Lest we forget

Tuesday November 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada – in the USA it is called Veterans Day – and this year I am particularly aware of the significance of the commemoration.

I’ve almost finished writing a family memoir about my Aunt Gisèle. During World War Two, she hid Jewish youths in her apartment, located on one of Amsterdam’s principal canals. Every day, she had to find food, fuel and water. She had to keep her friends from sliding into despair and she had to make sure they stayed quiet. If they were discovered, Gisèle would have been killed too. This impossible situation continued for three long years.

My father, John, was a member of the Canadian army division that liberated Amsterdam. He said the Dutch welcomed them with cheering that sounded louder than the canon fire they were used to.

“After six years on the front, the exhilaration disoriented me,” Dad said, “But I felt proud of my Canadian uniform and grateful to be alive.”

He had my aunt’s address and when he saw her desperate conditions he took food and other supplies to her. She said he saved her life.

Pride and Gratefulness: Do we feel that sense of belonging and of appreciation, or has the busyness of our lives and our penchant for comfort distanced us from reflection and appreciation?

Men like my dad, and women like my aunt made huge sacrifices.

I think – Lest We Forget – means that we should, at least, make some small ones.

Need ideas? How about these?

Volunteer: Read to a child, collect recyclable materials, whatever. There are so many organizations that need your help

Donate used clothing: The items you think are worthless are valuable to someone

Spread the word about various causes in your community: See a worthwhile fundraiser? Share it on Facebook! There are so many ways you can help an organization with just the click of a mouse.

Donate something you made to an organization that can use it: You have talents – baking, knitting, cutting hair – a group of women meet at the Merida English Library and make caps to cover the shaved heads of children undergoing cancer treatment

Make your purchases support your values: Every purchase you make supports something. You can either support a large business or you can buy at small local shops. It’s hard to do this all at once, but changing even a few of your purchases will make a huge difference to a small vendor

Spread some kindness: Think about a time when someone did something unexpected for you that made you feel good. Weren’t you nicer to others because of that?

One person I cannot change the world, but one person can make a difference in another person’s world.

For more perspective, click on this link:


Lest we forget.

In Flanders Fields

– by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

poppy 01

*** I found the two photos on Google Images. No link to the sources showed, but my thanks to them

Halloween and Día de Muertos

RESTAURANT AMAROS is our favorite place to hear wonderful music, enjoy a good meal and great margaritas. And yesterday the owner Olga Moguel celebrated the 21st anniversary of her business in a unique way.

Carmen Aristegui and Olga Moguel at Amaro's 21st Anniversary
Carmen Aristegui and Olga Moguel at Amaro’s 21st Anniversary

She invited one of Mexico’s most popular journalists, Carmen Aristegui, to give an informative conference about the current political situation in Mexico. Three times more people, than could possibly fit into the UADY theater showed up to hear her. And some of those folks were very upset that they couldn’t get a seat! Jorge and I lined up for an hour, and we almost made it inside but not quite… so we left the theater and headed for the restaurant.

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We saw great costumes on our way to Amaros, and since it was early, we got a nice table right up front. Our friends, los doctors, joined us and to our delight, about an hour later, the two women of honor arrived. Both of them were very gracious about posing for photos, and I got the chance to tell Carmen how much I like to listen to her radio program, broadcast on EXA FM 95.5, from 6 – 10 am, Monday to Friday.

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At this time of year, we enjoy blending the customs from our two countries. We think our – altar de muertos – fits in well amongst the pumpkins and – catrinas – that decorate our house.

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Tomorrow, we’ll enjoy – mucbil pollo – with Maggie, Ricardo and his parents.

Mucbil pollo - a Yucatecan treat
Mucbil pollo – a Yucatecan treat

Of course, we’re missing Carlos & Jeanette and our lovely little Norwegian “pumpkin” – hopefully they’ll join us next year!


Off the beaten trail tourism

Jorge, Sergio and Joanna
Jorge, Sergio and Joanna

The International Women’s Club of Merida is sponsoring a fund raising tour to the lesser known archaeological sites in southern Campeche and Quintana Roo. Everyone enjoyed last year’s excursion to Chiapas, and this 5 night, 6 day trip is sure to be just as interesting and fun. Sergio Solis will be the guide – and Jorge and I will be going along to help out where we can.

The proceeds will help support the IWC’s community service projects, in particular the scholarship fund. This initiative makes it possible for young Yucatecan women, with limited financial means, to pursue their university studies.

If you live in Merida, this is a great way to meet new friends and to see part of the cultural heritage that is so much a part of south-eastern Mexico. For travelers who want to experience “off the beaten trail” tourism – this is just what you are looking for!

Map of the Yucatan peninsula
Map of the Yucatan peninsula

The IWC Amazing Archaeological Adventure

6 days, 5 nights

Tuesday February 24 – Sunday March 1, 2015

 The tour price includes:

            Five nights accommodation

            Bilingual guide service

            Transportation by motor coach

            Breakfast each morning

            Entrance tickets to all specified attractions

            Donation to IWC Charity Committee


 Day One: Tuesday February 24th


At 8:30 am, we will travel via motor coach, from Merida to the archaeological site, Edzna

After sightseeing, we will continue on to Campeche, and spend the night at the Hotel Baluartes, located right on the boardwalk.

After we are settled, we’ll take a walking tour through the Centro; the rest of evening will be yours to spend as you please.

 Day Two: Wednesday February 25th


Today we will have breakfast at 8:00 and leave the hotel at 9:00 am. 

Part of the time we’ll be driving along the coast as we head south to X’pujil En route, we will visit three lesser known sites: Balamku, Becan and Chicana

We will arrive at our hotel, the Ecovillage Chicana, early afternoon, where we’ll stay for the next 2 nights.

The evening will be yours to spend as you please.

 Day Three: Thursday February 26th

We will see lots of exotic birds
We will see lots of exotic birds

Today we will leave the hotel at 7:30 am, for Calakmul.  The full day trip will take us deep into the Campeche jungle

When we return to the hotel, you will be free to do as you please for the rest of the afternoon and evening.    

 Day Four: Friday February 27th


Today we will leave at 9:00 am, and drive to Kohunlich. We will visit the site and then continue on to Bacalar

We’ll check into the Laguna Bacalar Hotel for 2 nights

The evening will be yours to rest, read, shop or explore on your own…

 Day Five: Saturday February 28th


Today we will tour the lagoon by boat, and the rest of the day and evening will be yours to go into town, relax by the pool, swim… whatever


Day Six: Sunday March 1st


We will depart Bacalar this morning at 8:30 am and drive to Coba

We will visit the site and then drive back to Merida



 Double Occupancy: 8,000 pesos per person

Single Room: 10,500 pesos

Rooms with 3 beds are unavailable at the hotels we will be using on this trip. If you want a triple rate, this is possible, on request, but there will only be 2 beds in the room

The tour needs a minimum of 25 participants, so sign up today!

For further information, please contact me at;



The IWC is 30 years young!

Thirty years ago, in October 1984, the International Women’s Club of Merida (IWC) got off to a rousing start. There were 22 women present in the annex of the American Consulate, on the corner of Avenida Colón & Paseo de Montejo. And there were 22 different ideas about the direction the new group should take.

I am sure that over the course of these past three decades, every idea those women had – has been realized – and so have at least 100 more.

I would venture to say that many initiatives in our international community have an IWC member (or former member) at the helm. Many of those women “got their feet wet” through the IWC. They networked within the group, and then struck out on their own. Success stories indeed.

Some of those associations and businesses are tremendously important resources in Yucatan. An IWC woman started the Merida English Library, and another is the State delegate for the Red Cross. Another got the Slow Food market up and going. Others have established art galleries, literary reviews, restaurants, schools, B & Bs, shops, animal advocacy agencies, and children’s after school programs. The women help at the Salvation Army shelter, elder homes, and with young women’s scholarship programs. The club raised the funds to build a kitchen and laundry facility at the Cancer hospital,  and have been involved in many other worthy causes that I can’t even remember right now.

However, the IWC isn’t all about community work – we have a lot of fun too. We dance together at Carnaval, we travel, we hear interesting speakers and attend musical nights. We also cook together and learn new skills.

The club has gone through many highs and lows, but one thing remains constant – the women are there for one another. When a member is ill, or has tragedy in her life, others step up to help.

Of course, there are always differences of opinion and personality clashes – but that seems to be inevitable when you fill a room with dynamic females.

Thursday morning, about 40 club members met at the Hyatt Hotel for a delicious celebratory breakfast – and on Saturday October 25th – the monthly meeting will be held at TTT: Calle 57 No. 492 Enter 56 & 58, Centro.

We’ll get started at 9:30 am, and all English-speaking women are welcome. I am often asked “how much English” is necessary to be a member of the IWC. And I always give the same answer – “The ability to smile in the language is enough.”

Joanna and Lisa
Joanna and Lisa

When our current president, Lisa Johansson de Ballote, spoke to the press this morning, she said, “I am so proud to be a long-time member of the International Women’s Club.”

And I have to say – “So am I Lisa – so am I.”

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W, X. Y, Z… is for…

Today is the last day of our holiday. I have these 4 letters left… and sorry, but this is the best I can do.

october blog

W is for Winery Tour… we didn’t actually get to do this because of a sudden rain shower, but next time!

october blog 2

X marks the White Spot, a Vancouver restaurant chain that Gourmet Magazine says serve the best burgers in the world (I totally agree)


Y is for Yellow Chrysanthemums in a blue and white vase…

october blog 3Z is for Zoo (what else?) Time ran out before we could go see the polar bears… I am not much of a fan of zoos, but I know the Vancouver one is better than most.

Jorge and I have enjoyed ourselves so much over the past five weeks. Our hosts went out of their way to see that our every whim was met. Thank you to all… we loved every minute!

Writing and Intercultural Living…


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