As the procession wound down, we headed off to do some exploring of the old city center and just around the corner we came across a lovely little Choco Museo. Here the chocolate is artisanal, and prepared right from the cacao bean. They had an impressive array of chocolate bars with fruits and spices, chocolate candies, truffles , cookies and nuts as well as chocolate jams, and chocolate liqueurs.

As all of these products were advertised as “unbelievably healthy and positive for your frame of mind”, and our feet were getting a bit tired; we took the opportunity to enjoy a cup of their famous cacao husk tea. It was to die for.

Cayman is a lovely place and the beaches are beautiful, however the street life is limited and what you do see tends to be artificial; set up for some event or other. In Peru, life happens on the streets and it made us so happy just to wander and enjoy the sights and sounds.

We loved watching the Peruvian people just going about their daily lives, dressed in their bright, colourful clothing and beautifully distinctive head wear.

We were tired but it was a beautiful evening when we got back to Miraflores so we decided to walk down to the beach and have tea at this lovely gazebo at the end of the peer.

 

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Like many Latin American nations, Peru’s predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, which remains a powerful influence in both state affairs and daily activities. Church activities and personnel are centered in Lima, with its most important and impressive cathedral in the Plaza de Armas along with the National Palace and Lima’s Municipal Office. The institutional role of the church has slowly declined over the years but the ceremonial aspects of the Catholic religion, its moral convictions and cultural values remain deeply embedded in Peruvian culture.

We were up in good time on Easter morning and grabbed a cab to take us into the center of Lima to do a little sight-seeing and possibly catch a church service. Our timing was perfect and we arrived in the Plaza in time to witness the gathering of the faithful to celebrate the Risen Christ. All of the streets around the Plaza were decorated with incredibly beautiful murals made of flower petals.

We followed the sounds of music to a side street in time to witness the arrival of two  processionals coming from opposite directions, to converge at the 16th century Cathedral in the heart of old Lima Centro. Each group carried four figures of about ten feet in height, balanced on a platform on the shoulders of 14 to 16 men.  They were each accompanied by a marching band, incense burners and columns of worships and came to a halt every few minutes to allow the men to rest.

It was a spectacular sight to see and a joy to watch a community celebrate their faith with such fervency and adoration. We spent a happy morning around the plaza, sipping on cocao and chocolate tea and marveling in the architectural beauty of Lima.

We are travelling fools, Pam and I, so you have to take the following with a grain of salt, but when you get to the place that you can’t remember the last trip you took, it is time to take another. We try to fly home to Canada and the States as often as we can. Three kids and five grandkids are a big attraction. But other than that, there hasn’t been much. It is true that we did take a cruise a year ago. Sorry to say that was a bust, as any moment’s worth of reflection would have revealed before the voyage. Seriously? You live in the Caribbean and you are going to take a Caribbean cruise? D’Oh!

Anyway, after that fiasco of a cruise last year we decided to bite the bullet and actually visit a foreign country, even if it meant going through Miami to get there. We were coming up for our 40th anniversary and wanted something to match the amazing trip to the Nihiwatu Resort in Sumba, Indonesia on our 30th. After much debate and a consideration of options, we settled on Machu Picchu.

Because we hadn’t travelled in a while, I had a bucket of points on my Visa travel card that enabled us to get everything in country – flights, trains, and hotels – on points. We did what we normally do when a target destination is unknown. We have a look at the ridiculously expensive packaged tours, see where they are staying and how they are mapping the route, and then pattern our trip after that to book our own.

Having checked out Lima on Google, we thought it best to stay on the southern edge in a district called Miraflores. Again, no mistake there, for as we drove along the Pacific boulevard the hang gliders were sailing down over the cliff and the surfers were braving the gravelly beach by the score. We checked into the Radisson, where we got an upgrade to a superior room that overlooked the ocean and after a quick change of clothes and a brief look at Google maps, wandered out into the late Peruvian afternoon to J.F. Kennedy Park.

Peru is not Southeast Asia. Crowds, by Asian standards, were not a problem, and at least in the areas we travelled plenty of locals spoke sufficient English for our needs. We never felt threatened or were ever in any danger of getting lost or even separated from each other. After the organized chaos of Southeast Asia, travelling in Peru was a breeze.

Kennedy Park was filled with vendors with their leather and pottery crafts. The local art was amazingly bold and unique, with strong colours and dynamic designs. Bordering the park were a number of outdoor cafés where we stopped for dinner so we could watch the crowds.

A pleasant stroll brought us back to the hotel to cash in a voucher for free drinks, then off to sleep in a most comfortable bed. This trip to Peru, much delayed and postponed, was starting out on a very positive note indeed. Why, we asked ourselves, have we waited for so long to travel in this part of the world!

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Our dear sweet Abi, we love you so very much that it is impossible to say all the things we would love to tell you as you turn ten. You have brought such special happiness into our hearts and our family. You are unique and beautiful and touch our hearts in ways that only you can.

Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14 of this year, a bright, shining star in the firmament of the brilliant. Like all truly intelligent scientists – Newton, Einstein, Darwin – Hawking left plenty of room for God in his thinking. Only the drooling Neanderthals of the intelligentsia, the Richard Dawkins and the Stephen Frys of this world who haven’t thought deeply about anything save breakfast are committed atheists. All those who are truly intelligent recognize the limits of scientific observation and theory and understand fully that beyond the ‘event horizons’ of the universe lies nothing but speculation.

Hawking certainly knew this, and at one pivotal moment in his landmark A Brief History of Time acknowledges that all of his speculation is merely an attempt to rationalize what is known about the universe into a coherent theory that is not dependent on the presence of God. He goes further. He acknowledges that the existence of God is a much better explanation for what is known and observed than anything he puts forward. Such intellectual open-mindedness is the hallmark of genius.

Hawking was equally frank about the dangers posed by the development of artificial intelligence or AI. He once remarked that, “Computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence, and exceed it. Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know. So we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it.”

Hawking was himself the beneficiary of the intelligent machines he warned us about. Unable to speak for the last thirty years, Hawking was entirely dependent on machines to move or even speak. Nothing, however, was able to limit his capacity to think. He was the director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge at the time of his death and pushed the boundaries of what we know about the universe.

But perhaps his greatest gift to mankind was his indomitable spirit. Diagnosed with ALS at 21, Hawking was given two years to live. He lived another 55 and altered perceptions not only of the physical universe, but of the remarkable human capacity for endurance in the face of an overwhelming disability. He will be missed.

 

There is something about getting to forty years of marriage that has the quiet confidence of accomplishment. No, it doesn’t do away with the arguments and disagreements over the years, but it does put them in perspective. Marital arguments are immediate and intense. They are a psychological train wreck that leave both with bad feelings and thoughts about the other. One can’t help but ask, ‘Why are we still arguing about these things after all these years?’ But reaching forty years together takes the focus off the ‘arguing about these things’ and puts the emphasis on the ‘all these years.’ It happens so slowly and subtly. Each day is infinitesimally small, and the passage of the days just go incrementally by. Then you get to forty years and suddenly you recognize that together you have accomplished something remarkable.

As a Christian I know in my heart of hearts that this is not something we have done. We came into this marriage hurting and broken people, both of us. Everyone has baggage; the self-aware merely feel it more keenly. Without the other who knows what would have happened to us. In my case my own natal family is a salutary example of the person I might have become. Perhaps worse. On occasion I have felt that Pam has nagged me far more than I have been comfortable with and perhaps even on occasion far more than I deserved. However, she has been my moral compass far more often than she has been a stumbling block. When I consider where the Lord might be leading us, I always stop to consider how the Lord is speaking to her and it helps to guide my way.

But these are just the details, the individual trees in the forest of our relationship. That forest began as a small grove of shared experience that now encompasses forty years of our lives. The branches of these experiences intertwine through the lives of all those we have known and touched, and all those who have entered our lives over the years. These shared experiences enrich our lives and deepen the connections between us. We have done far more than endure; we have grown deeper and more connected to all we have known. We have learned the lessons of love.

The modern notion of living together until you are no longer interested in the other troubles me. Not because I am a judgmental prude. Far from it. Rather I have seen how a marital commitment – in the presence of God, family and friends – provides the shelter under which the frail shoots of a nascent love can become a forest of blessing and refuge in a word that is filled with rancor and strife. So many people misunderstand just how considerate and caring, how reassuring and comforting that marital commitment can be. For us, at forty years and counting, it has been an immeasurable blessing.

 

 

Dave didn’t manage to join us for Christmas but was able to sneak in a five day visit between projects, and before  the start of the new construction season. Dave comes without pomp and circumstance, no massive preparations and no demands. His job is wonderful but demanding and stretching him in terms of catching up with the Engineering theory that he studies ten years ago. The company offers him great opportunities to update and to pursue some new certifications so he has been studying diligently for upcoming exams in March.

 

Dave is pretty ease to have around. He is happy to spend time with us or happy to go out and meet up with some random people to chat for an evening.He knows the island well and takes the old car and a pile of books to explore the various beaches; Barkers being his favourite of this visit.

Feb 11/18