November 27, 2008

No longer a Hobo


I'm home. I mean, really, really home.  I mean, home, for good.


If you are my friend in RL and you still have a set of fingers, use them and call me up for coffee.  Because I am HOME, Baby !  (But yes, I know, I know, and I am getting on that phone, yes, I promise.)

I just went to college today for my "English written skillz admission test". 

I rocked, of course. Because I rock. 

It's a bit like being on the recovery track after a long illness - I go to the swimming pool every day.  I eat well. I try to be a good girl about my own life.  I have about 60lbs to lose, and I'm working on that.  I also know my brain is going to come back in shape.

I'm on the mend, and that's good, it's really, really good.

Also, one of my pictures made it to Schmap for the iPhone. How cool is that?

Check it out here.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

November 04, 2008

297 tears

I've never quite cried over politics.

But I'll admit that I am crying in emotion right now - in relief. History has been made. American citizens, you are changing the face of your country, changing the face of the world.

I wanted it for America, my southern labor. I wanted it for the world.

For the past year, I've been consistently mistaken for a US citizen, in all the countries where I've been.

For the past year, I've had to tell people my opinion on what I see as foreign politics.

For the past year, I've met Africans, in Africa, rooting for Barak Obama.

All my life I've wanted equality.

Today, it happened. Martin Luther King would be proud. Nelson Mandela certainly is.

297 tears.

Of joy.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

A bunch of random things

On the eve of this election, I urge you to watch (if you can find it), a "Clean Escape", by Sam Egan, which was the first episode of "Masters of Science-Fiction".If you can't find your hands on it, read this very detailed and adequate recap - but warnings, because it is SPOILERIFIC.This being said - I'll be watching, and crossing my fingers. The US is making history, in the next 24 hours. So what else is new?


I fail at work, these days. Come to think of it, I'm fail at a lot of things - including NaNo, it's not even funny. I'm not sure what's wrong with me in that respect. For work, I know - I'm suffering from Short Timer Disease. Even if I'm trying to motivate myself with the desire to not let down .... Mr. Burns. (current boss, here, yes, he really, really looks like Mr. Burns, except he's actually nice, and I actually like him. No, that doesn't make me Smithers. **shudder**)

ETA: My boss just made an impersonation of Monty Burns. I am flailing inwardly.


But for NaNo, I'm not sure. I like my story - it's a fun adventure thingie, where I get to be very cruel to my people. I created a fun pair of characters, and I like them. So. Why can I not write? Damn it! I feel so lazy, at night, it's not even funny. I told my mum about NaNo, and Burns, and also ... how do I call this one? I'm going to call him Wallace, for the Wallace in Sin City. No. He should be Helmholtz Watson, from Brave New World. Because he's perfect. Though I guess I could recast Mr. Burns as Bernard Marx, in that case. Which makes me Lenina. It even works because BMarx has been sort of hitting on me, much to my despair. I'd much rather it be HWatson. Srsly. Anyway. HWatson said he'd be my reader, which is cool. I like him, and I trust him. Too bad this is a one-time assignment together.


I saw Sin City again last night. It was awesome. I love Marv. I love to hear him say, "That is one damn fine coat you’re wearin’ ". I love Dwight McCarthy so much, too.


I've been rediscovering Pink Floyd. High Hopes feels so appropriate - I'm not sure why, exactly, but it feels like a good song for a place like Rwanda, were innocence has been so direly tested over the past 40 years.

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun
Along the long road and on down the causeway
Do they still meet there by the cut
There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before time took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
With friends surrounded
The nights of wonder

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide
At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world


Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we've been so many times

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river

Forever and ever

That's it. Tata. Sorry for being so random.

November 01, 2008

Oh me. I'm late again.

Well, I'm still in Rwanda. I just spent the last two weeks out on the field, and well, I didn't quite feel like writing about that. So instead, I joined NaNoWriMo. I'm writing a novel in my free time. I have a month to write 50,000 words.

Here is the synopsis of my first novel to come, Dead Ends.

Vivien Saint-Amour, a shy, insecure and socially inept Anthropology PhD postulate from Montreal, arrives at an unknown Latin-American airport for a few weeks of vacation.

Her easily planned vacation soon turns to a nightmare as the first attempt of her life at an act of courage propels her into a world she never knew existed.

Torn between her own fears and her survival instincts, she will find out who to trust, and who to fear, and will discover that heroism takes the most unexpected form.

So, if you see that this blog is sleepy, have a look at the counter, on the side. The soaring word count will tell you that yes, I'm still alive.

I'm just busy writing a book.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

October 10, 2008

Yeah, I live

Apologies for being a horrible friend who doesn't keep in touch. Seriously.

Wow. I haven't updated here in about a couple million years. I think I need to write something, just to prove that I'm still able to. Seriously. I just haven't been keeping up with Facebook, or my own blog for a bit. Call it a thinking hiatus.

I realize that I didn’t write anything since my European trip - mostly, I got absorbed in the offline world and in Madrid - in Paris - in Luxembourg - in England. It was fantastic, and I moved on just in time to go to Aceh for my next assignment.

Aceh was alright - there were some pleasant moments with my team - I did manage to blog some then, thankfully so.

And then there was the summer leave during which I went to a family bash in France and got in trouble in England for being a bad packer. (Not a backpacker, though it could have been that too.) People, that swiss knife? Just leave it at home.

Then there was Haiti, again, otherwise known as Hell. I spent weeks and weeks locked up at work or in my room, waiting for it to be over - and still sort of traumatized by my English experience. I didn't update - I honestly had little to say or to tell. It was just a waiting time. Jachere. It was a good thing I had a long leave of absence planned after that.

So I had a long vaca - it wasn't lost, though. I made some decisions - mostly about ending my current gig, and going on to uni. I need to be in the world of Academia again. When I see those dorky professors and musty classrooms, I get all emo. So. Instead of going on like an idiot about how I need to change my life, I did.

I quit. I'm going back to school in January. One last gig, and I'm done with this slave trader of a boss. I admit, I'm going to miss my friends at work, though it's only a matter of time before they move on too - it always is in this business.

It's a big deal - it's my second degree, I know. I just need to be intellectually stimulated again. I want to think of Edgar Allan Poe's translations of Baudelaire. I want to reflect on the contruction of Finwean linguistics. I want to take time to write essays about how Jane Austen was repressed and how she is just like Madame de Cleves.

I'm going to be a lit professor.

Fuck joining the corporate world. It was never a life for me. It doesn't work for me, it never did.

And I also say, blah to trying to change the world. It's impossible - even the best intentions get twarped by politics. It's time to face the fact : I want to do things I feel like doing - not things that I have to do because I should fit in a mold.

I don't want a white picket fence.

I don't want 2.5 kids.

I don't want to give up my freedom just because it's a condition of being like everyone else.

I don't want to be like everyone. I want to be me.

In the meantime, I’m in Rwanda for another month and a half. I’ll live.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

June 13, 2008


Leaving Indonesia, like NOW - I'm at the airport. Will be swallowed by my personal life and my family for the next three weeks, so more silence, I am so sorry.

I love y'all very much, even the lurkers. Yes yes yes.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

June 08, 2008

So. I suck.

I’d be hard pressed to give a reasonable explanation for this long silence. I like blogging. Only thing is, I’ve once again become disengaged, as it’s happened to me regularly over these past few months.

I suppose I should own the fact that I am becoming blasee. The wonders of the world no longer phase me. I turn my mind to other things – to my inner universe and the stories I want to write, the imaginary people screaming to be born of my mind.

Yet, my pen is sterile and it is a blissful torture to be so inhabited by unborn phantoms.

Perhaps it would be kind of me to describe the setting in which this rant is born. It is on a boat, a small ferry that reeks of lake water and market smells, a place so full of the chatter of old Indonesian ladies, it is a wonder I can write at all. There are six bullays on this ship: yours truly, Spade, Vee, a man with too much belly and very bad skin, another with stunning blue eyes, and a girl who has backpacker stamped on her forehead.

The ship leaves, to the sound, very alien, for this setting, of La Lambada. It takes me a moment to recognize it. Destination: Samosir, on Lake Toba, North Sumatera. It is my second tourist outing in Indonesia, an they are only a week apart.

I was last weekend in Sabang, on the island of Palau Weh, off the coast of Aceh. A much needed breath of fresh air, with highlights including roast beef and snorkeling. I didn’t find Nemo, but maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. I suppose getting sunstroke might also be a partial explanation as to why my efforts were hampered.

Also, hammocks rock. If I ever stop being a gypsy, I want one in my home. Another highlight: waiting for the night to crash on me as I belt out Yeats, Edith Piaf and Streisand to myself.

I guess I’m not so unphazed, after all. Just lazy. Aaaargh. Must be productive. Must must must.

Oh, a hammock.


The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

June 03, 2008

Catching up...

May 18th:
1) I found a new thai place that is absolutely yummy AND sells booze AND is in walking distance of my place. And they have salsa night on wednesdays. My life is good.
2) I'm temporary relieved of being a troglodyte due to the necessities of business travels. My access to a place with a window is only for a week, though, unfortunately.
3) I have been reinstated in my earthly possessions, which is good. Wearing the same shirt gets old after a while.
4) Had a sushi dinner with my Snape-Dragonish boss and looks like we're cool. If I deliver on Monday, that is. *Looks at the time* Oh, shit, I should really get to work.

June 3rd:

1) Out of the fishbowl again as of just now. Happy as well - and off to the roads of Germany soon - so yeehaw. We shall post a hiatus notice when the time comes - but it won't be long, we promise.

2) Snape-Dragon has been much more pleasant - and much more worthy of being called Spade recently, though he still hasn't taken up to smoking. The big news is that he's quitting - and we are stunned to realize that we will, indeed, miss the moody and hardboiled boss.

3) We have gone searching for Nemo and found the clown fish. Actually, Spade did - Beav' only found Dorie - and got sunstroke in the process. That's all good now - but still. We are happy. We are no longer the color of a washed off sink.

4) Still late on deadlines though - the Beaver officially sucks at giving papers on time. Time for a new horizon, it seems.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

May 20, 2008

Unkept promises

I still own the Euro-Trip stories, I'm sorry. They're coming, eventually.

I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to be writing about. It's crunch time, and I don't feel like working. And blah to me, because I know I'm going to pay for it, big time, very soon. Oh well.

I've recently developed a fascination for hardboiled PI characters. I'm not sure where that comes from. And my new favorite word is hardboiled. Which I like to think I am.

The worst part is, I think Snape-Dragon (SD) is actually a hardboiled type - the only reason I'm not quite able to refer to him as Spade, and not at Snape-Dragon, is that he's not... I don't know. Anyway. Since this realization boomed on me, I've found his company much more pleasant. Bear witness : 7 sushi-bar staff members who heard me laugh all night yesterday over his antics.

Then again, SD does have amazing, funny stories about all the places he's been - including the one dish in the world he was never able to eat, a green radioactive stew with suspicious, unidentified brownie-things. He can even be charming. Disturbing. Anyway.

I had a blast again - even after I'd left SD and gone almost home. Yeah. Almost home. Because there's a club downstairs where they have live cover bands every night - and good stuff, even if they don't do any Janice. I'd promised the barman I'd pop by - he's a bud - and ended up belting some John Lennon to a crowd of befuddled Malaysians. Such is my life.

Oh, and I'm in Medan. And there til next Monday. Mucho better, thank you.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

May 12, 2008


I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but I became a troglodyte during the weekend. So I have nothing to say, save for the fact that:
1) I'm thankful there is Internet at the hotel ;
2) Golf on TV is boring ;
3) Thanks to the Dragon, at least I had a glass of wine on saturday night. That was the high point of my weekend.


Bene moved. Pesky illegal booze sellers, always on the move. Thankfully, from one dark alley to another, they were unearthed and booze was obtained.

All is well.

On another note, I'd somewhate lost my groove at work, but it seems to be returning. I'm very pleased to be safe from short timer's disease.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

May 08, 2008

I don't get this

So I blogged about my ordeal. Here’s the deal. My luggage NEVER left the airport of initial departure. Aaaaaargh. Good news is, I get my clothes tomorrow. Me happy.

Today… nothing of note happened. I did have eggplant juice a lunch, with spicy mango salad. Does that count? Since in Indonesia, the variety of available juices is mind boggling, I’ve resolved to try them all while I’m here.

So far I’ve had:
- Carrot juice (yummy) ;
- Avocado juice (delicious, seriously, there’s chocolate in there, it’s sinful) ;
- Starfruit juice (a bit bland, but whatever) ;
- Eggplant juice (dutch eggplant. It’s surprisingly pleasant).

I’m still struggling to put up the pics of my trip to Europe. My connection sucks. I’m sorry for the delays, really.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

May 07, 2008

Big UFO Landing pad

I was presented with a map of the town today... some indications on it are pretty "tongue-in-cheek" as the yankees say... for example:Road names include Pizza House road, Stadium road, Some road, Some bigger road, Some other road, Some main road... And landmarks include two "Secret beer shops", Some weird building, Crappy bridge, Big flaming pink [insert NGO name] guesthouse, Malaria Swamps, Puke green house, Governor's Pimp pad, Retarded intersection and my favorite, Big UFO Landing pad.

All restaurants have indicated "Beer!!!" under their pin, when they serve it, and directions out of the city include: "To north of Banda Aceh via crappy road and tsunami wastelands", "To west coast beaches, that wood fired pizza place and Meulaboh", and "To Medan and the free world, a hell of a long way."This goes to say, they haven't figured out street names and addresses in this country yet.

Also, yesterday went down in history as the day where we managed to find a cab (a becak, mind you, it's a motorcycle with a side care, and the most common form of transportation), which knew to take us to the expat restaurant with beer.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Once upon a night in Banda

On TV, for background noise, I put on the only occidental channel available, Star World, and right now, they are showing Friends. I've never followed the series assiduously, and so my understanding of the storyline is very limited, but I like the fact that it is almost every where I go. Consistency in a world such as mine, where everything is ephemeral, is much appreciated. I just got off work, a second day of a 6 week long assignment. My team and I are sitting in a place which we call the Fishbowl, because it is surrounded with glass windows, and I spent the day idly revising documentation, trying to find gaps in the system.

Indonesia is a strange place to be, and for all the painful memories it holds, I do like it. The language is exotic, the people are smiling, the architecture is alien and elegant, the food burns my pallet exquisitely, the smells assail me everywhere. Even cigarettes smell differently here: the Indonesians smoke Kretek sticks, and they contain clove. Some people don't like it, but I do – I find it spicy and pleasant, contrary to the ordinary stuff.

I've opted to skip dinner out tonight. For that, I have a lot of good reasons. One of them is, I'm running out of cash, and I can't go to the ATM until tomorrow. The other is, since my luggage got lost on the way here, I have few clothes, and it's so hot and humid outside, my scant reserves are going to dwindle much too fast if I go out again. And… well… my boss is moody tonight, and that means unpleasant company – so I'm skipping. Best to be alone then poorly escorted. I'm alright, though. Now, if only my room had more natural light, I'd be happy.

I'm not particularly depressed... but this inspires me with a poem that echoes of the darkness surrounding my sleepless state.

My name is solitude, in a cave of darkness I dwell.
Arpeggios and songs fill my mind, treasures unshared, unkept.

My name is longing. I seek warmth and only find the chill
Of all that is lonely and sullen, of all night’s obscurities accept.

My name is ugliness. Nothing beholds that which will
Seduce or ensnare, but all that is monstrous, in the lottery, I swept.

My name is solitude, and I wish to be broken.
My name is longing, and I wish to be sated.
My name is ugliness, and I wish to be reclaimed.

Oh, lotus-eater, where art thou?

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

May 05, 2008

A commute…

So I’m back…. And I’m blogging, and blogging about sunny and exotic Indonesia rather than about medieval and mind-boggling Europe. I’m so unpredictable, I should get an award. So after a whirlwind passage home in Canada, which followed my gipsy vacation touring Europe, I had to once more traverse the world to go to work. This is my commute. It starts on a Friday night, and ends on a Sunday evening. It lasts over 36 hours, before I can lie down and collapse in Morpheus’ arms. It brings me to the brink of fainting, to seizures in an airplane, before I can rest. It makes me lose patience with annoying officials, and it deprives me of my personal belongings.

Flippin’ air control
Travel time: 0h
Cigarettes: 1 (before boarding)
Annoyed and concerned Beaver: 1
Phone calls to travel service: 1
SMS to mum: 0
Comment: Flight no. 1 was late, because air control didn’t give it the go-ahead. There is no other connecting flight this day – so I’d have to sleep there at my expense and fly the next day if I miss it. I take a gamble and fly anyway.

G*ddam security goon
Travel time: 3h
Cigarettes: 0
Free Bacardi and coke: 1
Phone calls to travel service: ½ (Line is cut and plane takes off)
SMS to mum: 1
Comment: Because of this, I almost missed flight n. 2, and might still have, even though through sheer power of running I made it to the security checkpoint 20 minutes before take-off. Indeed, a security guard at the gate in JFK airport didn’t like the logo on my boarding pass. I had to perform a “stand in”, a standing up version of Martin Luther King’s “sit-in” for them to call the airline and get me on board.

The moron next-door
Travel time: 21h
Cigarettes: 0
Free Bacardi and coke: 1, plus 2 wines, dinner and breakfast.
Phone calls to travel service: 0
SMS to mum: 1
Frustrating stops in Germany: 1
Comment: But I made flight n. 2, and it lasted a painful 21 hours, with a neighbour more inclined for conversation than for sleep, or watching movies. But I survived….

Foot worship
Travel time: 4 h standby, 2 hours flight
Cigarettes: 3
Free Bacardi and coke: 0. I get coffee instead
Phone calls to travel service: 0
SMS to mum: 1
Comment: Flight n. 3 was fine, and waiting for it was lovely. I bought expensive shoes and got a free foot rub while chatting with another passenger.

Travel time: 3.5 h standby, 4 hours flight
Cigarettes: 0
Free Bacardi and coke: 0. I could really use one though.
Phone calls to travel service: 0
SMS to mum: 1 (very late, after I arrived and dug up my charger and spare phone from my carry-on.)
Comment: Upon getting off, I had to collect my luggage and recheck it into Flight n. 4. Lo and behold, my 16 kgs (yes, I travel light) of luggage never made it past JFK. So I file my complaint and walk over to the domestic flight counter to find that I had to stay on standby and maybe not be allowed to fly… due to a mess-up on my travel agent’s side.

Anyway, so here I am, in Banda, working and blogging instead of working. It’s kind of nice to be back, in an odd way. My “sister” has lent me clothes until my luggage reappears… Singapore airlines does not know where it is in the world. Me… in the meantime, I enjoy my nasi goreng and much deserved sleep. I work, effectively do work. I teach French to the Professor, and I bide my time. After lunch at the Chinese place, I bought a pack of kretek.

I had dinner at the Pizza House (an imitation of Pizza Hut, yes yes) and after a walk back home in the putrid and strange smells of Banda Aceh, amidst the loudness of the becaks I sit to write this.

With every whiff of the clove-scented tobacco, I find inspiration. (See below post on Week 1, day 1.)

I am zen.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Setting the scene : EuroTrip (Week 1, Day 1)

A promise is a promise, and so the Beaver has many to keep, including the one to tell nothing and everything about her time off travelling. For a travelling beaver to chronicle trips abroad is nothing extraordinary, but these trips were not as ordinary as usual.

Why, you ask, oh gentle reader? Because this one beaver has, to this day, never blogged about personal trips, and always about work-related ones. Why, you ask again, o curious one. Because this has never happened before. Ta da! Now it has. I got 6 weeks of unpaid leave to enjoy myself, and between work and other things, I planned the whole thing almost to a tee.

Week one was special, because it was the onset of the trip. The stepping stone. The alpha. It was my arrival in England, and my first experience couch surfing. Well… let me tell you that the whole thing was a complete success.

Day 1 (Tues): Setting the scene

I arrived at Heathrow at around 12PM, and had agreed with my host to make my way to his home, in an ex-centred academic town. At the luggage pick-up, I strike a conversation with (you’ll never believe it!) an American contortionist who lives is Wales and works on cruise ships in the Caribbean. Thanks to him, I locate the bus station, or at least, the beginning of the way. In the tube transfer, I lose him and step on a lady’s foot who is a French-friendly English lady, actress by profession. After a short conversation on worldly things like the beauty of Niger and the pleasantness of TS Elliott’s writing, we split and I finally find my ticket to Ox.

Again, in the bus, I strike a conversation with a gentleman, Canadian (!), who just came back from volunteering in Tanzania and is off to visit a friend in Ox. After an hour of so of commute, I get off at my stop, and five minutes later, my host, whom I have never met, picks me up. For the sake of this blog, I shall refer to him as the Maltese Falcon. There is a joke in this, but only those who know will pick it up. Too bad, such is the nature of my blog.

The Maltese Falcon is a lovely man. Twice my age, crafty, story-telling, generous, quirky, full of life. His house, where I get my own room AND a set of keys, is a mish mash of items he cumulated throughout his life. I suspect they all have a story to tell, but he tells me they don’t. I choose to believe him, but I really don’t. Within 10 minutes of my arrival, a friend of his pops by, and a long conversation about diving in the Maldives and the Indian Ocean ensues … a universe I know nothing about. Another couch-surfer is bound to come by, and I am asked if I mind sharing the room. Since it’s not a bed I’m sharing, I don’t mind, and thus arrangements are made to meet at the bus stop the next day.

That done, I rest some, and wake up to join Falcon at the general rehearsal of “The Mary Rose: A boat of ill-repute.” The comedian, Kate, is wonderful. Her text is funny and socially-relevant. The interpretation of all parts is magisterial, particularly considering the fact that all are performed by Kate. After a pint of Cider at King’s arms, which is now my favourite pub in the known universe, my day ends.

Wed Day 2 … the mysterious Couch Surfer arrives
Thurs Day 3… A magical encounter
Fri Day 4… Off to London, and the underbelly
Sat Day 5… The bus tour, The Eye, Drinks at the Fire Station
Sun Day 6… The cruise and The Tower of London
Mon Day 7… A restful day and LOTR

Week 2
Tues Day 1... A silly day
Wed Day 2… Solitary at the Gallery and the Abbey
Thurs Day 3… A one hour flight
Fri Day 4… Dinner with family
Sat Day 5… Notre-Dame and Red-Beard Red Beard
Sun Day 6… Brunch with the girls, Ballons and missing the Train
Mon Day 7… Day one in Lux, walking around, the Tube and Zanzen, dinner with Matt

Week 3…
Tues Day 1... The City Museum
Wed Day 2… Art museum again, piscine and drinks at the Tube, meeting Loren and Elle
Thurs Day 3… Lazying around, and an evening entre filles
Fri Day 4… Le petit-train… Drinks at Scott’s and Café des artistes
Sat Day 5… Party at Andrews’
Sun Day 6… Bus to Frankfurt and flight to Madrid
Mon Day 7… A sick day

Week 4…
Tues Day 1… Walking around Madrid to Puerta de Alcala and Tapas
Wed Day 2… El amor en el tiempo del cólera ; Goya at the Prado and the Palazo Real ;
Thurs Day 3… Living Spanish, cooking for Gemma
Fri Day 4… A day in the air
Sat Day 5… On the town and a family dinner
Sun Day 6… Boot Sale, A Soldier’s Tale and crepes
Mon Day 7… Homebound

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

April 29, 2008

Coming soon, Week 4 (Part 2)

Last set of notes... I'll be putting up some stories very soon, AND some pictures !
  • A multi-lingual day ;
  • A second home-coming ;
  • Running errands in conquered territory ;
  • Meeting the Lily ;
  • Boot sales ;
  • Fleeting ghosts ;
  • Home at last.
There, you have it, all in a nut shell. I'm going to work on putting the stories up in the upcoming weeks, plus the current developments. I'm home, now, but traveling again, for work, this time, back to Aceh. There will be much to say on the matter as well.


The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

April 24, 2008

Coming soon, Week 4 (part 1)

More notes, imagine all that will be up when I'm finally ready to start blogging....
  • One last night of madness in the fortress of time;
  • A foggy morning;
  • A day of rest;
  • Walking around a new town;
  • A palace by happenstance;
  • Political insights;
  • A moment of unexpected grace;
  • Tapas y tapas;
  • The lost and found Museum;
  • Enjoying laziness for the last time.
The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

April 19, 2008

Coming soon... (Week 3)

Yet more notes on things I should blog about eventually... so I won't forget...
  • When madmen are of public service ;
  • Tchou-tchou!
  • The legal trinity ;
  • An overlooked historical treasure ;
  • Teaching the enjoyment of art ;
  • Mad nights in a quiet town ;
  • Chi chi, my new discovery ;
  • Resolutions made to be kept ;
  • Harassed by work during LOA.
Et ouala !  Soon friends, I hope to sate your curiosity.

Thank you, Merry in Oregon (THE BEAVER STATE), for popping by and placing your pins on my guestmap.  

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

April 14, 2008

Coming soon... (Week 2)

More notes on things I should really blog about later.... still pressed for time...
  • A cathedral heavy with history ;
  • Duplicates across the channel ;
  • Bright - on or how to be silly ;
  • The tower of despair, or... a lesson in history ;
  • Up the eye ;
  • Flying to the city of romance ;
  • Couch-surfing experience n. 2 or how I became friends with an actress ;
  • Pilgrimage in Paris ;
  • A high-speed transition to the country of banks.
Cricketina, here's a clue, my new love is a city. Hahaha !

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

April 04, 2008

Coming soon... (Week 1)

I don't have enough time to write ALL my stories here, but I'd thought I'd put up a list of things I should really talk about when I have time.
  • The low-down on my first Couch Surfing experience (totally awesome) ;
  • How I became a stage-hand for the first 2 days of my vacation ;
  • Crashing a very posh reception, and going undetected ;
  • Discovering the most well known and best kept secret of one of the foremost unis in the world ;
  • Sneaking in with accomplices ;
  • Apologizing to a bike ;
  • New friends ;
  • My new love (no, he does not have a name, or a job, or even a gender. My new love is not a person.)
On this mysterious note,

Tata !
The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 30, 2008

Oh my flipping gawd !

I’ve been so remiss, it’s an embarrassment. I left Benin 2 weeks ago now, and had time to go to Burkina Faso, Niger, and be home for a week by the time I’m putting this emergency update together.

It’s no excuse, but between serious computer problems in Niger, working on sites rather than in the office, and then being home and swallowed into backlogged work and social events, I forgot to update my online life. Sincere apologies.

Even worse, I’m about to leave YET again. I’m on leave, and so I’m going to spend the month *yes, darlings, the whole month* in Europe, visiting friends and enjoying the freedom to visit a foreign country without having to work under pressure.

I’ll be going to several places, but for the fun of it… I’m putting this blog’s time on GMT+1, since it’s my hub, altogether.

It will also be my first time traveling without a laptop, so forgive me, but updates will be somewhat scarce for a while.

I’ll have plenty of wonderful stories to tell… upon my glorious return.

Much love and everything to y’all, and again, sincere apologies for disappearing !

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 11, 2008

Sort of an update


I’ve been gone. True enough, it’s been a week and a half of hectiness, and I will concede that I’ve been too tired to even write up my days, or think about writing them up.

I went all the way up to Natitingou, in the north of Benin, where very surprisingly the accommodations were quite nice. Of course, nothing ever happens smoothly in Africa, so when we left early Sunday morning for the 7 hour drive, my bag was left behind. By the time the driver got the phone call, it was too late to turn around, so I had to depend on the clean underwear I had in my backpack and spend 48 hours in the same clothes until my stuff came on the next bus.

The following day I drove down to Parakou, also in the north. Both destinations were dryer, and so the heat was much less stifling, thank God.

Work went well, overall. Of course, I had a million awaiting me, and more work to tend to this week.

I’ve been a bit under the weather too, so that might explain my reluctance to write. I did enjoy a night out with a bunch of Interns I met my chance, but have otherwise been busy working and sweating.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 01, 2008


So I'm getting swallowed in the boonies once more. I'll be back next weekend. Be good, fellows!

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

February 29, 2008

Acrostiche n. 1

There is little to say today, I
Am exhausted, bewildered, burnt.
Kindly have patience with my poucing
Instincts, with my broken limbs and my
Negations, my abnegation, my wanton
Guile which is only self-protection.

Think of those days of summer,
Hear your heart break asunder,
Elate yourself for your own joy.

Have you not found that you missed her, the
Elegy to lost dreams, the muse to madness, the
Anti-heroin who incessantly, madly, relentlessly,
Tries to keep the flame of hope alive with her loyal heart.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Balakot - Earthquake aftermath Bird's eye view

I was just toying around with my Flickr account, and realized that this is my most viewed picture. Interesting...

I guess a bird's eye view of an earthquake sight isn't something you get to photograph everyday....

February 28, 2008

A quick dip in Cotonou

So I'm quickly reappearing before I go back to the bush.

I just spent four days working in a place (completely lost place, I promise you) called Lokossa, in Benin. I was assessing an NGO for a grant - the same kind of job that I do, though with a different finality. I usually audit for audit's sake. This time, there's a carrot at the end of the stick, for the people I deal with.

It was just a bit more airy than Cotonou, which was nice, though the place where I stayed was VERY depressing. Food? Not bad, but richer than I'm used to. I feel fat.

On the way back, I took pictures of lake Aheme, lovely place which BH refered to as the "Ozarks in Benin". Photos are here.

Lac Aheme (1)

We also made a quick detour through Ouidah, the home of voodoo and a slave trade historical site, as long as colonial city. The streets had something of Antigua, I'll admit.

Ouidah (26)

To visit Ouidah through my photo set, click here.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

February 24, 2008

Slalom is not only for skying


I'm in Benin, at last. How is it, you ask? It's HOT! Hellish, horribly, monstruously HOT! But... the Beninese are very nice, calm people. Peddlers don't insist when you say no, and smiles are readily offered and returned.

I don't have pictures yet, but here's some from Trek Earth.

I arrived on Friday night - I was exhausted, to be honest. For starters, my inflatable neck pillow died during the MTL-CDG leg of my flight, and that, to be honest, was terrible. In CDG, I actually paid a fortune for a back rub in the hopes of getting my stiff neck some relief.

I'm happy to report I'm now back to a normal state of suppleness as far as my neck is concerned, and that adventures have already started.

You see, my friend and colleague (Bleeding Heart, a.k.a. BH) likes her sunday morning worship, but had no clue where to go. Helpful as I am, I decided to investigate it, and got the local guardsman to show us to a place that may suit her needs. So here we were, in the hellish Cotonou traffic on a pair of Moto-Taxis (also known as the yellow shirts).

Thank you for the pic.

We didn't find the object of our search, but at least it was fun, sort of. The best part, for me, being to watch BH actually gnaw her hand in anguish over the experience har har har. (Having been raised in Burkina Faso, which is the kingdom of two-wheelers, and having slalomed in such traffic myself on my bike at the age of 13, it didn't really freak me out....)

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

February 22, 2008

On the road again....

So I had a short interlude at home (completely unplanned, mind you,) and now, I'm waiting for my flight to Cotonou, sitting on a hard chair in Charles-de-Gaulle Airport.

Thanks to Boingo, I'm connected, and so I can update.

Honestly, I have little to say, save for the fact that I am alive, and hungry for some happiness. I'm realizing I've been living in a state of emotional death for the last few months, and that it's not the way I should be.

Unfortunately, absence of strong emotions is starting to become a rather comfortable place to be.

Thoughts, anyone?

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

February 16, 2008

On the mend

So my homelessness found a cure. I'm currently in Miami, waiting for my flight to Montreal. I won't lay if I say that I look forward to getting home, even if its' only for a few days, even if I'll have to work from home to justify this escapade before Benin.

I'm breathing, I'm alive, I'm dying to get at long last to Europe. Madrid, Lux and Londond beckon, as does Paris. (Mickelino, STFC, ca va etre le moment de le faire, ce cafe!!!)

Countdown: 90 days to fulfilling my ever unsated need for freedom!

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

February 14, 2008



An email from my boss goes out. The war in Tchad is overflowing the office in Cameroon, and the Cameroun team therefore cannot go visit. The assignment starts next Monday, she has three extra staff. I get re-assigned from South America to Africa because of my language skills. This is still unknown to me at the time.


In the morning, I hear about this through the grapevine. During the day, we rush to finish our reports. The boss arrives and we take her to dinner. The same night, my boss confirms verbally the change, and I get the ball rolling.

At midnight, I email my counter part in Africa to get budget details to pay for my flight, and the travel agent to get them in the loop and have them research flights ahead. I need to cancel my flight to Bolivia as well, this needs to be done quickly.


Morning email: the travel agent says she can’t guarantee she can work on this the same day, and requires that I submit a formal request, then whichever agent can get to it first will. Problem is, I don’t have the budget info for the formal request.

I email my counterpart in Africa to get this information, along with info pertaining to the visa requirements. Unfortunately due to timezones, they won’t reply until the next day.

The BFH is onsite and advises me not to cancel my flight until budget info has been obtained, just in case. I rush to modify my instructions to the travel agent.

At the same time, my mother, well connected, contacts the diplomatic representation in Montreal and obtains visa information. Throughout the day, I file all the necessary information with her, but put her on hold until budget info is obtained.

All the while, I finish my last tidbits on my report, and in the evening, take the BFH out for dinner.


My Africa counterpart advises me that I cannot get a visa at the airport. Apparently, immigration takes travelers’ passports and the visa is obtained the next day. Despite her assurances that all will be fine, I remain wary – I am unpleased with the idea of parting with my documentation, and have had past experiences where the local office didn’t show at the airport. I opt for getting the visa home, with my boss’s approval.

Later in the day, budget information is obtained. I file my formal request for a new flight and give the go ahead for visa.

At the end of the workday, my travel agent holds a ticket for approval. Due to timezones, once more, we have to wait until the following morning.

That night, I stay in. I’m exhausted.


I receive an email from my counterpart in Africa contesting my dates… apparently I should be staying two more weeks. Impossible, for I have a planned leave and a plane ticket. Both the BFH and I scramble to explain this. An agreement is reached that one of my colleagues will fill in for the two missing weeks.

Half the day is spent out with the BFH, first escorting/translating for her in a charity visit, then at art galleries in Antigua.

Upon my return, I find out that my flight is finally approved. I have a flight out of Guate to Canada for my visa purposes on the following morning. I receive this at 2PM. At 3PM my flight out of Canada into Africa is in my inbox. Meanwhile, the BFH is getting her nails done at a nearby spa.

At 4:55 PM…. I get notification that my flight out is cancelled and rescheduled for Saturday. I go to pick up the BFH at the spa and share this information with her.

At 8PM, the hotel informs me that they don’t have a room for me.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Close enough....

Last day in Guatemala 011

Some girl in my building is blessed because she is loved madly... but she's going to have to remove some of them so she can get home.

Poetic Justice.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

February 12, 2008

Love’s Eulogy…

On the eve of St-Valentine’s day, some beaver sour grapes on the matter of love….

Don’t buy me chocolates today,
Don’t take me to the Cinema,
Don’t bring roses to my doorstep
Or tell me sweet unordinary things.

Don’t pretend to love me today
Just to be like all the others
Love me yesterday, or the day after
Love me without presents or bleeding red hearts.

Don’t protest that we are perfect
Don’t take me to that romantic place
Rather, hold my hand in silence
Kiss me, hold me, want me, choose me.

Say nothing, do nothing,
Let what you feel be true and real,
Let your heart be sincere
Let your smile be my only, my unique…

My beautiful Valentine.

P.S. This is me, trying not to be cynical on this ever commercial day, despite my notorious bad luck in the affairs of the heart.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

February 11, 2008

A Whirlwind Update

So.... Antigua was positively awesome. First, it's a lovely town, very colonial, inhabited by locals, of course, but also by many foreigners who go there for the lovely, laid back lifestyle it affords. In the park, people sit on the floor, play the guitar. It's not uncommon to come across a giant blond rasta-endowed European.

Here are the pics. No blond rastas, though. I'm including a teaser pic below.

Antigua 004

I went there using the local transport system, against all prescriptions I'd been given, and have no regrets. It was dirt cheap, remotely comfortable, and the people were nice. I spent Saturday night at a backpacker hotel that was absolutely horrible, but in truth, I didn't care. It was nice to be out of the bounds of work. I think I'm getting tired of those fetters. I shall break this glass prison, and descend from my ivory tower, she says decisively.

My return to reality was harsh, though - mostly because.... horror.

I'm not going to Bolivia. Instead, I'll be cooking in Benin and Niger. Joy unbound. Sure, I'm at ease in West Africa. Sure, it's French speaking. BUT I LIKE LATIN AMERICA. And well, the amount of time I spend in this area of the world is directly disproportional to the amount of time I've overall spent in Africa in my life. Oh, the irony.

I had dinner with the BFH tonight, and my cute childish pouty lip was ignored, so it seems I have no choice but to abide.

I feel cursed.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

February 09, 2008


Well, I'm off to Antigua for the weekend to hang out with some backpackers. I'll be back soon with some stories, but in the meantime, let me celebrate the return from cyber-silence of a few rather missed bloggers:

Tina's "Just Breathe" blog... her "release valve on life" as she puts it. She's considering resuming her writing, and I think it's a great idea, so let's welcome her back!

Amias' "Liquid Plastic" blog, thoughts about the human condition, and beautiful poetic thoughts. She's a published writer, and we can never be thankful enough.

G's "Library Bitch" blog, the world of a next-gen librarian.


The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

February 04, 2008

Is this how it’s going to be?

Just a little ditty I scribbled to pass time. It's hard to rhyme in English, so it's an exercise more than anything else.

You will smile and I will melt,
My heart will skip at your sight,
You will talk and I will listen,
My body will respond without a fight.

You will laugh and I will grin
I’ll enjoy every thing you do
I will follow your every whim
Without thinking a thing or two.

I will belong to you always,
Feeling ever so miserable,
Because I will count all the days

Whether or not I am able
To stay away from my loved daze,
Only dreaming up this fable.

A Nights' Tale (I still got it)

I had a mind to travel to Antigua this weekend, but I had work to do, and well… I was feeling a little bit lazy. So instead, I stayed home and did a few things, though I promise myself to go this coming weekend, since it will be my last occasion to go.

On Friday night I went out to dinner with my colleagues. Our leader’s husband came to spend the weekend with her, and it was lovely to meet him – though I kind of felt like I was out to dinner with parents, seeing as everyone was twice my age.

To shake it up a little, I decided to go out for a drink at the Irish pub on the corner, and ended up chatting with a legal assistant and her friend, a business man. All this of course happens in Spanish, but it goes well, until they leave and a man starts chatting me up. Not that I mind, actually – it’s nice to have some attention once in a while. But it turns out he is an auditor for another organization, and though he wasn’t unpleasant, it was a bit blah to be (again) with auditors.

Saturday was spent working and lazing away, though I did take a long walk in the afternoon in the hopes of alleviating my ever painful back ache. My idle feet took me to a shopping mall and I ended up buying a white sweater and a black shawl, and reserving a pair of black ballerinas. I need those for Bolivia anyway – my standard packing habits don’t take into account colder climates.

Later on in the day, I opted to go out for a drink again, and ended up chatting it up with a high-ranking French official and his wife. I daresay that aside from the fact that they were charming, it was nice to speak some French. Later on that night, I decided to scout a club, just to see what was happening on the night scene, and ended up being pursued by a young man who was 10 years my junior... and a pleasant dancer. To quote one of my good friends, “You still got it, girl!”

It’s nothing truly yeehaw, but it’s nice to know I can still be pleasing to the eye.

February 02, 2008

The Ballad of the Wandering Soul

The sunlight struck my face today.
It wasn’t a slap or a kiss, it was a smiling greeting,
Gentle like the touch of a million rose petals
On a clear morning sky.

I slipped on shoes and roamed the town.
It’s not pretty, or even interesting,
But smiles were returned as I threaded in my dream,
As I let myself walk off the strangeness of my days.

They are spent in idle attempts
At fulfilling empty dreams and shallow goals
They are lost in waiting or in fancies
In hoping and in sketching...

The mad designs of my complicated thoughts
The insane views of my lonesome soul
The solitude that plagues me
The freedom that lifts me.

It’s not a song from Elton John
Or something by Philip Jeays,
But it is what I can write
Original and personal

To tell you, again and again,
My patience knows no bounds
My fickle mind battles my loyal heart
But if you ask if I still, I will tell you,

Unabashedly, sincerely, madly,
With all the strength and energy of my entire being
That I never stopped.
Yes, I never stopped.

February 01, 2008

Cut me, I bleed

Just a little poem by yours truly....

I am not made of stone, or wrapped in sky-spun fantasies,
I am not the one who carries naught but phantasms of lost prayers.

I am the wind in the galleys
Where dancers breed perfected graces

I am the heart and the pulse
Of the ever changing cities of the new century

I am the beat the drummer makes
With bleeding sticks that reflect no more than his own fury

I am the tempest that cleans
The storm that rebuilds, I am the hope that refuses to die.

I am not the solution to your idiosyncrasies
I am not the messiah come to thread unbidden in your stagnation

I am a free horse in the pampas of Chile,
An unknown stranger offering help unexpected,

I am the lovely brush of a sensual hand,
Waiting to give a caress of love to skin divine, sublime

I am wilderness uncaged,
Whose heart belongs to no-one and all, open and innocent.

I am the prayer and the request
Of a little girl in a silent church, believing against all odds in what may come.

Cut me, I bleed.
Love me, I live.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 30, 2008


Blah. That's how I feel. I'm late on my work, unmotivated, and somewhat depressed. I'm also noticing the low level of activity/comments on my blog. I feel lonely tonight.

I'm going to have a glass of wine, a shower, and try to get some work done. This is turning out to be a catastrophe. I'm never taking a three month break again - I'm way too distracted to be able to produce anything.

Hopefully, I can turn things around.


The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 28, 2008

Poesie en prose....

This is just a little bit of embroidery on a well-known theme. I'm nowhere close to jumping off a bridge, worry not.

He used to keep me sated with his endearing hedgehog ways, his intelligent comments, his warm heart and his well-chosen words.

Silence feels akin to darkness and forgiveness only gives a limited sense of sensibility. Indifference or despair? I try not to ponder the question, and only to wish him well – true affection is such, or so they say, and so I struggle to forget my own need for reassurance to the benefit of patience.

Work beckons. Immersion in fetid business idioms will hopefully alleviate my own need to forget, my own need to taste the absolute. It was an Equal Music. It is enough to taste such perfection from time to time, not too much, or the soul could not sustain it.Such is what I tell myself, and yet I cannot help but feel my mind stretching across the universe in a secret caress which never reaches its goal.


The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 27, 2008

A lil Vid....

Not mine, but indeed, this is Rabinal, wherre I spent a part of the week. Enjoy!

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 26, 2008

First CSMeet in Antigua, an unlikely jam and those dang frijoles

So… I’m back from Antigua, and had an absolute blast. The people I met on the CS network are simply amazing. Denmark, Sweden, Brazil, Canada (coast to coast, with Nova Scotia and BC represented at the table), the UK, Poland and of course Guatemala all had representatives onsite, all wonderful and interesting and stimulating.

I’d love to say “Hey, I took some pics of Antigua, here’s a link”, but… I don’t. We arrived at night, left at night, mostly because some of us had to be back in Guate in the morning, yours truly, amongst others. Instead, I'm borrowing from Ryan Fox one of his pictures:But I had a great time, and plan on doing it again, if I can – it’s wonderful to at last meet some like-minded people.

Curious about what the CS Network is? Click here.

Oh, another little anecdote from the field:

In Rabinal, I met a bunch of Peace Corps volunteers, and we went out to lunch. Amusingly, we decided to test out a new place… that had a total band set up, with battery, keyboard and guitar. Turns out the owner is a one man band, and he was more than willing to jam.

So between a stock card count and a discussion about accounting systems, I actually jammed on the keyboard with a PC volunteer who missed his battery direly.

How cool is THAT?

Last but not least....

"Frijoles Volteados" - Refried Beans from Guatemala

Side Dishes & Condiments
Special Consideration:

Here, a recipe for the famous frijoles. I'm not a big fan, but maybe you will be...

· 3 cups (or two cans) cooked black, red, or pinto beans with liquid
· 1/3 cup chopped onion
· 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic
· ¼ cup chopped green pepper (optional)
· ½ teaspoon ground cumin

1) In a blender, crush (or puree) all the ingredients above except for the ground cumin.
2) Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium frying pan and add the pureed bean mixture from above and the ½ teaspoon ground cumin
3) Simmer all the ingredients uncovered, over low heat, stirring occasionally. Let the beans thicken (this will take about 10-15 minutes).
4) Place beans on a serving plate with rice and tortillas.
Or use in burritos etc.

*Option: mash beans with a potato masher or fork. Saute veggies in the oil & add the mashed beans & spices. Cook as directed.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 25, 2008

La Ferria....

So I've been awol again, because it's so difficult to resist the call of the field... Anyway, here's the deal: I have a few pictures to share, not as many as I'd like to, because I ran out of battery. (New set is here.)

There was a Feria (a fair) in Rabinal while I was there, and so I had a chance to take some pictures that were rather typical.

La Ferria, traditional dancing and masks

But mostly, it was hard work and long commutes between Salama and Rabinal - the drive was one hour in the morning, one in the evening, and many twists and turns that made my stomach churn a little.

It was great, though - the people I worked with were wonderfully helpful, and I'm happy to report I didn't have to survive on beans (frijol) and atoll (some sort of maize oatmeal), which is a good thing. As much as I adore the people, I'm still struggling with the food, for the first time in a long time. I do get fried plantains, though, and for that, I am incredibly grateful. (Thank you, Guatemala Solidarity Network for posting the photo.)

On another note, my ability to express myself in Spanish is increasing at mach 3 - something else for which I am beyond grateful: there is nothing more frustrating, than being able to understand what's going on, but not to be able to contribute to the discussion... particularly when the group actually *wants* your opinion.

Anyway, I'm not back in Guate, and this weekend I'm going to Antigua with the Couch Surfers, so stay tuned for more adventures !

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 19, 2008


So I've been gone a little. It wasn't my fault, it was for work, possibly the most fascinating part of my job. I attended a food distribution. (For pictures, click HERE.) I'm exhausted, but in truth, it was worth it, even if 24 hours later my back remembers the long hours of driving to, and from my destination.

Baha Verapaz - Chitomax 051

So now, at long last, I can really say something about Guatemala. For one, it's a country with a lot (and I mean it) of mountains. My poor body certainly remembers the pain of the road, the slight nausea at all the twists and turns, and the back pain for all the sitting.

Secondly, Guatemalans are wonderful, warm, pleasant people. I like them very much - not only is it a pleasure to work with them, but it feels almost like being with family. I feel constantly huge, though. Sometimes, I don't dare stand, for fear of insulting them with my freakish height.

Thirdly, it's amazing what being bathed in a language will do to you. My ability to express myself in spanish is increasing at Mach 3. I'd studied it in school as a teen, and not practiced it - but I'm amazed at what my long term memory retained. I hear words, and they make sense, even if I couldn't come up with them on my own.

Fourthly, God bless subtitles. Thanks to the spanish subtitles, everynight, I get a bit more vocabulary. All in all... life is good.

The Beaver
P.S. Congratulations to Lynn, from California, for being the first reader in six months to post on my guestmap.
P.S.2 Belated thanks to Forever Restless and Pine River Spirit for linking to me !

January 16, 2008

A forklift saved my life...

Ok, not my life, but I might have had to spend the night sleeping on a pile of CSB if it hadn't been for the forklift...

Here's the deal.

I'm afraid of heights. I've been steadily trying to vanquish this very irrational fear for the last 2 years, especially because occasionally, I have to climb on stacks of food.

Well... I did, and it was all well and good, until I had to go down the ladder. I froze. It hadn't happened to me in YEARS. They had to get the forklift to help me down, and I was a bit mortified.

The good news is... well, I have a sense of humor. Thank god. Otherwise, I'd have died of embarrassment.

On the upside, I now can see life from the point of view of a bag of rice.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 13, 2008

Chrismas in the sun

So I spent Christmas in the Carribean, on a very posh cruise this year. Yes, I owe you guys a million stories about it.

In the meantime, here's a million pictures: CLICK HERE

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 11, 2008

Reflections on First World Contemporary Art

This is much belated. I’ve been having trouble with chronicling my life recently, for reasons I won’t discuss here. But it looks like cath up is coming at me. So here goes. This blog will not be only about Guatemala. I’ll also be catching up on stories of the past month, as they bubble up in my mind. Poof.

While I was home, I spent an afternoon at the Modern art Museum of Montreal. It was... odd. Modern art always does that to me. Three artists were presenting. A Brazilian whose art is basically... err.. huge pictures of representations made of epheremeal material. That's the best way I can put it. There was a Raft of the Medusa, in chocolate sauce. Weird.

But anyway, what he had to say about his work was this: "The object in the picture seemed to satisfy an eternal longing for its own sublimation. A body, freed from infinit materiality, meeting its own spirit." This is a note he made on a series called Individuals, basically 60 sculptures made of plasticine, though he recycled the material, so one had to be destroyed for the creation of the next one to be possible. So I guess, in his case, the final work of art was the photograph. That was the original. The things the human mind can come up with. Maybe I should start making strange, very odd things with paper clips and quit my day job. Or maybe not.

There was also a German fellow called Tomas Hirschhorn who exposed a... gods, I don't even know how to describe it. A giant set that I guess would qualify as a sculpture, except it took a whole room. The darn thing (I didn't like it, it was grisly, disturbing, depressing) was an allegory for globalization, I guess. I still took notes on it, at the time, wanting to discuss them with you - then, well, life got in the way. But here they are.

So... the thing is called Jumbo Spoons and Big Cake, and the "big cake" is our society of excessive consumption, while the "jumbo spoons" represent 12 twentieth-century utopias that have failed, in the artist's view. Examples include Fashion, Rosa Luxemburg, Degenerate Art, Rolex, the Chicago Bulls, the Moon, Nietzche, China, Venice. You know, I think in theory, I agree with him. But the presentation itself was... yuck.

Anyway, he did say something that I liked : "I realized that I had to make the choice to be an artist because only as an artist could I be totally responsible for what I did. The decision to be an artist is the decision to be free. Freedom is the condition of responsibility."

I guess I liked it because it resonated with me. I feel the need to be free. I'm slowly learning to accept to take this responsibility.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 09, 2008

Ever heard of Couch Surfing?

This is a new thing I’m trying. It’s come to my attention that I need to meet people, outside of work. I need to hang out with people who are closer to me in age. I need to have some fun.

I stumbled, through a discussion with a friend a while back, upon couch surfing.

"CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance and facilitate cultural understanding. As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to create a better world, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal. CouchSurfing is not about the furniture, not just about finding free accommodations around the world; it's about making connections worldwide. We make the world a better place by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!" This is how it is defined on Couch Surfing (dot) com.

Membership in the organization is free and is obtained simply by registering on the website. The core activity of the organization is exchange of accommodation. Acting as a host, a member offers the possibility of accommodation at his or her leisure; it is not required, but obviously it is encouraged. Acting as a surfer (guest), a traveller may search for and request accommodation at his or her destination. Accommodation is entirely consensual between the host and surfer, and the duration, nature, and terms of the surfer's stay are generally worked out in advance to the convenience of both parties. It is also expected to be free; no monetary exchange takes place except under certain circumstances (e.g. the surfer may compensate the host for food).

And so I decided to log on, fill out a profile. I don’t need a couch to sleep on, but community members are also people who are willing to meet you for coffee or whatever, if you are in their general area. So last night, I went out for drinks with Pampa, and met three other couch surfers. A bit younger than me, but not much. Certainly closer to me in mindset than the senior managers I work with. It was a blast. We laughed, shared life stories, debated on politics, love, life, values, and the way Oscar Wilde sees the world. Locals and foreigners mixed together and had fun, like a little family, until we parted ways and split the bill. It was grand.

Is it safe? I think so.

As Wikipedia puts it:

There are three methods to ensure security and trust, which are all visible on member profiles for potential hosts and surfers to see prior to arranging anything with each other:

  1. Personal references, which hosts and surfers could leave for each other at their option after having used the service.
  2. An optional credit card verification system, which allowed members to "lock in" their name and address by making a credit card payment and entering a code that CouchSurfing mails to the billing address. This also allows CS to recuperate some costs by requiring a fee for verification. For fairness the verification fee is based on a sliding scale, taking into account the Purchasing power parity and Human Development Index of the country of residence.
  3. A personal vouching system, whereby a member that had been vouched for — originally starting with the founders of the site — might in turn vouch for any number of other members he or she knew or had met through CouchSurfing, and trusts.

Also, the organization is registered with the IRS, and is listed as a non-profit. It does lend credence. Just have a look at wikipedia. It's quite detailed research.

For more information:

There are some contentions about Couch Surfing, and they have been heavily documented on Wikipedia and on I don’t discount them, although since they aren't about safety, but rather about internal controls (yuck), as far as I’m concerned, last night, I met great people who were wonderfully open-minded and fun.

It was a breath of fresh air. God bless the couch surfers.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

January 01, 2008

2008: Back with a vengeance

So.... I've been AWOL for a while.... I'm so sorry everyone, it's only that at one point.... well I sort of got caught up in the world, and cut off from the Net simultaneaously.

I will make amends soon with many many stories and pictures, in the meantime, though.....

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Everyone, all the best, health, riches, love, friendships, eventful adventures, change and stability in reasonable proportions and overall peace and joy to all !

I leave you guys with an extract of Paul-Emile Borduas' Total Refusal:

Make way for magic! Make way for objective mysteries! Make way for love! Make way for necessities!
To this global refusal we contrast full responsibility.
The self-seeking act is fettered to its author; it is stillborn.
The passionate act breaks free, through its very dynamism.
We gladly take on full responsibility for tomorrow. Rational effort, once in its proper place, will be available again to disengage the present from the limbo of the past.
Passions shape the future spontaneously, unpredictably, necessarily.
The past is contingency of birth, it thus cannot be sacred. We are always quits with it.

For full text:

What is the Total Refusal?

Much love to you all!


BONNE ANNEE, tout le monde, je vous souhaite le meilleur, sante, prosperite, amour, amities, aventures palpitantes, changement et stabilite en proportion raisonnables, et surtout paix et joie a tous !

Je vous laisse mediter un extrait du Refus Global de Paul-Emile Borduas:


Au refus global nous opposons la responsabilité entière.

- - - - -L'action intéressée reste attachée à son auteur, elle est mort-née.
- - - - -Les actes passionnels nous fuient en raison de leur propre dynamisme.
- - - - -Nous prenons allègrement l'entière responsabilité de demain. L'effort rationnel, une fois retourné en arrière, il lui revient de dégager le présent des limbes du passé.
- - - - -Nos passions façonnent spontanément, imprévisiblement, nécessairement le futur.
- - - - -Le passé dut être accepté avec la naissance, il ne saurait être sacré. Nous sommes toujours quittes envers lui.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !