A Cultural Extravaganza



Jorge Fajardo wows us with his tenor voice and expression

Last night we were treated to a cultural extravaganza chorale concert at St. Paul’s University chapel in Ottawa.  Thanks to Bro. Len Rego, OMI for making us aware of this free concert.

It was sponsored by UNAM Canada – the University National Autonoma de Mexico campus located in Gatineau, QC as well as St Paul’s and a few other organizations.  It was entitled Rencontre chorale: A une voix – One Voice choral festival.


Coral Feminino Harmonia

The highlight for us was the all female choral group from the Tepic area of Mexico, just 2 hours down the road from Nuevo Vallarta.  They are one of only two all female choral groups in Mexico.  They are on their 2nd international tour.  To see a short video of them click here.

We were mesmerized by their pretty costumes, happy faces and the beautiful singing of traditional Mexican songs.  There were rolling R hoots and catcalls from the audience and loud shouts of Viva Mexico throughout.

Not to be outdone was the operatic like stage theatre of the Ensamble del Insituto Aleman Goethe from Mexico DF.  They sang and acted out with expressive faces while they chased each other around the floor bringing everyone to their feet at the end for a rousing cheer.


Then there was the Coro UNAM Canada ensemble group led by Ana Cristina Ramirez who sang one of our favorite latin American songs – Solamente una vez.  It is written by the famous Mexican songwriter Agustin Lara whose full name is Ángel Agustín María Carlos Fausto Mariano Alfonso del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús Lara y Aguirre del Pino!   You have likely heard another of his songs called Granada which the Aleman Goethe group performed for us too.


Coro UNAM Canada

Two other francophone groups from Gatineau sang in English.  At the end, the mass choir was fantastic.  We joined then in singing Beau Dommage’s delightful La complainte du phoque en Alaska (Complaint of a seal in Alaska) and, Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece Halleluyah, which brought tears to our eyes.  We can honestly say we have not had so much fun at a concert in a long time.  We thought we were back in Mexico with a dash of Quebec thrown in.



Au revoir – hasta la vista – bye for now.

Dave and Marie


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Family Sojourn


On our way home from Mexico we stopped in Winnipeg to see Kyle, Ashley and Elias and in Ottawa to see Michelle, Tim, Wyatt, Jackson, Nathan and Jordan.  It was a direct flight from PV to Winnipeg and the same from Winnipeg to Ottawa.  Too easy!

Elias, now 6 months old,  seemed very happy to see us.  He is very calm and accommodating letting us pick him up and hug him without a fuss.  He is eating some solid food now and growing quickly.  We think that he will be a tall guy like his Papa Dave.


Kyle and Ashley live in Woolsley, a great area of town not far from Polo Park.  So we walked over there with Ashley and Elias on a warm and dry Winnipeg day.



On the way back we snapped a few pics in and around the beautiful Assiniboine River just a block or two from their home.

On Good Friday Marie and Dave walked to Kateri Tekawitha Parish to attend their cross veneration service.  We always try to visit this Oblate parish when we are in town.  It was great to see some old friends there.



Fr Francois Paradis, OMI and Pastor Fr Robert Laroche, OMI


Parishioner Sister Eva Solomon who we had met on our 2018 Holy Land pilgrimage

The night before we all relaxed after going out for some great Italian food for Dave’s upcoming birthday.  Ashley surprised Dave with an absolutely delicious chocolate fudge cheesecake she made from scratch.  Boy was it good – all 3 pieces!  Thanks again Ashley!



It was soon time to head to Ottawa but not before a few more hugs with Elias.



We flew to Ottawa without a problem and it was time to continue the family party on Easter Sunday.


Wyatt and Jackson


Nathan and Sarah

We finally made it home to Arnprior on Easter Sunday afternoon after these great family visits.  Of course the party continued when Dave had his official birthday celebration at home.  Thanks Marie!




We received a couple of georgeous follow-up photos of Elias and Ashley on their Easter family getaway.



It was a a very enjoyable end to our 2019 snow bird get away.  Thank you Kyle and Ashley and Michelle and Tim for your hospitality and warm welcome home.  Now if it would ever warm up here…



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Mexico by the numbers


This is not what you think it says, just like Mexico is not what you think it is…

Well we have completed our 2019 sojourn to Nuevo Vallarta and are looking forward to returning next winter. Our 8th floor condo looked out on the beach and pools and was like being on a cruise ship that never went anywhere. Best cabin we ever had.

We have been blown away by the overall beauty of the place, particularly the weather and beach. It is the cleanest beach we have seen save perhaps for Florida panhandle barrier island‎ beaches.  The Mexican people are gentle and polite and seem very happy that we and thousands of others are here.

Yes it seems to say Arnprior Hockey.  Bizarre!

Some challenges. Toll free phone numbers to Canada often do not work.‎ It is a different banking system here but hey so is the US. It is mostly a “credit card” free society and cash rules. The locals are always parading stuff unsolicited for you to buy (but quickly smile and leave when you decline).  The price of golf here is almost 2 x Arnprior prices but 30% cheaper than in FL. Great courses here I must add.  Dave misplaced his bank card and we got locked out of the condo one night, lol.
Love the pedestrian society.  We have not driven a car in nearly 3 months, relying on our feet, busses and taxis. This is very healthy, refreshing and good for the environment given our “knee jerk” use of cars back home.  We had no trouble with the water or food.  Also lived comfortably without an automatic dishwasher!
The entrepreneurial spirit of the Mexicans is to be admired. It seems everyone is operating a small business to rent or sell you something.  ‎For example the “collectivo” 10-12 passenger mini-busses that roar around to take you quickly everywhere are small businesses – the faster he goes, the more the driver makes lol!  Milk in a box that stores for months is a joy here.  Love those Lime scooters!
The prices of food and restaurant meals here are cheaper than in Canada and way cheaper than in the US. The rental accommodation is world-class beach front and cheaper than Florida for the equivalent. There are more Canadians than Americans here and for many good reasons it seems.    We had many visits with friends from home plus enjoyed meeting a growing number of snowbird friends who winter here every year.  Jessica our property manager looked after us extremely well.  We even got to meet her mother, brother and son.
So here goes our ratings for another swell trip:
Nights here: 78
Kms walked: 400+
Busses taken: 50+
Taxis taken: 20+
Yoga classes: 60+
Restaurant meals: 30+
Concerts (jazz, classical, live shows): 10
Stair flights walked up: 45 x 8 floors
Best night: Andales Bar in PV where we danced and sang “Who the xxx is Alice?)
Best meal: tapas at Marival Residence Sky Bar in NV
Best Mexican meal: tacos al pastor at Ponchos in PV
Books read: (Marie 5, Dave 7)
Cloudless sunsets into the ocean: 50+
Laps swum in the pool: 300+
Swims in the ocean: 25
Days of rain: 1
Cloudy days: 6
Ave high/low: 28/17
Weather 10/10
Beach 10/10
Condo location 10/10
Condo 9.5/10 (another bdrm/bthrm would be handy)
Cleanliness of the hood: 10/10
‎People: 9.5/10
Food: 9.5/10
Transportation 10/10
Our rental agent Jessica 10/10
Church experience 10/10
Overall experience/value 9.75/10
Hence as you can see, we are very satisfied and highly recommend Nuevo Vallarta.  But remember, don’t walk on the grass in Mexico – No pisar el pasto favour!  Mexico Si!
Dave and Marie

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Semana Santa


“Abandonment is the supreme expression of love, this giving of oneself to the divine will, which is the total gift of our very selves. This heroic attitude formed from inexpressible trust in God’s Love, from perfect self-renunciation and from loving generosity, is the pinnacle of love.”
Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida                                                              (Wife, mother and writer in Mexico)

We are still in NV and have been hearing about Semana Santa – Holy Week for sometime. Mexicans (there are some 20 million living in cities just a few hours away, flood to ‎PV and NV for 2 weeks of holiday, beach and family time.  Schools are closed for 2 weeks.  The wise we are told, get out-of-town before it is too late.


Apparently there will be huge traffic jams, shortages of food, cash and gas. Church bells will compete with party revellers in one non stop loud and boisterous Mexican mash-up of the spiritual and the physical.  It is a really big religious week here!!!

At Palm Sunday Mass today with 700 Mexicans, we felt the Mexican spirit. Mexicans have not forgotten the mystery of life. Young and old flock to Church here not because they have to but because they want to. You can see respect, joy, calmness‎, love and kindness in their eyes. No one is in a hurry. The Mass lasts over 90 minutes and could go on forever.

On the way in we buy a woven palm frond. There is an entrance processional with people lining the aisles and the Priest sprinkles holy water on all as we wave our palms. The words Viva Christo Rei echo through the church and we bow and join in.


There are no chocolate eggs or Easter Bunny in Mexico.  Instead people will crack cascarones over each other – colourful egg shells filled with confetti. There are large stations of the Cross processions out doors on Good Friday. The city is packed, the hills in the country side call out – Viva Christo Rei!

We all abandon our selves, bow and join in.

Welcome to Semana Santa everyone.



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Enjoy Now


What we do down here in Mexico is go on frequent “outings” to restaurants and bars with a growing circle of friends.

This may sound somewhat counter-culture to our demographic, habits and religious identities back home.  I believe though it is teaching us a lesson. Bare with me.


Wednesday night we went to a fundraiser‎ in nearby La Cruz which is known as “a little drinking town with a fishing problem”. This annual street event raises funds to pay the medical bills of a local family in need.  Wonderful since minimum wage here is $7.50CDN/day.


There were a dozen talented bands all volunteering their time, that played on the street as we watched from our restaurant seats above. There were expats, bare footed people, people in cowboy hats, young and old all dancing in the street and smiling in the warm evening air. The bands ranged from acoustic flamingo type music to Jim Morrison and the Doors. They were all top-notch!


About half way through the evening, I noticed one of the servers had a tee-shirt on that said “Enjoy Now”.  I complimented her on it and she smiled and said thanks. This is so Mexican!  I was too shy to ask to take her picture (this is so Canadian).

The other part of this story is that we were with a friend named Doug who has just lost his wife tragically due to complications from a car accident. He is grieving and needed to talk about his pain all evening.


So I juxtapose these two precepts – the pain of loosing your spouse and “enjoy now”.  Yes we must feel our pain, struggle to get beyond it and enjoy now.  ‎As Marie puts it, the art of letting go of whatever it is that is keeping you off-balance, is what life is all about.  And so, enjoy now is a great lesson.  So folks, wherever you are in life, enjoy now!


PS As I write this on the beach a large group of Mexican volunteers are scouring the beach, digging up cigaret buts and any other litter to take away. Says it all about the lovely, gracious and humble Mexican people who are teaching us how to enjoy now.


PPSS Minutes after posting this Ron Rolheiser, OMI sent out a post saying the same thing that he had written a few years back…


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Around The Bay


Banderas-Bay-Mexico-mapWe have now journeyed around most of Banderas Bay … by bus – from Boca de Tomatlan on the right hand side to Punta Mita at the extreme left.  The coastline is about 100 km long as it’s a very big bay.

Our first outing to Boca was to go to the Ocean Grill restaurant for lunch.  This required us to take 3 separate busses which took 90 minutes to journey the approx. 40 km to get there.  The bus ride was exhilarating looking out at small beaches and upscale villas and resorts.  It cost us only about $3.50CDN each.  We met our friends in Boca as planned but unfortunately the restaurant decided not to open that day.  They claimed the waves were too rough for our short boat ride from the pier to the restaurant.  Bruce remarked that it was much calmer that day than the last time they had been there.  Such is life.  We had a great lunch at another restaurant taking the “Pacifico” beer in.  We headed home by bus stopping in PV for a little souvenir shopping.







Our second outing was to Punta Mita at the other end of Banderas Bay.  This time we took 2 busses lasting approx. 90 mins to get there.  This ride was scary going around some blind hairpin corners almost on two wheels.  Punta Mita is a fishing village and luxury resort town known for upscale homes, golf courses and private beaches. The public El Anclote Beach, backed by restaurants, has gentle surf. We had la nice lunch as we watched kids learning to surf.  The beach is rather rocky here and not to our liking.  Offshore are the Marieta Islands, with wildlife such as humpback whales and blue-footed boobies (birds).  We wandered around town, did some shopping and caught the bus for home.  This time the bus stalled several times and the young driver drove into a gas station to gas it up with everyone on board.  He then proceeded to drag race other busses as we hung on for dear life.  This is Mexico folks!  Another great day!






And we are under the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe here, even on the bus where this photo was taken.










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Golf Fix


Well Dave finally had his golf fix in Mexico.  A friend of Bruce’s, Don is a member at the Vidanta Golf Club here in Nuevo Vallarta.  He invited Dave to play and Marie encouraged him to go.

Vidanta is the largest hotel and resort developer and operator in Mexico and is currently developing a $1.3B US Cirque du Soleil theme park here.  We have been through the huge Vidanta time share resort several times. It is so big, you cannot find your way out and must take multiple shuttle busses just to get around inside.

To get to and from the course, Dave took a Lime scooter.  It’s fun and convenient.  With the app on your phone, you simply unlock, use, park and relock the electric scooter in the place of your choice.  They sit outside our complex and are always readily available.  Neat!



Scooter Dave

Of course Vidanta Golf is very very fancy.  Each group must take a local caddy who advises you distances, hands you your club, cleans them and tells you which side of the hole to put to on the green.  The Nayar course we played is very beautiful with lots of sand and water.  Like Florida, the grass is very hard and dry making for long rolls and tougher putting and chipping.



Garth tees off

The course requires us to drive over the longest golf bridge in the world to get to and from parts of the course.  There is quite a lot of wildlife around including crocodiles, iguanas, many beautiful song birds and blooming Jacaranda trees.




We had a very good time and were completely exhausted at the end due to the heat and strong sun.  Overall. I played not too bad.  Will definitely play again!


Artruro our caddy was great!


With Don, Heather and Bruce

Thanks Don, Heather and Bruce  for arranging this wonderful Mexican golf experience!  Fore!!!

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Alfred David Morgan 1921-65

Alf circa 1964

A few years ago I started a private family blog called Family Sketches on another blogging platform. I have looked at how to transfer the content to mattersofthemoment and not been able to figure it out yet (it is a 10 step detailed process…).

So here I provide a link to a biography I wrote of my father using mom’s treasure chest of family documents and photos. I have changed the settings so this should now be available to the general public.  If you still cannot access it, would someone please pet me know.

So here is the life story of my father Alfred David Morgan.  Miss you dad.


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One of the joys of travel is to experience it with friends and family from home.  This year in Mexico we have been blessed with the presence of some friends visiting.  It is so great to get together in perennial summer weather to share a meal, a laugh and talk about the weather back home!  Here are a few images of our recent get togethers with our amigos from home.


Bruce and Judy from Barrie – long time friends


Bob and Carol of Arnprior – Bob and Dave back play golf together



Michelle of Arnprior and daughter from NYC – it was Michelle’s birthday


Mike and Sharon of Arnprior – good friends for many years

And here are photos of some group get togethers we have had recently.


On the Riviera Nayarit Beach


Another perfect sunset right from our table in PV


Happy Hour by the pool


At Fajita Republic


Return engagement at the Encore in Bucerias


With Deacon Mike on Ash Wednesday

Mexico is as safe as anywhere with welcoming people, great weather and wonderful food.  So what are you waiting for…?…come on down amigos!

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The Rhythm of Bucerias


Bucerias (pronounced” buusaireeus”) is a pretty beach resort town on the NW shore of Banderas Bay.  It is the next town over from Nuevo Vallarta, so not too far from us.  The other night we decided to meet Judy and Bruce there for some live music over dinner.


Looking back towards our place from Bucerias beach

We took a cab as it was our first time getting there but next time, we can take a bus and walk the last 20 minutes, we learned.  We arrived early and took a stroll through the beautiful cobblestone streets, dotted with boutique hotels, shops and restaurants.  It was very relaxed and interesting.


We found the local artisan market and Dave bought a buffalo carved out of ironstone wood.  We wandered through the stalls chuckling at some of the tee-shirt and licence plate messages.



The highlight was going to the Encore for some great live music.  A kick-ass blues band from Vancouver was playing.  One of the members had been in the Downchild Blues Band and two in the Powder Blues band which Dave had enjoyed seeing in Vancouver several times in the early 80s.




The hostess was most engaging and fitted us in nicely.  We had some great food and the band took the stage at 7 PM.  Well the singer/trumpet player Will Ward sounded like David Clayton Thomas (of Blood, Sweat and Tears fame) and the rest of the band players – bass, keyboards, sax and drums were all professional musicians.  It was a fantastic sound to behold and we enjoyed every minute of their 2 hour+ concert in the warm open air.  Ms Armi Grand, owner of the restaurant is a talented jazz singer too and took the floor to sing a couple of beautiful numbers.




Judy and Marie enjoying the evening

It was indeed a superb evening, our kind of music, our kind of place.  We booked a front row table for March 6 when the Vancouver All Stars R&B Band returns.  I mentioned this to Will the singer on the way out and he said they will have some new material then.  Wow, got to love this place Bucerias!


Hasta luego amigos!


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