isle on the west coast of the French region of Brittany.

“They were visiting their grandmother and looking for rocks and shells when they found it,” Lindsay said. “They had to climb down these steep cliffs to get to it.”

Aline did not speak English, so her father explained what happened on the phone. Then the family sent a letter with pictures and details about the bottle’s location. They called the find a treasure, although Aline first thought the U.S. dollar was Monopoly money.

In the letter, Aline’s father said she likes the same sports as Lindsay - soccer and softball.

But Lindsay did not want to be pen pals with Aline’s father. “She wanted to talk with the girl,” Lindsay’s father, Paul Tsiotis, said.

“She can’t write in French, and the girl can’t write in English, so I was just trying to think of the best way they could communicate when we came across this.”

“This” is a computer program that translates English into French. They took it home, popped it in the family PC and …

“It’s amazing. You write the letter, press a button and that’s it,” Paul said.

Lindsay is now pen pal-ing in French. Comment est-ce que vous types ont marche en bas ces falaises? (How did you guys walk down those cliffs?)

Lindsay also asked, in French, if Aline has a computer and explained the translator software.

“We have the capability to E-mail or fax them, so if they got the program, it would be no problem for the girls to communicate in each other’s languages in a matter of minutes,” Paul said.

They are waiting for a response from France to see if they will be taking their technology to the next step.