Monthly Archives: June 2011

Cuban Vacation…Part IV

There is something I find extremely fascinating and satisfying about riding a train. It may have to do with the fact that there is no train offering on the island of Newfoundland    since 1990. We use to have the Newfie Bullet; however, it has been many years out of commission. The former railbed of the main line is now utilized as a T’railway Provincial Park for hikers, skiers and users of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles.

We continued our train ride, which provided views of rural life in Cuba. I enjoy the tranquility of nature.

One could see people working at either side of the train. They were tilling soil, picking fruit or caring for an animal.

We arrived at a Ranch to stop for an hour and half. There were several work hands greeting everyone from the train. They had a restaurant with the chef ready to serve patrons a tasty lunch. The crops were in view and so were the horses.

Umberto, 19, asked us if we would like to go for a horse ride. The cost was 10 C.U.C. for 20 minutes. We decided we would saddle up and ride through the fields. I love horses and it has been several years since I have been riding. My last time may have been in Reidville in 2006. In between, I managed to ride camels, donkeys and the waves. I certainly missed the joy of riding.

Umberto (our Cuban cowboy) gives Tobias the reins of his horse:

We go to trot through the banana plants, fields and plantation. We discovered coffee, yucca, mango and more on our ride:

Umberto took us through the field after our first horse ride to see coffee. We got to taste the buds. He explained how they grew and how they needed roasting. Then he showed us three different species of mango. We ate one right there on location, peeling back the skin and embedding our teeth into the juicy fruit.

We returned back to the Tower galloping via horseback ride. It was quite adventurous dashing through open water. We would meet up with Umberto later to show us Trinidad and give an inside view of the city.

Horseback riding in Cuba was certainly a highlight!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Related articles

Cuban Vacation…Part III

After a whopping breakfast, which included Canadian Maple Syrup we headed for the train station. It was a delight to see a product of Canada, most likely produced in Quebec as it is the World’s Largest Producer of Maple Syrup. I made sure to have some on my miniature pancakes.

1926 Engine That Could!

We headed for the train station to board Train 1590 that was built in 1926. The locomotive was fed by wood, which would take us slowly, but surely to the sugar mills.I was quite excited on the journey as we had the opportunity to ride with the conductor near the train’s boiler.

The rural countryside offered picturesque views, yet also displayed the harsh realities that rural regions are used for the natural resources, primarily agricultural. It made me reflect on my love rural living. We are producers and providers of commodities, which enable larger urban areas to enjoy the standards they have as service centres. It is time to ensure that rural regions maintain a high standard of living and have access to essential services.

We climbed “Lookout Tower” at the cost of 1 C.U.C. to provide an aerial view of the once thriving sugar plantations.

It was an excellent opportunity to take some photo ops.

A view from the tower fo the nearby houses and fields in the background:

A street of vendors selling locally made craft product. There was an abundance of linens, such as lovely embroidered tablecloths for sale.

Someone even enjoyed a beer on the journey and left it on a wooden beam as we descended the stairwell.

The Tower had circular viewing holes. Here is one of the train waiting:

The train ride continued and so did the adventure of my Cuban vacation. Stay tuned for Cuban Vacation…Part IV.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Cuban Vacation – Part II

A Friendly Game of Chess

After the show, Tobias and I set up a giant chessboard for a challenging game. My goal was to get the dark queen of the night. However, she would be my downfall. Although I reached checkmate, it would be illegal. I ended up losing in the end to the dark queen. Great match from a worthy competitor.

One would be shocked to know that I went to the gym before breakfast while on vacation. It has been long overdue actually. I enjoy running on the treadmill, gliding on the elliptical and cycling the stationary bike. It was quite a workout. The combination of my activity and the heat had me left drenched by the end. I recommend some exercise, as it is a great way to start the day of energetically.

Cycling in Motion

“I never felt so alive! I guess that is why we should strive to remain active to continue a healthy lifestyle.”
Afterwards I would enjoy an oversized breakfast with a complimentary beer. It was time to hit up the beach. I read more of my Stephen Booth Detective novel. My colleague treated himself to a sports massage. After a morning at the beach, I ended up re-visiting the pool and enjoying the sponge floaters.
Sadly, all good times all-inclusive must end. We opted for a taxi to catch the afternoon Viazul bus to Trinidad as noted by the Tourist Office at the hotel. However, the only bus was at 8:15 AM. The employees found us a route at a premium rate of 60 C.U.C for both to Santo Spiritus via Transtor.

Floating by the Pool

It added to the travel adventure, as we realized we were not taking the expressway. We stopped numerous times to exchange wares, pick up some locals and even stop to check on some motorists that were having car troubles. At Santo Spiritus we got a “chico” (driver) for 30 C.U.C. to take us the remaining 71 km to Trinidad.  According to the original bus station at Varadero it would only be 30 km and 10 C.U.C.. Nevertheless, it was well worth the cost as we rode the distance in a Cruella DeVille 1940′s or 50′s Chevrolet automobile.

The Road We Came….

The Road We Came....

First Trinidad Meal Trinidad by Night from the Terrace

We arrived at 174, the Casa populaire of Dr. Suerez and Addys. Great house! Best laughter from this women who is an amazing cook. After getting a view from the Terrace, we decided to have dinner as the music from Casa de La Musica played in the backdrop. Addys whipped up an excellent jumbo shrimp dish. I also enjoyed the delicious vanilla ice-cream with sprinkles. We decided to venture into the streets and find our way to the outdoor concert. It was quite impressive to hear and watch the performance of the musicians and dancers.

Stay tuned for Part III of my Cuban Vacation…
Live Rural NL
-Christopher C. Mitchelmore

A Cuban Vacation – Part 1

In my 25 years, with more than 25 countries travelled – it was my first venture to the sunny south.

 The Caribbean is a stark  contrast to Rural Newfoundland & Labrador. When I awoke on May 20, 2011 from my home the snow was gingerly falling. My bag was packed and I looked forward to sunshine, sandy beaches and lots of relaxation.

I departed the Deer Lake Regional Airport to fly to Toronto, only to re-routed back to Montreal. From Montreal I would fly to Varadero, Cuba.

At the Pierre Trudeau airport, I was asked to complete a survey. I did not realize at the time the many wonderful features of this airport. For instance there was free Wifi, an abundance of easily accessible power outlets and comfy armless chairs for napping. I was pleased with the variety of food outlets and gift shops. Although, signage could be slightly improved, especially for international connections as the American flag represents all WORLD/INTERNATIONAL travel connections. What symbol would the USA have? In my opinion an update for this sign is needed.

The Air Canada service was again to be touted! We departed a few minutes late because of the tug break down during push-off. We departed late and arrived more than 30 minutes early. Arrival in Cuba was greeted with intense humidity. Vacationers were eager to get their luggage and reach their nearby resort. The airport was very small and was not equipped with good signage. I was an unsure Canadian as I waited for my luggage, as I had not booked an All-Inclusive vacation with Air Canada or Sunwing. I am glad to have booked a resort to start my 10 day vacation, as I left the airport people asked which Hotel I was staying. I noted the Melia Las Americas. They instructed me to get on bus #4. Since, I was not part of the vacation I was told to pay $10.00 for the ride versus a higher taxi fee.

The resort was breath-taking. As the lobby I met my friend Tobias of Germany, who I had first met when I studied at the University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic back in 2007. We checked out the view of the beach and toasted to a Caribbean vacation to some Bucanero beers. It was wonderful to hear the waves gently touch the beach. We opted to go for a dip! The Caribbean sea was quite salty, yet pleasantly warm.

We stopped for a drink at the lobby bar, listened to some piano music and then caught a live band. The entertainment had the small audience captivated. Some lifted from their chairs and started to salsa! The Mojitos never tasted as brilliant, as they did in their homeland of Cuba.

An early rise was met with an extravagant buffet breakfast. The beach was waiting, it was not crowded. The pool, hammocks and beachfront games made for a fun morning. There was a lively game of beach volleyball. As well, a beach stepping game of Mojito-Daquiri, Pina Colada, Rum Punch. Each drink had a special step and as people missed the step, he/she was eliminated. I stand by Rum Punch as being my favourite.

A meal was reserved for the Italian Restaurant. A feast of 7 or 8 courses was served. It was matched by a pairing of a semi-sweet white Spanish wine, served in a stainless steel wine bucket. The meal had a specialty Cuban twist.

I will not forget the sky that evening or Peter’s Birthday party. We got to sing happy birthday to our table neighbours. They were kind enough to share the specialty cake.

After eating a delicious meal were went to the theatre and watched some very impressive and energetic dancers. Parts were moving that I never thought were humanly possible.

The day was full of relaxation, but also jam-packed with activities. It did not end with the show, which I will continue in my next post…Cuba Part II.

Enjoy!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

 

 

Glass Art Summer Camp

 

Please be advised that St. Anthony Campus will be offering  a glass art summer camp program this summer.  Please see the details below.

Ages:               12-18  years

Where:            St. Anthony Campus

When:             June 27 to 30, 2011 (8:30am-3:30pm)

Duration:         24 hours

Cost:                $120.00  materials included

Students will be taught the  techniques of creating glass works.  They will learn the basics of glass cutting to create jewellery, plates, platters, etc. The choices are as extensive as your
creativity and imagination.  The program will be offered pending sufficient interest.

If you know of someone who is interested.  Please share this information.  Interested people can contact  454-3559 or email Frederick.Russell@cna.nl.ca  by June 15th.

 

There are many opportunities for youth to get involved, learn a new skill, have fun and be creative. The College of the North Atlantic, St. Anthony Campus has many course offerings for the General Public. I have enrolled this past winter into a Traditional Rug Hooking and Basic Digital Photography Course. I would be interested in learning glass art; however, I do not fit the criteria of 12- 18 years of age. Next week, I will try my had at Acrylic Painting at George’s Art Studio, St. Anthony.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Salmon Symposium at Torrent River – June 24-26, 2011

Torrent River is renown for its superior salmon rivers. Droves of locals and travellers flock to the rivers to hook a salmon. Salmon enthusiasts mark your calendars as Torrent Rivers is hosting a Salmon Symposium at Hawke’s Bay from June 24-26, 2011. Below is a schedule of events:

Schedule of Events

There will be nightly entertainment with a Tribute to Rufus Guinchard on June 24, 2011

As well, an evening of fishing delight on June 25, 2011

For more information visit the Torrent River blog for frequent updates at http://torrentriver.wordpress.com/.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Home-Based Business Opportunity – Make Soap Jellies

GNP Craft Producers Has Unique Offering

GNP Crafts - Product Offering

GNP Craft Producers of Shoal Cove East, NL has a unique offering. They are situated just minutes north of the Town of Flower’s Cove in a beautifully maintained yellow building, surrounded by an array of outer buildings, one of which includes a replica fishing room with wharf.

This venture produces 100% locally made traditional crafts, specializing in sealskin product. They sell a line of hats, boots, mittens, vests, coats, slippers and more to local and tourist market. Some former politicians have sported sealskin jackets at public events in the province.

This organization has a workshop, where they have trained artisans to keep the tradition of sealskin boot making alive. They purchase sealskin from local sealers, they have their own tannery and avail of local labour. Once the seal skin is ready they can employ skilled locals to produce quality pieces for retail. They have a selection of other local craft goods for sale in addition to seal skin product.

If you have the opportunity to visit their site, they have a series of panels that depict the process involved with seal skin boot making and a brief history of the sealing industry.

One can visit their store front, or inquire about products by emailing straitsgnpcraft@live.ca or by telephone at 709-456-2122.

GNP Craft Producers is an authentic heritage shop, where the products are not imported from other countries. It is a storefront where you can buy local. Show your support, pass on a rural tradition.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Encourage Youth to Make Their Own Money…

I remember one of my first endeavours into business. We were roadside retailers/re-sellers of items we purchased at a local convenience store. Two friends a couple of houses away and I purchased candy, potato chips, gum and Neilson Chunk chocolates and re-packaged the items into brown paper bags. We creatively called our product goodie bags, as the “surprise bag” was already taken. We sold them for $0.50/per bag. I am unsure if we made money on this product or if the customers felt they received good value for their money. We also sold some chalk painted rocks and other handmade crafts. I remember they were not big sellers though. Local residents from our rural community supported our first venture into the world of business. In the early 1990′s, there appeared to be more value placed on being creative, taking initiative and  incentive to earn a few dollars to buy things we wanted. I know at the youthful age, we most likely re-invested it on more sugary good stuff :).

As I grew older,  my progression in business included packing up firewood, painting fences, mowing lawns, doing chores or odd jobs, washing cars, tutoring to selling homemade crafts. My parents encouraged me to work hard, realize there is a cost of material goods and to understand the value of money.

At 16 years of age, I founded Flower’s Island Museum. The business expanded to include a 9-hole miniature golf course and later a summer festival, which operated for two years in partnership with another youth entrepreneur. During 2002, I contacted Nortip Development Corporation seeking information on heritage grants and spoke with the Youth Development Officer. Although, I did not apply or receive grant funding, I was introduced to a program they offered called Youth Ventures.

Youth Ventures empowers students age 12-29 start and operate their own businesses in Newfoundland & Labrador. There are 23 Youth Ventures Coordinators throughout the province to provide free assistance to interested youth. You can visit www.youthventuresnl.com. They have a list of ideas, information and contact information for a local coordinator.

Youth Ventures helped raise the profile of my business. I was profiled by the Getting the Message Out (GMO) program with the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. During my Bachelor of Commerce studies at Memorial University, I became employed as an intern with GMO. As well, received a number of local and provincial honors, which included the Provincial High Achievement of Financial Management Award sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada. Operating my own business provided a wealth of experiences, included customer service, marketing, financial management, human resources and operations. I enjoyed adapting to new situations and engaging in constant improvement. This experience aided in landing a position with an International Marine & Engineering Consultancy Headquartered in London, England.

There is satisfaction in creating, assisting and meeting the needs of the consumer. Youth in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador have opportunities to make their own money and put their talents to good use by venturing into the wonderful world of business. However, without incentive to do so, we may lose a future generation of innovators and economic drivers. In some rural communities it appears adherent today that youth no longer need to work to earn an allowance. Additionally, many are given mobile phones starting at elementary school, not to mention parents purchasing all sorts of electronics, brand name clothing, lavish recreational vehicles and cars as presents.

Youth need to be encouraged, understand the importance of the almighty dollar and to make decisions with their own money.  The future can be bright for rural Newfoundland & Labrador for young leaders today and tomorrow, if we provide the necessary supports.

Encourage youth to make their own money…create their own dream job, be their own boss and masters of their own destiny.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Christmas Mumming? – The Jannies are coming to Town

Any Mummer’s ‘lowed in?, will be the questioned asked as these two jannies approach the door of a neighbour at Christmastime in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

 

Any Mummer's 'lowed in?

The exquisite detail and skill by the local crafter belongs on a wall at The Rooms (www.therooms.ca), which hosts the Provincial Art Gallery. The product should be sold at their gift shop and other high-end outlets.

We have an abundance of local talent when it comes to craft producers on the Great Northern Peninsula. Many are hobbyists with few selling into commercial markets. However, there is untapped opportunity for product development and  to sell culturally significant items at local, regional, provincial, national and international outlets obtaining a Fair Trade price.

If you produce an art form or a craft and would want to be like the mummer’s hoping to be let in - post a comment, share your story or drop us a line at liveruralnl@gmail.com. The world can be your marketplace!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Back in Rural NL after Cuban Vacation

Live Rural NL Blog will be updated tomorrow, as I have returned from a Cuban vacation. Stay tuned for posts on my recent travel experiences, rural development, culture pieces and other bits of Rural Pot Luck.

Thanks again to all my readers and for the continued feedback and comments!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

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