Friday, May 11, 2018

Really...News From The North!

I was on the way home from a contract. I was looking so forward to returning home at a reasonable hour, which for me, is anything before midnight. As it was, I was supposed to leave the reserve at 1030-ish, and I had a flight from Winterpeg that left around 1630.  What could go wrong....?

 My flight to Winterpeg was delayed by an hour, so I was told. No matter, I would still have three hours to get from the puddle jumper hangar to the main Peg airport. That requires an unfriendly taxi ride of under ten minutes.  I was stoked. And all of a sudden, my flight was back on time because they could not stop at their first destination due to weather. What a big smile I had on my face as I danced up the stairs into the plane. I would be home during daylight hours. Like a vampire, I had forgotten what that was like.

As we were climbing to cruising altitude almost an hour later due to ?, the pilot came on, and informed us that we would indeed be stopping at the airport they missed on the way in, as the weather had improved. Oh, said he, this will be a short stop, only about 20 minutes. No matter, thought I, there would still be plenty of time for me to toddle over to the main airport, and perhaps hit the lounge for some liquid Ativan. I was glowing at the thought. And then we landed... 20 minutes for some reason took over an hour. I was now a squidge over two hours late. A bead of sweat formed on my brow.

No worries...I would go to the cargo hold outside of the airplane once we landed and pick up my luggage from there. I had been allowed to do that on numerous other non timely flights in order to catch my flight home on time. Still, one bead of sweat had turned into two. We landed in the Peg at next flight was in an hour and a half. Another wee drop o' sweat.....

I told the ground crew what I was looking for, and then the pilot joined me by the cargo hold. They said they could not get my luggage until they removed the body from the plane. At this point I was thinking there may be more bodies and a cool cell for me to stay in.... "It will only take 20 minutes.... please wait inside." Forty five minutes later, I finally had my luggage but no ride to the airport, because the poor folks from the reserves were all queued up for taxis, awaiting transport to the boarding homes for the night before their medical appointments.

By now Niagara Falls was apparent on my brow. A helpful buddy suggested I ask the person at the front of the line if I could jump ahead. In normal circumstances, I would never do this, but I had not anticipated the intensity of the desire to get home at a decent time. I screwed up my courage and asked. And was denied..."I am in a hurry too...." To downtown Winnipeg...? No one is ever in a hurry to go there.

In the mean time, I called the taxi company and asked if a separate booked taxi could be sent for me. He said it would take at least 20 minutes. I said I did not have that kind of time, nicely. He said, not so nicely,  "Then I guess you had better call someone else"... and promptly hung up on me before I could take a breath or shed a tear.

Back to the front of the line I went, almost ready to grovel, when the gentleman's wife cuffed him across the shoulder, he motioned to me with a sharp head shake, and I finally got my taxi to the main airport, hit the bag drop, walked through security aided by my trusty NEXUS, and sashayed straight on to the plane......and a lovely glass of red wine.

And how was your day?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Getting Lucky in Mexico

So now my second mission,  2016, ah yes, I believe the luck o' the Irish was with me, at the very least, I had Fr, Bennet on my side, in Mexico once again. And it goes like this.....
What the flock?

Due to circumstances beyond my control, and a challenge to the flexibility of the mission director's life, I felt compelled to rent a car while out last fall, while based in Cancun, but travelling to a different village everyday outside of the big city, which took forever and many topés to get out of. Driving in Cancún is a tangle of one way streets that never seem to make sense, except that you arrive at your destination, but you don't know how. I was born with a decent sense of direction, which earned me the moniker "The Navigator" during my life. I instinctively knew which way to turn, without the guidance of a map.

Cancún has changed that. After renting a nifty Volkswagon Jetta, I managed to get back to our Cancún base safely with the guidance of one of my Mexican doctors, and it made sense. Following our Drag-a-pharmacy out to the main highway to go to a distant mission site, however, was a series of twists and turns that was lost in the spider web of my mind. Using the GPS on the way back in took me on a different more confusing route. To this day, I cannot reconcile that route in my mind as being fast or logical. Eventually I found my own way out, and my own way in, using a minimal number of turns and roads that made sense. To me. And God saw thankfully that it was good.
Don't try this at home....

One fine morning as I was following traffic, truly not going any faster than anyone else, I was pulled over by the long arm of the law. Apparently doing 86 in a 60km zone. And to my great advantage, I had in my back seat the best possible weapon: my lovely Dra. Iskia, who sweet talked and charmed my way out of a ticket. All I had to do was wait until another stopped car had gone on, so they wouldn't realize I had gotten off. With a smile and a "Slow down!" we were on our way.

Imagine my surprise at the law flexing its other arm another day, this time for doing 73 in the 60 zone. I won't lie to you and say I wasn't sh*tting bullets in my driver's seat. My car said rental, my face said tourist, enough to earn me a fine in spite of all the cars passing me by. And of course my driver's license was in the trunk. Dra.Iskia to the rescue once again. Pleaded our case of being missionaries helping the Mexican people, she got out of the car to retrieve my backpack and driver's license for me, and came back with another reprieve. Another smile and admonishment to slow down. And thankfully I did not have to show my license. Because it was back at the hotel.

People can be stink heads all over the world. Take the guy who parked next to me at the hotel with his lovely BMW, and scraped my driver's side quarter panel quite nicely when making an early morning getaway. there is no way he/she would have not noticed the scraping, such was the damage. And yet off they went. The hotel has security cameras, for a fee they could retrieve the videos, but when they looked at them, and would not let me look at them, they said they did not show anything. the owner's daughter, bless her heart, came by with an amigo, who managed to buff and polish most of the scrapes into oblivion. I had insurance on the car, but likely would just pay a deductible and not much more for the remaining damage. I hoped.
I think I like you better than a roach...I think. 

The night I returned my vehicle, my Mexican amigos had forgotten all about it and had returned to Playa del Carmen while we were in Cancún. While I have a bit of Spanish, and the car rental guys speak perfect English, I had wanted someone who could converse with them in Spanish regarding the ding. When I had picked up the car, we had driven during the day, but returning the vehicle it was night time, so I conscripted a German volunteer who spoke fluent Spanish to help me out. All I needed was to get to the hotel zone. He led me there in our mission pick up truck, and I took over once I recognized the now dark surroundings.

It is amazing how much the night time changes your perception of distance. After what I thought was a forever drive, I pulled to the side of the dimly lit road to confer with my buddy who was now following me. And what do you know, the long arm of the law stopped again. With my heart in my boots, I thought "What now...?" maybe they thought one of us was broken down. Apparently on the hotel zone road it is illegal to stop.  We were chided to get moving, and denied a ticket yet again. I asked the one chap on the motorcycle where the particular car rental agency was that I wanted. He looked at me like I had six heads. But it was "just over there." And off they and we went.
Always welcome in my clinic. 

I nervously pulled into the parking lot of the agency, while my German buddy had to find a spot in the crowded lot. The same gentleman I had rented the car from happened to be on. I held my breath as he went out to perform his inspection walk about. I might have even turned blue. I just about fainted when he said all was well, and in fact, he was going to give me a discount from the original price we had negotiated earlier in the week, but to por favor not forget him at tipping time. I gave him what I had in pesos. Which coupled with the new discounted price was still less than the original price of the vehicle. My buddy had not needed to speak for me. And me arse was saved yet again.
You had my shoe where? You can keep it now, I have 3 more...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Murphy's Law - News From the South

The Gang.
The first two weeks of the spring Mexican medical mission were great, said our wonderful Chaplain, everything went perfectly. So I knew I was doomed.

It all started on the return trip from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen. I love boat rides, big boats, small boats, everything in between. I laugh in the face of bad weather, high seas, the rocking of any ship except for this one little trip on the ferry. The weather was fine, but the wind had stirred up a few waves. This was going to be fun, so I thought as we headed out to less sheltered waters. And then it hit. What the heck was that, in the pit of my stomach? Maybe just the leftovers from last night's dinner...? Had I consumed any tequila...? I thought not. The ferry was bobbing up and down, and swaying gently, so I thought, back and forth. The guy with the barf bags had come by prior to the departure, and I thought to myself that folks must have pretty weak stomachs. How many times one has to learn in one's lifetime to never criticize anyone in any situation, until  the situation has been personally experienced. The bobbing and the swaying combined with the lack of air, the number of people, and I finally had my first taste in 57 years of being sea sick. I wasn't even interested in an on board cerveza, now can you just imagine that? Feeling that brash in the back of my throat, until I really thought I was going to lose it. I high tailed it to the bathroom, and stayed there until we were a few minutes from Playa. And then to the nearest farmacia for dimenhidrinato. And God saw that it was fit for me not to lose my breakfast.
The work is hard......

When acting as the Director of Logistics, one has to sometimes think on their feet and flexible, and find solutions to everyday problems. Usually that means finding water, medicines that we don't have, alternate clinic sites when something promised does not pan out. So... we arrived at our pre-arranged, sight unseen hotel, in Bacalar.. It was evening already, we were all tired from our long journey. We were expected, it did take a moment to find the hotel guy to check us in, but he had all the rooms for us. Now, part of our group was in another two vehicles behind us, towing our farmacia. This figures a bit later, so keep with the tour. I divvied up the rooms, placing folks in appropriate rooms as I could. Then we all went to them....

My room was not yet made up. It was evening already. Sheets that you could read a newspaper through. But a nice big bathroom. No paper. I told the manager. "Don't worry. It's okay. It will be done by eight." Can't remember what time it was, but okay. Then one of the missionaries came out, no working lock on her door. One of the others jiggled her door, got it to lock, and all was well, until she checked out her window. Sure she could feel the lakeside breeze, with no window slats and no screens, and in an area known to have mosquito borne chikungunya. "Really? Don't worry, it's okay, maybe I have extra slats." said th ehotel guy. Which never appeared. "It's okay, don't worry, I will give her another room." Bless his heart. He gave her the one that smelled like raw sewage. "Oh. Must have been the divers. Don't worry, it's okay, I have another room." Now I could have these two incidents somewhat mixed up such is my mind, because the window slats may have happened in a third room for the same missionary and not in the first room. But no matter. Because the result in the end was the same. So I informed the manager that the second room had actually been assigned to our chaplain, and God only knows what reparations he must make here on earth, but I did not think that sleeping in a room over a ruptured septic tank was what the good Lord had in mind. "Don't worry! It's okay, I have another very special room left for him." Then the other reports of glassless, screenless rooms filtered in from other missionaries, and I had to decide. We were not staying there. It was dark now. I remembered seeing a lit "Hotel" sign up the road not too far, so one of the missionaries and I walked up. Could they accommodate I think it was 15 people on short notice. He showed me a room. It was clean. There were windows. Decent sized bathrooms, and air conditioning. Sold! So we packed everything up. And started to head out, handing in all of our keys. I apologized, explained my reasons. "Don't worry. It's okay." And my room, after 8 PM, was still not made up.
King of the hill.

Our little group still on the road, in the meantime, had punctured a tire. No problem said they, with a spare in the boot. Which was flat itself. I received a frantic phone call to send someone back to "pick up your mother". Kathy had separated her shoulder a few nights before, and I was requested, before I knew the state of affairs in the hotel, to send someone to pick her up. Which I did not do. Unbeknownst to us, because the tire was flat, they had to go find air on a highway with few towns on it. This is Mexico. there is no Esso (or Petro Canada for us Canucks), on every corner. The two of them, our Chaplain and Kathy, drove on, in the second vehicle, with the flat spare tire, to find air. And wouldn't you know it. Sunday. Nada. They ended up going to several places as directed by the inhabitants of a wee town, before finally filling the tire and being able to return to the traveling farmacia. They met us in a nice little resto in Bacalar later in the evening, where some good Mexican food, margaritas, and cervezas made everything better.
Oh would you like to swing on a star?

Did I tell you the one about losing the brakes....? Our farmacia on wheels went right past the first mission site, which I thought was kind of weird. By the time they had turned around and ventured back, I had decided where the farmcia was going, in a most logical way, being director of, well, logistics. I went on the road to direct them where to turn. One of the missionaries, the six foot four one, was hanging more than halfway out the passenger window. Yelling at me. Me with my good hearing..."What...?" "Blah Blah!"  "What?" "BLAH! BLAH!" "Sorry, can't hear you!" "NO BRAKES!!!! Fortunately, the site was on an incline, and so was easily and safely reached with no casualties, namely me.
We were ruined...

Now let me tell you about the amazing folks that we met. Who offered their own vehicles and time to pull our farmacia around to the various sites we visited while our truck was being repaired, because things like repairs do not happen quickly in remote areas. Who came before we were even out of our rooms to quietly hook up the farmacia to their personal trucks and get it over to where our next clinic would be. This could be a half hour or close to two hours away, depending on where we were going. And every night, they would faithfully plunk it back to its resting spot in the parking lot, usually later than when we got back. Rinse and repeat. Who returned us a repaired truck when parts were finally obtained. Without the kindness of many people, many others would have suffered.

This should scare them roaches...!
Having the lowest of the rooms ensured me of a fine wild life experience. What was crunching in the middle of the night, you ask? The dang roaches, that's who, and rightly so, shame on them for dancing in the Director's room on a nightly basis, crawling up the concrete bed base whilst listening to my pleas "Get out! GET OUT!!! GET OUT NOW!!!!  Ya f***ing bastards!  Filthy neanderthal arthropods!!!" They were stomped on, towel whipped, cursed at, thrown at and suitably squished many times. By the time I had become as wobbly as the roach guts, I had to enlist Kathy to clean up one particularly bad result of insecticide. But oh those roaches had one last surprise left for me, in a fit of hari kari, one particularly nasty specimen saw fit to crawl out of the toilet paper tube of the new roll I had put my fingers in, and skittle up my arm. I bet he didn't know he could fly so far. I could hear faint roach laughter right before I did the Mexican Hat dance on him. It was a three tequila shot night after that.

And so those were my little sufferings on what a very successful mission for those we served. The abuelos and abuelitas, the niños, and everyone in between.

Did I tell you about the attack turkey.......?
Attack consequences.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

My Way

As many of you are aware, I completed the number one big ticket item on my ever evolving Bucket List. The Camino de Santiago. Without further adieu, here are a few observations....

1. Strike One: Just arrived in Paris. Already hampered by a strike. All these boarding gates. Free. No planes. And we had to unload onto the tarmac and walk in to a non helpful terminal. Now my flight landed early, which prompted a "Why did the travel company not book me on the train to Bayonne that leaves from the airport instead of requiring me to taxi to another train station a whole bunch of Euros away?" And the answer is...because they only have two, count them, two guys processing you through customs and immigration. My plane load, and a bunch of others. I would have missed that 1030 train. My plane landed at 0730.

2. Strike Two: Looking for my train number on the board in Bayonne, to catch my second train to St. Jean Pied de Port. Only my train number did not appear. That's because there was no train. Due to a strike, THE strike. Still not clear on who was actually striking here. So we were herded rounded up
 placed on a bus that could not take everyone and driven to SJPP. Stopping at every train station between. Not that we could take anyone on, and we were all pilgrims. No one getting off.

3. Strike Three: Well lookie here. On the board. My train from Santiago to Madrid is only going to Zamora. Because of a strike. Then a bus. Adding a couple of hours to my travel time, because buses cannot travel at 250km/hr. Yippee.

4. Ball: Not being kicked off thrown off the train in Zamora. Because someone in their infinite wisdom decided that a train with maybe 20 cars of folks going to Madrid had too many people to fit on a single bus.

5. Not a Home Run: I eat out on my own fairly often. Most of the time I am treated like a regular human being. As opposed to a female lone diner. I am happy, I tip well, I am generally really pleasant and easy to please. That all changed in France. I was still happy, easy to please, but as a single female diner, I got the worst seats in the house, even though there were few patrons at the time I was eating.  I even got to sit behind the potted plant. There were two other occupied tables in that resto. I felt like Arte Johnson on "Laugh In", cue the comment "Very interesting!",  several times as I watched the other tables being waited on and served promptly while I had to rattle palm leaves to even be noticed by the guy who had seated me behind the tree in the first place.

You can watch your perro run away for 3 days. 
6. Movies Lie: I had not watched "The Way" until a week before I left home. I had done my research already, and knew that I was not in for a cake walk. I met so many pilgrims who were inspired to walk the Camino by that movie. It does not show you how difficult the Way can truly be, as in it feels uphill the whole way. The slogs downhill worse than going up. The huge blisters that mushroomed on many a pilgrim's feet after just a few days.  Shin splints, sore knees, achille's tendonitis. The race for albergue beds early in the AM (which I did not participate in. ).  The lack of beds at the next village. Relentless walks through industrial areas to arrive at the historical hearts of the big cities of León and Burgos. Hours of walking without seeing a soul, or a marker, then wondering if you are still on the right path. Then again, it does not show the wonder of turning the next corner, and realizing that you have suddenly arrived at your next destination. The awe of seeing abuelo and abuelita plowing the fields with a horse. Waiting for the herd of cattle to walk the path ahead of you before you can continue on your way. the magic of bells, on sheep and on cows. The grandeur of the mountains around you, and the calm serenity of the meseta, which can be likened to walking through
Saskatchewan. If you stop to listen for a moment, you are serenaded by many birds hidden in the wheat fields, and it is glorious. No movie, and no photograph can adequately express what is to be witnessed along the way, difficult or not.

7. Sam I Am: Yosemite Sam. I had many magical Yosemite Sam moments. Like my first major descent into Roncesvalles, toes jamming against the hikers, knees singing a weary song. And this was day two. Rattin, frattin'....

What I bummed down.....
Good intentions....the road to Hell....
8. Two Roads Diverged: Many times, the Camino splits into the Complementario, and the "official" Way, marked by the number of kilometres until Santiago, if no one had stolen that part of the marker. I soon learned that "scenic" and "Complementario" generally meant longer, or more up, or something that I did not want to do. When you are averaging over 20km in a day, scenic does not mean anything good. So when I got close to Portomarino, the Way split, Complementario pointing towards the road and up, while the official path was off the road and sloped towards the river that needed to be crossed to get to Portomarino. Feeling rather accomplished, I took the official route, not wanting to go up and then down again. Pleasant little walk, really, until I reached the final steep descent, through a wall of rocks. No well paved path. Having made a pact with myself at the beginning of the Camino, I would not back track, and again channelling my inner Sam and every swear word known to man kind, I tossed my back pack down a few feet, and slid precariously on my rear. Another toss, another F-sharp, and then I heard laughter
from the top. A lovely young couple, who then offered to carry my pack to the bottom for me. Which they did, and left a note on my back pack asking folks to leave it there as the owner would be down shortly. If they listened closely, they could have heard me coming, rattin' frattin' tarnation....

9. God's Little Joke: Was when I crossed that river to Portomarino, only to be greeted by a series of steep stairways to reach the inner town. Rattin' frattin' tattin'.....

10. Strikes, Spares and Misses: Ordered a waterproof breathable rain poncho a month before I left, from Amazon. Did not arrive by the Friday before my departure Monday afternoon. So I bought one from MEC at three times the price of my Amazon find. Only to receive the original order in my mailbox an hour before I left for the airport.
Big Bird of the Camino

11. He Lives: Joost from "The Way" was personified on this journey by a young man named Christian, from Denmark. A bit of a source of frustration for his walking companions, he slowed to talk and walk with all he met. A true character, one who truly loved people.

12. The Letdown: The one thing from the movie that I wanted so badly to be true was the entrance into the church of St. James. I descended the stairs to the right of the church, listening to the mystical notes of the gaita, a nod to the Celtic roots of Galicia. I rounded to the front of the church, only to see scaffolding. And a blocked entry into the church from the front. As well, you cannot take your back pack into the church, which the movie wrongly portrayed. As I had not been to my hotel yet, in fact, I had no idea
where it was, I advanced to the Pilgrim's Office, to receive my certificate and Compostela. I had a wee discussion with the clerk who was going to deny my distance certificate, because one hotel had not stamped my credential. In the end she issued both certificates, and I was free to go. Found my hotel, then went back to the church and entered through the back. I didn't feel it, the accomplishment, the spirituality, the peace. I felt nothing, and was willing myself to feel something. I left and met up with another pilgrim I had met at the beginning of my journey, a very special gentleman and an Anglican priest. We shared wine, dinner, and stories, as we had separated in Pamplona. His Way had been different than mine. I still wanted to go to the Pilgrim's Mass the following day, but was resolved that the feelings of emptiness would remain.

Does not do the Cathedral justice....
13. The Uplift: How wrong I was, and gratefully so. The next day, I wandered back into the church, amidst the pilgrims, and found a seat for Mass. In a few minutes, my Anglican priest was beside me. he had already been to a Pilgrim's Mass having arrived to Santiago a day before me. Then came the pull, there were confessionals set up in many languages, and lo and behold there was one who spoke English. And so I went and unloaded what was left in my soul, made the young priest laugh, received my penance, and then all was right with the world. The church was brighter, there was joy in my heart that only increased as the Mass went underway, punctuated by the voice of an angel, a nun who was singing so sweetly. A Guatemalan bishop was in attendance, and as luck would have it, the botafumeiro was hoisted and swung at the end of the Mass. And the true spirit, meaning and beauty of what I had just done, this pilgrimage, enveloped me. I had found my Way.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

News From Around

A mish mash of things today. Summer crept by secretly, while I was firmly embedded in work with a side of Vegas. So without further adieu...

1. Pride Goeth After the Fall: Imagine how delighted I was to go riding with my daughter. There is a horse at the barn where she rides that is quite safe and gentle, whose owner is unable to ride him as often as she would like. The Bean asked her if I could ride him, so we could go on a hack together. The answer was yes.

Can I help you...?
I groomed him lovingly, whispered sweet nothings in his ears, gave him a kiss on the nose when no one was looking. Once my daughter tacked up both our mounts, we walked over to the arena where there was a beautifully tall mounting block designed for folks like me with wonky knees and embarrassing mounting abilities. Up the three steps I climbed, placed my foot in the stirrup, swung my right leg over... and promptly found myself on the ground on the other side of Logan, him looking down at me, me looking up at him. I don't think I will need a bone density test for a few years now. I crawled back to the block, re-hauled myself up and this time landed on his back. I could swear Logan smiled, just a touch.

My Vegas winnings, like the hotel name....
2. Who Needs to Gamble to Lose Money in Vegas: Buffalo wings (best ones outside of Buffalo ever!), $9.99USD; deep fried dill pickles (don't knock them until you try them), $3.99 USD; two bloody Caesars, and two other mixed drinks (now, now, I am no lush, there were two of us) = total bill of $105 USD including tip and aforementioned shared food. Converted to CAD is about $1000 these days. But time spent with a good friend laughing about it, priceless! And they say money can't buy happiness...

"Now I know how humans do it in the bush."

3. How Bears Do It In The Woods: Went for a nice long walk, I did, while working in the Great White North. A gentle coating of snow across the ground, the air crisp and fresh. When suddenly it hit, the need for bladder relief while 3 kilometres from home. My steps became ever more so spritely, the knees appeared a little more knocked, until I professed to myself that I could go on no longer. Ensuring with a glance right and left that no cars were coming, I darted quickly into the bush, looking for that sweet spot where neither man nor beast could witness what was about to happen.  There were tall pines, or maybe they were spruce, short bushes, and all manners of other plant life that had lost their foliage for the winter. Gazing around, ensuring I was out of sight, I peeled down the drawers, and performed my best squat from India, using s short tree stump in front of me to anchor this wobbly body. And then, the mighty stump... pulled out of the ground, sending me backwards arse over tea kettle in the snow, me drawers still hooked around me ankles. In a rather valiant attempt to return to a vertical position, I grabbed what ever was beside me, what a struggle ensued, left my mark in the snow, and a butt print the size of Kansas. Peering around to make sure there was no amused rabbit or a laughing bear eyeing me from behind a tree, I delicately picked my way out of the bush, and returned home. And had to explain to a fellow nurse the next day why he was picking splinters out of my hand. Did not dare let him check me arse.....

4. Hair's the Thing: Amazing how shaving off two weeks' worth of arm pit and leg hair can make you feel 10 pounds lighter. Equally amazing is how the scale does not reflect this...

5. Unleaded, Please: Lead may protect Superman from Kryptonite, but a leaded xray film drawer does not protect my wrist from injury. Can you say "Ouch?' No...? An F-sharp suffices quite nicely.

Coo loo coo coo coo coo coo cooooo!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

News From the East

India. A land beyond description, I think one has to see it to truly understand it. Beautiful, kind and friendly people. Glorious food,  a terrain that you may not have known exists.

And then, there is my story.

Many years ago, I had told the Bean that if she ever graduated university with a piece of paper in her hands, we would go on a Mom/daughter trip somewhere. While she graduated several years ago, life, for both of us, jobs and children seemed to push this away. To the point where she did not recall me having told her about my offer. I thought it was now or never, when I made the offer, finally. With two kids and the prospect of a new house/full time job for her some where in the near future, the time had arrived. And so she picked India out of an eclectic choice of trips. Within a few months, she and her hubby had bought a new house, and she had a full time job. But the trip would go on.

Smile, cuz I'm the star!

1. When Is a Reservation Not a Reservation?  When you are a) Jerry Seinfeld, or b) Lufthansa. We had paid extra for seat preselection for the two flights down. Via the Lufthansa website. Which were not honoured. The excuse? Apparently, for the first leg, I had not used the airline site, which I had, and there may have been a change of equipment for the second leg. There was not. Would they refund my money? They would not. Well not 100% I got 1 out of four. That's $35 out of $140. Danke shön. Shoen. Whatever.
I could forgive this one anything.
2. Kicked Out Of The Nest. Apparently my daughter is not family, when I asked why she and I were separated for the last flight home. They told me they saved seats together for families travelling together. Spouses aren't family either as evidenced by the little old lady who asked me to switch seats so she could sit with her little old man. So I did. I was happy I did, because there was an obstreperous brat spirited child  back there, the same screaming mimi  exuberant waif who exercised her right to freedom of expression from Delhi to Zurich (and weren't we, or maybe just me, prematurely glad to get off that 7 hour flight to get on the quieter last leg home without HER)  and was allowed decided to yell kick scream command the aisles exercised it yet again for the seven plus hour flight from Zurich to Toronto. My daughter, bless her heart, thinks the unruly effervescent toddler may have had developmental problems. I think it may have been the parents. Of course, MY child was perfect on that flight.

3. How Many Lanes Does a Six Lane Road have? The answer in India is twelve. Three taxis, four tuktuks, three cars of varying sizes, and 2 trucks.  This does not take into account the three scooters, two motorcycles and five bicycles that run between them, nor does it include the six cows standing, lying or stopping wherever they please. Wait, is that a water buffalo loping beside us...?

4. Squatters' Rights. There are two types of toilets in India. Squatters and sitters. Most of the locals use the squatters. Us tourists mostly use the sitters, known as "Western Toilets." Our trusty guide Sanjeev made a herculean effort to stop the bus at places that had sitters. But upon occasion, we required a stop beyond his parameters, and so hasty choices had to be made.

No one ever wanted to be the first person to call for the bathroom break. We would be sitting nervously cross legged, until someone, well, me, would finally get up and ask for a stop. I was never the only one to leave the bus. But always the first to ask. If we were lucky, we would be pulling up to the pre-arranged bathroom stop, and so would have the choice of squatters or sitters. Some of the younger folks did not mind the squatters. Some of us older folks did.

One day, there were no squatters or sitters. There were remnants of an abandoned building with walls that were high enough and situated so that you had your own "cubicle".  Now there are two types of squats, assisted and freestyle. Younger folks were adept at the latter. Some folks, like me, were not. The assist consisted of grabbing onto crumbling walls, trees that were sprouting through the gravel, spider webs - anything to support your squat while protecting wonky knees and keeping your clothes dry. Or stripping off and hanging your drawers on your wall.
Where does an elephant go? Anywhere he wants!

Another time took us to a junior school. With proper squatters built into the floor, for little people, angled into the corner. Now here's the thing. It has to do with the aim. Men have no problem, for a quick whiz anyway. They can aim, they can score two points, single or doubled handed. Girls have to squat, preferably with a wide stance. Because our lady bits are protected by other bits, and the stance corrects that, well sort of. In the junior bathroom, to adopt a wide stance meant that you were aiming at the floor, and not at the hole of the squatter. Younger folks could assume pretty much any pretzel like position and hit the target. Some of us older folks, not so much, because the protective bits cause the aim to be way off, and you have braced yourself against anything within reach to keep you from landing flat on your arse, or your face, depending on how you have contorted you body for the squat. Thereby missing the target completely. With any fore thought, you have removed any clothing that may be in the line of fire. And then there is the matter of standing back up again even though your knees are locked, and you are trying to madly avoid the flow back because you are wearing flip flops. While I have proven myself in northern climes in minus 50C weather, India left me befuddled, bare arsed, and ever so thankful that I can "sit" at home.

5. Cringe Worthy: Two Moms who broke out into song at the drop of a hat And the daughters who cringed. Nice to see that us old girls still got it.
Sanjeev and the Fab Four.

6. Cringe Worthy 2: Canada's Got Talent. I am sure I have the winning performance for that show! I have a largely unknown talent. Howie, Howard, Heidi, and Mel B.!!! They would all be so in awe of me! Because I can imitate with deadly accuracy, the call. Of. A . Male.  Drum roll, please....PEACOCK! Which is the national bird of India and was plentiful in all of the parks we visited.  My talent became well known in India. Okay, so only to my little group, as I was repeatedly called upon by none other than Sanjeev, to demonstrate my formidable talent. Peacocks answered me back, and one started to fan his tail, when he saw me. Wait, Howie!! Don't buzz me! I haven't even started the call... Howard, oh c'mon Howard, not you too, oh for shame. I know Heidi...Heidi...HEIDI!!! Mel B., it's just you and me, now, just hear me out while I take a deep breath in...Mel? Please..? TAKE YOUR HAND AWAY FROM THE BUZZER!!!!!..... Have any of you been speaking to my daughter.....?
Flock off!!!

And that was my little world in India. Mom and daughter had the most awesome of times. In spite of a couple of cringes.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

North and South

Fall is almost over, and as I sit here in the GWN, I have made a few observations:

1. Why the hell did I zip line 18 towers? The first nine would have been plenty. I was honestly going to chicken out on the second set, once I got to the top of the first of the second nine towers. But I didn't. And I was okay, until the 6th or 7th tower, the tallest one. That one, you fling yourself from the edge of the building, no platform, nothing. And as my heart was pounding and my thoughts were racing, I had to tell myself that I had already completed thirteen of these towers, suspended by a harness and a wedgie, and survived. Well, I'm still here.

2. I will say the same about parasailing, but at least I had a couple of margaritas on board once again.

3. Kayaking in an underground cavern complete with stalactites and stalagmites with more than two other kayaks is just not worth your while. They talk about preserving these structures and that it is forbidden to hit them, but really? Most folks down there are neophytes, and what took the earth thousands or millions of years to produce is being destroyed, slowly, but surely.

Maybe he had too much Gallo.
4. The best German food is in Playa del Carmen. Trust me on that one.

5. Someone in Guatemala thought my Spanish had really improved, actually said it was good. Too much Ron Zacapa, methinks.

6. There is a list of the ten worst airports in North America, Bloomberg Businessweek. No small surprise I have been in 7 of them. I must be doing something really wrong.

7. Even less of a surprise is that Miami airport was on that list. And that my luggage decided to overnight there. Again.

8. Disneyworld is for grown ups. Forget the kids. Really

Meanwhile, in the North:
All the monkeys aren't in the zoo. Some are in Disney World.

a) Readying a northern patient for an ECG is like peeling an onion. You roll up the snow pants. Then the stretchy pants. Or the blue jeans if they are male. Next you roll down a pair of wool socks. Another pair of wool socks. Then the long johns go up, followed by the usually too tight leggings. You might see skin now. Never mind the upper body layers. Jacket, vest, sweatshirt, button shirt, t-shirt, thermal shirt, wife beater. Maybe a bra. And here I am, in minus 30C weather, running between buildings in my greens. With a bra. Just thought you would want to know.

b) I was looking for the thermometer tonight. "Why can't you use that one?" asks the Mom as her child puts the probe of the rectal thermometer in his mouth.

And that is my wee world for now.
My perfect man.