Wednesday, September 06, 2006


So, just in case anybody was curious (namely Mike), I'm now living in Ottawa and learning French for a position with the federal government. So far so good, but I probably won't be finished until 2007 some time. It's tough to learn a language - who would have thought?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Home for the Holidays

If anybody is still checking this - I am impressed.

So, as you can tell I have been home for a while now. In all honesty, things have not been that busy, but it is hard to update a blog when you are not doing anything all that interesting.

What I can tell you is that my family celebrated Christmas in London, Ontario with my sister Allison and her husband Jeremy. It was a nice time with lots of snow, lights, and cold weather. On boxing day Jeremy had to work, but the rest of us went bowling. I am pleased to write that I won all three games that we played.

I am currently going through the pictures that I took during my trip. Hopefully, I will find a few more good ones to share. Unfortunately, I have been posting the best ones as I have gone along, so I don't have anything striking to post. We shall see.

All the best to everyone. 2006 is just around the corner.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remember . . .

Today is a day for remembering.
These are a few pictures from Northern France that capture the emotions stirred while I visited the landing beaches. These scenes I will always remember on this day.


Back in Canada

I am now officially back in Canada.
I am currenmtly in Toronto visiting my good friends Ryan and Brandon. I will be here for another week or so before visiting some more people in the East.

Happy Birthday Maizie

Just a quick message to say Happy Birthday to Maizie Monroe - have a great one!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

From Tuscany with Love

Hello everybody.

Once again, sorry for the lack of updates. I have limited internet access - too busy with food and wine, oh and work too.

For those of you who do not know, I am spending October living at a farm near Sinalunga, Tuscany, Italy. It is a gorgeous area and I have very much enjoyed my last few weeks here. Food is a major part of the Italian lifestyle and I have enjoyed the most amazing meals since I have been here. I think I will go into withdrawal from lack of olive oil upon my return to Canada.

My hosts, Barbara and Ugo, are fantastic. They run a small-scale farm that harvest olives, grapes, and some wheat. Each of these is primarily for personal consumption and the farm is more of a personal passion than a commercial enterprise. As such, there are many jobs to be done, but they are more varied than they are intence. We have been working on everything from harvesting grapes to setting in drainage pipe to planting trees. The variability makes the work enjoyable and the beautiful weather has made the outdoor work very pleasant.

While here, I have been fortunate enough to travel a little around the area. I have seen the following:
Siena - great small city with a wonderful feel to it. I only spend a morning here, but the views were great and the city is full of life.

Firenze - full of art, history, and museums. I spent about 4 days in Florence and really enjoyed the city. Everywhere you walk there are shoe stores, leather stores, and (of course) restaurants. The buildings are beautiful and each of them could feature in a post-card. I had the opportunity to visit the Uffizi gallery, saw Michelangelo's sculpture of David and visited many of the city's great cathedrals and piazas.

Pienza - Pienza is a great town that was built by a pope after ascending to his glorious position. The old town is nestled among old walls that provide a great view of rolling scenery of various fields of crops criss-crossing along the horizon. The view is gorgeous. The valley below Pienza is where the wheat field scenes of Gladiator were filmed.

Cortona - Cortona is another gorgeous town with great views. Once again, its protective location high on a hill provides amazing sunset views and wonderful visions of small fields is a geometrically complex pattern. Near by, there is the chapel where St. Francis came to pray to the Madonna. It is built into grey stone and presents an impressive facade along a great hill.

Lucca - Although a much greater town exists, I only spent a day within the old town walls. That said, the walls themseleves are one of the most impressive sights in this great city. There are chapels steeped with myth (such as a executioner's blade that spared an innocent man's life, and a bottomless pit which swallowed a blasphemer etc.) but the walls are great. They combine all the goals of modern active living. There is fresh air, great historical sites, beautiful trees and plants, and plenty of room for biking, running, walking, and just enjoying the scenery. The fact that you are 50 feet up and on top of ancient city walls is just a great bonus.

Take care,


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hello From Italy

First of all Happy Thanksgiving to everybody. That said, I have to admit that Thanksgiving is not one of the holidays that I find to be very important. I agree with the sentiment - being thankful for everything one has, but I have to admit that I tend to focus more on the turkey and potatoes. This year, more than ever, I realize how much I have to be thankful for, but if not reminded by others, I probably would have completely forgotten about this holiday.

Sorry no pictures for now. Perhaps later on - perhaps in November (I only have access to dial-up internet for now).

So, back to my ramblings from before. I, once again have limited time, but I will provide a brief look at a few of the cities and towns I visited in Zambia.

Pashane Village - Pashane village is where Paul has made his home for about 9 months. His home is a simple hut with hard mud walls and a thatch roof. It has no electricity, nor running water, but I did cheat and use a flashlight occasionally. Paul refuses to do this.

The village itself is a collection of these huts. The size of the hut depends on the size of the family, their wealth, and their status within the village (or so I gather). Paul and I were lucky to have a two room hut - one room big enough for a double mattress, and the other as space for cooking, entertaining, and everything else. Paul also has a few other ammentities. A storage place outside the hut - to store grain, grounnuts (evil peanuts), and maize; a grass enclosure behind which to have luxurious bucket showers; and a latrine - hole in the ground for . . .

One of my greatest pleasures is that most of the people in the village do not use latrines, but at least one the kids has used Paul's shower area as a a urinal. It was quite funny to watch.

Chipata Town:
Chipata is a mid-size town and will likely officially be a city within a few years. It has grown a lot in recent years, but being far from the capital and in support of the political opposition - has received little attention. The city itself has two tarmac roads - one leading to Malawi and the other just recently paved. This is a vast improvement over the bright red dirt that typically makes up most of the roads. Within the city, there are several small markets, many bicycle repair stands, and plenty of restaurants. Most of the restaurants are unpainted concrete structures, that have a few bare wooden tables and serve lunch to the people who work in the city. Chipata has all the essential services - a police station - a hospital - internet - a ministry of agriculture. Each of these is not the same as in Europe or Canada but generally is called the same and strives towards the same goals (peace, health, connectivity, and food).

Lusaka is a large city with a great potential to be a beautiful city. However, it is ruined by crime, walls, and fear. Raizerwire, broken glass, and concrete serves to separate most homes and offices from those people that don't belong to those areas. The natural beauty is seen with these gorgeous trees lining many of the avenues. They are giant majestic trees with bright purple flowers. The flowers are small, but seen at distance they give the impression that the tree's leaves are gentle purple. This combined with blue sky and read roads really is quite striking. And then there's the walls again.

Lusaka is interesting because it has the bustle of a European city, and is full of advertising, but it is still very different. The people there are dressed very well - the vast majority of men are wearing suits of some sort and women are dressed equally fashionable. That said, it's too bad that Zambia has very few examples of traditional African dress.

Lusaka is also interesting because you see the presence of all the international organizations - offices for NGOs, AIDS awareness signs, embassies, the UN, etc. You also see advertising that you would never find anywhere else - "A roof without Harvey tiles puts your mind at ease like having sex with a baby cures HIV/AIDS". The pure shock value of this is enough to knock over - but it is because so many organizations are disseminating information about HIV etc. that its only natural for private companies to adopt this in their advertising.

Livingstone is not a normal Zambian town. It caters to tourists and survives on tourism. This gives a very pleasant town, but loses some authenticity. You see tourists everywhere and the vehicles, homes, accommodation, and everything is greared towards attracting foreign money.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

It's about time . . .

Ok, so this post has been a long time coming. Also, much like boxing day, it may be a lot of build up only for a big disappointment. If that is the case, I apologize.

So, where have I been and what have I been up to. This is the brief version:

September 1
- Arrive in Lilongwe airport, Malawi
- Meet up with Paul Slomp and get a ride with his Aunt into the city (He randomly met his Aunt at the airport in Lilongwe, how strange is that?)
- Mini-bus to Malawi/Zambia Border
- Taxi through "no person's land"
- Taxi into Chipata, Zambia
- Bicycle ride to Pashane village
- Nshima and relish for dinner
- Sleep in the hut

September 2
- Bicycle to Chipata
- Day in Chipata
- Overnight in tent in the Ministry of Agriculture compound

September 3
- Motorcycle ride to Ptoeke
- 2 Hour walk to Kaloko Village
- Overnight in tent in middle of village

September 4
- Treadle pump demonstration
- 2 Hour walk to middle of road
- Motorcycle ride back to Chipata

Ok, so I am going to get a lot less detailed now, as I am running out of time.

- Time spent in Chipata and at Pshane Village
- 5 Day safari to South Luangwa National Park
- Chipata again
- Lusaka
- Livingstone
- Lusaka
- Lilongwe
- Nairobi
- London
- Here now, soon Italy.

Perhaps that was a big too brief.

Anyhow, I have a lot to say about life in Zambia and about the things that I saw and experienced. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to share all of this right now. I can just provide the overall feeling: excellent.

It was a great experience to visit Zambia, to see my good friend Paul, to have stimulating conversations about development, quality of life, and world problems, to get a brief experience of living in a village, to play with kids that are so happy to have your attention, to eat a lot of nshima, and to realize how fortunate I am to have all the above experiences and more. Zambia was a great learning experience. It was challenging, interesting, stimulating, and even gave me food poisoning - not once but twice. Good thing I didn't get the food poisoning/malaria that Paul had. That didn't look like much fun.

Anyhow, that's all for now.

I'm off to Tuscany - no more nshima for a while.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Cause I'm leavin on a jet plane

I am heading off in a short while. If I get the chance, I will send an update from Zambia.