Our house stands in a swamp essentially. We don't have mosquitos though; this is a pleasant surprise. The man who owns the greenhouses that face our home also bring cattle, usually 2 or 3, to graze on the wetland grass. Recently we were also the home to a flock of these white birds.

Any ideas as to what species these birds are?

A little puzzle for you

I feel like this sometimes:

What does it mean?

Baby's Name

Amber and I are still up in the air for a boy's first name. I hope we land soon. We have 18 days (+/-) left to decide. The middle name is picked.

A girl's name is easy because we still have the one's we had picked out for our first born if he were a she.

I'm wondering what they will put on this new child's birth certificate. In Guatemala, the child gets the father's first last name and the mother's first last name. If the father does not acknowledge the child, then the child only receives the mother's first last name and has to explain each time he/she is asked for the rest of his life that they have ony one last name. If they don't explain, it is assumed that they were either born out of wedlock or a result of an adulterous affair.

I really don't want the last name to be Robichaud Robichaud as that implies incest. But will I have to disown my daughter or son just so she or he doesn't have to get named twice?

I found the Alberta list of boy names for 2005 (the year Blaise was born). There were 4 newborn Blaises named in Alberta that year. Ethan was the top name that year (243) and it's been the top name in Alberta since 2001.



We are cooperating with Helps International to provide special stoves to families that need them. The stoves were purchased through a variety of gifts from Canada. Two men came out to do a demo of the stove for interested families from our school and church. They put the stove together in front of us in about 15 minutes and then lit the stove and had some of the women make tortillas to show that it worked. They know what they are doing when they get the women to make the tortillas because the crowd was murmuring negatively about the stoves until they saw that it actually worked really well. The stoves use 70% less wood, keep smoke out of homes and keep fires off the floor (preventing burns to children).

I was in the market picking something up early yesterday morning. As I stood waiting for my change, a woman was swinging an axe over a big piece of meat on the top of a wooden stump in a booth to my left. The meat cut really well and a large piece of it fell on the floor. That's the cut she wrapped for the customer. Nice.

I visited 9 homes in San Antonio yesterday afternoon. I took photos of 15 children and gathered information on the children and their families. Some sad stuff, but first:
Zaak (31): What do you like to do?
Bryan (4): Poop.
Bryan's papa got a kick out of that. Bryan and his sister both have sores on their body. They look like badly infected boils with massive scabs.

Carmen (12) was abandoned by her mom 3 months ago. She lives with her aunt and 5 cousins. She has one set of clothing so her cousin shares her clothes with her. Carmen enjoys playing with field mice in her spare time. Carmen's aunt's husband died recently.

Aracely (4) and Adalberto (6) were abandoned by their papa leaving mama to care for them. He has another woman and other children in Tactic. The mama receives $30 a month from the papa. The mama used to raise a few chickens to sell, but they died of disease a few months ago. They have no bathroom because there is nowhere to hook up drainage.

The previous mama's sister is the other woman and has 3 kids with a man who is still with his first woman. The kids don't know their father.

This is Angel Ariel. He's 7 in grade 2. He has a scab on his left hand where he was bit by a dog. His father died 4 years ago and his mom works in another town serving food at a work camp where she earns $124 a month. She returns home once a week for one night. The six children (5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14) live alone otherwise. Angel had a bad stomach ache last week so his siblings took him to the Health Centre in Tactic (8 kms away). There was no medicine available for him. He helps out at home by washing his own clothes and then hanging them on the neighbour's barbed wire fence. He wants to be a teacher and his brothers want to be a doctor and an accountant.


I magically transformed into a 31-year-old man yesterday. It was a refreshing experience and I highly recommend it for all you 40+ year-old men (and the curious among the women). I was asked if I felt older, and the answer is yes. The distance from my teens and twenties is greater now and it takes a long time to remember some memories that I thought would be so important to me.

My birthday was made special by several people. I received cards in the post, a phone call, ecards in email, comments on my previous blog post, messages on MySpace, money, a Guatemalan soccer jersey, 2 DVDs, a couple packages I haven't gotten yet, a birthday supper, and a getaway. I feel very loved.*

The birthday supper and getaway were loving given to me by my dear sweet lifemate (ha ha - lifemate, that's a funny word). She prepared a lovely pumpkin soup, chicken quesodillas, and a vicious mango-strawberry-chocolate trifle. Then after our guests left, she whisked me off to the Hotel del Bosque where she surprised me with a quiet night together away from the highway and away from Blaise (who managed the house with a little help from Mariah).

BIG THANKS to Amber, Mom, Papa, Saison & Dean, Salomé, Grandma, Mémere, April, Mariah, Ruth & Walter, Lorne, Chels, Kevin, and Blaise (who kissed me goodbye last night before I left and helped blow out my candles).


4 Days in March

14th: Einstein's birthday.
He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder. Albert Einstein
15th: The Ides of March
44 BC - Julius Caesar of the Roman Republic was stabbed to death by Marcus Junius Brutus and several other Roman senators on the Ides of March. Wikipedia
16th: Zaak's birthday
Zaak successfully avoids sharing a noted day in history.
17th: St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick writes in Confessio after escaping captivity in Ireland and returning to Roman Britain and becoming a bishop:
I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us. Wikipedia
Images: Al, Jules, Pat


Tactic Resident

In Guatemala, each adult is issued an ID document from the municipality where they live. I'm not sure if they have to get a new one when they move (this doesn't happen too frequently). So, because we are now residents of Guatemala, part of the process is getting a Cédula de Vecindad. The information contained therein is
  • photo of serious b/w me
  • me right thumb print
  • me autograph
  • me wife's name
  • me ma's name
  • me pa's name
  • me skin, hair, eye colours
  • whether me hair is straight or curly
  • me height
  • me date of birth
  • me birthplace
  • capabilities of being able to read and write
  • me military history
  • They spelled Amber's mom's name wrong on hers.

    I was very pleased with the efficiency of the Tactic Municipal bureaucracy. We got our cedula's issued in one day (after a week of getting our residency certificates done up (extensive 4 page legal document for each of us). I asked the woman who does them up how many she made today. Three. I guess they aren't too busy.

    Arcade Fire strikes again

    Early 2005, my friend Kris introduced me to Arcade Fire's Funeral and loved the natural energy and acoustic layers they brought to the album. It became one of the biggest independent artist sales of the year. They opened for U2 in Montreal that fall (I was already in Guatemala, so there was no way I could make it :(). I picked up there first self-titled LP too and actually like it better than Funeral.

    I've been anxiously waiting for another realease and on Tuesday I saw it advertised on iTunes: Neon Bible. I'm really enjoying it, especially the church organ "Intervention" and the title track groove. In this album the band explores the dark side of religion:
    Working for the church while
    your life falls apart.
    Singin’ hallelujah with the fear in your heart.
    Every spark of friendship and love
    will die without a home.
    Hear the soldier groan, “We’ll go at it alone.”


    One Laptop Per Child

    One Laptop Per Child is a project that has been in the making for 40 years. The concept involves a sophisticated, economical, durable laptop that can be placed in the hands of every child on earth.
    The current laptop prototype:
    • costs $100
    • 366 Mhz processor
    • built-in video camera/mic/speaker
    • 1 megapixel swivel screen
    • flash hard drive (no moving parts)
    • game controllers
    • wireless networking
    • LED lights for the keyboard
    • 3 USB 2.0 ports
    • various language keyboard layouts
    • when shut, it's impervious to rain and dust
    The philosophy behind it is that this will be a tool to allow creativity among the world's underprivileged children (90% of all children) and provide an inexpensive and reliable education tool.

    My feelings are mixed. Of course I think the technology and partnerships involved are stellar. The possibility of creating video, music, art and limitless access to literature and news is awesome. Computers are wonderful tools - I spend a good portion of my day in front of one. What concerns me is the innate learning that happens when we touch, write, taste, and work. It's the same question as to whether we should give children calculators to learn math. Could we turning the rest of the world into N.America's generation Y?

    Got this from the Québecois eMagazine Le Studio 1.