A Long Time Running

This chap is from Tactic. Óscar Ramos just won the ultramarathon and set a new record for the race, an 80 km run along the highway that runs in front of our house. His time was 7:08:25 hours. I remember him passing by with a number on his chest and not seeing anyone else come after him. Second place was 53 minutes behind him. My buddy Erick says he works at the sawmill two doors down from my house.

I've challenged Walter my neighbour to run the Cobán half marathon in May. Since we both have small children, sleep and helping our wives usually takes precedence to going for a run. We both love running and so a 21 km run shouldn't be too bad. The furthest I've run is 12 km, so I would like to run at least that far once again before the race. If we do it.


My Father the Adventurer

This is the schooner my uncle just bought. My father is visiting him in Australia for the first time since his brother moved there in the early 70's. They are going to fly up the east coast of Australia, fix up the vessel, then take a couple weeks and sail back down the coast.

I'm a wee bit jealous. I wish I had a brother who owned a schooner in Australia.


My Mother the Actress

photo by Chad Hipolito/Red Deer Express

My mom, Debby, has been involved in Central Alberta Theatre (C.A.T.) for about ten years now. She's had parts in 1 to 3 plays each year and is now a real veteran so directors just handpick her for parts - though she still gets worked up over auditions now and again.

Right now she's playing a dog in a comedy called Sylvia. The reviews are great, especially for mom (Red Deer Advocate and Red Deer Expresss).

So, Congratulations mom and another part well done. Sorry we're not around to see you shine, next one though...



When I was taking pictures of our shoe and sock distribution this week, a grade 1 boy's zipper was all busted up and his penis was in full view. It was both funny and sad.

I brought a team to a sinkhole/cave where Maya ceremonies are performed and a priest suspended a live chicken over his fire where it was burned alive. It was shocking. He chanted and recited for about 40 minutes.

With the same team we visted several families. We prayed for each family. A man wept when we blessed him as a father - he works far from home to provide for his family. A fatherless boy wept as we prayed for him.

I bought a 66¢ rock that I thought was jade. It turns out to be a piedra de rayo or lightning rock (my neighbour Walter explained it to me. The Mayans believe that a rock comes with a lightning bolt and splits a tree. Too bad it wasn't jade.

One of the women we visited, a widowed mother of three of our students, asked me to help her with some health problems. She showed me a test result form for some diseases she was tested for: Syphilis - Positive. Ouch. I filled her prescriptions this afternoon from our clinic.

Super Bugs II

This is what I shook out of Blaise's galoshes. You should see this mountain of insects move!

I sprayed 50% bleach on almost everything in our shed. It didn't do much for the boots, but other areas seem clear. We'll see where the infestation goes from here . . .


Super Bugs, Tiny Super Bugs

What looks like sawdust from a distance are actually thousands of tiny bugs.

I have no idea what they are, but they are on everything in my little shed behind the house where we have a spare shower, toilet, washing machine, bike, and my goat milking outfit and goat feed. We cleaned it out a week ago and sprayed it down with water, but nothing was different the next morning.

I'm going to spray the whole shed down with bleach next chance I get. Little stinkers.


Canada Fading

I´m in the Hotel Dos Lunas in Guatemala City right now. Yesterday I drove my former principal and his wife here to the capital from Tactic and we talked the whole way (as we had done the previous day coming from the capital).

Last night at the hotel I chatted with a Quebecois working for government in Ottawa. This morning over breakfast I visited with a British Columbian working in Ottawa as well.

I find it incredible how distant Canada is to me now. I have been away for 13 months - my longest stretch yet - and though it is a core of my being, I feel quite disconnected to it. I guess if I had thought about it before moving away, I would have understood that this would happen, but it has come as a surprise.

One of my fears (not an overwhelming one) is that I won´t integrate very well when I return to Canada. Then I will truly be homeless - but not completely, Amber will be with me.


Superlatives, Numbers, and Thoughts from our trip to Mexico

Most number of my family together in years: 9 (Papa, Mom, Sister, Sister, Brother-in-Law, Wife, Son, Daughter, Me). Great to relax, eat, drink, and play with my family in a luxurious and beautiful place for a week. I am truly blessed.

Visit number 5 to Tikal for me, visit number 1 for my sister Salomé.

Best part of seeing Tikal this time: the birds (toucans, redheaded woodpeckers, wild turkeys, macaws, etc.).

Number of border crossings: 4 (2 there + 2 back).

Cost of these border crossings: 855 pesos + Q40 + $171 Belize = $172 CDN

Worst border crossing ever: Mexico into Belize. A customs officer listening to her iPod while getting her shoes shined tells me that even though I'm only passing through Belize and a resident of Guatemala and citizen of Canada and had been in Mexico for 8 days I would have to unload my entire car of its luggage (16 pieces including food, baby beds, and purchases in Mexico) and carry it all 100 M into the building, get it searched and pay duty, then drive through the customs area then load up the car again. After bringing all the luggage in, the man assessing our purchases, upon learning what I had told the woman, said that there really was no need for us to bring all the luggage in.

Most stressful part of the trip: Finding out at the Guatemala-Belize border that Acadia (traveling on a Guatemalan passport) needs a pre-issued visa for Mexico and that the Mexican embassy in Belize (2 hours away) closes in 30 minutes (Friday noon) and reopens 3 days later (Monday).

Most benevolent person on our trip: Señor Miranda. After talking to a woman at the Mexican embassy on my phone, I talked to this man and he said to come out before 4 PM and he would issue the visa for us. This guy rocks.

Strangest experience in Mexico: watching the timeshare lobby burn to the ground on day 2.

Subsequent funniest sight: watching neurotic tourists running out of their hotel (very far from the fire and very unaffected by the fire) with their suitcases.

Most number of pregnant sisters at one time in our family: 2 (due in July and August) (I'm going to be an uncle!!)

First time my family has met my 9-month old Acadia.

Time spent in water and sun: lots.

Hottest lady on the beach: Amber

Best deal in Mexico: 30 original DVDs with an average price of $5.

Coolest people I met on the trip: Geraldo (hitched a ride with us from Belmopán to Belize City rather than just give us directions), Philip Henry (a traffic cop in Belize City who readily gave us directions to the Mexican Embassy with a heavy Garifuna accent), Señor Miranda (already mentioned him, but by far the coolest), Howard (an oil driller from Wyoming who blessed me with a great conversation after the SuperBowl in Belmopán), Oskar (a Polish Jew who grew up in Kazakhstan, Israel, and NYC - he was staying in the suite above ours in Playa del Carmen), a biker born in Angola who had riden his motocycle from So. Africa to Egypt, around Australia and currently from L.A. to Brazil.

Most annoying piece of luggage: a guitaron my father bought for a friend 2 years ago.

Most disgusting part of the drive: cleaning up Blaise's vomit after the first hour driving.

Distance from Tactic to Playa del Carmen: 1000 kms (600 miles).

Amount of time to drive those 1000 kms: 16 hours


Clinic Highlights

I managed a 2-day medical clinic in Purulha on Monday and Tuesday. We brought in a Guatemalan doctor from the capital at the last minute so that a visiting student doing a missions practicum could experience a medical clinic. We served about 80 people in all over the two days. Usually we serve many more, but since the doctor spoke Spanish, the patients talked to her a lot more. My sister who is visiting for a few days helped work the pharmacy too. Here are some of the things that stick out in my mind.

It's so easy to make the women here laugh... and the babies cry.

Jonathan, the visiting intern from a Bible college in Ireland, got to do his first rectal exam. He didn't want to keep the glove!

The people were the most understanding at this clinic than at any other when we turned them away for lack of time.

There was one girl, 14, who had been born premature and then was subsequently malnourished so she looked pretty rough and appeared to have some mild brain damage. The doctor gave the mother a sharp, very sharp reprimand for not following doctors orders for treatment when she was a baby.

Then the standard deworming experience where the child doesn't want to take the one time dose of Combantrin and spits it all over his mother.

I think I have just three more clinics before I leave Guatemala in July and as exhausting as they are, it is some of the most rewarding work I get to do down here.