“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”
― John Milton, Paradise Lost
Photo credit: Austin K on Flickr
I never moved to Canada escaping Mexico.
In fact, I never moved to any country I have lived in (Spain, France, England) escaping Mexico. I have always moved chasing my dreams and seeking new horizons. I say this because I know tonnes of Mexicans who have moved to the US or Canada escaping Mexico. There are, for certain, many, many things that are wrong with Mexico. But there are just as many or more that are wrong with Canada.
There is no paradise.
There, I said it.
Photo credit: Cindy Andrie
The John Milton quote (a quote I learned from my Dad since I was like 6 or 7 years old) has remained stuck in my brain, and has been part of my philosophy of life all the time. Even when I was heartbroken, and I had been cheated on, I made the best of what I could do with what I had. I moved to Mexico in an attempt to heal because a Canadian broke my heart. I worked in academia during the time I lived in Mexico. And I flourished as an academic. And then I returned to Canada. And succeeded here as well.
Yes, there are amazing things in Canada. Some of the people I love the most live in Canada (do note, however, that many of them aren’t born-Canadians – they live there, just like I did, as immigrants – that said, I do love A LOT of born-Canadians – some of my best friends were born in Canada). I owe Canada a lot, as a professor, as an academic, as a human being. But I also owe Mexico a lot. And Spain, and France, and England, and the US, and everywhere where I have left.
I strongly believe that you make your own paradise or hell. I am living grand in Mexico the same way I lived grand in Canada: by making the most of what I have. Not by chasing what I don’t have, but by being happy with what I have and where I am. That’s why adapting to my new life here hasn’t been as difficult: because I know that even living in Canada I would have to deal with bureaucracy, with stupid people, etc. But there are so many amazing things here, maybe just as many as in Canada.
Organized by the Canadian Music Centre, British Columbia chapter, Lunar Tunes promises to be a really fun concert. The concert, to be held on September 13th at 7pm will celebrate the CMC’s launch of its BC Creative Hub’s digital platform with the inaugural webcast of the live concert; it will be the first webcast telethon for CMC BC Region.
Tickets $100 for gala reception
Tickets available at: CMC BC Region, 837 Davie St. Vancouver BC V6Z 1B7,
Phone: 604.734.4622 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sylvia L’Ecuyer, Senior Producer at CBC Radio Canada will emcee the dynamic musical evening celebrating Canadian music performed by an ensemble of Vancouver’s finest musicians conducted by Leslie Dala, Associate Conductor of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra joined by acclaimed soprano Heather Pawsey. The musical works selected have a lunar theme, which has special meaning to CMC for a number of reasons. Schoenberg’s work “Pierrot Lunaire” will be showcased. The additional work chosen is “Sur les pas de la lune” Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy which identifies what CMC is all about – providing a resource and forum for Canadian contemporary composers.
If there is something that irks me is irresponsible consumption. I have had conversations with many a restaurateur where I have asked them why do they provide containers built in either Styrofoam or other non-sustainable material, instead of looking at ways to reduce food waste and bring down waste levels in Vancouver and the lower mainland. I have supplied many of these restaurateurs with connections to sustainable initiatives such as Green Table.
As someone who strongly supports sustainable consumption and responsible eating-out, I’m thrilled to hear of The Tiffin Project.
A Vancity-backed social entrepreneur is launching Vancouver’s first attempt to tackle our eat-and-toss disposable container habits, while supporting local agriculture. The Tiffin Project’s container is a leak-proof metal unit that gets you discounts on meals at 10 restaurants and takeaways (and growing) in Vancouver, with plans for 17 in the next six months. It is made of food-grade stainless steel by Onyx Containers.
The Tiffin Project (whom you can follow on Twitter at @TiffinProject) is a project aimed at reducing restaurant industry waste, supporting local agriculture, and changing eat-and-toss culture using positive incentives and building community.
A portion of the sale of all Tiffin Project containers goes toward shifting the initiative’s restaurant partners to improve their own eco-habits by acquiring more of their ingredients from local producers. By the fall harvest of 2013, the Tiffin Project Foundation Fund will give funds to participating restaurants, to pay the difference between the current price of local produce and the current price of imported produce.
How does the Tiffin Project work?
Consumers buy in to The Tiffin Project by purchasing a $24 Tiffin from any of the participating restaurants. Then they receive discount incentives when they go to any participating restaurant or takeaway with their Tiffin.
So who is behind The Tiffin Project?
The Tiffin Project founder Hunter Moyes is a Vancouver-area Chef who has been behind Burgoo, The Waldorf Hotel (Nuba), and most-recently Tacofino. He is also a food writer for Urban Diner, a sustainable seafood ambassador with the David Suzuki Foundation, and a frequent partner of Oxfam’s Western Canadian campaigns. Hunter hopes to use The Tiffin Project in tandem with Vancouver’s exciting food culture and restaurant community to create a more sustainable model for its supportive food systems and environment.
This sounds like a really neat initiative and hopefully many more restaurants will participate.
This past weekend I did something that very few people have seen me do (well, with the exception perhaps of JT and Ianiv and Arieanna): I forced myself to take time off. Yeah, I did. I went for lunch with my friends from when I did my undergraduate degree, I went for coffee with another friend, I went for dinner with one of my closest friends on Friday, I went for brunch twice (once with my Mom, once with my Dad). I went shopping. I took my mind off of work (and do remember, for me, work includes writing on Hummingbird604.com – my professional activity is being a professor, but I put a lot of effort and care into my blog, particularly because there are organizations, non-profits, and small businesses, theatre companies and others who depend on me for the exposure).
Photo credit: Liber The Poet on Flickr
Because of the fact that I am always on the run, always thinking and looking at my calendar and revising my To-Do lists, and despite scheduling time off and fun activities during my weekdays, I have always struggled with being able to take full weekends off. But now that I’m in Mexico, I *have* to do it. I spend weekends with my parents, and even though they understand academic life, they won’t take a “sorry I have to finish one more blog post” or “I just need to finish editing this manuscript” for an answer.
So, one of the things that I now do is I work intensely during the weekdays, even if that means doing less fun activities during those days, so that I can fully take weekends off. And yes, I do feel refreshed after taking time off. So much so that I am now able to write more, both on my blog and in my academic writing.
When we first met, JT always asked me if I had known myself and who I was my entire life. After all, to most people I look like (and behave like) an old soul. In many ways, I *am* an old soul. I thrive amongst people older than me, I eschew the usual party animal style of younger people or even people of my generation. And yes, ever since I remember I have known who I am, where I am going, and what I want.
Because of how well I know myself, I know that eating grape Jell-O will always soothe my soul. There is a back story to that fact. My late Auntie (she passed away in 1999) was like my second Mom. She never married, but she was very close to my mother, and because of that, she became really close to us. In my mind, I never defined any family event without my Auntie and my Grandpa. Whenever I (or any of my brothers) calculated tickets for graduations, my Auntie and my Grandpa always came into the equation. They were a constant in my life, and that of my brothers (and they even were part of my oldest 2 nieces).
My Auntie had her “signature” dishes: pork rinds with chile, a chorizo dish, and grape Jell-O. Yes, strange as that sounds, her grape Jell-O was just amazing. And ever since she passed away, I have grown to make those dishes to remind myself of her, and to soothe my soul. Same as when I’m missing my Mom (though, lucky for me, she and my Dad are still alive). But whenever I want to remember them, I simply cook something they used to make for me as a child. So that’s why I am making grape Jell-O for my soul tonight: Because tonight, I’m just giving myself a mental and emotional break (I’ve been working a tad too hard). But it’s time for myself too.
My biggest complaint when I search for information about Mexico online is that there are very few restaurant reviews or websites in English describing where people can go for dinner or lunch. My goal with writing about restaurants in Mexico, anywhere I travel (or where I live) is to enable English-language readers to find about some hidden gems that aren’t advertised everywhere. This is the case with Almuerzos y Comidas Del Portal (literally, “brunches and lunches of the door”)
Ever since I was a child, we would come to “Los Almuerzos El Portal” and have brunch. My Dad now has stomach problems (just like I have started to have with my lactose intolerancy) that don’t enable him to eat as much spicy food as he used to. But I hold very fond memories from doing brunch at Almuerzos y Comidas Del Portal, so I took him for brunch there with me.
I ordered a “Special Plate” (Plato Especial) with chicharron (pork rinds), cecina, beans and pork in pasilla chile (cerdo en chile pasilla). Most restaurants will offer blood sausage (moronga or rellena) in a Plato Especial, but I totally hate blood sausage so I always ask for an exchange.
I love that Almuerzos y Comidas del Portal offers hand-made tortillas, and a very broad variety of dishes at extremely affordable prices. Excellent service too.
If you consider that brunch for my Dad and I was less than $12 USD (about $125 pesos), this is a pretty affordable breakfast or brunch place. Highly recommended if you ever visit Leon, Guanajuato.
Disclosure: I paid for both of our brunches on my own dime. As always I retain full editorial control over anything that I post on my site.
I have a weird relationship with Mexico in Vancouver, and that has always been the case for the more than 10 years that I lived in Vancouver. I have set foot at the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver TWICE in my entire life. Don’t get me wrong, I love being Mexican, and with an increasing flow of Mexican folks to Vancouver, the number of events associated with showcasing Mexico and Mexican culture has increased as well. But I never really felt the need to be part of the Latino or Mexican community in Vancouver.
I do, however, feel a duty as a Mexican who has a blog that is very popular in Canada, and in Vancouver particularly, to promote MexicoFest 2012(although I’m a bit uneasy with the popularization of Mexican culture, as I often fear that we will soon have Can-Mex food, as we have Tex-Mex in the US). Nevertheless, I’m proud of my country and its culture, arts and people, so I do encourage you to participate in MexicoFest 2012.
Mexico Fest began in 2008 as a celebration of the anniversary of Mexico’s Independence and has grown into the most important festival to be hosted by the Consulate of Mexico in British Columbia. Due to the growing interest the festival has attracted from the local community, MexicoFest has become an opportunity to feature some of our renowned tourist spots and a way to bring about a greater understanding of our country.
This year’s focus will be on the beautiful Banderas Bay and the preferred tourist destinations of Western Canadians: Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.
Mexico Fest 2012 encompasses 11days of art exhibit, music, culinary celebration, a gala dinner, a golf tournament and the 5th edition of the Fiesta Mexico Independencia.
The Consulate General in coordination with the Mexican Tourism Board in Vancouver, the Mexican Trade Commission and the Mexican Community are dedicated to strengthening the cultural exchange and presence of Mexico with the local and international community of British Columbia. It is with great pleasure and pride that we invite you to experience Mexico in Vancouver starting on September 5th and concluding on September 16th/
Given that I recently participated in a media trip sponsored by the Mexican Tourism Board, I foresee that I will be doing more promotional work of Mexico in Canada, so stay tuned. And do consider attending MexicoFest 2012. There will be A LOT of things to do. Check out the list of events for MexicoFest 2012 here.
Normally, I would have promoted the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival 2012 like crazy (if you recall, in previous years I have been not only a partner by giving away tickets, but I have also covered the festival AND I’ve been a media sponsor). This year, my crazy academic workload has not enabled me to give as much time to VLAFF as I would like, so I have decided to just write a short post to let people know about this wonderful event, which I’m happy to support, as I am, obviously, Latin American. I hold many fond memories from VLAFF, including going to the movies with my friends Dorita and Guacira.
VLAFF is a registered non-profit charitable organization with the mission to provide a forum for the promotion and exhibition of Latin American cinema. This annual festival promotes dialogue between cultures and explores historical and social issues through the eyes of filmmakers.
Since 2003, VLAFF has continued to provide audiences with the unique opportunity of experiencing Latin American cinema in Vancouver.
- To conduct a Film Festival for the purpose of educating and advancing the public’s understanding and appreciation of Latin American cinema.
- To conduct educational workshops and seminars.
- To provide independent filmmakers with the opportunity to display their artistic efforts.
- To provide Canadian audiences with an opportunity to observe a variety of films, which closely reflect the society and people of Latin American countries.
- To generate a network between the Canadian and Latin American film industries and forge an artistic alliance between the two.
This year, the lineup looks pretty incredibly, and tonight (Friday August 31st) is opening night. I’m pretty sure tickets are sold out but you never know, do try and get to it, as it promises to be a really fun festival.
Another Wednesday, and another wine for you to consider. I felt really guilty to be quite honest because I had not been drinking wine lately and I was pondering how the hell am I going to write my next Wine Wednesday post if I haven’t really been drinking wine?”. Luckily I have just tried a few, recently. My favorite wine in recent times is, surprisingly, not Mexican. It is Chilean. Undurraga Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, a wine I tried a few weeks back when my uncle treated my cousin and I to dinner (they both knew I was missing sushi and they realized that I probably wasn’t loving the sushi I had tried so far in Mexico).
I found the Cabernet Sauvignon made by Undurraga extremely good. It had great body, and is a great type of wine (particularly for drinking on its own). Worth buying, to be quite honest!
Last year, I was travelling so I was unable to attend both the media preview AND the actual event, Stack the Rack, which is a fundraiser and showcase that helps benefit QMUNITY, Vancouver’s queer resource centre. I have always liked this event because it is such a fun way to raise funds for an extremely worthy cause.
Vancity presents the 2nd annual STACK the RACK a benefit for QMUNITY in partnership with Marquis Wine Cellars & Mark Brand Inc. on Monday, October 1, 2012 (6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.). This isn’t your Mother’s wine tasting event. Gather with other food and wine aficionados at the esteemed Old Boneta Event Space 1 West Cordova Street and sample food sensations paired with the exquisite wines selected by Marquis Wine Cellars. Sure to be holiday entertaining successes!
STACK the RACK is your opportunity to try some new and exciting wines while stocking your wine rack for the upcoming Thanksgiving & holiday seasons. Take care of all your wine needs in one night for the whole season. Did I mention Marquis Wine Cellars delivers?
Last year we sold out in under 3 weeks for this exquisite evening. Tickets are $135 each (before Sept. 24th, then the price goes up to $165). Your ticket includes:
- An exclusive gift bag stuffed with treats from Masc & featuring a $50 gift certificate to Marquis Wine Cellars (gift certificate can be used at STACK the RACK or at the Marquis store on Davie Street)
- $85 charitable tax receipt from QMUNITY
- Amazing auction packages & experiences that you won’t find anywhere else (make sure your wallet is full and your credit card is empty!)
- Unique Food & Wine pairings throughout the evening
- Meet some of the most fabulous people in town
When I first told my Mexican friends that I was planning to move back to Mexico in 2012, many of them thought I was crazy. I am, after all, a Mexican academic and professor who did his PhD in Canada and who was teaching at the university level in one of Canada’s most prestigious universities. Why on the planet would I want to move back to Mexico? Well, I think the upcoming Mexi-Go! Travel and Trade Expo in Vancouver, to be held on September 7th and 8th will help people dispel myths on what it’s like to live in Mexico, particularly as a Canadian.
Photo credit: Nathan Rupert on Flickr
In case you didn’t know, Ajijic in Jalisco, and San Miguel Allende are very big enclaves for Canadians wishing to live on Mexican soil. There are PLENTY of reasons to live in a wonderful country such as Mexico, and I am happy to be a Mexican-Canadian as well. I shuttle back-and-forth and I am happy and proud of both countries.
Mexican destinations are ready to showcase their attractions in the first Mexi-Go! Travel and Trade Expo in Vancouver. Some of the destinations include Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, San Miguel de Allende, Sonora, Los Cabos and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.The Trade show will take place on September 7 & 8 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The event will also feature Mexican products, services for expats living in Mexico and investment opportunities.
The Expo is the first event in the city that will promote Mexico as a tourist destination, commercial partner, and investment opportunity. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore touriism opportunities, Mexican products and businesses as well as investment opportunities in real estate and services available for expats interested in retiring in Mexico.
Partnering with ProMexico, the Mexico Tourism Board and the Mexican Consulate, Mexi-GO! will be a two-day tradeshow in downtown Vancouver, BC on September 7 & 8. It will showcase travel and business opportunities in Mexico to a 10,000 strong Canadian audience. Held during the Fourth Annual MexicoFest event, the Mexi-Go! Travel & Trade Expo is a unique event that brings travel, art and craft, food, music, business and real estate opportunities to Canadians at home before they make their travel plans.
According to the Mexican Immigration Institute, from January to June 2012 over a million Canadians travelled to Mexico, an increase of 1.6% over the same period the year before. It is expected to be a record year for tourism. In addition, many Canadians are considering retiring in Mexico.
Event Details Name: Mexi-Go! Travel and Trade Expo Date: September 7 & 8, 2012, 10am to 6pm Location: West Building Vancouver Convention Centre, Level 1 Description:
Join us at the Mexi-Go! Travel &Trade Expo for 2 days of educational seminars on living in Mexico, retiring to Mexico, opening a business in Mexico and much more! Enjoy exclusive travel deals, great prizes, food, tequila, mariachi, traditional dancers while you browse our exhibitors to learn more about what this amazing country holds for you! Live Your Tropical Dream! Travel to Mexico! Retire to Mexico!
Admission: At the door $5 dollars (partial proceeds donated to Lorena Ochoa Foundation). Register online for your free two-day pass. Website: Mexi-Go Expo
I am really sorry that I will not be able to attend, but if you have any questions on living in Mexico after living more than 15 years in Canada, do let me know!
Because I travel so often, I try my hardest to make sure that I don’t carry much international currency, and that I plan my finances in advance. JT is even worse, he is such a crazy planner particularly for trips. I was recently pitched for a guest blog post by ICE, and I asked Dan Northan, Vice President of International Currency Exchange Canada to provide you with some travel tips to be money savvy while travelling.
Photo credit: epSos.de on Flickr
The following guest post is courtesy of Dan Northam, International Currency Exchange
There seems to have been a shift in perception that relying on credit and debit cards when you travel is a better bet than bringing cash, as it’s convenient and allows you to avoid fees. This isn’t always the case. Here are a few tips on how a little planning can make for a stress-free trip:
1. Find out exactly what using your plastic abroad will cost you. A quick call or trip to the bank and you’ll know exactly how much your bank will charge for each cash withdrawal or purchase abroad. Visa and Mastercard typically take one per cent on top of any fees the local ATM or bank levies. Many banks charge a five-dollar flat fee for cash withdrawals on your debit card in a foreign country.
2. Take at least a nominal amount of currency with you. Chances are, you’re going to patronize several businesses that only accept cash, and you can’t tip the maid on credit. Taking a mix of both cash and plastic ensures that you’ll never be caught without money for tipping and small purchases from merchants who don’t accept cards.
3. Find out whether your cards are usable in your destination country. Many nations operate on a four-digit PIN system. Vancouver traveller Isabel DaCosta was travelling in Vietnam and found her six-digit PIN card unusable. She was able to take cash out on her non-chip-and-PIN credit card, but she came home to a $900 bill with $70 in fees alone.
4. Take the sting out of currency conversion. Picking up currency for your trip needn’t be painful. Inquire at your bank about whether preferable rates are given to certain accounts. ICE offers a no-fee pre-order service, Click and Collect, that allows travellers to order currency online and have it ready for pickup and purchase the airport.
5. Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans. Debit and credit card fraud are a booming business and as a result, banks are quick to freeze accounts that they believe have been compromised. Kill two birds with one stone by inquiring about fees and disclosing your travel plans at the same time.
The Fraser Valley Food Show is coming up Friday-Sunday September 14-16, 2012 at the Tradex Trade & Exhibition Centre, 1190 Cornell St. in Abbotsford, BC. You may remember that last year, my interns Anabelle and Jessica covered FVFS for Hummingbird604.com. This year, unfortunately, they can’t do that for me, but I am glad that I can offer a lucky reader a prize package to celebrate this wonderful event.
The Fraser Valley counterpart to the EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival, the Fraser Valley Food Show offers local and international cuisine from vendors in the Valley and beyond, offerings from over 100 exhibitors, celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, the 9th annual CityTV Master Chef Competition, and seminars by Dairy Farmers of Canada, Kathleen Rake of Between the Vines, and Just Here for the Beer.
New for 2012 is the Great Canadian Sausage Making Competition, where amateur, professional, and corporate team sausage makers will compete to win a cash prize of $500.
I have an exclusive contest that I will be run on Hummingbird604.com from August 27-September 3 in which the winner will win the following:
- Family pack of tickets (4) to the Fraser Valley Food Show
- One copy of Bob Blumer’s Glutton for Pleasure book
- One copy of Graham Kerr’s Growing at the Speed of Life: A Year in the Life of My First Kitchen Garden
- VIP seating to a wine seminar of the winner’s choice
The prize pack will be mailed to the winner no later than September 5.
Ways to enter:
1) Comment on this blog post and tell me what your favorite type of food is. I think it’s no surprise to everyone that my favorite food is Ethiopian (nomnomnom).
2) Post the following on Twitter:
Shared my favorite type of food with @hummingbird604 http://is.gd/OIqanr to enter to win a @FVFoodShow prize pack. You can enter too!
5) Post an Instagram photo of your favorite type of food tagging me @hummingbird604 and the Fraser Valley Food Show (@FVFoodShow) on it.
I will draw a random winner on September 3rd, from all the entrants into the contest (if you accumulate all 5 types of modes of entry, you’ll gain, obviously gain 5 entries into the contest!)
Spice Goddess Bal Arneson is the headliner on the Food Network Celebrity Stage at the upcoming Fraser Valley Food Show. Arneson is a mother, author of two bestselling books, and host of the award-nominated show Spice Goddess, focusing on healthy Indian cuisine. Also on the stage, local food and cooking enthusiast Reiko Mackenzie of Real Housewives of Vancouver fame will team up with organizations to celebrate local and sustainable food as we head into the harvest and Thanksgiving season.
You may cook up a storm, but is your entertaining space up to par? Cynthia Lucas of View Design will present ideas on how to create your dream kitchen, from quick-fix tips to major renovations, finding your personal style, and design trends. View Design will also create an entertaining lounge and help guests with their questions and ideas at the show.
The 5th annual Fraser Valley Food Show showcases over 100 exhibitors and is host to the 9th annual CityTV Master Chef Competition and the first Great Canadian Sausage Making Competition. The show takes place Friday-Sunday September 14-16, 2012, at the Tradex Trade & Exhibition Centre, 1190 Cornell St. in Abbotsford. For more info and tickets, visit www.fraservalleyfoodshow.com
And on the topic of thrift stores and social enterprises, I recently found out about My Sister’s Closet, a social enterprise of Battered Women Support Services, in Vancouver.
One of the things I do realize I love about Vancouver is how many non-profit and support programmes there are to help underprivileged people. I think the work that Battered Women Support Services does is fantastic, and I’m happy to promote My Sister’s Closet as well (I recently wrote about Out of the Closet Renew Boutique, another thrift store whose work is along the lines of supporting vulnerable groups, in the case of Out of the Closet, queer youth).
A determined group of women started Battered Women’s Support Services in 1979. Our goal is the elimination of all violence against girls and women. We have been delivering training and education programs to support service providers and to end violence against girls and women for over 30 years. We provide direct service support and advocacy for girls and women who have experienced abuse, systemic advocacy, law reform, and for 21 years we have delivered a youth engagement in violence prevention program in public and private schools in British Columbia. In our effort to support zero waste and eco fashion, we are solid members of the thrift movement operating My Sister’s Closet as a social enterprise in Vancouver, BC. In 2010, we launched The Violence Stops Here campaign, urging men to own their role in ending violence against girls and women
You can follow My Sister’s Closet on Twitter as well. Do consider supporting this worthy programme.
When I participated in Breathe Now 2012 (as a media sponsor), I attended the after party which was also, if I’m recalling correctly, benefitting Out of the Closet Renew Boutique in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada). Located on 1736 Douglas St (phone 250-590-2719), Out of the Closet is a very unique thrift store because its very mission is to support and empower queer youth. As you all know, supporting non-profits is one of the missions I have established for my blog, and in particular supporting charities and non-profits that empower queer youth. Given the higher rate of suicide in queer youth, I make it part of my mission to encourage folks to support queer-focused charities.
I strongly believe that Out of the Closet is one of those social enterprises worth supporting, so I would like to encourage you to buy clothes and/or donate clothes as well. From the Out of the Closet website:
A provincially registered enterprising no-profit business committed to social justice and queer visibility. through fundraising and community development.
WHY DO WE NEED YOUR HELP?
The Queer community has a significantly higher suicide rate, particularly amongst guy youth and trans folks.
Many Queer folks experience the rejection of their families and homo/transphobic abuse which can lead to issues such as depression, isolation, addictions, suicide and homelessness.
An inclusive term that includes people who may personally/politically identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, two-spirited, intersexed, pansexual, ally or something else., or choose no label.
Please consider supporting Out of the Closet Renew Boutique, and maybe pay them a visit next time you are touring Victoria, BC. You can also find them on Facebook.
The TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) version of my answer is: Yes, I am. I have lived in half a dozen countries and travelled through dozens more and I have learned to be happy wherever I am.
I had lunch with several of my friends from when I did my chemical engineering undergraduate degree yesterday, and I got asked the same question that just about everyone in Canada and in Mexico asks me “are you happy you moved?“. For a lot of people, particularly Mexicans who don’t know life in Canada very well (or in any other country, for that matter), my decision to leave Canada behind and move to Mexico seems (hypothetically) unfathomable. After all, Vancouver is the world’s most livable city, yadda yadda yadda.
Yet, what my answer always turns to be is a long-winded version of the Theodore Roosevelt quote:
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
I have learned to be happy wherever I am. I don’t long for Vancouver. I don’t long for Madrid. I don’t long for Paris. I don’t long for Manchester. I don’t long for anywhere where I have lived at any point in my life. I am a citizen of the world. I speak 7 languages and have travelled dozens of countries. I have moved more times than I can remember. And I am happy. Anywhere I am I always find ways to be happy.
Yes, there are things that I miss from Vancouver. My friends, for example. The easier access I had to politicians, bureaucrats and policy makers (I am, after all, a public policy professor – I love giving my students practical examples and access to real-world decision makers in the policy arena). My online popularity (and in Canada, British Columbia and the lower mainland, particularly, my offline popularity). Yes, I miss that. But I don’t long for it.
I am happy with the decision I made and I am making the most of what I have here. I am travelling Mexico and browsing for opportunities to showcase a wonderful country. I would do the same if I lived in France, or in Germany, or in Argentina. I live in the moment, and I enjoy it to the fullest. That’s how I like to live, and yes, that’s why I am happy I moved. I am happy to lean into the discomfort.
One of my favorite festivals (beyond the absolute obvious like Bard on the Beach, and of course, Vancouver Queer Film Festival or Vancouver Queer Arts Festival), is definitely the Vancouver International Fringe Festival 2012. Covering theatre in Vancouver for the past 7 years or so, I’ve grown to love The Fringe.
Every year the Vancouver Fringe Festival delivers an eclectic mix of theatrical offerings. This year’s Fringe features more than 800 performances by 98 artists over 11 days!
We are a member of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals and have been putting on the annual Festival in Vancouver since 1985. Originally, the Festival was focused in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver, but we moved to Commercial Drive in 1995, and again to our current home on Granville Island in 2000. While the majority of the Festival takes place on Granville Island, we take over the city every September thanks to the artists who produce BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) shows at various venues.
The 2012 Vancouver Fringe Festival will be taking place September 6-16. You should TOTALLY check it out.
Normally, every year without a hitch, I promote the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, now in its 2012 edition. However, this year I have been so busy I have not had the opportunity to promote it as much as I wanted, as I have been incredibly busy. Nevertheless, I wanted to write about ALPHA, a play that promises to rock the Vancouver International Fringe Festival 2012, opening on September 6th. Produced by Compassionate Bone Theatre, ALPHA sounds like a lovely play that will most likely make you think. ALPHA plays at Studio 16, 1555 West 7th Avenue, September 7 – 15.
Rick was born to play hockey. But it’s his final year in the minors, and he still hasn’t been drafted. With the end of high school and the pressure to win a Provincial Championship looming, Rick struggles to hold his dream in focus. Armed with only a sense of humour and a big stick, is Rick ready to face off against his fears? A semi-autobiographical slapshot to the solar-plexis.
In brief: Compassionate Bone Theatre presents ALPHA, a new play by Jessie Award winner Evan Frayne. Semi-autobiographical and completely original, Alpha tells the story of Rick, a small-town boy determined to play hockey or die trying. Part of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, Alpha plays at Studio 16 Fri Sept 7, 22:40- 23:40| Sat Sept 8, 16:30-17:30| Sun Sept 9, 12:45-13:45| Mon Sept 10, 18:15- 19:15| Thurs Sept 13, 20:30-21:30| Sat Sept 15, 20:00-21:00. Tickets $5-12.
I do hope you will get a chance to attend. I love all the amazing talent that the Vancouver International Fringe Festival showcases and ALPHA will most likely make you think and reflect on life.
As a former dancer, almost nothing brings me more joy than participating in dance activities, even more so if they are FREE. So, I’m pleased to announce the upcoming Scotiabank Dance Centre Open House which will take place on Saturday, September 15, 2012. I always promote this wonderful event because The Dance Centre has always been incredibly kind to me (and also, because of my background as a former competitive dancer).
Dancers of Damelahamid Photo credit: Derek Dix
From ballet, contemporary and hip hop to flamenco, Butoh and classical East Indian dance, the annual Scotiabank Dance Centre Open House offers the chance to sample a host of dance styles in a day of open classes, studio showings and events. Highlights include a performance of contemporary aboriginal dance with the Dancers of Damelahamid, Raven Spirit Dance and Starrwind Dance Projects; an artist salon examining how dance entered Canadian universities in the 1970s, with archive footage of works from the era; new solos created by Tracy Dietrich, Gail Lotenberg, Josh Martin and Deanna Peters during Barbara Bourget’s Solo Choreography Project; an improvisation workshop for young families; and open rehearsals of new works in development by Restless Productions and the response.
Full schedule of Events (All classes are open level – beginners welcome)
10.30-11.30am Workshop: Foolish Operations – Dancing the Parenting. Dance artist Julie Lebel and members of the ensemble invite parents and their young children from 0-5 years old to join them in their practice of open improvisation. Children and parents get inspired on fun ways to cultivate focus on the joy of movement. Presented in partnership with Made In BC.
10.30-11.30am Class: Butoh with Jay Hirabayashi of Kokoro Dance
10.30-11.30am Workshop: The Myths and Facts of Stretching for Dance. Healthy Dancer Canada presents an interactive workshop offering an overview of the current research on athletic stretching, different types of flexibility and various stretching techniques.
11.30am-12.30pm Class: Bellydance with Lava (Lana O’Keefe)
11.30am-12.30pm Open Rehearsal: Restless Productions Choreographer Claire French develops a scene with dancers and a musician for The Moment of Forgetting, premiering in October
11.30am-12.30pm Class: Bharata natyam (Classical East Indian dance) with Mandala Arts and Culture
12.30-2pm Class: Ballet with Linda Arkelian
12.30-1.30pm Class: Hatha Yoga with Kelsey Jorssen
1-2pm Class: Swing with Kat Single-Dain of the Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret
1-2pm Artist Salon: Kaija Pepper and Allan Lindgren’s recent book Renegade Bodies examined how dance entered Canadian universities in the 1970s. In this special event, Kaija is joined by Jennifer Mascall, who was among the first wave of dance graduates, and recent grad Meghan Goodman, to talk dance 70s-style, and show video clips of works from that time.
2pm Performance: a mixed program of contemporary aboriginal dance featuring the Dancers of Damelahamid in Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming, choreographed by Margaret Grenier; Raven Spirit Dance in Frost Exploding Trees Moon, choreographed by Michelle Olson; and Starrwind Dance Projects in before7after, choreographed by Starr Muranko.
2-3pm Class: Capoeira with Aché Brasil
2-3.30pm Workshop: Falling Body with Animals of Distinction Artistic Director Dana Gingras. This workshop presents a series of kinetic explorations combining skills and practices of rolling, releasing, giving and supporting weight. Participants will investigate the fluid pathways and transitions inherent in falling and recovery with emphasis on the initiation of movement and the use of momentum and gravity as a means to full-bodied, dynamic and risky dancing.
2:30 – 3:30pm Discussion: Law of Proximity. Artists and youth engaged in the MACHiNENOiSY/Queer Arts Festival project The Law of Proximity, in which youth created a contemporary dance show with the help of dance artists Delia Brett and Daelik, are joined by QAF Artistic Director Shaira Holman. One month after their last performance, they reflect on their experiences and the impact of community engaged dance. Presented in partnership with Made In BC.
3-4pm Class: Flamenco with Flamenco Rosario
3.30-5pm Class: Jazz with DebbieLee Dance Co
4-5pm Class: Tap with Danny Nielsen
4pm Performance: Barbara Bourget Solo Choreography Project. Dance artists Tracy Dietrich, Gail Lotenberg, Josh Martin and Deanna Peters perform new solos developed during the solo choreography project Bourget mentored during her Dance Centre residency last season.
5-6pm Class: Hip hop with Natasha Gorrie of Project Soul
6-7 pm Studio Showing: the response. An informal showing of Artistic Director Amber Funk Barton’s latest work in progress.
Ache Brasil. Photo credit: David Cooper
This event is 100% FREE.
WHO: The Dance Centre
WHAT: 11th annual Scotiabank Dance Centre Open House
WHEN: Saturday, September 15, 2012
10.30am-7pm: free admission
WHERE: Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie Street (at Granville), Vancouver
More information: 604 606 6400 or on The Dance Centre website. Presented with the support of Scotiabank
Whenever anybody asks me how can I get done so much in so little time, one of the first things that come to my mind is the fact that I designed my workflow in a way that works for me. For example, when you think about all the things that come with writing a blog post, I have mastered tools that make my workflow much easier.
Photo credit: Ian Ruotsala on Flickr
First, I download my photos on a regular basis and file them on specific folders that describe in rich detail the event I am using them for.
Second, I upload my photos really fast (I use Flickr Uploadr, and because I have uploaded dozens of thousands of photos, I already know which tags to use, etc.)
Third, I draft what I want to say on the blog post and reuse whatever text I use frequently (for example, my disclosure statements are for the most part, the same except for the type of event I attended, or who attends on my behalf).
Fourth, I write whenever I feel the inspiration coming, and then pre-schedule my blog posts using WordPress’ scheduling function. I have an editorial calendar and always try to ensure that I have a blog entry for each day, at least. And if sometimes I have the time, I publish one or two additional posts, depending on what is happening that day.
So, I have learned that it takes time to do things as fast as I do, but the most important thing is I think to master the tools that you use in whatever craft you are, and then design a workflow that works for you.
For some reason I have had Earth, Wind and Fire‘s After The Love Has Gone in my head this morning. I used to listen to this song to make myself cry whenever I felt the need to, you know, have a good cry (which we all need every so often – so cleansing for the soul!). I haven’t stopped loving someone yet (not at all, not ever!) but I find this song incredibly touching and moving. For your listening pleasure, Earth, Wind and Fire live singing After The Love Has Gone.
I love the work that Les Dames d’Escoffier do, particularly because I’m a big supporter of women and in particular, professional women who support other women as well. Call me a feminist if you want.
Les Dames d’Escoffier, British Columbia Chapter, is a society of professional woman. Our purpose is to promote the understanding, appreciation and knowledge of food, wine, hospitality, nutrition, food technology, the arts of the table and other fields as they relate to these disciplines; to promote improvement in supply, preparation and service in these areas and to promote the education and advancement of, and to supply advice and assistance to, women in careers related to food, wine, hospitality, nutrition, food technology, the arts of the table and other fields as they relate to these disciplines.
Les Dames d’Escoffier are celebrating Julia Child’s 100th Birthday with a gala dinner, and here are some details.
Saturday, September 8th, 2012
Roof Pool Deck, Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver
5pm Reception / 6pm Dinner
Cost of the Event: $300 all inclusive
Following the long table format, a beautifully decorated French inspired formal table for 100 guests will be set, marking 100 years, on the roof pool deck of the Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver. Your host chef is Ned Bell, Executive Chef, Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver and YEW Restaurant.
A 5:00 pm Domaine Chandon reception will start the evening, followed by a sit down dinner with ten of British Columbia & Seattle’s top chefs and pastry chefs preparing an elegant Julia Child inspired 10-course plated dinner poolside. Price is inclusive of wine, taxes and gratuity.
Ladies, please bring a wrap in case of a breeze. Note, in the event the weather is not perfect, the dinner will be moved inside with the same long table format. The agenda for the evening will remain the same.
Special guest chefs (in alphabetical order) Dame Andrea Carlson (formerly of Bishop’s) with her new restaurant Burdock & Co; Bala Kumanan, Hy’s of Canada (Celebrating their 50 year anniversary); Bruno Feldeisen, Four Seasons, Vancouver; Hidekazu Tojo, Tojo’s; Kerry Sear, Four Seasons, Seattle; Lee Cooper, L‘Abattoir; Dame Lee Murphy, Vista d’Oro; Les Amis du Fromage; Dame Margaret Chisholm, Culinary Capers Catering; Ned Bell, Four Seasons, Vancouver and Yew Restaurant; Scott Jaeger, The Pear Tree
As you may know, in my position as a member of the Board and Senior Strategic Advisor to The Network Hub, I have been heavily involved in whatever projects they undertake. Sadly, this year I will not be able to have as much impact in their direction because I am in Mexico, but I am always happy to promote their projects, even more so when it comes to one that is near and dear to all of our hearts: Freelance Camp Vancouver, now in its 2012 edition, taking place on September 15th, 2012.
What is Freelance Camp Vancouver, you ask, and why on the planet would the founders of The Network Hub want to put themselves AGAIN through the excruciating pain and suffering of organizing a conference that is practically free (all registration fees are used as donations for non-profit/charitable causes in the Vancouver and Lower Mainland region). Well, because they care (and well, because WE care) about the community they are inserted in. As a launch pad and coworking space, The Network Hub is committed to supporting freelancers in any way they can, including the organization of amazing events such as Freelance Camp Vancouver. In the photo below, you’ll find the founders of The Network Hub and organizers of Freelance Camp Vancouver (Minna Van, Jay Catalan, John Van), our collaborator and always amazing partner-in-crime Meena Sandhu from ING Direct who helped us organize FCV2011 and yours truly.
Photo credit: Jeremy Lim
Freelance Camp Vancouver is an event BY people FOR the people. Each year, we run Freelance Camp Vancouver under the unstructured, open source, unconference model set up by BarCamp. All you need to do (in addition to paying the small fee that goes 100% directly to donations for non-profits) is to come prepared to share some of your expertise with the group.
Previous years have had people giving talks on how to build new WordPress sites, how to invoice clients and properly get paid for your freelance work, how to manage your own project, how to use social media to effectively draw more work via social media. We have also had yoga sessions and a number of other amazing contributions. And the response has been ALWAYS incredibly positive. Last year we held Freelance Camp Vancouver in the New Westminster campus of The Network Hub and it looks like it will be the case this year too.
You can read more on how Freelance Camp Vancouver 2012 will work on this blog post. It’s my understanding that in addition to Meena Sandhu, this year Owen Clark will join the organizing team, which I think it’s great. If I were you, I would purchase my tickets RIGHT NOW. We had about 85 people on a wait list last year, and we felt horrible that despite increasing numbers, we couldn’t serve everyone. So, please do register ASAP. And let me re-emphasize: there are no tickets at the door.
Fair warning before you purchase tickets to the Mexican production of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, presented by Forum Cultural Guanajuato at the Teatro del Bicentenario (Forum Cultural Guanajuato): you will need LOTS of tissue. An amazing opera in four acts that reminds me of my childhood (my Mom, who was a soprano in her youth, sang the Musetta character with her own troupe), this version of La Bohème (starring Ramon Vargas, one of Mexico’s great voices, as Rodolfo, the gorgeous Barbara Haveman as the ill-fated Mimi, George Petean in a spectacular turn as Marcello, and the Mexican soprano Maria Alejandres, one of Mexico’s young promises) is an amazing show that (no surprise) has already sold out its two other dates.
Photo credit: Arturo Lavin (c) Teatro del Bicentenario, used with permission
I attended opening night of La Bohème with my Mom, my brother and my sister-in-law. My brother loves opera, and our mother used to be an opera singer and she sang La Bohème so we all had personal connections with the show. But beyond these, I think the best way to summarize this portrayal of La Bohème is to define it as exquisite. With Haveman and Vargas as the cornerstones, this version of La Bohème showcases, I think, what Puccini’s La Bohème was supposed to demonstrate: that much as Paris is synonym with opulence and beauty, artists’ life was nothing but.
La Bohème is a portrayal of life as an artist (Rodolfo is a poet and a writer, Marcello is a painter). They live “the bohemian life” (la bohème), but in doing so, their life is always at risk because of their extreme poverty. Mimi (a seamstress) and Rodolfo fall in love during a short (and fortuitous) visit and enjoy a couple of scenes of extreme joy and happiness. However, as anybody who has read the 4 act libretto will tell you, Mimi’s health takes a turn for the worse because of tuberculosis, the illness that took Europe by storm in the nineteenth century).
Photo credit: Arturo Lavin (c) Teatro del Bicentenario, used with permission
I shed tears throughout the entire show. While every single aria of the opera was amazing, the participation of the el Coro de Valle de Señora was absolutely stunning and heartwarming. This chorus started with children of shoe factories’ workers, and has grown through the years. I am a big fan of introducing children to the fine and performing arts from childhood.
Photo credit: Arturo Lavin (c) Teatro del Bicentenario, used with permission
While you won’t be able to buy tickets for La Bohème (this time) you should totally check what the Forum Cultural Guanajuato has in store for the fall. I will be attending and reviewing several of their shows. And I’m thrilled to see that just as Vancouver has a thriving arts community, so does Leon. I will be also checking out what is in store for Aguascalientes!
Disclosure: My Mom paid for her, my tickets and those of my brother, sister-in-law, on her own dime. As always I retain full editorial control of what is published on my site.
I remember when I first moved to Canada, landing in Vancouver, and having to go down to Seattle for a meeting, and taking an interurban bus and thinking to myself “dear God, how does the first world define good interurban travel? This is horrendous!”. I hardly recovered from that, until recently when the Pacific Coach Lines started to equip their interurban buses with wireless internet connections. But the best, luxurious travel I had ever experienced (short of travelling first class by airplane) has been with Enlaces Terrestres Nacionales in Mexico, recently fused with Turistar Futura and becoming ETN-Turistar Lujo.
Enlaces Terrestres Nacionales is actually a company that was founded in Leon, Guanajuato, and the idea for it was that most other interurban travel was almost like second-class travel, so first-class travellers needed first-rate service. ETN started the practice (now widely adopted) of providing a lunch/snack and a drink (though I’m really sad to see that the level of service is going downhill because now, for short distances’ travel (2 hours), ETN does not offer a sandwich, but lately they’ve been offering only peanuts and other small snacks (this is very recent, perhaps 1 week or so).
I travel ETN everywhere when I’m in Mexico, simply because I like the level of comfort and service. Most ETN units are equipped with wireless internet now, though it drops the signal every so often, particularly when travelling through mountains.
According to ETN’s listing of amenities:
- 24 comfortable individual and shared seats (I love the individual ones and always sit in one)
- LCD screens
- Online wireless internet (which drops often, sadly)
- Leg rest
- 2 bathrooms on board (male and female)
- Individual reading light
- Air conditioning with individual regulation
- Individual (self-contained) audio system (which I sometimes use when my iPod runs out of battery)
- Seatbelt (which I think is a great idea)
- Controlled driving speed at 95 km/h (which I’m not sold on, because I think they could go up to 130 km/h no problem and shorten trips)
- Video system (which I often don’t like because they promote old movies sometimes)
- Welcome snack (which has gone downhill from when ETN first started: juice box, cookie, sandwich and a yogurt; now it’s often only a soft drink and a small bag of peanuts)
- Self-serve coffee service
- Individual cupholder
- Individual magazine holder
Overall, I can’t complain. The worse ETN-Turistar Lujo still beats any of the Canadian interurban buses I know of (except for Pacific Commuter Club). I think I will forward my post to ETN-Turistar Lujo folks, though. I really don’t like the downhill. “yes, we had a full-on snack bag, and now we give you peanuts” trend.
Disclosure: I pay for every single one of my trips on ETN-Turistar Lujo, on my own dime. As always, I retain full editorial control over anything I post on my site. I have no financial nor otherwise stake in ETN.