A South American Adventure

Written by Harold McNeill on November 9th, 2017. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


South America

South America: From the Pampas of Argentina to the Peruvian Andes and
Machu Picchu: A tour of south central, South America
For a representative series of photos,  Link Here)
(Note: The Falklands Islands is included on the tour, but was not included in the above map – reference the photo series for a second map)   

Update:   February 25, 2019.  We are now back in Canada and the process of writing several short posts about our experience is underway.  The post will not be written in chronological order.  A list of links will be added here:

Peru, A Different Perspective: Includes 12-minute slideshow of photos taken through the windows of planes, trains, and automobiles.
Peru and the Inca: Back to the Future: Compares the science of the Inca to that taking place in the University of Victoria today.
South America: A Long Day, a Hard Life:  Comparisons between South America and Canada
The Falkland Islands: Our Perceptions of the Islands.

Original 

Looking for something exciting to kick off the New Year in 2019? Yes? Well, we invite you to join Garth and Esther Dunn, Lynn and Harold McNeill and a host of like-minded adventurers on a 3-4 week air, sea, coach, and rail tour of south-central South America and the Falklands. Highlight – Machu Picchu!

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South America: A Long Day, A Hard Life

Written by Harold McNeill on March 14th, 2019. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure



A long day, a hard life.

A South American Adventure The introductory Post
Peru, A Different Perspective: Includes Slideshow
Peru and the Inca: Back to the Future Inca Agricultural Research
The Falkland Islands: Our Perceptions of the Islands.

This post seeks to compare everyday life in rural and small-town Peru to our lives in Canada. While I think people in Peru are generally happy with their lives (in terms of family, friends, and neighbours), life does look to be far more difficult than in Canada. It makes me wonder why, in Canada, we seem to complain about the least little thing when our standard of living and level of privilege appears to be considerably higher than in Peru.

1. To what extent does luck play a role in our lives?

A man about my age (late 70s), pushed what looked to be a backbreaking load along a street in Aguas Calientes (I), the last small town before Machu Picchu. He stopped and leaned over breathing hard. After resting a few moments, he straightened, stretched, and with gritty determination grabbed the handles of his wheelbarrow and continued.

As we passed, our eyes met, he nodded and we smiled. While he was obviously weary, the smile and sparkling eyes suggested a happy man. As he continued along his uphill path, I continued down taking more photos of life in small-town Peru.  A few minutes later, I met another man pushing a similar barrow full of goods (photo in the footer), and he too wore a happy smile accented with sparkling eyes. We also exchanged smiles and passing nods. It looked to be a tough life for the two men their later years.

Later that day, while passing through another small town, a group of townspeople (photo taken from our bus as we drove through) was cleaning (or rebuilding) a drainage ditch. We are told by our guide that everyone in small towns sprinkled across rural Peru, have a standing obligation to help build, then keep public works systems clean and functioning.  It looked to be a tough way to spend the weekend, but there is also the aspect of a community working together to make life better for everyone.

This photo shows only one part of a large group of people spread over two or three blocks on the edge of their village. They were working to build or repair a drainage system, an essential part of these high mountain communities (we were outside Cuzco at about 12,500 feet at the time). 

The photo below, along with a slideshow) provides a glimpse of a group of women, ancestors of the Inca, who, with the help of a National Geographic grant, started a weaving business a few years back. They now have a thriving operation that caters to an increasing number of tourists passing through their village of Chinchero, a community of about 20,000 Quechua (catch ur ah) speakers, located on a 12,500 foot plateau a few miles northeast of Cuzco.

While they work exceptionally hard (by our standards at least), their efforts provide only a modest living for their families. A full outline of their business venture is described in a National Geographic article of some years back. Such is the working life for many ordinary men and women in Peru and other South American countries.

These women may work several weeks creating one table cloth or a day creating three or four little belts that are sold for $2.00 each.. They may sell one or two belts per day and a table runner every week or so. It may be weeks before they sell one of their intricately woven table cloths. Every part of the weaving process uses natural products of Peru including the dyes which are handmade on site. (Chinchero Cultural Centre)

WEAVERS SLIDESHOW

 

Think about this. If we were dealt different cards in life, we could be any one of these men or women, and they could be us.  Whether we carry a heavy load in the third world, or we lay back watching a big screen TV in Canada (a smartphone tucked by our side) a good part of the reason we are where we are, is based on the luck of our birth.

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An African Adventure

Written by Harold McNeill on July 10th, 2017. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


Nat-Geo-Journeys-Header-Botswana-Makora-640x224

An African Adventure/G Tours

NOTE:  Six albums of the tour photos of this adventure is now posted
on the McNeill Life Stories FB Page. One is yet to be posted.  A full post story will be added to this blog in January 2018.

Link Here to Photo Albums from Cape Town to Kruger, Karongwe
and Victoria Falls. One album yet to be posted.
Link: An African Adventure

Victoria, B.C.

One afternoon in late June, my cell phone rang.

“Hello.”

Hi, Harold, Garth here.” (Nonchalantly): “Hey buddy, you interested in an African adventure?”

(…thinking…sure Garth, what’s the catch? I thought we were all going Russia, right? St. Petersburg, remember?)

Garth (excited): “Guess what? I just won an all-expense paid trip for two compliments of the BC Lottery Corporation.

(…Wow…are you asking me if I want to go with you? Awesome, but what about Esther and Lynn? Don’t you think they might be a little upset? No kidding, you won again, you lucky bugger.)

Garth just wins these sorts of things. Not that long ago we were at a Rotary fundraiser in Sidney when Garth won an all-expense paid trip for two to Ireland. Am I surprised? Not one bit. Jealous? Perhaps a little, but hey, it’s inspiring, and it keeps these old bones moving.

Besides, Lynn and I were also winners that night in Sidney, as just when they were drawing Garth’s ticket for the Ireland trip, I received a cell call from the Victoria Humane Society telling me Lynn and I were approved to take that little Shih Tzu puppy we had our hearts set on.  It was Garth who tipped us off about that puppy.

He interrupted my thoughts: “Think you and Lynn can join us?

(…awe, not just me then… silly question. After so many shared adventures and so much fun traveling with the two of you, we couldn’t let you head out to deep dark Africa without us.  Remember we did the Middle East in the middle of a war.  So here we go again as this is obviously a Dunn Deal.

Harold: “For sure Garth, let’s look at the numbers. Have you told Esther?”

Garth:  “Not yet.

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Climate Change: Ground Zero

Written by Harold McNeill on January 19th, 2018. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


Cape Drougt 1
Climate Change, Ground Zero: April 21, 2018
The day the taps will be turned off in Cape Town, South Africa.
(Photo album of Cape Town)
(Jan 28, 131)

As we arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, a Metropolitan area of 3.7 million, a large sign at our airport advised the city was experiencing a severe drought and while the sign urged us to Cape Town Signconserve, the welcoming nature of the sign did not impart the notion of just how critical the situation had become.

Photo: This was the sign. Perhaps a photo of the Cape Reservoir (above), along with a hard message might have had more impact of just how critical things are now, not years from now.

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Precious Memories: The West Coast Trail

Written by Harold McNeill on February 25th, 2016. Posted in Adventure


Happy Birthday Kari

Kari at Falls

The beautiful Tsusiat Falls where father and daughter took a well-deserved rest.
All that is left of the father is his boots and socks. “Yaa! But you’ve made it over halfway Dad. That’s good isn’t it?”    Guess who helped him?
January 1, 2018  (337) (April 17, 387)

 

Dear Kari,

It’s hard to believe twenty years has slipped by since we completed that magical eight day trek on the West Coast Trail with David and Jenn.  What inspired me to prepare the following slide show and write this post was finding that old slide tray tucked away in one of the storage boxes.  It brought back so many fond memories for me and I bet it will do the same for the three of you.  As I was writing this post I spoke several times to David, as well as to your Uncle Barry and Auntie Agate.

Before getting into the details of the trek, take a few moments and enjoy the slides as they slip by.  I tried to find music that expresses the love a Dad has for his children and, as well, displays the sense of pride that comes from having one of your children lovingly act as a mentor and guide in taking on a difficult challenge.  The three songs were selected after pouring through dozens of father/daughter/son lists posted on the web.

Precious Memories, J.J. Cale
When You Need Me, Bruce Springsteen
Wildflowers, Tom Petty

The photos in this slideshow have also been uploaded link to the
McNeill Life Stories Facebook Page

Opportunities arise but once.

Life provides many opportunities for adventure, but when one declines an opportunity for any reason, it is most often gone forever.  Having achieved a Golden Age in retirement and understanding this, when our oldest daughter Kari phoned and ask if I might like to join her and a cousin from Montreal, David McGregor and his friend, Jenn D’Aoust, in challenging the West Coast Trail, the answer came without a second thought, “yes”. Sure I had concerns about my ability to tackle that particular trail, but if my daughter thought I could do it, who was I to argue?

Also, it gave me comfort knowing she was an experienced backpacker, held an Industrial First Aid Certificate (just in case pops packed it in), had tackled that trail twice before and, being an extraordinary backcountry trekker had at one time considered taking up a career in the emerging field of Eco Tourism.

When this opportunity arose I was nearly two years into retirement, in fair shape and while I hadn’t recently attempted any long distance wilderness hiking, I remember Kari’s comforting words: “Don’t worry Dad, you can do this and, besides, I’ve got your back.”  Hmmm!  Of course, it was a done deal as when someone, particularly one of your children, offers to share a moment like this, It must be taken as the memories will last for the rest of your life.

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Growing the Kinosoo Legend

Written by Harold McNeill on October 13th, 2014. Posted in Adventure


 

Cold Lake Water Catchment

Photo (Web Source) (Headwaters of Martineau River, Northeast Alberta): This photo suggests a time in the past when the Cold Lake area was tropical, a time when the tar sands were being formed and when all manner of pre-histortic fish, animals and birds habitated the area.  Is it possible some species from that pre-historic era can still be found? Could the Big Kinosoo be one of them? If you are from Alberta, particularly from Cold Lake, help is needed in Growing the Kinosoo Legend

Link to Next Post: Origin of the Legend
Link Back to 
Adventures Index
Link to 
Part 4, Otter Down in French Bay

Introduction 

My goal in writing this series is simple – to help that legendary fish, the Big Kinosoo who lives deep in the waters of Cold Lake, Alberta, to grow in stature.  While our very own Kinosoo has not yet reached the mythical proportions of the Lock Ness Monster of the Scottish Highlands, Ogopogo of Okanagan fame, or that famous bushman of the Pacific Northwest, the Sasquatch, working together we can change things for the Kinosoo. While anecdotes abound, they are necessary but not sufficient for that fish to reach iconic status. Like the other Great One of Alberta, we want people to become hushed and bow down whenever they hear the name Big Kinosoo.

To do this we must search out new stories, stories that include scientific fact which points toward existence of historic big fish. It would also help have a government or military cover-up, perhaps one that could turned into a full-blown conspiracy. Conspiracies are, after all, nothing more than a few solid facts mixed with a lot of fiction. While our Kinosoo might never become as big as the cover-ups carried out in Area 51 that abuts the Edwards Air Force in Nevada, with new information recently secured from Guy Venne, a man who grew up in Cold Lake, we can make a good start. To ensure our Great One of is given his fair due, we must blend fact and fiction into a credible story just as the other Great One has done.

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Victoria-Morioka Friendship Society

Written by Harold McNeill on February 16th, 2014. Posted in Biographies, Adventure


Miss Misaki Usuzawa

We bid a special welcome to Miss Misaki Usuzawa, winner of the Japanese new singer of 2012.
Miss Usuzawa, a student at the Ootusuchi Junior High School, encouraged people along the coast with her songs following the Great Disaster of 2011.  (Link to Times Colonist article)

Welcome Friends from Japan

We begin this week with a visit by several friends from Japan who made our 2013 tour to that country so memorable. Mr. and Mrs. Rioichi and Ayako Taguchi were enthusiastically greeted at the airport on Saturday.  Although it is not their first visit to Victoria, it is such a pleasure to have the opportunity to share our city with them.

Sadly, Mr. and Mrs. Yocihi and Rieko Sakashita, who also graciously hosted us during our recent visit to Morioka, are now unable to make the journey. We shall greatly miss the opportunity to return their kind hospitality and will look forward to seeing them again in the future.

Also attending later in the week will be Mr. Toshinori Suzuki, Principle of Ootsuchi Junior High, the West Coast school devastated by the 2011 tsunami and which we visited last year. He will be introducing one of his students, Miss Misaki Usuzawa, a folk singer who won the grand record prize as the Japanese new singer of 2012.

The young artist, just now entering her mid teens, comes from one of the areas devastated by the Tohoku quake. She is considered a genius singer, excelling in the traditional style. Her mother, Mrs. Nakoko Usuzawa, will also accompany her daughter on the trip.

Others being welcomed to Victoria include Mr. Osamu Hirano, President of the recording company working with Miss Usuzawa  and Ms. Miwa Ishiganki, a Director of the Iwate Broadcasting Company.

During their stay, the group will attend a number of functions, including a courtesy visit to the Victoria City Hall where they will be welcomed by Mayor Dean Fortin.  Miss Usuzawa will perform a mini concert at City Hall as well as during a later visit to St. Margaret’s Junior and Senior Schools.

As a special treat the young singer will perform in a concert at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, February 21, from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. The general public is invited to attend.

Bill and Rita McCreadie and other friends of the Victoria-Morioka Society will host the group at a number of private functions over the coming week.

Harold and Lynn McNeill

Links below for video and photo albums:

1. Misaki Usuzawa You Tube Video

2. February 2014: Arrival in Victoria in Victoria Link Here  (This link provides a full set of photos from the visit)

3. Japan Trip 2013: The Journey Begins

4. Japan Trip 2013: The Adventure Continues

5. Japan Trip 2013: A Trip to the West Coast (Slide Show)

6. Link to February, 2014, Times Colonist article

More links are provided in the stories linked within the above albums.

hdm

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Zajac Ranch: Four days with Family and Friends

Written by Harold McNeill on August 26th, 2013. Posted in Adventure


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Photo:  Taken at the end of trail leading from Zajac Ranch to the South Arm of Stave Lake. The ranch is approximately 20 km North-East of of Mission B.C with the last 10 km  on a high quality, all-weather, gravel road. The facility boasts excellent camp style accommodation and an array of facilities that easily caters to the interests of the young and “the young at heart”.

It was out of China one day and off to the Zajac Ranch the next for a West Coast reception with our friends Carl and Julie Joosse (nee Fennema).  Because many of their West Coast friends were not able to make the July wedding, the couple decided to throw a second P1100671reception at this end.

Photo:  Carl and Julie arrive in style on the back of one the camp limousines.

The Zajac Ranch for Children, situated in pristine wilderness on the west side of Stave Lake, north of Mission, B.C, was chosen for the reception as both Carl and Julie along with many family and friends, both from the East and West, have made a strong commitment to helping ensure the future of this incredible adventure center for children.

With the draw of a West Coast wilderness adventure, many Carl and Julies family members and friends who live within a stones throw of each other, decided to make the trek to help continue the celebration in style and to meet some of the crazy West Coasters with whom Carl and Julie have spent so much time in recent years.

For those not familiar with Zajac Ranch itself, it was founded by Mel and Irene Zajac as a legacy:

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Comments

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold