Monthly Archives: February 2019

The Kite Runner

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Khaled Hosseini, 2003

A bestseller at the time, this is a story that puts a human face on the Afghanistan conflict in the words of an Afghan born American.

It is the story of Amir, his father Baba and his half-brother Hassan. It traces Amir’s privileged upbringing in an upscale neighbourhood in Kabul, starting in the early 70s. Baba, a lofty Pashtun, is a wealthy merchant and great man who raises his son after Amir’s mother dies in childbirth. Amir is great friends with Hassan, the son of their servant, a lowly Hasara. They fly kites together in competitions until one day, Hassan is sexually abused by the neighborhood bully, while unbeknownst to anyone,  Amir looks on, too fearful to intervene. He never tells anyone what happened to Hassan and carries this guilt for years.

Amir and Baba go about their lives as everything collapses, escaping to Pakistan and then emigrating to California. Years later Amir, now a successful writer,  is called back to Afghanistan to rescue Hassan’s son from an orphanage. It is only then that he finds out that he and Hassaan were actually half-brothers, so he in fact is the half-uncle of little Sohrab.

After much violence and drama, Amir brings Sohrab to America where he too starts to fly kites.  An interesting read but a little too contrived a story in my view. I found myself wishing it would end about 100 pages sooner.

I liked Baba’s character development. He did his duty to everyone, built a orphange and was successful in business. However he never told Amir and Hassan about their brotherly relationship.  Family reputation and avoiding shame is everything in Afghan society. I liked the information about the Pashtuns who are culturally superior to the Shiite Hasaras. The references to the Soviet invasion, communist takeover, Northern Alliance regime and finally the Taliban tyranny, complete with beard police (all men must sport long beards) and public stonings, was indeed educational and gruesome.  I would have liked more information on this though to better understand the context in which the story is unfolding.

I found the series of Afghan names, types of food they eat and references to the Koran a little vexing to remember. Sometimes I could not remember who was who.  Afghans do like lamb kabob and spinach.

I would rate this book 7.5 out of 10 simply because it was a little overdone. I note Khaled’s later books (this was his first) seem to have been rated slightly higher. Nevertheless a  good read about a far off place that I had a little understanding of and would like to learn more about..

 

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Moonset

 

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Marie and I went out with our friends Judy and Bruce the other night for a great dinner at Casa Isabel on the hill overlooking PV‎. Their daughter and her friend were here for a visit too. Lisa brought us some incense which is almost impossible to find here. It was another perfect sunset and later a moonset evening.

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IMG_2733The food, service, view and ambiance were exceptional including the flaming Mexican coffee service. One of the highlights was the bus ride home. There were crowds outside everywhere. We passed the fair grounds – packed with revelers. There were kids on the bus laughing, tourists like us and some people just coming home from work. We passed a barber shop with its doors wide open at 10 PM!

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Later, Dave happened to get up at 4:40 AM and look out the window. He saw this huge orange globe setting in the low hills above La Cruz at the north end of the bay. It was the first moonset he remembers seeing that clearly. Stunning!

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We have seen whales frolicking in the bay near sunset. There are iguanas in some trees and Angel brings his trained hawk everyday to keep the birds away from the open air restaurant. The sand on the beach as the waters recede reveals thousands of sparkling golden flecks. We have chatted with quite a few friendly Canadians and Mexicans and chaff at how fast the day goes by.  There have been about 6 weddings right outside our window, always fun to watch.

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These kind of things are different from FL and make this place uniquely unique. Sorry to drone on about Banderas Bay, but it is starting to feel like home.

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P.S. We went to Mass mostly in Spanish at the nearby Paradise Village community hall with 650 others.  On the back of the Sunday (English) Missals was printed “Donated by Rev. James L. Holland, OMI”, who is from Canada.

 

 

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The Rhythm of NV

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We moved into our condo in Nuevo Vallarta not without incident. We met our agent Jesica, got the keys and checked things out. Needed some light bulbs, a stand for the water jug and an iron. Fine.  Jesica was very kind to take us to Walmart and Mega for grocery shopping.  Then we went to pay the rent.

Scotiabank had told us in Canada that we could walk into the local Scotiabank branch here‎ and withdraw cash from our account. Not true, totally different system here with no link to our accounts in Canada, the manager explained.  I had to request a 48 hour ATM limit increase to withdraw sufficient cash over 2 days.  Anyway, after 2 trips to the bank, we paid up – there were stacks of cash on the table to do this – this is Mexico.

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With Arnprior golf buddy Bob and his wife Carol before we moved to NV

We are ‎very happy in the beautiful condo owned by a man in Guadalahara. It is on the 8th floor overlooking Banduras Bay. We are 250 steps from the beach and can hear the breakers crashing all day and night long. It is simply beautiful beyond belief here!

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There is a resort hotel part of the complex so there are lots of people, families and younger children around the 3 huge swimming pools. We are able to grab a free beach umbrella and chairs as long as we go down early with our towels to reserve. There is a nice little poolside snack bar where we can get fish tacos and a great happy hour.

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Local iguana (he likes the pool too!)

Bruce and Judy came over for dinner the other night and we caught up. The next day we met them on the “Directo” bus to PV and did a Costco run into town. All went well and we took a cab back. Their daughter and her friend are coming for a week so we are planning our next outing together.

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Our biggest decision each day is which direction to walk on the beach. It is always sunny, comfortable and relaxed. The rhythm of NV is very agreeable to us. Feeling very appreciative for all God’s gifts. Hope he is good to you too.  God bless.

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The Rhythm of PV

Hola, we move out to our condo in Nuevo Vallarta today. We spent 5 great days in PV.

There are no clocks here – in the room, on the street. Time does not seem critical. There is no need for weather forecasts either – every day is sunny and pleasant. There is a daily rhythm here that is a pleasure to experience.

People are relaxed and friendly. Mexicans work hard, 6 or even 7 days a week. They are generally cheerful and happy. Yes, we are accosted everywhere to buy trinkets and time shares but you just smile and shake your head. They do not persist and do not seem disappointed.

‎Last night we returned from dinner with Bob and Carol and walked along the malencon. This is the people walkway along the ocean front here. There were thousands of people out enjoying the evening – families, seniors, tourists and young people. Today is a national holiday here – Constitution Day, so the crowds were bigger.

We have had nothing but good safe times here and highly recommend PV as a jumping off point for a Mexican adventurer.

PS We have met dozens of Canadians here and only 1 or 2 Americans. Seems Canadians have adopted Mexico as their 2nd country, at least in winter.

Saludos from the fun side of the Wall,

Dave and Marie

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A Harrowing Journey

Hola! We have acclimatized now in PV after a harrowing journey from the great white north. We drove to Michelle and Tim’s on Monday when it was clear and cold. That night the storm hit that had been forecast. Perhaps not as much snow as forecast, but our drive into the airport was on snow covered roads with thick snow showers. Tim was so kind to drive us at 5h00.

As we enter we look up at the screen and see flight cancellations. The 6h00 flight to Toronto is cancelled and the 8h00 too. We look for ours at 7h00 and incredibly, it shows as on time! We check in and there is no mention of a cancellation.

We get to Toronto about 30 min late but our flight to PV is delayed too. We finally board and after being deiced in parallel with 11 other planes, we take off from the snowiest January ever. We arrived at our hotel about 2 hrs late, but heh, we made it! Tha‎nks be to God, as several other southern flights that day were scrubbed or 10 hour delayed.

Our hotel is basic but is in a great location a half block from the beach with friendly people. We have everything we need. We are enjoying the Mexicans and their great food.
Especially at Pancho’s Tacos! There are a lot of fellow Canadians here.‎ We managed to get our phones working and visit Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Stay warm!

Saludos for now.

Dave and Marie

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