Tuesday 31 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Xel-Ha

    I tried unsuccessfully to hitchhike to Xel-Ha, which is just eight miles down the road, but finally gave up and paid a cabbie to take me.  Xel-Ha seemed to be a rerun of what had happened to me earlier at the Tulum ruins.  When I arrived at Xel-Ha, the shop keepers were just starting to open up their stores.  The place was empty, and alone I quietly wandered along the beautiful clear water, blue lagoons, watching the yellow and violet fish dart around and feed.

    At the main lagoon a handful of people were beginning to wade into the water to start scuba diving.  That was enough encouragement for me, so I quickly went into the washroom, changed into my swimming trunks, and proceeded down the slippery steps into the water.  Strangely, the water was cold on the top and warm underneath, just the opposite of what I generally experience.  There was a bouquet of spectacularly colored fish hovering by the rocks.  I followed them around as they explored the underground tunnels between the rocks.  It was all beautifully fascinating.

    On one of my periodic checks to shore, to make sure my camera bag was still there, I was surprised to see how many people had suddenly arrived.  Xel-Ha is apparently Stop No. 2 for the tour companies.  Just as suddenly, all of those people were in the water, splashing and heading in all directions. 

    I was beginning to get cold, so I made my way back to shore and secured a little space to call my own.  I then began playing the In & Out beach game: get hot and dry, go into the water, then get cold and wet; go back to shore.  I played the game for a while, then suddenly, just as quickly as they had arrived, the tour bus crowd had disappeared, leaving Xel-Ha once again a place of quiet beauty.  

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Monday 30 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: A Plague of Tourists

    The light turquoise ocean, white sandy beach, and the dark jagged rock cliffs dotted with green coastline plants, all combined to make a stunning setting for the ancient limestone Mayan ruins at Tulum.  It was the first time on my trip that I actually saw waves and surf.  

    Naturally, I grabbed my camera and was busy taking a flurry of photos when I heard the roar of diesel bus engines.  In less than 10 minutes the entire site of Tulum was filled with hundreds of tourists.  I was so glad that I had arrived early and had experienced exploring the site in private, before it filled with people.

    After the population explosion, it didn’t take me long to burn out.  I was planning to spend the morning in Tulum, then the afternoon swimming in Xel-ha, but it was 9:30, and I was gone.

You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


Sunday 29 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Tulum

    That next bus trip was even more boring than the last.  The country is flat, with a solid “wall” of 20 foot high brush creating a hedge-like obstacle on both sides of the highway.  I was distracted by the boredom of the ride by rain showers that then began to pour.  That filled me with indecision as to what I was going to do.  I had planed to stay 2 nights in Tulum, so I could visit both the  famous Mayan Ruins on the seashore and also go to Xel Ha (shell hah) which is described as a beautiful white sand beach.

    Fortunately, he rain was beginning to let up as I got off of the bus in Tulum.  I found myself a hotel room, and it looks like I am back to slumming again.  The old proprietor showed me the room and took me over to point out the two live wires that protruded through the wall.  He then demonstrated how I could turn on the ceiling fan by touch the ends of the two bare wires.

    Another rather quaint feature of the room is the toilet.  The toilet tank has no lid and to flush it you simply pull the piece of scrap metal that is suspended cross the front and back edges of the tank.  I remembered Fred telling me that you can measure civilizations by their plumbing.   The toilet obviously needs repair, but it seems to function.

    After a rest in my unique hotel room, I went down to the restaurant for supper.  The restaurant looks like a real dive from the outside, but the meal I got was quite tasty and attractive.  I had shrimp which was served with garlic and a spicy chili sauce.  The plate was garnished with a twisted slice of orange, a radish cut like a flower, and a lime quarter.

    The meal cost me $3.70 (US) and the room was $7.00.  It was a First Class Bus with comfortable seats and air conditioning that brought me to Tulum.  I cost me $6.50 I think.

    I was awakened the next day at 5:00 AM, not by a dog or a bus, but by a dog wining and trying to get out of wherever it was.  After being awakened, I tried during a seemingly endless time trying to go back to sleep, but finally gave up and got out of bed at 7:20.  I wasn’t too sure about what kind of weather to expect today, but the rain seemed to have stopped overnight.  

    I have a cold.  I am very congested and have a low voice.  My guide book says that the Tulum ruins don’t open up until 8:00, so I tried to do all of my morning ablutions and dressing slowly to kill time, so I wouldn’t have to wait at the gate of the site.  It is just half a mile down the road.

    The sky was overcast, but didn’t look threatening.  As I started my walk down the road to the Tulum Ruins, I said “Buenos Dias” to the road crew who were out trimming the weeds along the side of the road with machetes.  As I got to the entrance of the site, the shop keepers were just beginning to remove the grates, gates, and rolling up the grills from the front of their stores. 

    After a five minute wait by the gate and a $1.30 entrance fee, I and five other tourists entered the walled area of Tulum.  I was surprised to see the Mayan limestone structures and foundations on a neatly trimmed lawn, adorned with flowers.  As I worked my way toward the Main Temple, I saw the ocean, and I couldn’t help but say, “Wow, this is beautiful.”

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Saturday 28 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Back Into Mexico

    One of the owners of the Adventure Inn was nice enough to drive Fred and I back to Corozal, so we could catch our buses.  Fred was headed to Belize City where he would catch his first flight on his way back to Virginia, while I was looking for a bus north to Mexico and the Mayan Ruins of Tulum.  The first bus I caught took me to the border, and continued on to the city of Chetumal, Mexico.  The ride was uneventful and rather boring with not much to see out the window except flat bush.  Now I face a three hour wait for the bus to Tulum, and I find myself once again, floundering as I try to communicate in Spanish.

    This is kind of a junky bus station.  It is hot and muggy and there is the smell of urinal sanitation substances that permeate the air.  The loud speaker periodically blurts out something unintelligible, and the gray metal lockers across from me have a visible historical record of the thousands of grimy fingers that have touched them.  I am going outside.

    I found an outdoor restaurant and bought a ham sandwich and a Coke, then wandered across the busy street where I spend another hour and a half watching people and trying to read this very slow history-essay book that Fred gave me.   I finally had had enough of that place on earth, so I walked back across the street to the bus terminal where I waited out the last fifteen minutes before my bus arrived.

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Friday 27 October 2023

McBride Water Emergency

    The Village has declared a water emergency because of the extreme draught conditions we have been suffering under this year.  The Village of McBride gets all of its water from Dominion Creek, whose water flow has been at record lows this year.  Because of the low flows, it is feared that the creek may freeze up this winter, blocking all water to the town.  Many restrictions on water use have been put on the residents of the Village.

    We don’t get our water from the Village, but from Sunbeam Creek.  Its flow has also been reduced by the drought and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will soon get some precipitation rain or snow, but our weekly weather forecast doesn’t show any.

    The other day I noticed that our hydrant out by the barn had developed this stalagmite-looking icicle during our freezing weather.  While it looks like a real gusher of water coming out of the hydrant, it is really just a very slow dribble that has frozen,  and like a stalagmite, has just built up over time.  

    This drought has put us in a bit of a dilemma.  While we certainly don’t want to waste water, at the same time, we have to keep a slow flow through our waterline, otherwise it will freeze up and we and the other 3 families on our waterline will have no water all winter.   Every winter we have a small amount of water from our waterline, draining into my pond and into Beardsley Brook, in order to prevent our line from freezing.    As the temperatures get colder, I expect the hydrant will totally freeze up and no longer add to the icicle that it has formed, and hopefully the slow flow through our waterline will keep it from freezing.  

    It is not like we are wasting water with our continuous flow, because if our waterline doesn’t take it, the water just goes down the waterfall and is gone.  It is not like a storage tank that can empty. 

You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


Thursday 26 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Belizean Seaside


    Not too many adventures at the Adventure Inn today.  Fred and I went for a walk down a couple of nearby “cane haul” roads, but didn’t see much of interest; just a few lizards, some birds, and part of a snake skeleton.  Once back at the Inn, we went for a swim in the Caribbean, ate some tostadas for lunch, read a couple of Newsweek and World Press magazines, then back into the ocean for another swim, all typical seaside tourist stuff—eat, lounge, and swim.  

    I sure can’t fault the Adventure Inn for their food.  On that last of our evening there, we stuffed ourselves with a tasty meal of delicious pork chops, potatoes in orange skins, a salad, and a coconut creme pie.  After the meal, Fred and I lingered at the restaurant, until a rain, harder than last night started leaking through the roof.

    I slept well in the civilized world of the Adventure Inn, getting up refreshed at 7:30 to organize my stuff, ready for another bus trip, this time, back into Mexico.  For breakfast had a Coke, toast, and jam.  We received our total bill for our two night stay.  It was $96 (Belizean) or $48(US), which was expensive, compared to what I had been paying for accommodations previously on my trip, but I was happy to pay the $24 a night.

    The Adventure Inn was a very relaxing spot, and the food was delicious.  I didn’t do much except take it easy and swim, but my digestive tract seems to like the change and began functioning normally once again, unlike in Guatemala.

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca 

Wednesday 25 October 2023

First Ice On The Pond

    I am a veteran season watcher, but I confess that I was surprised this morning when I saw that the pond was glazed over with a layer of ice.  I suspect that this will be one of those temporary icings, that occur before winter’s permanent pond ice sets in, but you never know, during our first year in Canada, it dropped below freezing on Halloween, and didn’t rise above it until Spring.

    This year we have been spoiled and left unaware by our long warm autumn, and although we had a few frosts, it seemed that the colder weather was still somewhere far away in the future.  Yesterday, when I was planting my garlic, my hands were pretty cold and stiff by the time I got done.  Last night was forecast to get down to -14°C (7°F), but fortunately, we got cloud instead of clear, and woke up to just -3°C (27°F), but obviously that was enough to put ice on the pond,

    There is a chill in the air, and I have adapted by putting on my long johns, and building a fire in the wood stove.   Today, I will definitely go out to the shop and dig out my down coats and winter boots.  I won’t really need them yet, but slipping on my winter boots to go outside to quickly do something, is a lot easier than having to lace up heavier footwear just to do a quick walk around the pond.

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Tuesday 24 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: A Seaside Hut

            Fred and I climbed aboard the bus when it arrived and headed north to Corozal.  The bus ride was very civilized, compared to those I had experienced in Guatemala.  The scenery, however was not as interesting, just flat bush, then later as we approached Corozal, fields of sugar cane.  Having arrived at our destination, we caught a cab, and inquired with the driver about possible accommodations.  He recommended we try the Adventure Inn, just 10 miles down the road.

    The Adventure Inn which was owned by Canadians, was a beautifully situated series of neat, thatched huts all lined up along the shore of the Caribbean Sea.   Each hut was equipped with hot and cold running water, a toilet, and a shower.  Fred and I shared a hut which cost $48 Belizean dollars, which converted was $24 US dollars, which split two ways was $12 a piece, not bad for accommodations in a beautiful beach setting.

    That evening we had a delicious quick-fried shrimp and rice, and chocolate cake.  We lingered in the little restaurant, just relaxing and talking.  It started to rain and a good part of restaurant’s roof began to leak, but not the thatched part, the plastic roofing part.

        The photo shows Fred in front of our Adventure Inn hut.  That gray thing on the left side of the hut is the shower.

See my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


Monday 23 October 2023

At The Ready

     I have mentioned before about all of those many preparations that have to be done before winter hits us.  Yesterday, I cranked up my snowblower, which had spent the summer in the barn, and I moved it into the garage, aiming outward, and parked just inside the garage door, ready to clear the driveway, when we get that first big snowfall.  (We actually had a bit of snow falling this morning.)

    In the photo you can also spot a few other of my winter preparations.  See the white bucket beside the snowblower?  That is one of two buckets of gravel that I can spread on the driveway if the packed snow turns into ice.  The tan crates beside it are full of cedar kindling that I split from some old fence posts that I tore down this summer.  I will use the kindling to build or restart the fire in our wood stove on those cold winter mornings.

    I can only think of one other job that needs to be done before winter:   We still need to plant our garlic, but the plot we use at our friend’s house has not yet been tilled.  Hopefully we will get the garlic in the ground this week.

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Sunday 22 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Lemon Meringue Pie

    Even though there weren’t any loud cathedral bells clanging away during the ungodly hours of morning, or loud bus engines outside my hotel room, those things must have left an indelible impression on my psyche, because I am no longer able to sleep in, even without any disturbance.  I got up at 6:00, shaved, showered, and organized my suitcase.  Fred is going back to Belize City, which is also where I was headed, so we walked down to the bus station, not knowing when a bus might be leaving, but we only had to wait 10 minutes.

    Yesterday at the Belize border, I had seen a sign saying that Mexico was no longer giving out Tourist Cards at their border, and that anyone who needed one had to pick it up at the Mexican Consul Office in Belize City.   When we got to Belize City, a small, crowded, rundown, looking place, Fred and I took a cab to the Mexican Consul Office to get our Tourist Cards.  Getting one only took two minutes, and Fred didn’t take much longer to confirm a flight.

    Belize City has a bad reputation for crime, and during my short jaunt through it, I didn’t come upon anything that made me want to extend my stay there.  I decided to head to Corozal, a beach town, located in the northern part of Belize, on the Caribbean, very close to the Mexico’s Yucat√°n Peninsula.  Fred, who had days with nothing else to do before his flight home, decided to join me, so we went to the bus station to get tickets for Corozal, which cost $3 US.

    While waiting around at the small, dingy, bus station, at the food section I noticed a lemon meringue pie that was sitting in the glass counter, with a couple of slices already taken.  While I had eaten many lemon meringue pies in my life and liked them okay, I couldn’t say it was my favorite type of pie, but I had time to kill before the bus, so I told the lady behind the counter that I would have a piece of the pie.

    Wow, thinking of the taste of that piece of lemon meringue pie, makes me salivate even now, decades later.  It was so rich, tangy, and delicious, I assume because it was made out of fresh tropical lemons, but who knows?  That pie has often led me to choose a piece of Lemon Meringue when given a choice of pies, but after biting into them, I have always been disappointed.  None have ever lived up to the rich, tangy, taste of that Lemon Meringue pie I had in that small, dingy, Belize City bus station.

You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


Saturday 21 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Into Belize

    I never really know what to expect when cross a border, but crossing into Belize was easy enough, well, easy enough for me.  The Custom’s Officer asked me if I had any guns, any fruit, any tobacco, or artifacts.  I told him I did have a couple of “artifacts”, but that I doubted that they were real.  He just  knowingly nodded, and waved me on.  

    It does seem that some people just attract trouble.  Purple Shirt and Miss South Carolina, were detained for a while, having to answer some additional questions.   Once they finally emerged from Customs, the small group of us Gringo tourists all piled into a cab, and headed to exchange our Guatemalan Quezales into Belizean Dollars.  The cab then drove us into San Ignacio, and I was dropped off at the San Ignacio Hotel, where I had made reservations.  My travel guide had said was a bit expensive, but “so much better than anywhere else”.  The room cost me $18, and I was delighted to see that the hotel had a swimming pool.

    All the way through Belize after crossing the border, the bus route had followed the beautiful Belize River, and from my bus window I had enviously watched people swimming and tubing in the river.  Watching them splashing around in the coolness of the river, must have registered itself deep in my subconscious, because as soon as I had ditched my bags in my room, I wasted no time getting into the hotel’s pool.  It was wonderful.

    While I was enjoying the refreshing water in a gluttonous way, another Gringo walked to the pool and joined me.  His name was Fred, an electrical contractor from Virginia, who owned an old Gris mill and farm.  Fred had come to San Ignacio to take a horse trip.  He was interested in starting an outfitting company at his farm, taking tourists through trails in a nearby National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains and wanted to experience the horse trip in Belize.  Unfortunately for Fred, the Belize horse trip never materialized, because he was unable to contact, the “contact” for the excursion.

    After all of my struggles trying to communicate in Spanish during my stays in Mexico and Guatemala, it was so ridiculously easy to be in Belize, where English as one of its Official Languages, allowing me to  communicate all of my needs and questions in my “mother tongue”.  Staying at the San Ignacio Hotel was also a treat, because, unlike the previous places I had stayed in, everything there worked.  Well, almost everything, the main tap on the sink only allowed water to slowly dribble out.

    Fred and I talked about everything.  He is quite well-travelled and was working on a Masters Degree in Tourism, something I wasn’t even aware existed.  He held liberal views and, like me, had been at the big Moratorium Against the Vietnam War March in Washington DC, way back 1969, although I didn’t remember seeing Fred among the 500,000 other demonstrators.

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Friday 20 October 2023

Waterline Winterizing

    Since winter is the most serious season in the Central Interior of British Columbia, those of us who live in rural areas have to spend a lot of time getting everything ready for it.  One of my top priorities is making sure our waterline is winterized.  During the Spring and Summer we had a heavy-duty grate over the top of our culvert to prevent rocks, carried down Sunbeam Creek Falls from filling up our culvert.  Before winter, we have to take the grate off, because it might cause freezing ice to block the water flow into the culvert.  Without the grate, the water continues to flow into the culvert underneath the ice-buildup.

    When we went up to the falls to do the work, we saw that because of our drought, the water wasn’t flowing over the top of our culvert like it should be doing.  I had made a long sausage-like sandbag which we put inside the bottom of the culvert where water was leaking out, and after we changed our filter and put the wooden watergate back in, the sandbag did stop the leakage, and we were happy to see the water level rise and start pouring over the top of the culvert like it should.

    The photo below shows my neighbor, Glen, pounding the watergate down to make sure it was secure.

View my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


Thursday 19 October 2023

Potato Rich

    Last Spring when I was planting my garden, I planted seven rows of potatoes.  That was one more row than I usually planted.  I didn’t really need that extra row, six rows are usually plenty, but I still had some potatoes left over from last year, so I planted them in that seventh row.  Once I had them all planted, I discovered more potatoes stored under the house that still looked good, and instead of wasting them, I planted them too; two more rows.  That gave me nine rows of potatoes.

    It was an extremely dry year, so I figured that maybe the potatoes would suffer, but when I started digging them, I was surprised to find that, despite the drought, they the potatoes did better than usual.  That meant I was going to have way more potatoes than we needed.  Digging up the nine rows of potatoes was a big job, but since it was so dry, the potatoes came out fairly clean, without a lot of soil sticking to them.

    I always plant a variety of potatoes, and in the photo above you can see this year’s crop.  Some varieties had scabby skin, but that is not unusual in my garden, and scab is just cosmetic anyway, it doesn’t effect the taste or spoilage.

    I will check into giving part of my potatoes to the Food Bank, I sure don’t need this many.  I always look upon potatoes as insurance, in case of an emergency.  If things get really dire, we can always eat potatoes.  We store them in the unheated crawlspace under the house, which isn’t as great as a proper root cellar, but it gets the potatoes through the winter.

View my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


Monday 16 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Purple Shirt and Miss South Carolina

    The most memorable event of the day came when the bus was forced to a stop at an army checkpoint.  A soldier got onto the bus with his automatic rifle (every soldier I have seen in Guatemala carries one).  Facing the passengers, he declared that everyone had to get off of the bus, so everyone did.  

    As we stood outside the bus, he started to collect everyone’s passports and papers.  The soldiers were not very thorough, they overlooked me, so I got his attention and volunteered my passport to him.  As I handed it to the soldier, the girlfriend of the purple-shirted South Carolinian, said in that most grating of accents, “I heard sometimes they don’t give the passports back.”

    This seemed a bit ridiculous to me for a soldier in this kind of situation with so many passengers standing on the side of the road, to do, but I didn’t say anything.  The officer walked away with the big handful of papers and passports to a large tent.  Then all of the males were hand-searched.  A soldier turned us around, wedged his foot between my feet, and proceeded to frisk me.  He found nothing, not even the pocket knife I had in my pocket.  

    He proceeded to search all of the other male passengers in this way, which took quite a long time.  At first I found the whole episode interesting, but after a while I became bored and eager to get back onto the bus.  The soldier with the passports returned and passed them back, and as we received ours, we were then allowed to re-board the bus, relieved that the experience was over, or was it?

    I noticed that Miss South Carolina was still outside.  She said she didn’t get her passport back.  The officer didn’t know where it was, and so Purple Shirt climbed back off of the bus to rescue his damsel in distress.  The soldiers didn’t know what to do.  They were clearly puzzled.  The girl demanded her passport back, and Purple Shirt pulled out his US passport, showing it to the soldiers, trying to explain to them that her’s looked similar.

    The soldiers were very flummoxed by this novel situation, and the head officer, re-boarded the bus, and demanded everyone get back off again to be re-searched.  Miss South Carolina who was being questioned, couldn’t remember who she had given the passport to.

    “Just a soldier.” She explained.  

    “Before or after, Purple Shirt?” The soldier asked.

    The girl didn’t that remember that either.  The rest of the passengers were all beginning to mill around, discussing the situation in small groups.  No one knew what to do.

    Purple Shirt got back on the bus to see if he could find a copy of Miss South Carolina’s birth certificate in his pack and as he rooted around in the backpack, guess what?  He found Miss South Carolina’s passport— She had never turned it in!

    The soldiers all rolled their eyes, as did I, and all of the Guatemalan men and women standing around outside the bus.  The soldier playing the official role, walked toward Miss South Carolina with a stern look on his face.  I felt tension beginning to arise.  He reached into the breast pocket of his uniform and pulled out a pencil, he stood very close to Miss South Carolina, and then affectionately, conked the brain-dead girl on the head with the eraser-end of his pencil, in mock punishment.

    This drama having been concluded, everyone piled back onto the bus, and the bus once again resumed its weaving back and forth from one side of the dusty jungle road to the other, toward Belize.  The only change was that a new “Most Embarrassing Moment” had been established in the life of a South Carolina Miss.

You can view my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


Sunday 15 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Bus to Belize

    Foolish me, I thought I could skip the 5:00 AM bus out of Flores, so I could sleep in, then catch the 10:00 bus.  However, the 5:00 bus made its presence known by stopping right outside my hotel room with its loud diesel engine roaring away for 15 very long minutes, just to make sure I was fully awake and not sleeping in until a reasonable hour.

    Once up, I thought I would treat myself to a Mexican-style breakfast.  I passed on the Huevos Rancheros and went instead for the Huevos Frijoles with Queso.  I prepared myself for a treat, but unfortunately that was not what the waitress placed in front of me.

    The eggs were nothing special, the frijoles looked like something out of the back end of a cow, and the cheese resembled a small packet of moist plaster.  I accepted my fate, and ate what I could.

    Yesterday afternoon when I was re-hydrating with a Coke at Tikal’s Jungle Lodge, I met a tall, guy with frizzled gray and brown hair, wearing glasses, and a purple shirt, who, with a Southern accent, generously told me I could store my suitcase in his room, incase a room became vacant later in the day.  He and his nondescript girlfriend, who also spoke with an irritating southern drawl, had been able to secure a room at the lodge.  I thanked them, but by that time, I had already decided to head back to Flores for the night.

    Well today, Purple Shirt and his girl got off of the morning bus from Tikal, and were waiting to catch the 10:00 bus out of Flores.  They were also headed for Belize.  I inquired about their night at the Jungle Lodge, and they told me it had been terrible.

    The room was very expensive, and the food, even more so.  They had ordered spaghetti.  It was outrageously expensive and tasted awful.  Then everyone, even the Tikal bus driver tried to “rip them off”.  After hearing of their woes, I figured I lucked out by not being able to get a room at the Jungle Lodge last night.

    The bus to Belize was another one of those well-worn old coaches.    I had to sit on a small sliver at the edge of a seat beside the aisle.  The road was extremely bumpy, so the bus driver spent most of the trip weaving the bus back and forth across the road, from one edge of the road to the opposite side of the road, trying to avoid all of the many pot holes that pockmarked the middle of the road.

    The bus just about hit a daydreaming motorcyclist, who kept drifting toward the bus as we tried to pass him.

    A peasant farmer who was sitting on the engine hump directly in front of me, had a 15-20 lb. plastic bag of sugar wedged between him and the driver.  During one of the bus driver’s sharp pot hole maneuvers, the bag of sugar shifted, springing a leak, and sugar began pouring out of a hole in the bag.

    The poor farmer didn’t know what to do about it, except to try to hold the bag awkwardly with the hole at the top.  I was able to save the day by giving him a big, white plastic bag that my laundry had come in, back in Antigua.

Take a look at my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Saturday 14 October 2023

Eclipse of the Sun Cancelled, Due to Weather

    In a couple of hours, somewhere over the solid cloud cover blanketing the Robson Valley, there will be a partial eclipse of the Sun.  Like most astronomical events that I hear about and want to see, I won’t be able to, because of thick, overcast, clouds.   Like clockwork, clouds anticipate interesting cosmic events and move in to obscure them.  

    I guess when it starts getting dark later in the morning, we will know that thousands of miles above us the Moon will be slowly moving across the Sun, and our partial eclipse is happening. For us it will just seem like a cloudy evening is approaching.   Whoopie-do ! 

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Friday 13 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Tikal, Thirsty Work

Temple One and Two are the main fully restored attractions at Tikal, but the huge site featured a  lot of other pyramids still semi-hidden in the huge surrounding jungle.  I enjoyed climbing Temple Four, because it made me feel like an early archeologist (something I had dreamed about as a child).  I had to hold onto roots and stones to get to the top, because the pyramid hadn’t yet been fully reconstructed.  Once on top of the main platform, I was able to squeeze myself around the corner and climb up to be right under the “roof comb” (the decorated structure atop the pyramid).  

While I was up there I could overlook the vast expanse of the jungle that surrounded the pyramid, spotting several other pyramids that jutted out above the jungle trees, and I began hearing ferocious roaring emanating from various spots below me.  My first thought was that the roaring came from panthers or jaguars, but I later realized it was from Howler Monkeys.  It was hard to imagine that such terrifying and fierce roars could come from monkeys.

The torturous heat and terrible humidity made exploring Tikal, sweaty, exhausting, and very dehydrating.  It was tiring just walking from ruin to ruin, not to mention climbing the various pyramids.  In Mexico and Guatemala, water and ice cubes could lead to a case of tourista, so I relied heavily on bottled drinks (this was before bottled water became common), I had had a Coke as part of my breakfast before taking the bus to Tikal and  second one after visiting the Great Plaza.

After climbing up Temple Four, I had yet another.  This one was particularly memorable because it was hot, not warm, hot.  Then a bit later I had an Orange Crush at Tikal’s Jaguar Inn, a Mineral Water at the Jungle Lodge, a Pepsi, when I got back to my hotel room at Flores, a Coke with my ham sandwich supper, and then, after which, to quote my journal:  

I’m going to get another mineral water right now.  Wrong, they were out, I got a Cream Soda.

I felt like I had seen most of what there was to see at Tikal.  There were a lot of piles of rubble of overgrown and unrestored structures in the jungle, but those weren’t too interesting, and by the end of the afternoon, I was pretty burned out.

After my exhausting day at Tikal admiring the immense and intricate pyramids built by the Mayans, I was even more impressed.  The jungle heat and humidity was stifling and energy sapping.  I couldn’t imagine how any physical work could be done in those conditions, let alone building the huge rock structures.  The Mayans had no beasts of burden or even wheels to lessen the work.  It made me realize that the building of Tikal was a really amazing achievement.

I didn’t want to spend another day at Tikal, so I was just as happy to get back to the Hotel San Juan in Flores.  (I was lucky to get the same room for the night.)   I took a cold shower, (Boy, did it feel good, almost as good as a swim.)  

I bought a long, handmade sash at the souvenir shop, because I didn’t want to be stuck with Guatemalan money, as I headed out the next day for Belize. 

You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


Thursday 12 October 2023

Sorry, Spider Plants

    We’ve had the spider plants you see in the photo above, for probably forty years.  They live in the house during the winter, then in the summer we put them outside to enjoy the warm summer months.   A week ago while they were outside, it seemed like it might frost overnight, so I hastily, aspen leaves and all, brought them inside and put them on the dining room floor.  There, they sat for a week, while outside, the weather changed again, giving us record-breaking, warm days.  

    It seemed crazy to keep the spider plants inside in the dark dining room, while it was so pleasant  outside, so two days ago, I carried them back outside to the deck, so they could once again enjoy the warm sunny weather.

    You can probably guess what happened next.  Yes, last night we had another frost, so this morning when I realized it, I carried the shivering spider plants back to the dining room floor, in hopes that they will recover.  The poor spider plants are terribly root bound, so if they have survived the cold, I vow to re-pot them as penance for my leaving them out in the freezing temperatures.

    The photo below shows what the day looked like this morning.  I have never seen the fog dispersed  in such a way, with a thick, dense fog hanging above the Fraser River, and a lighter, wispier fog spread out through the trees at the far end of my pond.


View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Wednesday 11 October 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Climbing Down Pyramid One

Once I was atop of Pyramid One and had calmed myself, slowed my heartbeat, steadied upright stance, and adapted to its scary unprotected height, I was rewarded with an extraordinary view across the grassy Great Plaza toward Pyramid Two.  Being able to overlook the whole Plaza with Temple Two at the far end from this height, was well worth the dangerous climb.  As I stood there entranced by the view of these Mayan Ruins in the middle of the jungle, birds were soaring around my head, darting in and out of the little limestone room behind me, situated at the apex of the Pyramid One.  

    I walked inside the small room and found it amazing to see that the original carved wooden lentils above the doorway, still existed intact.  I would have thought that after 1,300 years in the moist jungle environment, they would have long rotted away. 

While I hadn’t given much thought to the steepness of the steps while climbing up the pyramid, going back down, was a totally different experience.  It was gulp-producing.  I kept a tight grip on the chain that lay beside the steep, narrow steps, that served as a “handrail” on the of the pyramid.  It was the only security provided to those brave (or foolish) tourists climbing up or down the pyramid’s steps.  

I survived my descent, however, making my way down the very steep stairway was not very enjoyable.  Once I had my feet solidly set back on terra firma, I walked across the lawn of the Great Plaza to Pyramid Two,  Climbing up to the top of Pyramid Two, which was not so high, was a piece of cake compared to what I had experienced climbing up Temple One.


View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca