A Collection of Travel Essentials. Maybe.

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As much as you stuff your suitcase with what looks like too much, something is always missed. Maggie and me just returned from a cruise to Alaska. I have to say, I am really glad luggage bags come supplied with wheels. Mine was reasonable, hers……, my hernia should subside by next week!

The pic above is a small but eclectic collection (collage?) of “essentials” that travelled with us. The joke, that all you need to pack is a tooth brush and a change of underwear just doesn’t cut it when going to Alaska. By the way, the tooth brush is mine, the “cravat” is not!

And don’t let the garment industry tell you that clothes can be wrinkle free; that is simply a marketing ploy played to a wont-to-be ironless (and mindless?) public. I folded, rolled, and before that, I ironed. I could have spindled and mutilated, it would not have mattered. If anybody was going to ask, I had a ready answer…. Crinkled cotton. I had more wrinkles than a shar-pei.

I wonder if there are back to nature cruises, you know, sans clothes. Now that would surely lighten my load. Cheers.

Collage

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When You Come to the End………

This blog is about a musical instrument – not just any huff and puff wind thing, but the king of instruments, the pipe organ. Now before you think this is about a lot of boring facts and info, bear with me.

I fell in love with this beast back in the 70’s, when most others of my age were a gaga with heavy metal, I was smitten with the majesty, the sonics and shear size of this musical wonder. It was alive, it breathed! Not all have the where with all to master the pipe organ, it not only requires both hands but also both feet. Two prominent artists names that come to mind are Virgil Fox, and E. Power Biggs. But the one that afffected me the most was a showman by the name of Carlo Curley.

Carlo Curley was born in 1952 in the U.S.A., and died prematurely in 2012 in England. He was not your usual keyboard artist. He was indeed an organ master; he added humour and a level of flamboyancy that was not usually associated with the pipe organ. Along with a rather dry wit. In my mind he was the Victor Borge of the pipes. He was the consummate entertainer.

He was the first classical organist to perform at the White House for President Carter. He also played for several European heads of state and toured extensively, always in demand. Because of his unique style, he was nicknamed “The Pavarotti of the Organ”. He was the consummate performer. Always entertaining and having fun with his audience.

My personal experience with this gentleman was at a Toronto concert in 1982 at Roy Thomson Hall where he performed on the newly built Gabriel Kney organ. I was not disappointed.

For over two hours we were wowed by his playing and showmanship as he waded through such classic composers as Saint-Saen, Bach, Handel, Widor, Frank and Messiaen, at times becoming quite vocal and crying out to the audience, “yes” and “yea” after a rather laboured piece. But…. the best part of the evening was yet to happen..

During the concert the organ console and sometimes the pipes were illuminated, but for his encore the stage was darkened and only a soft spot fell across Carlo and the console. His choice of music, When you Come To the End of a perfect Day. And what a perfect selection to close the concert. After thundering his way up to this point, he chose to present this piece as light and airy, the notes just seemed to float out over the audience only to burst in a moment of emotion. All the while he was playing, the spot was slowly dimming and shrinking around him, until all that was left were his hands. As the last notes faded into the night,  so did the spot. For a few seconds there was not a sound to be heard from the audience, as if each one was scared to be the first to applaud and destroy the feeling of the moment. And then it came, and it thundered out in response. There was much dabbing of the eyes, not in sadness, but in a personal experience of joy and contentment and peace. The perfect end to a memorable moment; and that moment got me to thinking about when my final moment is near….

I came into this world with only a few lines of announcement in the newspaper, not on the front page, no trumpets sounding. And as the light fades around me, I think it is only fitting that I depart in the same manner, due to symmetry and other considerations. I will do my kicking and screaming now, not when my stay is nearly over and it is too late. I will pass on the spotlight, hoping only that those closest to me will be able to share in my being part of their lives. Some may applaud,  maybe some will dab an eye. Knowing this gives me a sense of security. I have a plan. The rest is out of my hands.
Security

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Day of the Dead, A Celebration of Life. No. 7

Many cultural rituals and “celebrations” are misunderstood and shunned by those who do not participate. I have to admit that I fell into that category. Being in Mexico for four months, and being exposed to many strange figures around town, I became curious and needed to know the story and origin of a three day happening ( Oct 31, Nov 1, 2) called The Day of the Dead or Dia de Muertos.


A little history is needed here.

Day of the Dead, called Día de Muertos in Spanish, is a Mexican holiday that falls on November 1 and 2 of each year. On the Day of the Dead, the boundaries between life and death begin to blur. Men, women and children of all ages honor and celebrate their loved ones who have passed away, participating joyously in a festival that has roots nearly 4000 years old. The holiday has spread in recent years from Mexico to America and beyond. It is now celebrated by Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and countless others, spawning a colorful and distinctive artistic tradition that continues to inspire.

“Part of our tradition in Mexico  is not to be scared of death and to smile at it. It is a celebration of our ancestors as they were when they were on the earth, alive. It was never a sad thing or a scary thing.”  Gennaro Garcia.

I have to wonder if viewing death as described by Gennaro, would give you a different take on life. Would you be a happier person? I pose that question based on what I have observed of the people here in Puerto Vallarta. They strike me as being a content and happy lot; many smiles and much laughter. This is not what I see at home. Just musing.

Frances Ann Day summarizes the three-day celebration, the Day of the Dead:

On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.
— Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature[14]

 The Catholic World Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico and the Catholic world… Italy, Spain, South America and the Philippines all celebrate All Souls and All Saints Day on November 1st and 2nd. Special Masses and perhaps cleaning of the cemetery tombs are part of the traditional activities… it’s only in Central and Southern Mexico where the colorful parties take place in the cemeteries and elaborate ofrenda altars are built in the homes to honor specific family members who have passed on. – See more at: http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/support/dodhistory.html#sthash.PT6EQPdT.dpuf

Even in death, people around the world are celebrating life. Unfortunately I will not be down here when this happens, but I hope that in the two months  I have left here that I will allow their zest for living to be a part of who I am. I want to take that home with me.

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Art installations are a big part of the festivities in Mexico City.

Leanna Garfield – businessinsider.com

Signs, Shingles and Sillies. No. 6

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The store signs of Puerto Vallarta are as varied as the business found inside. No cookie cutter commercialism here, all are original and hand done.

Most of these establishments are family run. Walking into one, you are greeted with a warm smile and invited to be as much at home as you a comfortable with. No indifferent sales people here. A number of our North American retailers should take note.

Most of the retailers here are either a clothing store or a restaurant. The second pic, “OXXO” is our 7-11 mini mart, and they are on just about every street corner.

“La Vaquita” means little cow, and is a swinging hot spot at night.

As far as that last picture goes, other than put a smile on my face, I wonder just how long that would last in my neck of the woods before the “righteous  right” stepped in. Every corner holds a surprise, every street beckons to be explored. You only have to let the magic of the people take over. ‘Till the next time, cheers, or as they say here “salud”.

The Wheels of Puerto Vallarta. No. 5

Getting around in PV, other than by Shank’s Mare, can be interesting, challenging and fun. Taxis and buses abound, and will give you a ride to remember,  especially the busses. I swear they race each other to the next pick up point. But if you are trying to cross the street, they and the taxis are the first ones to stop.

But the real eye catchers here are the vehicles that in some cases, defy the rules of longevity, or get full marks for creativity. Or just plain outlandish.

Most of the vehicles shown here are modified or repurposed  VWs, or Vochos  as they seem to quite popular around town. A number of them have been converted to all wheel drive, with a powerhouse under the hood. While taken a photograph of the pink and yellow one, a gentleman came up to us and told us of a VW rally that takes place in November in PV where beetle owners come from around the country to show off their shiniest, most original, or most tricked out Volkswagens.

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This final picture is  typical of many of the repurposed vehicles and creativeness of so many of the locals who travel the streets every day.

Blogging from Puerto Vallarta,Mexico

We finally arrived here on Wednesday, in sunny Puerto Vallarta, or what we snow birds call paradise. After settling into our new apartment, we went to seek out some of our old haunts. It was like we had never left.

Enjoy some of the pics from this beautiful town. The Mexicans have a lot to offer, and you do not have to walk far to find it. Food, drinks, culture and their great hospitality.

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Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico from 35,000 feet.
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What was possibly someone’s home, now ready to complete its life cycle.
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The view from our apartment.
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A view from our apartment.
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A view from our apartment.
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A courier from the past?
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An xoloitzcuintli, or a Mexican hairless dog. Friendly, and visits daily.
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This “lady” is ready for a night out!
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A visit to Mexico requires one to stay hydrated.
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This is a nightly occurrence.

The texture and ambiance of Puerto Vallarta is something that simply has to be experienced. Over the next four months, I hope to be able to bring you as much of the fabric of this place that words can convey, that is if I don’t get swallowed by its appetite for adventurous travellers.

Ambience

“T” minus 22 days and counting….

Anticipation, anticipation

Is makin’ me late

Is keepin’ me waiting.

Carly Simon

As if we don’t have enough on our plate, what with Christmas just around the corner, packing for our trip to Mexico on January 11th, we have to have all our possessions packed and ready for the movers on January 6th, in preparation for our move to British Columbia next summer.

But we can do this. I am reminded of that fact every time I look outside at the 30 cm of snow and the -10c temps.

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But here is just three of the reasons of many why this will come together.

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Reason number two.

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And reason number three.

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I can practically smell the salt water from here!!!

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Cheers.

Anticipation

“To Infinity and Beyond….”

Well, maybe not quite that far. But it is about 4000 kilometers far. All the way to the west coast of Canada. Just beyond the horizon. I know it is there because Maggie and I spent a month this past summer travelling the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. I fell in love with B.C., and Maggie is from Vancouver Island. The decision to head the wagons west next summer seemed like the next chapter in our love for exploring the great outdoors.

Someone once said if you set your horizon to far out, it becomes unobtainable, too close, and you face disappointment when you get there. Well, we have both been there, and the place worked its magic. I know that we have made the right decision. We are going to have the opportunity to meet new people, hike new trails and to just immerse ourselves in a new New Horizon.

The pictures below are just a few of the thousands we took. Please enjoy.