My column has been absent for two weeks as I was travelling in Cuba, in parts where internet was hard to find. Our group was headed by James Kamstra of North Durham Nature. Others from the NDN were president Derek Connelly, Jay and Bev Thibert, as well as Jean Jacobs. There were two ladies from the Pickering Naturalist group and two from North Vancouver and a fellow from California. We travelled with a wonderful local guide, which is necessary for anyone touring, plus several National Park rangers each time we entered a new Park.
They have an amazing number of National Parks and people live within them, carrying on their mostly traditional ways of farming, whether it be raising cattle, growing tobacco, sugar cane or coffee. They do have tractors but they are used mostly for transporting people and crops, not for working the land as they believe in what we now call "no till" type of farming. The horse is still the primary means of farming, carrying goods or people and they have an variety of carts from ones that look like sulkies to wagons and all sizes of trailers. Many were used as taxis! Occasionally we even saw oxen pulling carts and the odd mule.
The history of Cuba, the revolution, the rise of Castro and the coming of
Socialism to the Cuban people was given on a different slant than what we usually hear, which of course is from the US perspective. There is much more to tell with a few thousand slides, as we were naturally focused on bird life as well as culture and history.
The most beautiful things I saw were these hundreds of classic cars, beautifully painted and not at all held together with duck tape as you might think. Most were taxis but many were private vehicles and ranged from 1930 to 1980 vehicles. There were newer cars as well but not quite up to date because of the embargo.
Happy birthday to Joel Spears who celebrated this week. You can see Joel volunteering at almost any event having to do with Jr. farmer, 4H, museum and others. Happy birthday or anniversary to any I may have missed while out of the loop.
I was glad to hear that Jean Sopel is coming along well after her fall and breaking her hip and is under the special care of her mother, caregiver extraordinaire!
This Sunday was the third before Easter as we journey along. Rev. Eiko was on study leave and busily planning the special services to come, which include Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday as well as Holy Humour Sunday. Good Friday will be a joint service at Sandford; possibly Holy Humour will be a joint gathering as well but that is to be decided. Rick McKinley took the service this week filling in for Rev. Eiko with Melinda at the pianos.
Next week services are back to normal again but following the Sandford service the ladies are asked to bring sandwiches and squares for a lunch, after which the congregational meeting will be held.
This is a very important meeting, especially in light of the changes coming to the United Church in 2019. Everyone is urged to attend.
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