Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yes, the weather's still pretty lovely around here, with the sun still shining as the nearby mountains are dusted with snow. 
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Check this out.  And be entertained.
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Uncle and niece collaborate to set up a tent in our furniture-less living room for the ultimate indoor camping experience.  That's right.
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Harold whips out the camera on the streets of Downtown Eastside Vancouver.
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So what about that trip?

A little update for y'all, in case you are wondering why we appear to have lost our minds, having taken time to plan a gargantuan worldwide voyage and proceeded to spend four months in Mexico and fly to Canada, with no plane tickets purchased for the aforementioned odyssey as of yet. Huh?

It turns out that life, as it is wont to do, got a little complicated.  For a number of reasons which constitute a separate blog post (or ten...), settling in Canada has been priority one for a couple of years now. Fortunately, in August, Canada granted us permanent resident (citizenship comes in a few years) status earlier than expected, necessitating a trip to the Great North right away to get established in our new country. For those of you (like my husband and me) who never paid a great deal of attention to Canada, upon arrival we discovered we didn't really know how to go about living in this unique, large, sparsely-populated (yet we live in an urban center...) northern land.  We will proceed to learn about that, in addition to completing paperwork and tasks that will form the foundation for our lives in our new home.  Harold has begun work in the construction business in these parts, and I am exploring nursing, Canadian style :)  Then, in several months, we will begin our long-delayed honeymoon with a new home base to welcome us back at the end of our journey.  Sweet!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ice sports are a way of life in Canada-what better time to hit the arena and perfect our skating skills (or rather, try not to fall all over the place)...?  Yay-we survived! Turns out our landlord already has a plan for his three-month-old son: get him in skates by age 2 1/2. He'll be fierce, no doubt.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I never shared our other vehicle with y'all: an adorable 2000 "bochito" (Bug).  Acquired in August 2012, it resides in Oaxaca City, helping with the family food business and hopefully hanging in there to transport us during our next visit...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Flashback to Mexico City, August 2012. Preparing to fly off to a new Canadian life :-)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Harold pumps the first tank of gas into our new-to-us Nissan Frontier!!

Story of a NAFTA family :)

My sister and I visited British Columbia three years ago during one of her college spring breaks.  "Coffee so fresh you'll want to slap it!", declared the bus station coffee shop sign as the Greyhound bus that had dragged us over the border from Seattle spat us out in downtown Vancouver.  "Whaaaa?", we wondered.  For four days, we wandered around the cold, rainy, expensive city which featured terrible street music and a physically active and polite populace.  On our return to Oregon, we proceeded to label our Facebook albums for this trip "Canada: A Little Off".  Whew- never living there, I thought.

 Squamish Nation, Stewamus Chief.

 Peace out.

Lion's Bay, British Columbia.

  A Canadian classic: Tim Horton's.

 Lion's Bay.

  The queen of Lion's Bay and her "horsey".

Fast-forward to August, 2012.  Here we are, a series of life events having brought Harold and me together, and then to Canada as permanent residents free to live, work, and recreate in Canada's vast plains and mountainous forests, extensive shoreline, and icy northern regions, with eligibility to apply for citizenship in three years.  Let's just say that this time around, as an immigrant, my impression of this generally mild-mannered nation of 30 million inhabitants hailing from all corners of the globe is different.  The long, sunny late summer/early fall days don't hurt, and neither do the multiple "Welcome to BC", "Newcomer's Special", and "Immigrant Services Society" signs and billboards posted around the metro Vancouver area.  The general lack of trash and unsightly (non-artistic) graffiti, unexpected cultural/linguistic differences, and the exciting vibe of rapid societal change and growth are a plus.  The unending sparkling bays, rivers and inlets, extensive public transportation system, generally sincere and genuine people, high-quality, if sometimes more expensive, food, relatively healthy economy, and universal healthcare facilitate our adjustment to our new country.  Most inspiring is an overwhelming sense of space and possibility that we haven't quite managed to grasp mentally and emotionally.  

We now have three countries to keep track of: the three that comprise the dynamic, frustrating, lovable continent of North America that we call home.  His mother, my parents, the two of us, and his sister all live along the same road that traverses the Americas from north to south.  Whether it's Mexico 160, Interstate 5, or Trans Canada 1, the "Pan American Highway" symbolizes the unity in our respective lives, as we fill our days according to the contents of our hearts and minds, in addition to the dictates of our borders.  Wherever we go along this road, in one way or another, we are home....

  Still not quite sure what this means....Any guesses?
Hmmmm.  Paralyzingly dramatic scenery, universal healthcare, the metric system, multiculturalism, expensive gas and beef, extreme politeness, dry wit, "maple leaf" this and "provincial" that, streets named after British royals, widespread health-consciousness, postmodern "fusion" architecture, and a general relaxed, "we got this" vibe.... Might we be in Canada?  Sounds "aboot" right.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Did they forget about their blog?"

Nope!  We'll definitely post more photos 'n commentary regarding our four-month stay in Mexico, last week's move to British Columbia as permanent residents of Canada, our upcoming travel plans, and countless unforeseen topics.  So stay tuned for more from Los Globesters!

Friday, August 3, 2012

 This "Grandma Mermaid" as my niece refers to her, is an artisan pinata created by a family friend especially for her birthday party Saturday.  Deemed too elaborate to fill with candy and break, she will preside over the festivities as other pinatas with less decorative value are ruptured.
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Couch Surfing

Hosting Couch Surfers= fun overload :)  Thanks to this ingenious social networking/travel/accommodation website, we have made new friends from Finland and Belgium, and were able to enjoy our adventures even more!  I highly recommend checking it out to see how you might get involved....

 Niece n' a laundry basket!

Bathroom of the week

 This makes me laugh :)
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Guelaguetza..... and more!

Hello, dear readers! Thank you to those of you still checking up on the blog after this little hiatus... Some snaps from an eventful few weeks:

Pronounced "gay-luh-gets-uh", the name of these annual late-July festivities means "offering" in the indigenous Zapotec language. For the 80th year in a row, delegations from communities all over Oaxaca unite in the capital to showcase their traditional clothing, music and ceremonies in parades, dance performances and general chaotic merriment.... The Guelaguetza itself is an all-day extravaganza that occurs two Mondays in a row. The government-sponsored festivities are somewhat controversial due to the high admission prices and long waiting lines, as well as the simple fact that they are presented by the less-and-less popular Mexican government... Thus, several thousand people opt to attend the alternative festivities sponsored by smaller surrounding villages or the Oaxacan teachers' union, called the Guelaguetza Magisterial y Popular, which is pictured above.

People of all ages appreciate the joyful festivities.

Our niece and Harold's sister flew in from Canada to join in the festivities and visit with the family. Above is a yoga-turned-jumping session with my four-year old niece. This is supposed to be Warrior II...

Local teenagers rehearse for the Donaji: La Leyenda show, based on a Zapotec love story. Harold and his sister both participated in the show for many years as youngsters, with Harold as a Zapotec warrior and his sister as Princess Donaji.

This is our Mexican lasagna that was a big hit among the pharmaceutical company employee takeout clients, as well as the regulars that dine in our home. We made it with super fresh local vegetables, and Oaxacan cheeses; I don't think it's ever turned out better. Score!

When traveling in Mexico, eating quesadillas or empanadas filled with flor de calabaza (squash flower) is essential. It just is.

Cohetes are a feature of Mexicanity that often freaks out foreigners; they are fireworks that sound quite a bit like gunshots, but offer little visually. Originally utilized to alert surrounding villages to the festivities, they add a noise element to any spectacle taking place, in this case the wedding of a well-to-do Oaxacan couple.

The aforementioned couple tied the knot at the Santo Domingo Cathedral in downtown Oaxaca City. The above monos, or tall puppets, represent a Oaxacan parade tradition with fairly vague pre-Hispanic origins.

Foreigners are often the victims of clown shows. Clowning is a decent career option here in Mexico, and the talent is usually quite impressive, as evidenced by the size of the crowd gathered here in the Oaxaca City town square. The routines feature a lot of doble sentido, sexual innuendoes, and slapstick humor.

Many smaller events take place in the surrounding areas during the Guelaguetza season. We attended a Oaxacan cheese fair in Etla last week, which mostly featured the crumbly queso fresco, and the quesillo, or Oaxacan string cheese. This cheese contains the colors of the Mexican flag, with local herbs and chiles providing the green and red colors. Yum. Just, yum.

Me with the Sierra Madre mountains in the background.

Cheese with roasted grasshoppers inside! Delicious; really!

Pulque was served at the cheese fair, too. Originating as the Aztec drink of the gods, it is essentially fermented aloe vera juice, with fruit nectars sometimes added. It tends to elicit a "love it or hate it" response. I first imbibed pulque ten years ago as an exchange student in central Mexico, where its popularity is concentrated. I enjoy it, but a lot of people make the face demonstrated by the woman in the picture when they first try it... That's a pucker.

Etla, location of the cheese fair, is where Harold's birth certificate was registered; in other words, he and Etla go way back.

Harold says this is his appropriate beer size.

Three children momentarily pause their play to observe the stunning Oaxaca central valley scenery. Etla, Oaxaca.

A pina loca! The pineapple is artfully cored, sliced, and decorated with chili sauce and powder, as well as the obvious marshmallows, umbrellas, and tamarind stick. Delish. Etla, Oaxaca.

The Simpsons are ubiquitous in Mexico, as evidenced by the Homer (?) banner on display at an artisan store. Oaxaca City.

My grumpy niece (whom I love to bits!) was forced to pose with this polite little girl dressed for the calenda, or traditional Oaxacan parade preceding the Guelaguetza festivities.

This man's traditional cattle-ranching highland outfit is simply awesome, featuring @$less chaps, bandannas and a genuine leather bull on his head.

More chaps, bandannas and a mask!

These ladies are from the coast.

Another delegation from the coast of Oaxaca, at the calenda, or pre-Guelaguetza parade.  Oaxaca City.

A lil' mister in a traditional outfit at the calenda.

The wavy things look like pasta. The elaborate dress in the background is typical of the "istmo" region, or southwest corner, of Oaxaca.

The highlands.

Some wild turkeys! Dressed up!

Some ladies from the coast.

Ladies from the istmo region.

Don't recall what region these guys are from, but I like their headpieces.

There are those cool highland leather outfits again. The skirts are fun, too.

Monos, or large traditional puppets, add another dimension to the parade.

These elaborate, fuzzy headdresses are from the central valley region where Oaxaca City is located.

Swishy, flirty skirts from a coastal delegation.

A leopard headdress from the coast.

We joined the parade!

A budding photographer.

There were thousands of people, with lots of foreigners taking pictures and video, and local dudes giving out mezcal, the local (very strong!!) liquor.

The Pinotepa Nacional delegation is the rowdiest, and did an extra dance performance in front of the Oaxaca Cathedral at the end of the calenda.

Lovely Pinotepa Nacional ladies. I danced with them for one of the numbers! This is captured on video only, to be shared in the future...

A nighttime food stand selling tlayudas, or Oaxacan giant meat and cheese filled quesadillas. Makes an awesome fourth meal for those active nights.

A composed young woman from Loma Bonita, Oaxaca, wins the indigenous beauty pageant and will represent the corn goddess Centeotl for 2012.

Other beauty pageant contestants in my hands-down favorite traditional outfits, from the istmo region of southwest Oaxaca. All that glitters is gold!

The escuincle, a Mexican breed of dog originating in the Aztec culture, is absolutely delightful. Though rare worldwide, they can be observed with their owners in Mexico, frolicking joyfully in the sunshine or peering curiously at people.

It is currently the rainy season, apparently until September.

Harold fixes some leaks in his mom's kitchen sink.

We attended an upscale (and overpriced) presentation of the Sandunga festival of the istmo region at the impressively ornate Teatro Macedonio Alcala in Oaxaca City.

Look! It's Benito Juarez (the first Oaxacan president of Mexico) and revered president Porfirio Diaz from the 1940s! Oaxaca City.

A temazcal, or traditional Aztec spa, enjoyed with steaming herbs and reflections about life. In Harold's mom's backyard! I have yet to participate...

Harold relaxes in our room at his mom's house.

We attend an Argentine family friend's son's birthday party, which featured ham and cheese empanadas! Lucky us!

Like I said, the Simpsons are a cultural fixture in these parts.

Our fourth (and apparently final!) visit to the Canadian embassy in Mexico City.

Permanent resident visas issued! It was even cold in Mexico City for the occasion :) Off to British Columbia we go, to start the rest of our lives in the Great North. Thank you, Canada!