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Friday, August 23, 2013

My Appointment as Honorary Consul for Guyana to Manitoba




This has been in the works for some time but it's finally official. I have been appointed by the Guyana Government as the Honorary Consul for Manitoba. This is the first such position West of Ontario.  

What does that mean? Well, it means that I have some official functions which includes:
  • Catering to the consular needs of Guyanese resident in Manitoba
  • Transmitting applications for new passports and applications for birth, death or marriage certificates to the nearest Mission or directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for processing
  • Providing advice on procedures pertaining to court appearances
  • Providing advice on the authentication and notarization of documents (not actually notarizing the documents)
  • Rendering assistance to distressed Guyanese
  • Assisting with communication on behalf of persons trying to locate relatives in Guyana
  • Reporting deaths to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Keeping a register of Guyanese in Manitoba
  • Assisting Guyanese officials who may be visiting
  • Providing information about development and/or tourism
  • Promoting trade and investment
Since this is a brand new position, that could be a good thing or a not-so-good-thing. I don't have any good or bad experiences from which to learn so I can start laying the foundation the way I want to (within the parameters of my position).



The Golden Arrowhead, Guyana's National Flag has FIVE symbolic colors: 
  • GREEN represents the agricultural and forested nature of Guyana,
  • WHITE symbolizes the rivers and water potential of the country, 
  • GOLDEN arrow represents Guyana's mineral wealth,
  • BLACK portrays the endurance that will sustain the forward thrust of the Guyanese people
  • RED represents the zeal and dynamic nature of nation-building which lies before the young and independent Guyana. (Information provided courtesy of: http://www.guyana.org/flag.htm)
A few weeks ago when I found out that the appointment was at the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, my colleagues were joking abut getting diplomatic plates, preferred parking spaces and being able to run red lights and accumulate speeding tickets without penalty. Well, I am a careful driver and don't run red lights or speed so that won't be a problem. My parking space at work is as close to the door as I can get without being labelled preferred I that's not a problem either. And since a diplomatic plate doesn't appear to get me any privileges, it may not be required. I didn't even think Manitoba has such plates>
 
 I met a few Honorary Consuls at an event that I attended two weeks ago and they mentioned that indeed there are diplomatic plates although the people at Manitoba Public Insurance didn't know much about it when I phoned to ask. The Office of Protocol will send me the information but in the meantime, if you know someone in Manitoba who might find my appointment useful related to my functions, please feel free to pass on the information.
 
And Brent, if you are reading this, I can hear the wheels turning in your head. "Fresh Princess of Belair" just might be apropos.
 
sandra


Sunday, August 18, 2013

TransCanada Trail, Winnipeg - Part 9: Bunn's Creek, Chief Peguis Trail

Distance: 8.1 kms

TransCanada Trail map

TransCanada Trail - the one we walked
This was our last part of the trail but it's taken us a while to do because Sharm was away on August 4 and she was staying with us on August 11 because they were selling their house and had an open house that day.
 
Well so far, we've had a great experience discovering some beautiful trials and neighbourhoods around Winnipeg and we were looking forward to completing the last leg of the trail. We agreed to meet at the start point this time, drive and park at the finish point, walk from the finish to the start and drive back to the finish to get the second car. You're still with me so far? Stay with me because this gets good and scary.
 
We parked on Glenway Avenue and made our way South to the start of the Bunn's Creek Parkway. I had heard about Bunn's Creek but had no idea where it was or how stunning it was. We followed the packed gravel path and met a really nice woman walking her dog so we stopped to talk for a bit. She wanted to know if we were new to that part of the city and when we said yes, she said that there were a number of secondary trails in and around that area which she usually walks almost every day. Some of the paths have canopies of trees shading them. It definitely is one area of the city that I will go back and walk. She told us that when we crossed the bridge ahead, we should turn right to reconnect with the part. Good thing she mentioned that because when we crossed the bridge over the creek, we had a walk about 50 metres before getting to Rothesay which we crossed and then made a slight right to joined the trail again.
 
We continued along some stunning homes backing on to the creek or path and it was so quiet and peaceful, that I could easily see myself living in this neighbourhood. We walked through Bunn's Creek Centenial Park and followed the trail which continued east. We should have gone south instead. We ended up on Uxbridge Road but followed that intil we got to McIvor Avenue - slightly off the TCT trail. We pulled out our map and GPS again and walked through a green space to connect to Malcana Street which would connect to Gilmore Avenue. This was a slight adjustment to the trail route but by this time, the looming clouds and occasional thunder that followed us almost from the start of our walk was now being accompanied by louder thunder and some small streaks of lightning. No rain yet but we felt that even though the skies were getting darker, we'd be able to finish our walk before the rain started.
 
We walked along Gilmore and turned left at Rothesay to connect back to the Chief Peguis Trail going west. By this time, the thunder was getting louder and the lightning was getting brighter so I folded up my walking poles feeling that they would not serve me well during a lightning strike. We kept walking still convinced that we could out walk the ever-so-close storm. Thunder was getting louder and lightning more frequent. You know how "they" say, when you see a flash of lightning could the seconds till you hear thunder and that's how many minutes away the storm is. So if you count 5 seconds from the lightning strike to the sound of thunder, then the storm is about 5 minutes away.
 
We reached a bunch of garden boxes and a shelter when the storm broke. We went to the shelter and I pulled out my waterproof backpack cover to cover up my backpack. Did I mention that besides my walking poles, I was carrying a 15 pound backpack on my back? That's part of my training for Kilimanjaro in October. Needless to say, you cannot really walk fast with that kind of weight on my back. At least I can't. We decided to continue walking because at that point it was only rain and we thought we could manage the lightning and thunder. Don't even ask. I know. I know. People don't really manage lightning and thunder but I wanted to get this walk done to be home by 11am because I promised Sahana and Sabreena that we would take them on a river boat cruise at 1pm. So we persevered in the lashing rain.
 
We got to Henderson Highway, we got to a bus shelter and stopped there because by this time, Sharm could not see because of the heavy rain and she was afraid that her contacts would fall out and then she'd really not be able to see anything at all. The place was now so dark that the street lights went on. Eerily, day turned into night in a matter of minutes and there was not a soul to be seen in sight except for the people in cars who may have wondered if the two of us were insane. I now think we were at that moment but we were about 1.5 kms to our finish so we persisted. 
 
On we went walking along the sidewalk of Chief Peguis Parkway but the rain was coming so fast and hard - complete with pea sized hailstones at this point - that I was walking in two inch deep water. This was going to be a test of my waterproof backpack cover and my waterproof boots. By this time several cars were passing and we were being drenched by 10 foot waves of muddy water and they ploughed through the inches deep water on the road. The best I could do was turn my face away from the waves and take the muddy water on my back. I quickly found out that my waterproof boots are not waterproof. I suppose under normal conditions of rain, it might be somewhat water resistant, but definitely not waterproof. I was soaked back and front and so was Sharm. She suggested that we jog the rest of the way but with 15 pounds on my back and a pair of boots full of water, it was hard to walk in a torrential downpour, let alone run. I read that for every pound your hiking boots weigh, it's like carrying 5 pounds on your back when you walk in them. Mine are normally 13 oz. each but with the water in them, they felt like 2 pounds each. So with my wet backpack and my wet hiking boots, it felt like I was carry about 25-30 pounds on my back.
 
I tried a walk/run but with being bathed in muddy water every 10 seconds, we got off the sidewalk - which now had ankle deep water - and walked along the embankment. That was no less better because it was wet and slippery. Thunder had now moved to deafening claps and the lightning was getting more frequent and the hail stones were getting larger. Turning back or going forward would have made no difference at this point because there was nowhere to seek shelter. We ran/walked until we got to the river part of the bridge then couldn't figure out how to get across because the sidewalk ended. We followed a path under the bridge and found that it led to the other side where there was a pedestrian walkway (on the South side of the bridge). We were beyond drenched at this point but that was the least of our worries. We walked along with bright streaks of lightning hoping that it didn't strike any of the metal railings or light standards on the bridge - or worse - hit us.
 
We finally made it to the other side, went under the bridge and got to my car. I quickly unbuckled my backpack which by this time had collected about a cup of water on the underside of the waterproof cover. The muddy water that we were being drenched with had collected in the sac. The backpack was still dry though which was  good thing. Sharm's phone was safe. I no sooner took off the backpack though and the rain soaked what may have been a tiny dry part on my back. Thank goodness for Robin always leaving plastic and bags in my trunk. I found two large sheets of plastic (the kind that covers up dry-cleaning) and gave one to Sharm to put on the car seat. I put one on mine and sat - only to hear within two minutes - a squishing sound of water running off me and pooling at my butt. So I sat in this puddle of water all the way home for the 30 minute drive.
 
I drove Sharm back to her car and along the way, stopped at a McDonald's for a coffee. In the pelting rain, I wound down my window to order the coffee and then again to pay and collect it at the window. I must have looked like a half drowned person and I could see from the expression of the server's face that she was wondering how I could have gotten so wet sitting in a dry car.
 
What a welcome relief that hot cup of coffee was and what a relief it was to get home and drain my boots of the muddy water. It was an even greater relief to get up from the water I was sitting in for half an hour.
 
I walked in the house to three troubled looking faces - Robin, Sahana and Sabreena. Robin was alarmed by this time because the storm was so fierce and the thunder and lightning was still as loud as ever. I could not believe that after walking 85 kms. without incident - well, except for getting off track a few times - we ended our final walk in a torrential thunder and lightning storm.
 
What a finish!
 
sandra