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Summer in Canada

September 5, 2012

It’s been difficult for me to get back to my blog lately.  Two factors have played a role: the first was just general “busyness”; the second was a deep negativity that set in as I delved into some reading documenting the world politics that have kept, and still keep, Haiti in chains.  Man’s inhumanity to man and the insatiable greed of some know no bounds.

Those who have followed my blog for some time might remember my exasperating efforts to get my Permis de Sejour, the document essential to my remaining in Haiti.  I first posted about it on July 20, 2011 (Getting Legal).  On my way to catch my flight from Mais Gate airport on July 4th, I finally picked it up from the police.  Amazingly it was totally complete with all the necessary stamps and signatures.  It only took one year!  Despite being warned again and again by friends and the Canadian Embassy that the Permis was required for exiting the country, and that if I did not have it I might not be allowed to fly, no one at the airport even asked for it.  Such is Haiti.

Before leaving the country it became abundantly evident to me that it would be necessary to change my living situation.  While I am eternally grateful to Yonese and her family for their gracious hospitality, my room in their home was simply too hot.  Over my last few weeks in Haiti I had an ongoing problem with prickly heat and infected sweat glands, and often developed water blisters over my arms and trunk.  Something had to change.  Fortunately the house that Evans has been preparing for me will be ready on my return, and I believe that my new home will be cooler and much airier, as well as much brighter.

Just before leaving Miami on my way to Seattle, my MacBook quit; I had no idea what the problem was.  While in the Vernon I was unable to find anyone who could address the problem; Apple techs are still a rare breed in many quarters.  When I reached Winnipeg, the staff at the Apple store was very efficient in assessing and correcting the problem; my hard drive was toast.  The technicians replaced it while I waited.  Since Apple no longer makes the 250GB hard drive that was in my MacBook, I got a bit of a bonus; they installed a 500GB drive free of charge.  Thankfully the techies were able to recover all my data and pictures.   It was really hard to be without my laptop for a month.

Over the first few days in Vernon I got to touch base with some friends and to once again join the breakfast group I had been part of for some time.  It seemed as though I had never left.

Iris was incredibly hospitable, providing me with a place to stay and transportation when needed.  After taking her motorhome to Mabel Lake (A Brief Respite, July 16, 2012), we traveled to Vancouver Island where in Nanaimo I visited my 96 year-old aunt and an dear friend I had not seen in about 17 years (I found him as a result of my May 5, 2012, post Some of Those I Met Along the Road on My Journey Toward Calvary), and enjoyed a few days in Victoria with a friend of Iris’s she had not seen for a few years.  The sea air and the atmosphere of the city were exhilarating.

Then it was off to Manitoba.  We made the trip to Falcon Lake at a somewhat leisurely pace, overnighting in Brooks, Alberta, and Moosomin, Saskatchewan.  At the lake we enjoyed the hospitality of a wonderful couple who offered to have us stay with them at their cottage.  We joined in with a gathering of some of Iris’ family and relaxed with a pontoon boat trip on the lake.  We stopped to visit my brother, Allan, and his wife Sharon, and went with them and long-time friends to MJ’s in Steinbach for borscht, perogies, farmer’s sausage and saskatoon pie with ice cream.

I spent a few days in Winnipeg with my daughter and her family (they had just moved into their new home less than a week previously).  Shirley, the younger of my sisters, and I have developed a bit of a tradition over the past few years:  we celebrate our August birthdays together.  This year we were joined by our sister, Lorna, and Shirley’s daughter and her friend for a meal at a Chinese restaurant.  Iris and I had planned to take in Pioneer Days at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, but the weather was nasty; we spent the day visiting her cousin instead. Later, Shirley, Iris and I went to spend a couple of days with my brother and his family at their cottage at Red Rock Lake.  Back in Winnipeg, I spent more time with family, including getting together with my two younger sons over delicious Ukrainian food at Luda’s.

Just when it seemed the return trip to Vernon would be quicker than the one to Winnipeg, things changed in a heartbeat.  A few miles east of Revelstoke the crankshaft pulley went dancing across the highway.  We got the car towed into town where the repair shop informed us they would have to search for parts.  A pulley was quickly located, but the special bolt that holds it on proved more difficult.  Eventually one of the shop staff volunteered to scavenge one from his personal vehicle.  The bolt had snapped off inside the crankshaft and proved difficult to remove.  The result of all this was an unscheduled three-day stay in Revelstoke.  We tried to make the best of it, enjoying this picturesque little town nestled in the Selkirk Mountain Range along the banks of the Columbia River.  I visited the Revelstoke Railway Museum (the town was an important CPR divisional point), we took in a street concert, strolled through the well-preserved historic downtown, admired the beautifully landscaped yards and many heritage homes, walked along the river, and dined at some good restaurants.  A quick peek at the listings in the window of a real estate office clearly showed the inflationary effect of the Mount MacKenzie ski resort on property values.  However, there were bargains to be found in the local thrift shops where I found some things I will need back in Haiti.

Back in Vernon there was opportunity to visit with friends.  We also took a couple of days to take Iris’ motorhome to Sugar Lake, long one of my favourite spots in the Okanagan.   I took in services at Vernon Alliance Church in Vernon and Zion United in Armstrong.  I also got to enjoy a second morning with my little breakfast group.

Meanwhile I kept tabs on Hurricane Isaac, and it was good to hear the storm failed to cause major damage in Haiti, and that the area where I live and work was not seriously affected.

To cut down on costs a bit I then opted to take the Greyhound back to Winnipeg.  The trip was long and brutal—uncomfortable seating and very short meal stops at sketchy overpriced restaurants.  After 32 hours I finally arrived at Winnipeg’s new bus terminal.

The next morning long-time friends Laurence and Pearl picked me up and we were off to Rollag, Minnesota, for the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion.  I was a bit put out that I was charged $35 for a small patch of grass to pitch a small tent while others parked their humongous motorhomes and roped off “personal space” for the same fee.  But the reunion made it all worth it; I love old machinery and the WMSTR has plenty of it in action.  The huge stationary engines were awesome, in particular a 600HP Snow gas engine, 67 feet long with an 18-foot diameter flywheel.   The massive Bucyrus 50-B steam shovel was amazing to watch as it worked in “the sandbox”.   The event makes no pretenses; this is all about boys and their toys.  I also appreciate the huge steam tractors, and any opportunity to see a blacksmith at work is a treat. The smell of coal smoke and steam is heady perfume.  People attending these events are so friendly and talking with the old farmers is always interesting.  The evening spark show was spectacular.  If you have no idea what that is, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPAmi95whR0 For anyone who enjoys this stuff, the WMSTR is the place to be.

Back in Winnipeg again I am staying with my daughter and her family and getting to know my younger granddaughter, Eve, now 18 months.  She is an absolute sweety, but very much has a mind of her own.  She has warmed to me quickly and now enjoys playing with her Opa and takes great interest as I work on my laptop.

I am now awaiting meetings with some people who have indicated they may be willing to assist our nursing school in Haiti.  Those meetings will keep me in Canada longer than I expected.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Zoe Webber permalink
    September 5, 2012 10:52 pm

    looks like you have had a very eventful summer Barry! Hope all goes well with your meetings regarding the hospital situation. Blessings to you Zoe

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