Thursday, December 25, 2003

December 25, 2003 - WestJet flight to Toronto

I think I might be on the verge of a weekend that actually involves sleep.  We are in the air over Winnipeg at the moment en route to sweet home Borges in Brantford after a hectic couple weekends in Saskatoon.  We're looking forward to some great Portuguese cooking and gallons of big John's turbo wine.

We had a great Christmas eve last night at "Casa Barbara" with the Davidsons.  And they really went to town on the prezzies!

I can't wait to settle into that nice couch downstairs and do lots of nothing, definitely a great chance to recharge the batteries.


Saturday, November 22, 2003

November 22, 2003 - Calgary, Alberta

Winter is here and it's not going away.  The thermometer reads -25 degrees this morning so I likely won't be going for my Saturday morning walk!  It has been quite cold here for the past few weeks but I must admit I have been enjoying it.  There is no better excuse to hang around the house reading, drinking coffee and listening to great music than when it's cold enough outside to freeze the nuts off a polar bear.

Our old buddy Toddy Van Hees arrives Monday and will be with us for Christmas and we are very happy he's decided to come for a visit.  We have all sort of activities lined up for the next few weeks including my brother's stag party and wedding which is sure to be a raging success!  I'm also going to send Toddy out with Uncle Gerry for some he-man activities while I'm slaving away at work.

It is Ana's birthday on Tuesday, her favourite day of the year!  So make sure you send her an email, she will love it!


Sunday, October 19, 2003

October 19, 2003 - Calgary, Alberta

It's the middle of October in Canada and the weather is still beautiful!  It is a lovely Sunday day and Ana and I just returned from having a coffee at the Serendipity cafe on 9th Avenue, a few blocks from home.  I went out earlier this morning for a round of "disc golf"; which is golf played with a frisbee-like disc (check out  There is a course ten minutes from here and it is absolutely free to play so I've been honing my disc throwing skills every weekend morning.

We had a big housewarming party last weekend and lots of family and friends were over to enjoy it.  Ana's folks came from Brantford for the long weekend and as well my dad and brother Curtis were here.  It was quite a hectic weekend but a lot of fun and gave us our first opportunity to show off our new house (I'll post some pictures here once we get them developed).  It has been so nice having our own place and waking up in our own bed every morning!  I guess most people take that for granted but for us it is something special.

We are planning a trip to Saskatoon next weekend to attend Sheldon Olson's wedding so that's sure to be a blast.  Besides that we (thankfully) do not have much planned up until Christmas, which should give us lots of nice quiet weekends at home - also quite a novelty for us!

Carrie is playing in Calgary tomorrow night and Tuesday and plans to stay with us here so we're looking forward to seeing her.  One of the places she is playing at is the Ironwood Stage and Grill, which is a five minute walk from our house, very convenient!

What else?  I've been lucky enough to reconnect with a couple of great friends from a long time ago; Ian Lavoie and Jeff Stone, neither of which I had seen since university days.  In fact, we all went for a round of disc golf together yesterday that was a good time.  That has been one great advantage of being in Calgary, there are loads of Saskatchewan people here; therefore some familiar faces.

Time to get back to my quiet Sunday (more coffee!!).


Sunday, September 7, 2003

September 7, 2003 - Calgary, Alberta

Finally, it's all coming together.  Besides hemorrhaging dollar bills out our backsides, the past few weeks have been superb.  In that time we have both found jobs with WestJet, bought a new Hyundai Santa Fe, bought a condo, and bought enough stuff to fill our new place, such as couches, tables, lamps, carpets, beds, etc, etc.  Ana and Barb have been burning up the garage sales getting deals on all sorts of stuff.  In fact, I'm going to produce Ana's brand new reality television show called, "Extreme GarageSaleing -  Hosted by Junkaholics Ana and Barb".

The place we bought is in a groovy neighbourhood called Inglewood and steps from the river.  It is a semi-detached townhouse style condo which means no yard work and no shoveling of snow, yayyyy!  It is a three bedroom place with plenty of space so all visitors are welcome.  We have even decided to put a home gym in the basement for the amusement of my musclehead friends (Mike) who like to punish me.

Ana is working in the Marketing department of WestJet and loving it, especially since most of her co-workers seem to be quite insane.  I am working in the department they refer to as "Beanland" as the JD Edwards guy and really enjoying it.  The staff at WestJet constantly walk around with these big smiles plastered on their faces, leading me to believe that there is a "free drug" policy at work as opposed to the regular boring "drug free" office environment.  Either that or they really do enjoy their jobs.  It is an amazing company to work for as almost all of the employees are shareholders and are all focused on keeping costs down and, therefore, profits high.  I think we are going to be quite happy there.  The best part is that we can now fly for very cheap all across Canada so perhaps our traveling days are not yet numbered!


Saturday, August 9, 2003

August 9, 2003 - Calgary, Alberta

30 degrees again today, there is nothing better than a Canadian summer!  Ana and I are back in Calgary after spending a couple weeks in Saskatchewan attending some great family functions.  My grandparents had their 50th wedding anniversary, Curtis and I threw a huge weekend stag for Marty, and of course Marty and Jen got married so it was an extremely busy time.  Most of the Olson and Gustafson family were in town so we had some nice visits with everybody.  The only bad experience was this wisdom tooth I had extracted, which had about nine roots and weighed half a kilo.  Now there is a giant hole in the back of my mouth that doesn't seem to be filling in.  Perhaps that's more information than you were looking for...

We are still hard on the job hunt and both of us have several opportunities we are now working on.  We are really looking forward to getting settled here and into a routine.  Ana's been hitting the garage sales stocking up on the things we will need for our place, which is pretty much everything from wine glasses to lamps to pots.  We've been avoiding any large purchases until we definitely nail something.  We've also been out test driving cars and looking at houses and condos so that has been keeping us occupied.

We have no other big plans for the rest of the summer so we'll just keep our heads down hunting for work and enjoying this time we have with Barb and Gerry which has been a real treat.

Just got off the phone with my friend Ian Lavoie whom I haven't seen for about five years.  He lives in Calgary now and is on the way over with his little son Jakob for a visit!


Saturday, June 21, 2003

June 21, 2003 - Calgary, Alberta

Still no job.....but we're looking hard!!

We decided to relocate to Calgary since the Brantford job search was not going too well.  We were lucky enough to have an offer from my aunt and uncle to stay with them in Calgary until we find something and get ourselves organized.  We've been having a lovely time together visiting, drinking wine, and exploring Calgary.  It is a very nice city with a downtown area that is very compact, very clean and easy to get around.  We are thinking we will likely look for an apartment downtown if that is where we end up finding jobs.  I have several cousins that live there so we're looking forward to spending much more time with them in the future.

We did a day trip to Banff and Lake Louise last week which was a lot of fun.  Once I get the film developed I'll put some new pictures up on the site.  As well, I managed to negotiate a stop in Saskatchewan for the annual fishing trip with the boys!  The fishing was absolutely spectacular and the weather was pretty good.  It was such fun going out fishing again and I really hope that we will be able to find work in Canada and stay here so I can make it an annual event!  There are not many places we have traveled to in the world where you can spend 4 days in the quiet wilderness with nobody else around for many miles, drink water straight from the lake, see lots of wildlife, catch fish until your hands turn blue and breathe in the delicious, unpolluted air.  I think I'm going to have to put up a Fishing Trip 2003 page so you can all see some of the photos from that superb weekend.

We have set up a temporary cell phone number where we can be contacted and it's 403-889-6980 or the house number is 403-201-2730.

That's it for now, take care!


Monday, April 7, 2003

April 7, 2003 - Brantford, Canada...basement of Ana's parent's house

It has been a week of rotten weather and I have discovered a few new types of snow here in Ontario.  In Saskatchewan we have only three kinds of precipitation; rain (which makes farmers happy), hail (which makes farmers cry), and snow (which makes farmers go to Florida).  In Ontario they are more advanced and have many more varieties.  Freezing rain is when it's quite cold outside but somehow raining.  When rain hits the ground or the surface of anything it instantly freezes which results in a icy covering.  When a car is covered in this you need a piece of something solid to chip the ice away, a regular plastic credit card just won't do as an ice scraper.  Another variety even more interesting is ice pellets.  This is when it is cold outside and raining high up in the atmosphere but instead of the raindrop turning into a lovely artistic little snowflake it instead freezes into an icy bullet.  And when you get hit in the face by these ice pellets it does indeed feel like you've been struck with a shotgun blast.  When these ice pellets start to pile up on the ground they don't turn into fluffy snow, instead you get piles of miniature ice cubes which are not easy to walk or drive on.  The end result of all this is absolute chaos.  I woke up the other morning and the radio stations were listing off all the places which had closed down due to weather and these included many schools, hospitals, government buildings, universities, public transport and highways.  Because of this we had to cancel the driving trip we had planned to take to Ottawa to see my brother and his fiancĂ©e.  So instead we rented a bunch of movies and hung around the house eating and drinking and laying on the couch watching the tube.  And we wonder why Canadians put on a little weight during the winter months!

Our job hunt is underway and we have been busy emailing people, making phone calls and surfing the internet.  Ana's mom even did her part and put together a little shrine in the kitchen with some icons of saints and burning candles which is meant to give us divine help.  It's similar to a shrine she had constructed to get us home safely during our big trip which obviously worked so what the hell, it's worth a try!

There hasn't been much else happening.  Oh yeah, Ana tried to kill her mom the other night. We took them out for dinner for John's birthday and went to a local country restaurant.  Ana's mom ordered the prime rib which came with a side bowl of horseradish.  I put a bit on my steak and Ana's mom asked what it was as she had never seen it before.  Ana said it was a Canadian steak sauce and offered her the bowl to try it.  Before Ana could do anything, her mom scooped up a big pile on her fork and dropped it in her mouth and started munching.  For those of you who have experienced a high power horseradish blast you can imagine her reaction.  She blurted, "yahhh!" and the tears started to flow as she was desperately grasping for her water.  Though we felt sorry for her, Ana and I were laughing hysterically by the point until the tears were falling from our eyes as well.  She's used to eating spicy Portuguese hot sauce which is also very spicy but has a rather 'slow burn' which sneaks up on you then lingers around for a while.  The horseradish effect is completely different.  As soon as it hits your mouth it sends a wasabi lightening bolt right up your nose and you can feel smoke coming out of your ears as you are blinded by the tears.  Then, fifteen seconds later it's all gone, almost like it never happened.

That's about all the news for now.  Wish us luck on the job hunt!


Wednesday, March 26, 2003

March 26, 2003 - Brantford, Canada...basement of Ana's parent's house

You are probably wondering, 'What the hell happened?'!  It has been two months since our last journal entry which is the result of us being robbed of our laptop on an overnight bus in Chile.  After the required visits to the police station to report the loss we moved on to Argentina....and were robbed again!!  This time the cabin we were renting was ransacked when we were out for dinner.  So, a fair bit of bad luck came our way during that portion of the trip but we did manage to recover and had a splendid time traveling through Argentina and Brazil, especially since we were traveling with our friends Rebecca and Fraser whom we met in Bolivia.

We are now back in Canada and have since replaced our laptop and are finally able to get back online to update our site.  We are going to do some work on the site over the next few days so stay tuned!


Sunday, January 19, 2003

January 19, 2003 - San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

We're back in Chile after our Bolivia expedition.  In short, we were quite disappointed with Bolivia.  We found the people to be much less friendly and competent than Peru and Chile and even rude sometimes.  La Paz was quite an interesting city upon first arrival but once you got into the guts of it, we found it to be just another busy, filthy, noisy city, except with many more aggressive beggars and merchants.  Once good thing was the low price of things, there were a lot of bargains to be had.  I bought a stringed instrument called a charango, which is a beautiful sounding guitar-like beastie used in Bolivian music.  Ana picked up a lovely alpaca sweater.  We also found a great hotel where we did a bit of relaxing.

We booked ourselves on a four day tour to the Uyuni region in the south west part of Bolivia.  We had a bit of trouble getting there and saw some really seedy towns along the way.  But once the tour was underway, we really did have a great time, mostly due to the fantastic group we were with.  We had a Bolivian guide named Emilio and the other people were an Australian/New Zealander couple and a Swiss couple, all of whom were fantastic people with great senses of humour.  The Bolivian countryside we traveled through was nothing short of amazing.  The scenery changed from a gigantic salt lake, to dry desert cactuses, to huge snowy mountains, to lunar dust, to muddy lakes full of flamingos, to red lakes, to mountains of borax and, finally, to a final night's accommodation that was so putrid, so foul, and so disgusting that even Ana was looking for the sweet anesthesia of alcohol.  I don't want to write too much about it, I think there is a good story to come from that trip!

We arrived back in Chile yesterday to a town called San Pedro de Atacama which was described as a lovely frontier town by the guide books but is actually a dusty, overpriced, gringo hole.  The only redeeming features are the selection of nice restaurants with great food and groovy bars.  We had a splendid time last night with a bunch of the people from our tour.  We had dinner and drinks in a restaurant with an open roof in the centre allowing lunar rays to shine in and a crackling wood fire on the ground.  We sat around the fire playing cards and having a good laugh.  We are going to meet up with the Australian/New Zealander couple in a few weeks in Argentina and Brazil which is sure to be a great time.

We will spend the day here tomorrow then in the evening catch a night bus back to Arica where we will have a day then fly back to Santiago.  It seems like it has been ages since we arrived in Chile but it's only been a couple weeks!  Good sign, that means our trip isn't going too fast...


Friday, January 10, 2003

January 10, 2003 - Puno, Peru

What a year it's been already and it's only the 10th of January.  We needed a second wind for this last half of our adventure and we have certainly gotten it here in South America.  WHAT A PLACE!!!!  Where do I begin...We arrived in Santiago, Chile and spent a day adjusting to the 16 hour time difference.  We then called our friend Alvaro and went for dinner with him in his wife at a great little restaurant in one of the suburbs of the city.  Our first day out and already the place is full of character and amazing sites around every los latinos....they are a great bunch!!

We no sooner got to Santiago, when we found cheap flights to the northern border city of Arica.  So off we went to the desert.  This little town emerges out of no where like a mirage.  Not much there but a huge market, miles of sand, a museum with Inca mummies  and  plenty of transport options to Peru.  The border crossing was amazingly straight forward and our driver did everything from fill out forms to stand in line!  What service!  The first major town we arrived in was called Arequipa.  The centre of town is full of beautiful colonial style cathedrals and buildings which are lit up at night!  Although it seems to have much to offer tourists, there didn't seem to be many, and that was perhaps the best part of all.  We also went to a 15th century convent called Convento de Santo Catarina, which is the size of a small town.  

We next decided to go on a  fantastic over night tour to the second deepest canyon in the world called Canon de Colca.  Quite a sight, as were the condors which circled overhead.  One part of that tour that I WILL try and forget is the giant rodent (Guinea Pig) that Kris ate that evening...Ugh!!  They are apparently a local delicacy and Kris insists on trying all local foods.  We had a diverse group of people on the tour; four Peruvians, one American, one Brazilian, one German, one Nicaraguan, one Palestinian, one Irish, one French and us two Canadians.  Quite a group, but to top it all off, we ALL spoke Spanish!!!  

Our next stop was the famous Machu Picchu ruins near the colonial town of Cusco.  Cusco is one of the last inhabited civilizations of the Incas.  It is surrounded by ruins, and has a variety of churches,  and other monuments, later built by the Spaniards which arrived in Peru in the 16th century.  Machu Picchu is the largest  and most well preserved display of Inca ruins in the world, and it was magical.  It took 4 hours by train and another 1/2 hour by bus to get there, but it was worth every minute.  We had a  wonderful guide who described he place, like he had built it with his own two hands.  He was the most passionate and articulate tour guide we've ever had!!  So just when we thought that nothing could top what we'd seen in Peru, we come to Puno, a small unattractive little town on the highest navigable lake in the world called Lake Titicaca.  This afternoon, we went on a boat ride to the a group of  floating islands made entirely of reeds.  On these islands live a community of 800 descendants of a pre-Inca race called the Uros. They build the islands, their homes, boats, all out of these water reeds.  They survive by fishing and then bartering with other floating islands and the people from the mainland.  Such a simple life, but they all had the most magical smiles.....we have so much to learn.

So that has been our first 10 days of 2003.  I only hope the next 355 are as exciting. 


Wednesday, January 1, 2003

January 1, 2003 - Auckland, New Zealand

Happy New Year kiddies!!  We had a quite but very nice time last night sitting in a park drinking wine, smoking a cigar, and watching the fireworks shot off the top of Skytower in the centre of Auckland.  We've been exploring the city for the past few days doing plenty of walking and sightseeing.  Yesterday we wandered through the harbour which is the home of the America's Cup sailing race, quite interesting.

Today we are hanging around the hostel waiting for our taxi which is arriving at 2:00pm to take us to the airport.  We fly overnight to Chile, gaining a day in the process, and will arrive in Santiago at noon on New Years Day.  If my calculations are correct we should get another New Year's countdown somewhere over the Pacific!

More to come from Chile....