03/07/2014/3:24 pm, Halifax NS (crew), Cayo Quemado, Guatemala (Madcap)
Oooh - this is the most negligent I have ever been in keeping you informed of our whereabouts! Sorry to have dropped out of sight entirely for almost 3 months.
We had a wonderful whirlwind visit to la Antigua during the first days of Semana Santa. Jim got his dental implant ... ummm ... planted. We visited with friends, saw some theatre, heard some music, watched parades, took Elizabeth Bell's tour on Palm Sunday (a recommended way to see what is where and hear some history of the processions), and were totally awestruck by the carpets and processions.
Once back in Halifax, we launched quickly into "Spring Cleaning" mode. And we had quite decent spring weather for - well - a week or so! We freshened up the back deck, washed windows, pulled warm clothes from the closets and spread ourselves out all over the house. In a way, it was a reverse procedure to what we had just done in putting Madcap to bed for the summer: cleaning and polishing, sorting clothes, checking cupboards, getting things ready for the change of season. And I got my fix of "hands in the dirt" gardening! The weather turned cold again and stayed that way until about the end of June, but we have launched fully into summer now.
Family-wise, it has been a remarkable spring. Mary Beth returned home from her final year of medical clerkship rotations and was ready to dive into graduation festivities. Liam and his girlfriend, Christine returned to Canada from New Zealand and spent 3 weeks here with us in Nova Scotia. Alex came from Ottawa for Mary Beth's graduation, and MB's boyfriend, Graham arrived from Calgary. Graduation week was so much fun - even for parents! Our home was party central on several nights as Mary Beth's classmates - several of whom have lived in our house over the last 4 years - gathered to celebrate. At the end of a week of festivities, we watched as over 100 brand new doctors graduated from Dalhousie Medical School. What an exciting day. We were so lucky to have our family all gathered together for it. And then the next week, we had one more thing to celebrate. Mary Beth and Graham got engaged!
It wasn't long before they all headed off again, Alex back to Ottawa, Liam to New Zealand, Christine to Sweden, and Mary Beth and Graham to Newfoundland where she will spend the next 5 years as a Radiology Resident. And so we are on our own again - embracing the land based part of our lives.
We enjoyed visits from Steve and Sandra (Yonder), Jeannie and Jim (Estelle) and Jessica and Matthew (Heart's Desire), and we look forward to welcoming Mary and Blair (Strathspey) later in the summer. Queen Mary II is in port today; the Jazz Festival starts on Friday. My peonies are in blossom, and the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries all look like they will bear fruit this year.
I am delighted to let you know that I've had an article published in a local magazine - the Atlantic Boating Guide. Check it out at www.boatinginatlanticcanada.com. Scroll down to find the 2014 issue. My article, "Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore: a Paradise for Gunkholing" is page 70. Although I've been enjoying writing this blog for 7 years, I have to tell you it is thrilling to see a story of mine in print!
We're keeping our fingers crossed that Arthur doesn't cause too much damage as he whirls up the coast. Jim and I both send our best to all of you - northerners and southerners - on land and on sea. Enjoy the summer!
13/04/2014/12:04 am, Antigua, Guatemala
There are so many pictures - I will try to get some in the gallery soon. But here's one of the most beautiful of the gorgeous carpets we saw today, Palm Sunday. It was outside La Merced Church. The hermandad members there must be some of the best in the city.
Another posting coming soon on the Palm Sunday procession, but now I have to go to bed. It is 10 pm in Guatemala city and we have to be up at 3:30 to catch our 6 am flight.
12/04/2014/11:50 pm, Antigua, Guatemala
On our walk to town this morning, we wondered if Juan, the ceviche man, would be on his corner. Sure enough, we spotted his stand, and for once, it was before he spotted us!
As I walked over and called out, "Buenos Dias, Juan!" he looked up from his work, his face lit up and with his trademark enthusiasm, he gave me a big hug and greeted Jim with a high five. This lovely man stands less than 5 feet tall and is packed with warmth and goodness from the tips of his toes to the top of his head. He has five children, two boys still at home, was once a teacher but it was hard to find work and he has been operating this ceviche stand for 12 years. His "place of business" is a stand at the corner of the Camino de San Juan del Obispo just outside El Calvario church, and when we were here in November, I walked past him every day on my way home from yoga. We got into the habit of chatting regularly and he always said Jim and I were his amigos. I think perhaps he has many many amigos because he waves to every second car that passes, and people call out, "Hola, Juan" again and again.
Today, we took it a step farther and after sitting on the stools chatting for a bit, we decided to order a bowl of ceviche. It is always a somewhat risky thing to eat raw food on the street - I will usually opt for something cooked - but Juan's stand looked clean and he is savvy enough to know he doesn't want his amigos to get sick. I can't tell you how excited he was to be sharing his food with us. He diced tomatoes on his board and added chopped onion, camarones, caracol, a spoonful of green stuff - maybe culantro? a squirt of red stuff, a squeeze of lime and a dash of hot sauce, poured it all into a bowl, added a couple of packs of crackers and handed it over with a flourish. We sat on our stools and ate in the shade and it was good.
Jim took our picture - we exchanged addresses so we can send him a copy - and we went happily on our way to see the Semana Santa festivities, while he started chopping again for his next two customers. It was one more reminder to me that no matter how exotic or beautiful the surroundings are, no matter how adventurous the journey is, those little moments shared with the people we meet transcend all boundaries and fill us with joy. As we sat on his stools by the side of the road, we were true amigos - nothing more and nothing less, and it was enough.