I spent a couple of weeks in Bolivia last month, after an absence of almost 15 years (with the exception of a short visit six years ago). It was a delight to return to one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries in Latin America, rich in history, culture and social diversity. I could not but be impressed by the changes that had taken place. I spent as much time as I could talking to old friends, shopkeepers and students in La Paz and Cochabamba about what was going on in the country, as well as looking through magazines and newspapers. Much of the background information and factual detail in this article has been gleaned from these conversations with ordinary citizens as well as from the excellent website of the newspaper Pagina Siete.
Temiskaming Treasures (or, “you were wrong, Thomas Wolfe...”)
....you can go back home again. And that is what I did a couple of weeks ago.
New Liskeard is a pleasant town of about 4,000 in Northern Ontario at the head of Lake Temiskaming that I left in 1952 when I was 14 and had only revisited briefly twice - the last time almost 40 years ago. Not that I had anything against returning, it’s just that studies, life overseas, jobs, family and all that made the 500 km drive from Ottawa something to be constantly set aside for another year (or decade).
Si marcher Compostelle pendant deux semaines en juillet 2017 a permis un bilan personnel réconfortant, parcourir en 2018 le Rwanda en famille le fut encore plus. C'était un très vieux projet pour les 12 ans de Maïka, notre petite-fille. Notre fils Éric n'y était pas retourné depuis 1983, 35 ans. Voyage extraordinairement réussi. Je vais essayer d'être factuel et réaliste. J'ai été un peu ébloui par les constats. J'ai donc essayé de confirmer par des informations les plus objectives disponibles mes coups de cœur. Je vous laisse donc apprécier.
While much of my education about pop culture in the 21st c. is provided by my 12-year old grandson during our early morning walks with his dog, Canadian history is not one of our hotter topics . Recently, however, a passing question about the settlement of New France led me to dig around and discover several little known events in our national story.
The children are long since graduated and the grandchild hasn=t started nursery yet, but I still look forward to the start of the school year. It means that the Algonquin Restaurant International will be open for business again and I can treat the wife and myself to one of Ottawa's best-kept (and best-tasting) gastronomical secrets.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
Jonathan Haidt. Pantheon Books, NY, 2012, 420 pp.
In this highly readable and stimulating book Jonathan Haidt sets out and justifies his Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) and how it applies to the current socio-cultural and political environment in the USA. MFT postulates that humans in all societies are governed by six instinctive responses in their relations to their ‘moral environment’ and that these six responses are essential to a healthy balance both in the collective social order and in the individual’s engagement in society.
Just at a time when the theatres and video stores seem to be treating us to one long stream of inane teen-sex comedies, morbid slasher films, ghost-and-demon dramas and unbearably (and interminably) cute cartoons dressed up as feature films, along comes one that really makes one enjoy watching movies again. Now, if only they can do something about the reek of greasy french fries and oily popcorn that the customers stuff themselves with, the theatres themselves might become equally enjoyable.
My wife, Teresa, and I arrived in sunny 30°C Montevideo on February 18, the weekend that the parliamentarians of the newly elected government of President Tabare Vazquez were sworn in. It was the first avowedly leftist government in South America to have won a clear electoral and parliamentary majority. Twenty-five years ago, many of its members were languishing in political prisons. It is hard to seize the scope of such a historical political change in a week and even harder to cover it in a few paragraphs, but for the benefit of those who had to stay behind in sub-zero Ottawa in February I shall try to set out the context and summarize my impressions.
Towards the middle of January we had finished off the last of the Christmas turkey leftovers, we were into our fourth straight week of daytime highs below -10C and we had moved well beyond our saturation point for breathless CBC reports and righteous Citizen headlines about the sponsorship scandal. Isn't it summertime in South America, I asked my wife, Isn't it about time we visited the family in Bolivia and, while we are down there, looked in on some of our old friends in Uruguay?
My wife and I spent the first two weeks of February in Bolivia, visiting family and friends and taking in the Carnival celebrations that, while less known than those in Rio de Janeiro -- are among the most exuberant expressions of popular culture in Latin America. Our visit also gave us an opportunity to observe at first hand the political effervescence that had led the country to the brink of near-anarchy -- the meltdown of effective national government...
It came to me as one of life's little epiphanies.One of those revelations that, like a lit window at the end of a dark street, both illuminates and comforts. We were standing, George H and I, warming ourselves on a chilly June day by a street vendor's brazier on the corner of Arenales and Plaza Washington, a couple of years before the Canadian Embassy in Lima relocated in 1975 to Miraflores.
Part of the price for a fully retired life is being pretty well out of the loop. It was in a line-up at the supermarket on Holy Saturday that I learned of the death of Dwight Fulford, some four years ago. He wasn’t a close friend - more of a good acquaintance, really, as we ran into each a couple of times a year at the Bytowne Theatre or some neighbourhood function in Alta Vista. Nonetheless, the news left me feeling that I had lost something: a chance, perhaps, to say goodbye and to remind him of why I held him in such high esteem.
You know how it always starts. You bend down absentmindedly to flick away a loose chip of paint on the dining room baseboard, then you scratch off a bit more, and next thing you know, you’re repainting the whole room and remodelling the kitchen.
One of the things about living overseas is that you are able to see your country through slightly different lenses when you return – sometimes more depth of field, sometimes more peripheral vision, and some times with less (or perhaps just different) distortion. In our case, when we returned from India after a couple of years away, I was struck by how much the demography of Ottawa had changed.
July 15, 1946. That was the date on the yellowed pages of Maclean’s Magazine that I tugged out of a blocked-up space in our foundation wall a few months ago, along with the Friday, May 20, 1949 edition of The Ottawa Journal. I had pulled down a section of drywall in the basement to check the insulation and spotted what appeared to be an old vent hole. Someone, many years ago, had packed the exit in the outside wall with cement, and simply plugged the inside cavity with old paper.
The Ottawa Citizen ran an article on February 17 on the report of the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which has been looking at foreign aid and CIDA for the last year or two. The article highlighted one of the options recommended for consideration, which was that CIDA be dismantled, and touched on several others. It also chastised the Agency for being inefficient and ineffective, and criticized it for its excessively high administrative costs.
It had almost become one of those some-day-when-I-win-the-lottery things. For years now, it had been that one day when Adriana got her driver’s licence we were going to take a road trip together through deepest Middle America, going to neat places and out of the way towns and catching up on some serious father-daughter bonding.