Why Cruise?

Because it’s so much fun says Marie!

Here are our top ten reasons for cruising:

10. Enrichment Lectures. Often a cruise line will have a guest lecturer onboard who will discuss local history and culture usually on sea days. We recall lectures on the Caribbean Islands, the Roman Empire, Vikings, Italian food and regae music. Some lecturers are retired professors and do a really great job of teaching interesting material. It’s not for everybody, but Dave really enjoys these sessions. In a related vain, some lines offer daily Catholic Mass and most provide non-denominational religious services at Christmas and Easter.

Chef Dave having fun on the way to Rio!

9. Entertainment. Cruise ships provide endless complimentary entertainment. From Broadway shows, to comedians, to live music of every sort. Usually there are 2 nightly shows in the theatre at 7 PM and 9 PM. And what a theatre it is; huge with state-of-the-art lighting, sound and special effects and comfortable seating, bar service etc. There are movies on outdoor screens, casino facilities and television movie channels in your stateroom. The bigger the ship the more options and the higher the quality. We love the Broadway shows and comedians and the meet and greet events with the captain and crew

Having fun aboard the Carnival Paradise

8. People Watching. It seems, the older we get the more interesting it is to watch other people. Particularly younger people but also people our age and older. We see and hear couples interacting and having fun, see what they are wearing, eating or how they dance (some are really good!) and overhear disputes or complaining (very rare lol). On a cruise there are people from many different places, with different accents, clothes, tatooes etc., etc.. Same sex couples are present in large numbers on some lines, particularly men. Cruises provide endless opportunity for people watching close up.

Having fun aboard Oceania’s Marina in the Baltic

7. Drinks and specialty coffees. We have started purchasing the drink package which includes alcohol drinks, bottles of water (actually now in cans) as well as specialty coffees. You can enjoy as many glasses of wine, beer, cocktails as you like up to a certain price limit e.g., $11 at no additional charge. We also like Americano coffees and a capucino, latte or Irish coffee. The convenience and service is phenomenal. It’s open bar on board if you like to drink. We certainly do within reason.

In St. Martin on our very first cruise on the Sunbird back in 2004!

6. Healthy Exercise. Every ship has an outdoor walking/running track, a state-of-the-art exercise facility and several swimming pools. The top deck walking track is marked as to how many laps are needed per km or mile. The older ships also allow you to walk completely around the quiet promenade deck where there are few people. We walk many laps on sea days. Dave likes to swim laps in the pool first thing in the morning when it is not crowded. Marie sometimes uses a treadmill and enjoys daily yoga. In a related vain, cruise ships provide scooters to rent for those with accessibility limitations.

Formal night Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, New Orleans to Puerto Rico

5. Meeting people. We have met some very interesting people on board e.g, a superb ball room dancing couple from Vancouver, a very friendly couple from Omaha, NE, an ex-clown from Cirque du Soleil, an interesting Mormon couple from Utah and a same sex couple who would always ask us st dinner, how was your day? We do not go out of our way to meet people preferring our own company, but the opportunities are endless. When we do hit it off with someone, it’s often a hoot, and when we run into them again it’s like running into old friends. Catching up and laughing is on the agenda.

Embarking on our best cruise ever with in 2008: Oceania from Istanbul to Venice followed by a group party in Rome!

4. Food. Probably the number one reason many people cruise is because they love good food. Each ship has a main dining room (that’s all they have on a river cruise ship), a buffet restaurant, a pizza and burger spot and 4 to 7 specialty fine dining restaurants: usually Italian, French, Steak, Asian and Seafood. Each tries to outdo the others in quality and service. It makes for some great eating! On some lines (e,g., Oceania) speciality restaurants are included in the base fare. Most though charge extra for specialty restaurants. We love the lobster tail and filet mignon night! We also enjoy room service for breakfast at no extra charge.

On the Avalon Waterways Artistry II, Nuremberg to Luxemburg.

3. Destinations. We go places we otherwise would not go. We have been through the Baltic, the Mediterranean, South America, up to Alaska, all around the Caribbean, a bit to Africa and Asia with Singapore, Australia and South Pacific up next. We would never have gone to most of these places otherwise. In ports we tend to do our own thing lately. Ship provided excursions tend to be expensive. We have organized group excursions and joined in ones that fellow cruisers have organized. These are much cheaper. Our favorite excursions involve beaches, shopping, snorkeling and sightseeing.

Enjoying some delicious seafood on our first Celebrity cruise in 2017. No crowds here!

2. No laundry, cooking, cleaning or grocery shopping. This is a big one. Also no lawn mowing, snow shovelling, garbage, maintenance, etc.. While doing chores at home can be invigorating, it’s sure nice to have a break once in a while. When cruising, someone else takes care of the domestic duties. Makes for a great restful holiday every time.

On the Norwegian Dream having fun!

1. Always going somewhere. For many, being constantly on the move is the biggest attraction of cruises. One never gets a chance to get bored. There is continuous anticipation of new adventure. And some one else does all the driving! Every night on a cruise when we go to bed, we feel the slight roll of the ship reminding us that we are on our way to a new adventure the next day. Makes for a restful, invigorating and renewing experience that a million Canadians a year have become addicted to, us included!

In Alaska with Holland America when the sun came out!

So now we have explained why we enjoy cruising so much. If you’ve never tried it, perhaps you will someday. If you are a seasoned cruiser, you know what we mean. We are planning a back-to-back trans-Pacific extravaganza cruise to celebrate our 40th anniversary in March 2024. Can’t wait!

Cheers from the Celebrity Beyond 2022.

Next up on matersofthemoment: Cruise Line Environmental Practices

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Cruise Review: Celebrity Beyond vs. Holland America New Statendam

This is a detailed comparison of two recent cruises we were on: Celebrity Cruise’s Beyond (X, 3260 pax, 2022, 140,600 tons) Oct 26 to Nov 4/22 to Bermuda/Southern Caribbean and Holland America’s New Statendam (HAL, 2666 pax, 2018, 99,500 tons) Nov 5 to 12/22 to the Northern Caribbean.

Beyond: Newark to Ft. Lauderdale Nieuw Statendam Ft. Lauderdale to Ft. Lauderdale

Boarding – Hands down X. It took 10 minutes and we were in our cabin. No line up or delay. On HAL it took close to an hour of standing and sitting in 2 different holding areas. The HAL gang plank had a very specific weight capacity that could not be exceeded which was the bottleneck I think. The Magic Carpet steel canopy used on X has greater weight capacity it seems. X 5/5. HAL 2/5.

Sailaway – HAL did much better. They had special cocktails for sale, free horsd’oeuvres and a warm welcome from the cruise director on the Lido pool deck. It felt like a sail away should be like – a celebration. On the Beyond, fog poured in at the last moment and the sail past the Statue of Liberty had to be cancelled. Regardless of the weather, it did not have the feel of a sail away (I think we were at the Sunset Bar area and nothing particular was happening.). X3/5, HAL 5/5.

Food – Initial impressions HAL provides food as good as the X and sometimes exceeds. We were sometimes disappointed in the Beyond Ocean View Cafe food quality. The Statendam’s Lido buffet had better tasting food usually as it is maintained in smaller quantities that they serve you (you do not help yourself usually). Bigger lineups. Beyond had a greater ethnic diversity ot offerings in their Ocean View Cafe and virtually no lineups. HAL’s Dining Room was a major disappointment. Due shortage of staff the service was appallingly slow. Giving X too the edge as they served lobster tail one night ( we had two each) and HAL wants an upcharge now for this. X split the dining room into 4 separately decorated smaller ones, a nice touch. X 4/5. HAl 3.5/5

Specialty RestaurantsWe were disappointed on X as we chose the Raw on 5 which was mostly sushi and other raw fish (we could have had the fab seafood tower but chose something else). I heard the man at the next table tell the waitress that his was not a good meal and that it was not her fault!) On HAL we went to the Pinnacle Steak and Seafood Grill. It was the best meal we had on either ship. We could have paid some up charges and gone to better specialty restaurants on X so perhaps this comparison is unfair. X 2.5/5. HAL 5/5.

Cabin – Hands down Beyond! Our balcony cabin was large and spacious with clean lines and bigger bathroom. We had the so called Infinite Balcony which is a sun room closed in on 2 sides with a horizontal wall to wall picture window that goes up and down. You leave the space open to the cabin which increases the latter’s size. We found ourselves spending lots of time in the cabin as it was comfortable and not jammed. On Statendam, the balcony cabin is smaller with a queen instead of king. However we prefer the traditional balcony on HAL since you are actually outside and it is larger. But, HAL’s cabin was dated and jammed. We kept the small coffee table up on the couch to increase space. X 5/5. HAL 3.5/5.

Service: Hands down Beyond. We rarely waited for service for more than a minute anywhere on the ship. On HAL we found ourselves waiting at every bar and restaurant. Compounding this was the process of printing out a receipt for signature even though we had the drinks package and there was no charge. On X they swiped the card or asked your cabin number – no paper. There was a shortage of staff on HAL so that even when there were empty tables all around, the service was slow. X 5/5. HAL 4/5.

Ship: Hands down Beyond. Huge ship with plenty of nooks and crannies to get lost in so it never felt crowded. On Statendam we managed to find a quiet spot on the sun deck as we could not get near the pools or hot tubs due to the crowded conditions. On X I swam laps in the pool which was 75 ft long. I never got in the pool on HAL – no room! However on HAL they had the traditional promenade deck where you could walk around the whole ship perimeter. On X it was blocked up by specialty restaurants. X 5/5. HAL 3.5/5.

Ports of Call: Hands down Statendam. 3 beach destinations and 1 good shopping day: Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios, Cayman Islands and Bimini, Bahamas. The weather was superb on the HAL cruise. On X we were rained on at each of 3 destinations. There was not enough time in Bermuda. Curacao was really run down – major hotel and casino closed, shops closed etc. Aruba was nice as usual but it was our 4th visit there so we just walked around downtown. It rained a lot on the X cruise. HAL had sunny weather. X 3/5, HAL 4.5/5.

Entertainment: Giving X the edge here. They had fairly good Broadway style shows in the fantastic theatre. Also more intimate shows in The Club. We found ourselves dancing in front of the Martini Bar to the soul band that was playing. On HAL we went to one show, a comedian who was pretty funny. They have a wider variety of music including raunchy rock and roll, blues vocal and instrumental music plus we enjoyed some classical quartet performances. X 4/5. HAL 3.5/5.

Technology: HAL had the best app on board. You could order pizza or burgers on-line and by the time you walked to the takeout restaurant, food was ready for pickup – pretty cool I thought. You also use the app to book excursions and specialty restaurants and this worked well. What we did not like was the throttled internet service which gave us much trouble trying to play our online euchre games every night. On X, the internet was fast allowing us to do basically anything even though we had the basic non-streaming service. There was an up charge for the 2nd device. Their app is poor and I had much trouble navigating it to find what I was looking for. In general, in the 15 years we have been cruising, it is amazing the improvements in on board wifi internet service that have occurred, thanks in part to Elon Musk’s recent Sky Link satellite based internet service. X 4/5. HAL 4.5/5.

Percs and Price: X’s percs were free drinks, pre-paid gratuities and basic internet service for 1 device. HAL’s percs were free drinks, a prepaid specialty restaurant meal for 2, basic internet for 2 devices and $100 excursion credit per person. Celebrity bills itself as an upscale cruise line so their price was naturally a bit higher than HAL’s at $CDN245/person/day vs. HAL at $CDN215. Add $35/day/person for airfare costs. Overall X was the best value we we got a particularly good deal when we booked early. It pays to book early since as the ship fills up, the prices go up and up and up, at least on X. X 4.5/5. HAL 4/5.

Crew: It’s fun, interesting and educational to meet staff from around the world. Each line boasted that they had at least 50 nationalities represented in their crew! On X, the Captain was a stand up comedian who had us in stitches. Their regular captain Kate was on board on vacation with her celebrity cat named Bug Naked. On HAL the captain was more of an engineer reporting technical details and weather. The staff on both lines were always curtious, friendly and hard working. Common to both lines, Rumanians make the best waiters! X 5/5. HAL 5/5.

Best Day: Going to Couples San Souci in Ocho Rios on a day pass – top shelf food and drinks, beach, snorkeling and pool. Worst day – probably Curacao due poor weather and economy there.‎ We would like to visit Bermuda again and spend more time there. Marie’s favourite: Bimini, Bahamas.

Demographic: HAL had a slightly younger demographic with several young families, lots of couples etc. X had an older well heeled group, more obese people, many with electric scooter and lots of gay couples, mostly men.

Best Overall Experience and Value: Celebrity. We will definitely cruise with them again. HAL not likely. One thing we really do like about HAL is they always have a priest on board and celebrate Mass daily. On X they celebrate Mass only a few times a year. There is a lot more of a modern buzz on Celebrity. On HAL, people take it perhaps as it is a little cheaper and more traditional in approach it seems. HAL also gave us 2 nice pottery coasters as souvenirs. X 4.5/5. HAL 4/5.

I welcome any questions you may in the comments section. If you remain skeptical about cruising, stay tuned for Why Cruise? coming up soon.

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It’s been a long time since I posted anything as I could think of nothing to write about. Having just finished reading this book about Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, I feel called to say a few words.

First of all, we just visited Louisbourg in August. It was a quick visit as it came towards the end of our road trip and of course, it was foggy that day.


The night we arrived it was late and the last restaurant in town closed their kitchen just as we entered. We thought we would go hungry but found a corner store that sold us some frozen spring rolls that we enjoyed back in our motel. The reason I mention this is that there were several occasions when the early residents of Louisbourg were very near starvation until the next supply ship came in.

Firstly, what is Louisbourg, or Fortress Louisbourg as it is properly called? It was a fortified French town which existed from 1713 to 1758 on Cape Breton Island also known as Isle Royale. When France lost the War of the Spanish Succession, it lost it’s colonies in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to England and was forced to consolidate them in Cape Breton.

At great expense, a brand new settlement and fort was built on the NE corner of Cape Breton. It was located there for access to the lucrative cod fishing banks off Newfoundland and because it could control ship access to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, thus protecting Quebec from English attack by sea.

Author John Stuart McLennan (1853-1939) was a Cambridge educated business man who spent his summers in Louisbourg. He became intrigued with its history. As such, his book, is a military history of the rise and fall of Louisbourg and was first published in 1918. He goes into great detail on the military and civil government happenings that occurred during the life of Louisbourg with interesting sorties into the social, economic and political conditions people faced in living in this isolated French colony.

Three things I learned in reading this excellently written book:

  • cod were so plentiful they would literally leap into the boat and consequently support thousands of colonists and seasonal fishermen financially during this period
  • many of the leaders of Louisbourg were corrupt and or incompetent and sought to line their own pockets thus sealing the fate of this colonial endeavour
  • France was going broke and had it been able to provide more ships and resources to Louisbourg (and Quebec), North America would not likely be as “english” as we know it to be today

It was the dashing British General James Wolfe who leapt into the surf and led his men ashore in the bay behind Fortress Louisbourg which ultimately led to its fall in the summer of 1758. Promoted, one year later that now Major General Wolfe returned to Louisburg to assemble a massive armada and sailed up the St Lawrence to victory, putting a permanent end to French colonization in North America.

In 1928, the “Old Town” was set aside as a National Historic Site, and in 1935 a museum was built. Starting in 1960, the Federal Government reconstructed certain buildings to attract tourists and give local employment. We really enjoyed our visit there and I in reading this book. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars (the illustrations were old and hard to read.) (the use of original source material verbatim was excellent) (sometimes there was too much detail)

I leave you with a few photos we snapped while there on a foggy day. Definitely worth a visit.


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2011 Camino @ Galilee – thanks Fr. Jack!

At the Cathedral in Santiago after completing our pilgrimage.

Our first Camino de Santiago pilgrimage had been in 2010. Marie and I hiked some 700 km over a 29 day period from Pamplona to Santiago. I have already blogged about this journey in great detail here. In 2011, we were excited to embarked on our 2nd Camino – this one at the Galilee Retreat Centre in Arnprior, ON.

Fr. Jack Lau, OMI, Spiritual Animator, led us in a “virtual pilgrimage” at Galilee and on our own path in our local neighborhood. The idea was to walk everyday in a reflective way, reporting our progress, thoughts and observations, over a 3 month period. The goal was to bring the unity of Body, Mind and Spirit together.

Fr. Jack would send out a prayer or reflection that we were to keep in mind as we walked each day. We would monitor our distance and thoughts and report back to the group, whenever we felt like sharing. For example in the month of August I logged 146 km and reported back several times. Fr. Jack would acknowledge our messages and respond with prayers and encouragement. There was signage up at Galilee so often Marie and I would walk the lovely grounds there in silence and appreciation.

During this period, it was a bit of an upheaval time for us. We had sold our house in Ottawa, were living in a small RV and waiting for our new house to be ready in Arnprior. Dave’s mother passed away at this time. Hence the meditative walks, inner spiritual growth and stirrings and the frequent communications with Fr. Jack and the group were very helpful.

Here is a example of a typical message from Jack:

Camino@Galilee “Reflections”

I sent out earlier a reflection from an El Camino Pilgrim which was powerful and so will leave you with only this prayer from the Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hahn. Buen Camino, Jack,omi

To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem.
To meditate means to observe.
Your smile proves it.
It proves that you are being gentle with yourself,
that the sun of awareness is shining in you,
that you have control of your situation.
You are yourself,
and you have acquired some peace.

We had a sharing night where those who had done the Camino in person before talked about their experiences. And at this time many of us we were being formed as Oblate Associates by Jack. It was the best of times! Thank you Fr. Jack for your spiritual guidance, creativity, love and leadership during the years you were here at Galilee. It was 10 years ago last month that you were called back to the U.S. to continue your ministry there. Miss you still!

Buen Camino!

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Faith Without Buildings

The story on religious participation in Canada could not be bleaker. According to the Global national news last night, only 18% of Canadians remain religiously active or committed. Furthermore many Canadians no longer see religion as beneficial to society. While tolerant, they feel discomfort about organized religion. The full story can be read here: https://globalnews.ca/news/8759564/canada-religion-society-perceptions/

In another report the Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s in Newfoundland is in receivership, placing many of its properties up for sale. They are deluged with court ordered compensation payments to victims of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage. Parishioners are being told they should consider remortgaging their homes and buy their local church building, should they wish to continue worshiping there! This story can be read here: https://www.saltwire.com/atlantic-canada/opinion/commentary-a-time-of-reckoning-for-newfoundland-and-labradors-roman-catholic-churches-and-parishioners-100706474/#.Yl4AZdrIZsw.gmail

The reasons for the decline of religious participation in Canada are numerous. Youth are no longer instructed in the Faith at school or at home. The abuse scandals that rock the Catholic Church have resulted in much pain and shame and caused many of the flock to leave. The notion that Islam is a violent religion bent on world domination, has been sown by the media. Rigid pro-Trump views of the “religious right” have spilled over over into Canada causing much political division and negative views of religion. Pandemic authorities made things worse for believers by classifying religious ceremonies as “non-essential” services. Some faithful are still afraid to attend an indoor service and may never come back. The rise in the west of consumerism and neoliberalism with its cult of individualism means: I define what is wrong or right for me personally. Anti-authoritism and lack of respect for differences is rampant in social media.

Canadians see evangelical Christianity (e.g., Baptists, Mennonites, etc.), Islam and Roman Catholicism as the least beneficial to Canadian society. The younger the age group, the more strongly opposed they are to such institutions. While tolerance continues at present, is it just a matter of time until open persecution of members of these groups becomes socially acceptable? Sadly, it seems in the case of Muslims, such persecution has already begun in Canada on a regular basis.

So what are we religiously still active to make of this? Is the end of public religion as we know it, just a few short years away? When us old folks die off, will that be the final blow to organized religion? Will faith without buildings or people to fill them mean the end? I SAY FIRMLY NO! There are many positive happenings, please read on.

When we were in Mexico this past winter we attended a non-denominational evangelical church, because we were invited to by friends and the service was in English. As Catholics, it was great to experience the emphasis on the “word of God” and the great 35-40 min sermons that ensued by some great preachers. What was also unique and edifying was the fact that the service was held out-of-doors in a multi-purpose event facility rented to us on Sundays. It was a beautiful jungle setting and often there were gorgeous flowers for taking home that were left from a wedding held the previous day. This was a faith service without a building.

When in Winnipeg recently, we attended St Kateri Tekakwitha RC church which shares their building with a local Mennonite church community. In fact Lutherans had originally built the church but when their numbers declined, they sold the building and it became a multi-congregational facility.

Another positive development in my view is the proliferation of online religious services. In addition to regularly attending Mass, I watch EWTN daily Mass from Alabama, St. Michael’s Cathedral Masses from Toronto, Holy Cross Church Sunday Mass from Kemptville, ON and even the occasional service from St. Paul’s Presbyterian, my childhood church in Ottawa. I recently saw the Chrism Mass from the Pembroke Diocese without having to drive there. Wow! These have greatly enriched my lived religious experience. I imagine many of you have similar experience too. Hence accessibility to religious services is greatly enhanced now for all the committed, the curious and those seeking.

The last thing I wish to say on this subject (apart from sorry for the long post) is to ask the question “What are we being called to?” IMHO, to a new form of Church, a new form of religion. Whether it be attending small group services in peoples’ homes or outside, watching religion online, sharing a church building with other groups, going on a religious pilgrimage or spiritual retreat, private prayer and meditation at home, people today are still seeking healing and the Truth. Perhaps the need now is more than ever. Hence as children of God called to worship Him, the future is just as bright with or without the buildings.


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Bye to Winterpeg for now

Kyle, Ashley and Hazel

We are home now after our short stopover in Winnipeg. During our last two days there we went bowling together.

And back to the park one more time.

After some delicious donuts.

Went to St. Kateri Tekakwitha church as it is run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. They have a new larger church located in the north Main area now. We were welcomed warmly.

And Elias helped me blow my birthday cake candles out. Thanks Elias!

The weather was great. This week they are expecting 30 to 50 cm of snow from a late Colorado clipper storm! We were truly blessed in seeing our family. It’s good to be home again.


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We have to rethink the way we live in Canada

Having just returned from 3 months in Mexico, I am convinced we have to totally rethink our lifestyle in Canada. In Mexico our default mode of transport was our feet. We walked everywhere and when we couldn’t, (too far, with friends, grocery runs, etc.) we took a bus, Uber or cab. Yes, I can hear the yeah, buts….it’s different here.

When we got back to Winnipeg, we saw the 8 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic on Portage Ave going zoom, zoom, zoom and it suddenly dawned on me. We have to rethink and change our lifestyle, no matter how uncomfortable this will be. In Canada our default mode of transport is of course the private car powered by hydrocarbon based fuels. For those of you who already ‘get it’, ie what follows from this, congratulations! For you others, please read on.

As I learned from Mark Carney in his recent book Values, in order to limit global temperature rise to 2 Deg C from pre-industrial levels the world has a global carbon emissions budget. That is in terms of the amount of GHGs (greenhouse gases like CO2) released. These gases absorb or reflect heat back to earth causing increasing global temperatures which are leading to rising sea levels and more frequent raging wild fires, extreme heat events, droughts, floods, tornados, etc..

In fact each country has its own “carbon emissions budget“ and Canada is using its up already whether we are cognizant of this or not. We have to start designing communities so that the default mode of transportation can be walking and public transit again. A private car would only be used when other options are not viable. e,g, a road trip, commute to work. Apart from the GHG saving effects, we have found we are happier and healthier whenever we walk somewhere or take public transit- it simplifies things.

What about airline travel and discretionary cruises etc.? Economics can handle this in my view by increasing the cost of carbon emissions significantly thus deterring more and more of us from these types of activities. Heating your house you say. Zero emission electricity is the long term answer. Intercity travel? Busses, trains and zero emission cars.

My neighbour’s zero emission Hyundai Ionic

Progress is being made. The cost of batteries, solar cells and wind turbines has fallen dramatically. Carbon capture technologies are proving more feasible. Companies and governments are starting to publicly explain how and when they will attain net zero operations. Incentives to purchase zero emission vehicles are here. So before you hop in the car without thinking, how about considering other options … such as walking more often.

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Stress Test Lesson in Mexico

At Ernesto’s Good Grub – Don on right, Heather left back corner

Today after church, we went to Bucerias with Don and Heather for breakfast to thank them for their kindness to us. They have been picking us up, organizing the weekly Ernesto’s dinners, inviting Dave to golf, taking us grocery shopping and including us in their circle of friends at church. They have been coming here since 2006 and are very kind.

We went to the fabulous ‎Delicias Mexicanas restaurant. Things started off badly. We arrived at 11:50 but got no service for 30 minutes as they were really busy. When Juan finally arrived at our table he told us breakfast service was now over and asked would we like lunch? We were a bit upset but went with the flow. Some delicious coffee arrived followed by a great taco salad lunch. Yum.

Afterwards, the owner of the restaurant, a man named Abraham comes by and asks how we are doing. We thank him for the wonderful food. He then tells us his story which is somewhat familiar here.

Abraham had moved from Mexico to California and for 14 years lived the life of a Californian‎ – 2 cars, nice house, conspicuous consumption, go, go, go. He came to realize that his stress level was too high trying to hold it all together. So he returned to Mexico … and started up this very successful restaurant here.

Now, he ‎says his stress level is much lower, he is relaxed, having fun and even makes more money. Listen to your body and follow your dream was his implied advice. When I remarked that he has a very biblical name, he said yes, but that he is only the father of one child, not billions. We all had a good laugh and he let me take his photo. Thanks Abraham for the life lesson and Don and Heather for all your kindness


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What are Mexicans Like?

We’ve all heard how Mexico is a dangerous place to visit. Well, after several months here in now our 3rd year, we can report by way of anecdotes and observations, what Mexicans are really like.

Yesterday we took a cab home with our groceries. The driver invited Dave to sit in the front passenger seat for the extra leg room. He soon asked our names, where we were from, how many grandkids we ‎had, etc. Dave asked him the same questions. It turns out it was his birthday so we sung happy birthday to him. He pointed to a copy of the Bible he had on his dash saying this is his God. We had a ball and he taught us some Spanish on the short ride home.

On a Friday pm, our electricity was suddenly cut off in the condo. Turns out the owner had not paid the electricity bill on time. Our property manager got involved‎. The bill was paid quickly but it was too late to get the service man back to turn on the power. So she drove us to another (5*+) condo where we spent the night free of charge. In the morning she arranged for the power to be restored and all was well again.

Playing golf the other day, we noticed that the foursome in front of us‎ had 2 cadies when only 1 is needed. Our Mexican caddy explained to us that the group were rich Mexicans who like everything handed to them and that futhermore, they usually don’t tip like you nice Canadians (and Americans) do.

Whenever we go to Vidanta, the huge Disney like timeshare resort nearby, the staff always salute you when passing by touching their heart and saying hola. Even on the street outside, Vidanta employees on their way to and from work and construction workers make this kind gesture. It is very likely a marketing ploy Vidanta trains its empoyees and contractors to do. Very nice. But we have also been told stories by timeshare owners of law suits because they did not get what was promised them. We have noticed Mexicans like to tell you what you want to hear, especially when it comes to sales.

Mexicans we have met here are scrupulously honest (e.g., a taxi driver brought my backpack back), dedicated, hard working, family oriented and fun loving. They appreciate our tourist presence. They are humble. There are exceptions of course. We feel extrememly safe and privileged to experience their beautiful country, their culture, and the best weather ever.

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”. Heb. 11.1

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Bucerias (boosairreeus) is a town in the NE corner of Banderas Bay about 6 km along the beach from our place in Nuevo Nayarit. It is also known as “BCrias” as there are a lot of Canadians from BC here in winter. The other day we paid a visit.

Known for it’s cobblestone streets, fab restaurants, authentic Mexican culture and festivals, it is becoming more chic. We bused down to the new walking path at the end of our street and walked the 20 min trail. Along the way we chatted with someone who said Bucerias is all different now and will be gone by next year.

The first place we came to is the beautiful Royal Decameon all-inclusive resort. Such gorgeous colours, it is huge and very inviting. ‎We continued on downtown and the construction noise and dust soon began. There are several high rise condos under constuction. Even a nice boutique hotel we stepped into had major renovations going on with grinding and dust. The old wooden foot bridge to the market is being replaced with concrete and steel.

Yes, the Bucerias of the past is no more as it transforms itself to a trendy beach front resort town with upscale boutiques and fewer local vendors. We walked through the square and looked into Nossa Senora de la Pax church. Beautiful, peaceful and timeless. No change here. Each year there is a huge religious festival named after the church with brass bands, dancing horses, endless food stalls, toys and kids everywhere. Sadly it was cancelled again this year due Covid.

We went on to Fat Boys seafood restaurant on the beach for lunch‎. It was worth it. Fabulous fish and fajitas, great friendly service, right on the beach! It was really relaxing after all the noise and dust. We lingered before slowly walking back on the beach to the square. We hailed an Uber and headed for home, satisfied after a great outing. It is indeed a changing world and Mexico is caught up in it too.

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