Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: The Year That Was

2015 was filled with mostly ups and just a few downs.

Travel: Guatemala, Mexico, Nova Scotia, Ireland, Scotland.

Health: New hip great. Other hip not showing any signs of trouble. All else good.

Weight: Down a bit.

The important boxes ticked: a roof over my head, food in my tummy, money in the bank and steady income.

Plus a ton of great friends to enjoy life with.

And I started cycling again!

Yup, a damn fine year!

Happy New Year!

Waiting for 2016 in Scotland

Friday, December 04, 2015

THR +17 Months (518 Days)

December 4, 2015 (518 Days)

No news is good news. Other than some stiffness, the new hip continues to be great. I'm in Scotland with no car and a dog and that means lots of walking.

The other hip is working like a charm. I'm waiting for signs of arthritis, but so far, so good.

Home Sweet Home
And so I goes...

Friday, November 27, 2015


Nov 27, 2015
Normann's Ruh, Isle of Mull

The adventure continues. I arrived here a couple of days ago... and I'm settling in. The weather has been wet but warm. The forecast says that's about to change.

More words and pictures soon. If you can't wait, you can see some pictures on Flickr. Link is to the right.

And so I goes...

Friday, November 06, 2015

THR +16 Months and 2 Days (491 Days)

November 6, 2015 (491 Days)

The hip is such a non-issue that I missed my anniversary. As I close in on 500 days, post-replacement, I can say everything is fantastic.

I've cycled more than 800km since mid-July and if you include walking, I've done covered 1000km so far this year. Although that's probably much less than the actual total.

I sometimes get stiffness in the operated hip, and bending over can be slow, but not painful. I wonder if I need to do some special exercises? But I'm getting older, too.

The right (non-operated) hip is still pain free, despite being told that it would have to be replaced at some point. 16 months after that diagnosis, it works just fine. Fingers crossed.

And so it goes...

Sunday, October 04, 2015

THR +15 Months (457 Days)

October 4, 2015 (Day 457)

Today marks 15 month since my hip replacement. I continue to walk and cycle a lot -- I would do more but it rains a lot here in Ireland.

In September I rode 220km compared to 167 in August. And that doesn't include walking, of which there was a lot.

My weight isn't dropping as fast as I'd like, but it is down -- about 10 pounds since August 1.

I feel great, other than some occasional stress. My non-operated hip isn't showing any signs of problems. No pain at all.

So everything continues to be very positive.

And that's the latest from Ireland!

Friday, September 04, 2015

THR +14 Months (427 Days)

The Irish adventure continues...

The hip is great. In late August I rode more than 130km including 52km in over two days. But boy, did I pay for that. I had to take 3 days off cycling for my butt muscles to feel better!

Obviously I pushed it to far. But I was able to jump back in the saddle today and log 10km. I think I'll keep the rides short. Another problem is the weather. Summer never arrived and there are showers almost everyday. It's hard to know when to get out — without getting soaked.

It doesn't help that I don't have rain gear or warm cycling clothes. I may have to get some full length cycling pants or, worst case scenario, sweatpants.

Riding in Ireland
So all good. I even cast my mail-in ballot today for the upcoming Canuckian election.

And so it goes...

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

THR +13 months (and one day)

August 5, 2015

Thirteen months after my hip replacement, everything is tickety-boo.  Despite rotten weather and lots of moving about I've been able to add more and more kms to the hip:

May - 49 km
June - 79 km
July - 63 km (including the first cycling)
August - TBD, but shooting for 100 km. (13 so far)

No sign of troubles with the right hip. So that's good.

Strange thing though: the weight hasn't changed a bit.

Ah well...


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The First Bit

I haven't written much because there isn't really a lot to report. I'm settling in to the country house and quite enjoying the peace and quiet.

As mentioned, I'm about 4km from town (8km round-trip). For my first load of groceries, I walked to town and then took a taxi home (€5).

I'm lucky to have amazing neighbours on both sides and one set (Ronnie and Mary) offered to take me to another town (Gort) to get groceries with them. Gort's main store has a bigger selection and lower prices. Not to say that prices are low. In general, most things are much more expensive than Canada. However, I'm still learning who has the best deal on what.

I've been out on the bike a couple of times as well. Yesterday (7/29) I rode into Kinvara to drop off some bottles at the recycling depot and to pick up a few groceries. I ran into my local taxi-man and said I felt like I was cheating on him!

The weather has been cool -- I don't think we've hit 20 yet. I don't mind too much, but there are often showers throughout the day -- which makes going for a cycle a bit of a gamble. So far, so good.

Cycle Boy in Kinvara
I'm slowly building up the KMs on the bike. I find I need to take a one-day break due to knee and shoulder pain. Not to mention me arse. I'm not 30 anymore, so I don't want to push things too fast. But I can see riding 25km a day (weather permitting) by September. I can currently do 15km without much difficulty. I think riding into the near-constant winds and the undulating roads will just take a bit of time to get used to.

A sweet destination!
I still haven't gone to the pub in Kinvara. Mostly it's an issue of timing. The places I want to go open at 5, and the weather has been crap to walk in around that time. My plan is to walk in and per-arrange a taxi pick-up a couple of hours later. Perhaps tomorrow.

The internet is good enough to get work done, but I need to add another client. I've been cut back a little and I'll need to keep the income coming. Luckily my expenses are low.

Irish cat (1 of 2) says hi!
Anyway, that's it for now. Things will get more interesting over the coming weeks, I'm sure of it.

And so it goes...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lazy Sunday

July 19, 2015
Kinvara, Ireland

As the title suggests, it was a lazy Sunday.

I had a fitful sleep thanks to the never ending drip, drip, drip of my nose. Plus sneezing and coughing and a general malaise.

I spent the early part of the day puttering. Unpacking stuff and moving it around. I caught up on emails and blogs and posting photos. I did a little bit of work (if I do two more items then I have no deadlines until early August). I attacked a pile of dishes and created a new one.

It was a nice day so in the afternoon I went to the back of the property to pick berries with the cat.

Picking Berries with a New Friend
I forgot, of course, about all the stinging nettles mixed in the bramble. I didn't forget for long. My hand is still tingling.

Later I pulled the bikes out. There are two. An older mountain bike and a newer more urban bike. I filled up the tires in the mountain bike and went for a very short spin. The brakes are in dire need of adjusting.

I tweaked the other bike and put together a little emergency road kit. I thought about going for a ride but it was getting late. Plus all this nasal drip and sneezing aren't motivating me to pound the kms.

So I set everything up for a ride tomorrow. I'll go into town for some supplies and, if the nose is no better, some anti-histamine.

I'm actually feeling a little timid riding the narrow country roads, but I also know how good getting back on a bike will be for me.  It'd be nice to do some substantial daily rides. 

And that was Sunday.


July 19, 2015
Kinvara, Co. Galway, Ireland

The last few days were a whirlwind. Relocating from Nova Scotia to Ireland wasn't particularly difficult (I worked ahead so I had lots of free time), but the journey was long. Something like 30 hours from my NS bed to my hotel room in Galway.

Despite a tropical storm off the East Coast, I was able to fly out of Halifax on Wednesday (7/15) and make it to St. John's, Newfoundland where I hopped a second flight to Dublin.

The second flight was only 4 hours. It was a pleasant enough WestJet flight, although somewhat cramped -- even in the 'plus' section.

We touched down in Dublin around 7am local time (GMT+1; ET+5; PT+8!). The next leg of the journey was a bus ride right across the country to Galway. I had already booked an express bus for 11:15am -- which meant I had to hang out in the airport for a while. I took advantage of this time to get an Irish SIM card for my phone (€25 for a month of pretty much unlimited everything). Then I grabbed an overpriced coffee and banana and stared at the clock until 11am.

At that point I wandered out into the fresh air and hopped on a very comfortable bus. It came complete with power outlets, WiFi and a toilet.

Small Countries Rock!
The bus took about 2.5 hours to cross the country. Traffic was heavy when we arrived in Galway. I hopped off the bus and was met with my first bit of Irish friendliness: a woman gave me a 20 Eurocent coin so I could access the bathroom to freshen up.

Then I grabbed my bags, asked for directions to my hotel and off I went.

I had two big bags, which was a bit of a pain but they were free to bring on the plane. A lot of the stuff inside (old clothes, nearly worn out shoes) I will simply leave behind.

The Hotel Victoria was quite close and I was checking in in no time. The room was €109 taxes in. It was also huge:
Room 204 - Victoria Hotel, Galway, Ireland
I was pretty knackered from the flight, but I went for a short stroll in search of food and then popped into the hotel's pub for a pint. Well, three.

Caught on Camera!
In the pub I met an old Irish couple. They were nice, welcomed me to Ireland and mentioned that they were connected to the McCain family in New Brunswick.

I crashed at midnight, thinking I would wake up early enough to get out and snap some pictures of Galway before the tourists showed up.

Wrong. I woke up Friday morning at 10.

With checkout at noon, I scrambled to shower and hit the nearby mall for some provisions.

At 1pm James, my Kinvara taxi driver, picked me up. It's about 40km one way and with my bags a taxi made the most sense. We also stopped at a Tesco so I could grab more provisions and plug adaptors for my electronic gadgets.


We arrived at my new home mid-afternoon after zipping through the quite small town of Kinvara.

Home Sweet Home
Kate, the owner was quite welcoming. We spent the afternoon going over things like how to feed and water the cats. She showed me around the rather large yard that includes a ton of berry bushes and apple trees in the back. Raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants and more.

The neighbours came over for a short visit and then it was time for dinner, then bed.


Saturday (7/18) morning was a bit of a blur. Kate was getting ready to leave and she was taking care of last minute things. The neighbours came by again and I discovered that I had picked up a cold. I never get colds and here I am, just days into my Irish adventure and my head is completely stuffed. Bah!

By noon I was all alone, save for the two cats (George and Moley).

There was another afternoon visit by the neighbour and his guest from the UK. She was interested in housesitting. We chatted about that for a spell.

The weather was quite crappy, with lots of wind and rain all day. But shortly before sunset (which is still at 9:51pm -- at 53 degrees north, we're at the same latitude as Edmonton) there was a small break in the clouds during a heavy shower. The result was this:

Double Rainbow - iPhone Panorama - No filter!
I rushed back to the house to get my good camera, but it was too late. Still, the iPhone image is pretty good. I made sure to put the phone down and stare at the nature's wonder (which is why I was too late getting the good camera).

After all that excitement, it was time for bed... ready for my solo Ireland adventure to begin on Sunday (7/19).


Saturday, July 04, 2015

THR +365: What a Difference a Year Makes

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since I went under the knife/drill/hammer and saw. But a year it has been. And a good one too.

The new hip is amazing and the old hip isn't exhibiting any troubles.

I'm still battling the weight, despite massive amounts of walking. However, I'm feeling great and that's all that matters.

So, Happy First Birthday, left hip! Hip, Hip, Hurray!

"I'm one!"
And so it goes...

Thursday, June 04, 2015

THR +335

June 4, 2015

Eleven months have passed since my total hip replacement. All remains good with both the operated leg and the other hip, which will need replacing at some point. For now, both hips work perfectly.

I've been trying to exercise, but the weather has been quite crappy. Lots of rain and cool temperatures. I managed nearly 50K in the final two weeks of May. But I haven't cracked more than a half-dozen in June.

There are also lots of changes swirling in the air. I had planned to stay put, but apparently that's not what the universe wants.

And so it goes...

Monday, May 04, 2015

THR +304

May 4, 2015

Well, today marks 10 months since my hip replacement. All good. I still have stiffness if I sit poorly (on bad furniture) or for long durations, but other than that, no problems.

My right hand is still messed up, but functions. I don't know if it's getting any better as the fingers still 'hang'. But things seem to work. The right shoulder is better, although there are the occasional twinges of pain. Methinks that's from too much computering.

And back to the left leg: the knee still is tender from the fall on the ice a few weeks ago. But it doesn't impede me in any way.

Left leg great. Right one... gone missing?
And so it goes!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

THR +274

April 4, 2015

Well, it's now nine months or 274 days since my hip replacement. All good.

I still suffer a little stiffness now and then, but the new hip is working perfectly. I've even been riding a stationary bike -- mostly because there has been so much snow in Halifax that it's impossible to walk anywhere. I've fallen on the ice a few times, too -- but no problems.

A bigger problem is my right hand. I injured it last June and it had healed -- or so I thought. But months of using crutches and endless typing took their toll. It looks like a tendon is torn or something didn't heal right because three fingers kind of hang. I can move them into place, but if I go limp, they sort of flop. They're painful too -- a dull pain, not unlike the old hip pain.

Anyway, I best see someone about it it -- I have a feeling surgery may be required.

I've also fattened up nicely now that I'm walking less than I was in San Pedro. Once I'm relocated downtown, I plan to do a ton of walking -- and eventually bike riding although I doubt I'll be doing 40km rides right away.

Plans for the future are up in the air. I may stay here. I may go to Toronto. And, there's always home.

That's about it. Until next time...


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Still the Same

It's now March 29, 2015 and after yet another snow storm, the scene is still quite wintery here in Blind Bay, NS.
Definitely NOT Guatemala or Vancouver, either.
Surely spring will actually spring... won't it?

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

8 Months. Also: Nova Scotia

March 4, 2015

It has been 8 months since my hip replacement surgery. Things continue to go well, although I'm still portly. A gym membership is in the works.

I'm also housesitting just outside of Halifax, NS -- where it is decidedly winter. WAY different than San Pedro.

Not Guatemala
Anyway, everything is just fine. Plus, my Nova Scotia refuge is free from barking dogs, loud stereos, construction, evangelical churches and tuktuks. I think I'll take the quiet for now. Plus, spring isn't that far off...

And so it goes...

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

7 Months

Feb 4, 2015

Today marks 7 months since my hip replacement. All good and heading to Mexico!


Monday, January 19, 2015


I've learned the hard way that it is impossible for me to live and work in San Pedro. The noise is everywhere, and as much as I love the climate and the people here -- I'm so tired of fighting the battle to find somewhere reasonably quiet to work.

The latest example:

I moved into a house outside of the main town only to find a neighbour (now gone) who fed street dogs and encouraged them to hang out and bark. All. Night. Long.

When I moved in, the property owner said there would be some construction at the back of the property. Fine. But now I have rock cracking and chipping just 10 feet from my bedroom.

With workers in the back, there is absolutely no privacy. People chatting just outside my window. People walking past my windows and peeking in. And I can't leave the back door open to get the only light available because I get stared at all day.

The internet sucks ass. The only option is to use a 3G stick that works on the phone network. Sometimes.

The noise schedule is as follows:

0700-1600 Constuction noise, workers and stone cracking
1600-0700 Dozens of dogs barking. Occasional super loud music.

Yeah, I'm done.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mayans from the Back

Lots of people like to take pictures whilst on holiday. Pros, too.

But some people think that they're entering the realm of professional photography with images that anyone can take.

I think that you're a pro if you know how to shoot exceptional images. It doesn't matter what the camera is -- it matters what you see and how you capture it.

So when I see "pros" shooting photos of Mayans from the back and then adding a letter-box frame and some nice text (in Century Gothic) -- I snicker.

Now, I don't mean to say that anyone who takes the above shot is cheating. It's hard to take photos of people face on and capture them honestly. However, it drives me nutty when people take a pedestrian picture like the one above and letterbox it like it's a work of art.

No. It's not art. It's just a (nice) picture.

And so it goes...

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Laundry Troubles

I don't have laundry facilities in my house. Thankfully San Pedro has several places where you can drop off your dirty clothes and get them washed and dried for about 70 cents a pound.


Except, the laundry joint I've been using for years has been screwing up. Recently they've misplaced socks (4 pairs one time), sheets and more. In each of those instances I've been able to use my poor Spanish to get my stuff back.

I now keep a list of what I drop off -- which I should have used when I picked up my load yesterday. It was a bunch of towels and other lint shedding stuff. I've already learned that it's a bad idea to have black t-shirts and white towels in a single load as the laundry folks just wash everything together.

Anyway... I picked up my laundry, which was packed in a black garbage bag. Should I open and check? Nah, I thought. The most important item was my expensive bath towel -- and I could feel it in the bag.

I was wrong. Yes, there was a towel, but as I discovered when I got home, the towel wasn't mine. It was the same brand, but a different colour and stained. Ew.

So now this morning I have to drag my ass back to the laundry and try to a) explain that I got the wrong towel and b) I want mine back. Although I know that there is a good chance by towel is already gone...

Just another day in paradise!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Wormy Water

So... the thing about paradise is that it really isn't.

What I mean is that parts of living in paradise are paradise -- like the weather. But there are other parts that pale in comparison to the world left behind.

An example: water.

Although the municipal water is likely fine to drink, I don't. I do use it for washing me and the dishes -- but that's it.

For consumption, cooking and tooth brushing, I use bottled water. The big 5 gallon bottles (garrafons) of purified agua.

The bottle goes upside down in a dispenser and fresh water is always at my fingertips.

Hello Wormy!
Every two bottles, I give the dispenser a good bleach/fresh water wash to keep things clean and healthy.

Imagine my surprise yesterday when I went to clean the dispenser and found not one, but TWO wee worms. They were swimming around the "fresh" water with considerable joy. Or drowning -- it was hard to tell.

Here's video of a similar (although much more wormy) bottle of water in India:

Needless to say, I scrubbed everything down including all my water bottles throughout the house. Then I set up a new bottle and shone a flashlight into the dispenser (it has clear walls) to see if the two worms had friends.

None that I could see. But that's the thing: how small are the baby worms? Or the baby worm eggs? And how many are inside me right now as I write this?

Hopefully they can't survive a belly full or beer and/or coffee. Hopefully.

I'm not sure where the interlopers came from. Did they live in my kitchen and suddenly discover an awesome pool -- or did they come with the bottle of water as a value add.

Either way, I'm thinking I need to either switch suppliers, add additional filtering or just drink beer and/or coffee all the time.

And so it goes... 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Return of the Anti-Vaxxer

So... last year a young woman arrived in San Pedro. She was nice but quite kooky. A faux-hippie. Perhaps even a Trustafarian (a young traveller, usually wearing a hippie costume, who is supported by a trust fund).

At some point during her stay here, she managed to get herself pregnant.

Eventually, she came to term and decided to give birth in a most unusual way: in a public "solar" pool with a bunch of hippie friends.


Anyway, she gave birth and then hung around for a while, telling everyone who would listen that she wasn't going to vaccinate the child. Also, she passed it around to her hippie friends much like one would pass a joint (if that's your thing). Poor child.

Now, the decision to not vaccinate your child is a personal (if uninformed) one. But it also affects children who can't be vaccinated. Hence, the return of all the diseases that we had supposedly beaten.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I'm walking to the other side of town with friends of mine who became parents just months ago. As we made our way through the dirty, patchouli oil-covered faux-hippie throngs (and their equally stinky dogs) we bumped into the Kooky Mother.

Her baby, now a year old, was naked (because he peed and pooped a lot, she said) and barely attached to her back in what appeared to be an old cloth shopping bag. The child was also small, smaller than my friends' four-month-old.

Kooky Mother immediately wanted to touch the four-month-old. The child's mother was not impressed, as she also knew of Kooky's aversion to all things healthy (and soap).

Kooky Mother suggested a play date and said she'd pop by as she knew where my friends lived. They bristled at the idea.

Eventually, we were on our way. My friends pulled out some hand sanitizer to clean the spot where Kooky Mother touched their baby.

We laughed, but we also felt sad for Kooky's child: its stunted development and the environment in which it was growing up.

Just another day in paradise!

Friday, January 02, 2015

January 2, 2015 (THR +183)

I think it's time for this blog to change focus.

I'm on the cusp of my six-month hip operation anniversary and all is going well. I've added more physio to my daily routine to help with the stiffness. I'm pain free and feel no physical restrictions -- but the stiffness continues. This could be from my less-than-firm bed or all the hard chairs and stools I'm sitting on.

I've also got to be conscious of my weight. It has definitely edged up and I've got to reverse the trend by increasing exercise and cutting calories. Beer is the culprit, methinks.

But there is much more to life than my hip. My experiences here in Guatemala should be written down and saved for posterity. That said, writing is my job -- and extracurricular writing has to be fun, or I won't do it. How to make it fun? Write about the silly stuff here.

I mean, there's the crazy dog lady (there are several, actually) that feeds street dogs outside a house where she no longer lives -- and I do. There are all the high school hijinks of the ex-pats here. The trouble is they're my friends, so how do I write about them without offending them?

So far 2015 is good.

After a quiet NYE party that featured an incredible view of Lake Atitlan and the combined fireworks shows of all the towns the ring the lake, I made it home and to bed at a reasonable time.

On January 1 I left my computer and backpack at home (a rarity) and headed into town to have lunch with my buddy Daniel on the balcony of a restaurant called D'noz. We spent the afternoon chatting away before meeting up with other people at Mikaso (hotel/restaurant) for wood-fired pizza.

It was a nice relaxing day and very necessary.

What will the rest of the year offer up? Let's see...