Monthly Archives: June 2011

Connections

It’s nice to be missed… thank you!

I have not posted any new articles or uploaded comments since early Monday morning, and many readers have written to ask if I’m alright, if I have a problem… “Where are you?” they want to know.

I’m right here… happy and healthy but until a few minutes ago, without Internet.  I don’t know what happened but I suspect the heavy rain associated with Tropical Storm #4 has been the cause.

My mom and me  Normally when this happens, it’s “No prob’ Bob…” My son Carlos seems to be able to fix all such disorder. But alas, my internet signal wasn’t the only severed connection to occur on Monday… My fair-haired boy has left Mérida, at least for the time being. He will be getting married soon, living and studying abroad. Believe me… I already miss him and for many more things than his abilities to deal with IT glitches.

But fortunately, Carlos has left me in good hands, his friend Sergio came to the rescue this afternoon and we are all up and running again. Sigh…                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Before I became a mommy, no one told me what it would feel like to see your child fly the coop. But now I know, and I will tell you… it feels like being kicked by a horse!

Thirty years ago, as new parents, Jorge and I could no more imagine being separated from our little bundle of joy, than we could contemplate life without each other. His sister came along a few years later, and it seemed  Carlos and me   there was so much time… unlimited time… but guess what? “Time flies” is a popular idiom because it is true!

This is not our first experience with him leaving home… we’ve had lots of trial runs (university, trips, job relocation, and so on) But somehow this separation is the BIGGIE!                                                                                                  

 “Imagine how awful this would be if we didn’t love Jeanette and were not happy about his upcoming marriage?” I asked Jorge. “Yes,” he answered, “And don’t you have a new appreciation for how your parents felt when you moved here?”

Do I ever… My family’s support made it possible for me to live so far away from them… we hope our son will always feel that even though great distances separate us, he is always “in our arms”.

Carlos and Jeanette
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Ask and you will receive!

On Friday, I was driving home past the Parque de las Americas. As I got closer, I noticed that filming was happening, right at the intersection. I felt nervous because getting across Avenida Colón is frightening at the best of times, and with the equipment, props, actors, cameramen, directors, and bystanders… it would be even more of a challenge. Everyone seemed to be wandering all over the place, busily doing their jobs, without too much concern for cars. I, of course was most anxious not to hit anyone!

And what was the subject of this great production? Best I could see… it was a variation on the theme of: “Your Tax Pesos At Work.” A promo of the City’s street cleaning operation was in the making. The stars, decked out in new beige and orange uniforms were positioned at different distances from the fellow with a gigantic video camera, and when the jefe (in a double knit polo shirt) said, “¡Ya!” –  they walked forward, jauntily carrying brooms, shovels and a weed-whacker. Several takes were necessary because the fellows were not too experienced at being video stars and they forgot to smile, or they looked down, or didn’t look at the camera. There were four of them and each had to play his part just right.

But finally, the take was completed to everyone’s satisfaction and the line of waiting cars was waved through. As I passed one of the bosses in a polo shirt, I said, “Why don’t you bring those guys up to my street; there’s lots of overgrowth to be cut down and trash to pick up…  add some realism to your film? He took down my address and said they’d certainly come by… and ¡Muchas Gracias! for my fine suggestion… Of course no one showed up to film Act II on my litter-strewn roadway and sidewalk.

BUT… Sunday morning at 7 am, we were awoken by the sound of weed-whackers – whacking… brooms – sweeping… shovels – dumping… and eight good-natured young men singing. The crew had arrived and Calle 7 was getting a thorough make-over. I went out to thank them (two big bottles of Coke under my arm) They opened that elixir right away and took big grateful gulps… It was already H-O-T by 7 am and they told me, they’d been on the job since 5 am. I asked them if I could take a picture?  They did not have to be asked twice… they were experienced at this and they jumped up and struck a pose in front of their truck.

I was charmed, as I am about so many things in Mérida. You know the people here can turn an ordinary event into a fiesta. They laugh and joke about everything and I know their good humor rubs off on me. When I am asked, “Why do you live here? Why is it such a special place?” I inevitably answer, “Because of the people!”  Guys like the Sunday morning clean-up crew… and the many other hard-working, honest citizens I encounter every day. I try to be as gracious with them as they are with me…

Ask, and you will receive!

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Perspective

Last week I read a most interesting editorial by Carlos Fuentes in “El Pais” (a newspaper from Mexico City.) In this piece Mr. Fuentes gives historical perspective to the current situation in Mexico…

He begins with the French Revolution of 1779, explaining that while it sparked technological progress, the students, factory workers, laborers, and farmers were excluded from the generated wealth.

He says that in Mexico in 1810, similar discontent raged and led to independence from Spain.  In 1848, in France and Germany, the working class rebelled. In Austria and in Italy, the story was similar.

Moving forward through the centuries, we see many significant periods and events, most of them triggered by the inequality of society. Those that had… had a lot; those did not have… had nothing!

In 1968, all over the world, the same inconformity was expressed  (Paris, Tokyo, Kent State…) and nowhere was this more true than in Mexico. The country is still reeling from the Students  vs. Army confrontation at Tlatelolco.

In 2000, the right wing National Action Party (PAN) party finally triumphed over the  70+ year hold that the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) party held in the country. The citizens hoped for more equality but according to Mr. Fuentes, the changes affected by the new leadership might have been significant in the 1970s but  in 2011, they are laughable.

And now, Mexicanos  are once again claiming their rights in Mexico. More than 100,000 marched for 2,000 kilometers, from Mexico City to Ciudad Juarez – their message is loud and clear: ¡Basta! – Enough Violence!

Throughout the world, there is a demand for institutions, societies and lifestyles that meet the local culture’s needs but also contribute positively to the international panorama.

The article ends with an admonition that must be foremost in our minds during this time of change. We need to open our eyes and realize that everything we do today will impact our lives tomorrow. The “house of cards” we live in must be given more substance.

Carlos Fuentes (born November 11, 1928) is a Mexican writer and one of the best-known living novelists and essayists in the Spanish-speaking world. He has influenced contemporary Latin American literature and his works have been widely translated into English and other languages.

As a long time resident of Merida, I am amazed by the number of other nationals (mostly Americans and Canadians) moving to the city. The recent statistics from Immigration claim there are 6,000 permanent foreign residents (this does not take into account the winter guests and other part-timers)

My favorite Carlos Fuentes books is “Aura.” It is available in English. I feel that as international residents of Mexico, it is beneficial to read works by the country’s  writers.  It shows respect for our adopted country and the citizens appreciate it. (not to mention how much you’ll enjoy the books!) This website has a comprehensive list of Latin American works that have been translated into English.

*All images are from Google

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The Offensive Fern

Boy, some people have very little to occupy themselves. They must be so hard up for excitement that they try anything to incite it. The next little tale is a case in point…

We have a basket with a fern, hanging outside of our college’s main entrance. We figure she is a girl-fern and her name is Fee-Fee. There are other ferns who live deeper inside our grounds… in fact there are scores of them!

But one nearby resident has taken exception to Fee-Fee. He told us (repeatedly) that she is an eyesore, and we must remove her. He added that “Having a hanging basket is NOT colonial. You have a tourism school, you must respect the ambiance of the Centro Historico.”

R-e-a-l-l-y???

Worse yet, our prominent display of greenery has inspired the owner of the dear little hotel                                                                                                                                                                 across the street to place a potted plant on either side of the entrance way…

We ignored the fellow the first couple of times he came by… then we asked him to not come ‘round any more. So he filed a complaint about our offensive fern.

The City’s head honcho from the department that deals with such grave matters came to inspect the unsightly flora. He didn’t notice the object of concern as he walked underneath it , and in a very important voice asked us to show him the blot on the landscape. “You walked right past it,” we told him. He hurried back outside, and couldn’t believe that he’d been sent to see Fee-Fee.

We haven’t seen the offended fellow again. We’re willing to let bygones be bygones but if we get another complaint, we will suggest that the focus maybe concentrate on other matters. Check out the innovative manhole cover and the box of broken glass. Are they not much more unsightly and dangerous too!

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Hurricane Preparedness


A representative of the Consular Agency of Canada in Cancun will be in Progreso next Thursday, June 23, 2011 and would like to invite you to a meeting at 3 pm at the Crew Club of Progreso. For this meeting, organized in collaboration with the US Consulate in Merida, we have invited Yucatan State Proteccion Civil and Ministerio Publico in order to answer all your questions on the hurricane season and on security.
Address
Crew Club
Calle 82 – Entrada al Viaducto Muelle Fiscal Lado Poniente.
C.P. 97320
Progreso, Yucatan

HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS INFORMATION FROM CANADIAN CONSUL IN CANCUN

State of Yucatan: Emergency Protection Agency                                                                                                                          
(Protección Civil Mérida)

  • Cap. Manuel Jaime Mora Ugalde: Director
    (Director de Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil)
  • Address: Calle 42 No. 274 entre 75 y 77
    Calle18 No. 93A entre 17 y 15
    Col. Montes de Ame
    97115, Mérida, Yucatán
  • Tel.: (999) 944-2470 / 944-2688 
  • Toll free: 01 800 719 8633
  • Fax: (999) 944-2470
  • E-mail: proteccioncivilyucatan@gmail.com
  • Website: www.yucatan.gob.mx

A hurricane preparedness plan includes three basic elements that are important in the threat of any severe weather event, and not just for hurricanes:
1. Maintaining a disaster or emergency supply kit;
2. Securing your home and property;
3. Having a safe place to go in the event of evacuation or prolonged utility outage.

You are encouraged to visit the following web sites where further information is available, on hurricanes specifically and emergency preparedness in general.
The hurricane page on the website of the Embassy of Canada in Mexico at: www.canada.org.mx

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada at: www.voyage.gc.ca On this page, visit the Travel Report for Mexico (http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/report_rapport-eng.asp?id=184000) for information on official warnings regarding local hurricanes.  Visit the Hurricane Season section of the Global Issues page for more information on hurricanes and the latest developments.

Public Safety Canada at: http://www.getprepared.ca/knw/ris/hrr-eng.aspx                                                                                   

The US National Hurricane Centre at: www.nhc.noaa.gov

The Canadian Hurricane Centre at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/ouragans-hurricanes/

 Canadian Consulate in Cancun: Contact Information

  •  The Consular Agency of Canada in Cancun, located at:

Centro Empresarial Local E7, Blvd. Kukulkan Km 12, Zona Hotelera, Cancun Quintana Roo, México, CP 77500.

You may also dial: 01 (998) 883-3360

  • The Consular Program Officer is:

Alie Bourgeois-Charbonneau

Email: alie.bourgeois@international.gc.ca | www.canada.org.mx
Tel: (011 52) 998 883 3360/61 Mitnet: 379-3652
Fax:(011 52) 998 883 3232

  • Office Hours are:

Monday to Friday:  9:00 a.m. to 13:00 p.m.

  • During week-ends, you can also call the Operations Centre of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in Ottawa at the toll free number 001-800-514-0129 or place a collect call at (613) 996-8885.
  • After hours, you may reach the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City via the toll free number 01-800-706-2900 (Mexico City).

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Abstract Alphabetical Ramblings

Have you ever tried to pen verse, using only words that start with the same letter in each line? Sounds simple?

Do you have any of your own to show? If so, send them as a comment                                                                                          

Weather Change 

About April, Angst Arrives

Because Balmy Breezes Bid Bye-Bye

Continuous Calm Causes Cantankerousness

 Dangerous Degrees Dehydrate,

Entirely Everyone –

Forages For Frozen Fudgsicles …

***

Imprudent Behavior

Good Guy Guzzles Gin…

Hellacious Heat Has Him Hollering,                                                                                                                                                                     

Increased Inebriation Is Indicated!”

“… Just Joking Judge!”

***

Metaphysical Madness and Metaphors

Karma Kindly Kisses –

Loquacious Laughing Lovers

My Mind Meanders Musically –

Now Nurtured, Now Newborn                                                                                                                                                                                  

***

Financial Foibles

Objective Observation Often Offers Opportunities –

Providing Pretty Premiums

Quickly, Quietly …

Randomly Raining Riches!

***                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Misturns

Sailboats Slip Silently

Tacking Towards Treacherous Tailwinds

Untroubled, Unconcerned – Ubiquitously Unified

Veterans Venture Victoriously…

Women Wait While

Xenophobia …

Yanks Youth

Zealously

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For all our fathers

On Sunday, we’ll gather together at our home; I plan to bake a ham and make lemon pasta. My son and daughter, her fiancé, my mother-in-law and assorted other family members will arrive for lunch and we’ll have a Fathers’ Day feast.

We have a lot to celebrate – because Jorge is a great dad. And he’s not only that way towards his kids. A whole college full of students – past and present, friends’ children, and family members have benefited from his generosity, wise advice and good nature.

When my children were small, I used to ask them, “Didn’t I find you the best daddy?” They’d chorus Yes-s-s-s-s! and run to hug Jorge. But once, a serious little voice asked me, “How did you know he’d be such a good dad?”

I don’t remember what I answered (when I met Jorge I wasn’t projecting into the future and imagining the kind of father he’d be… more immediate matters filled my mind!) However, some little piece of my brain must have realized that Jorge possessed many of my own father’s character traits and I wanted a man like him for my little brood.

Everyone called my dad Johnny. Born in California, he moved with his family to Canada in the mid 1920s. His boyhood in Alberta, the Depression of the 30s, six years of combat through WW II, his post-war years working along the British Columbia coast as a cook on every kind of boat that floated… none of those experiences seemed like the training ground for being a dad but he certainly picked up the skill somewhere along the way. I was the first born of his eight children.

He and my grandfather built the North Vancouver house where we all grew up. I associate many happy memories with those years and much of the credit of course goes to Dad. He’d start each day at 5 am, making our porridge… this way it had time to cool to the temperature we preferred. On Sundays after Mass, he cooked a big breakfast with bacon!                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

He made up games and played with us and certainly wasn’t one to keep his fatherly advice to himself. He approached fatherhood in the same way he did everything else – with gusto! Yet he could also be very introspective…

Dad used to like reciting snippets of poetry. He said the verses made him feel peaceful when life was going crazy …

Last year, I reprinted my dad’s favorite poem. Today, in memory of him, for Jorge, and for all the other dads out there… With love, I give you:

The Daffodils

By: William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

*********

PHOTOS: Jorge and Carlos 1982 ; Jorge and Maggie 2008; Dad and Me 1955 ;

Dad, brother Peter and Me 1957 ; The Daffodils: Google Images

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