Posted by: lianadevine | 1 July 2009

Oh Canada!

It’s Canada Day 2009 as I sit and write this, having just returned to Oaxaca from a 3-week visit to “the Old Country”.  As Calvin had done in March, I had to do in June – return to BC to renew my Canadian Driver’s License.  It was my first trip back since leaving Kamloops and Canada in September 2007 and I was determined to make the most of the time and money it took me to get there.

I truly enjoyed seeing family and friends in person rather than via webcam, visiting my old haunts, marvelling at the changes over the past two years.  It felt like a familiar place, but not really “home” anymore.

Oh Canada!  Your weather was disappointing!  I forgot how long the late spring days are in the North Country, but really, snow in June?  Many tank tops became increasingly crumpled in the bottom of my suitcase and I borrowed sweaters and jackets in four western provinces.

Oh Canada! You drown me in excesses, from the shower water washing down the drain to the years of accumulated stuff in every home.  While it was nostalgic to see some of our former “stuff” displayed in the homes of friends, I wonder what will they do with it all?

Oh Canada! Your bureaucracy is truly amazing, if variable.  No line-ups to pay the money and take the photo, but how long does CanadaPost need to deliver the treasured, semi-permanent, permit?  I’ve learned to love waiting in line in Mexico, carrying a book and a portfolio of all possible papers with me on any mission I intend to accomplish.

Oh Canada! The health care gods have continued to curse you, resulting in cursing at the front-line staff level.  Now I need a map and a guidebook to negotiate my former workplace, but I probably won’t be visiting again: too many new faces, too many grumpy old ones.

Oh Canada! Where twenty dollar bills fly out of pockets with alarming regularity and nary a blink.  If you knew how long I worked to earn the equivalent and how long I can make it last…would you believe me?  I saw no signs of economic shutdown – building, spending, hurrying around like there’s no tomorrow.

Oh Canada!  Where traffic stops at the thought of a pedestrian but not at the cost of fuel.

Oh Canada!  What’s in the news? Who’s in the headlines?  What will it cost?  Who gives a damn?

This isn’t a rant as such, just a lament that my home and native land has become so foreign to me and how we’ve chosen to live.  Life in Mexico isn’t perfect either, it’s just become our comfort zone.  But I’ll never give up my Canadian passport, I’m still proudly Canadian and will likely always pepper my English with “eh?”

Oh Canada!  Thank you for giving me a eye-opener of international proportions.  In the scheme of things, you’re a means to a different end.

Happy Canada Day to all Canadians, wherever you find yourself today.




  1. Oh, you’re back in fine form! So glad to see that — keep up the wonderful blogging. It was nice to see you.

  2. Hmmm- it has taken me awhile since I first read this bog to respond. I must admit I was a bit miffed when I read it. And being the quietly proud Canadian that most of us are was not going to say anything but here it is. I thought the weather was good while you were here and enjoy our four seasons. Perhaps we have excesses we have toiled for but can make due with “lesses” if needed or wanted. I guess I am just surprised that your home and native land has so quickly become foreign. I find that sad. I am happy that you are enjoying your new path in life. It is definitely nice to see other views to help appreciate our own.

  3. Being something of an expat myself, I completely understand what you are saying. I’m Anglo-Irish and have both passports, which I would NEVER give up as I’m very proud of my countries, BUT, I couldn’t live there again. I lived in Italy for a while, then decided it was time to grow up, so went back to dear ol’ Blighty. After 2 years, I still felt alien in my own country, but didn’t leave for another eight. I love what England and Ireland stood for and up to a point, still do. Obviously, the whole world is also changing and most probably I have too. I look forward to visiting these places but have no intention of ever living there again. There’s a lot of world to see and that’s what I plan to do. Life is way too short, enjoy it while you can.

  4. As an American who lives in Mexico and currently visiting the US, I could easily chnge it to ‘Oh America’

  5. You are so right on, just back from Afghanistan, if people only knew.

  6. We are so fortunate to be able to see the world. It changes you.

    Returning home is strange. You see it differently. Your perspective is changed. I have seen the same things. For what a simple tank of gas costs in Canada, I can eat for 2 weeks at restaurants in China. I don’t need a car. A typical taxi ride is 1 to 2$. I am too scarred to get a bicycle. A friend had a root canal done for about 150$ after getting a 5000$ estimate in Canada.

    The environmental foot print is so different. Cars are tiny, food is local, and everything is recycled. You learn that you really don’t need very much.

    Canada is polite, clean, orderly, natural and cold. – All things I miss.

    Canada also, is and most probably will always be home. Take every opportunity to travel, see the world.

  7. O Canada … you change your entry rules and don’t give people who already bought tickets and booked hotels to get their papers in Order.

    O Canada who is going to pay the cancelation fees?? These people work very hard for their money.

    It is amazing how people and their lives change … certainly a different point of view.

    The life you are living here is so different to the life we are living here.

    I think the comparison is a good one.

  8. I will start with an apology for my poor English.
    I am from México and have also lived in 3 South American countries. I have visited Canada and love it’s beauty and it’s people. I now live in Hawaii with my family. I can understand and agree with your righting. My feeling it is the same here. Especially the waste of water and “Where traffic stops at the thought of a pedestrian but not at the cost of fuel.” All people must get in a car to do or get anything.

  9. I Concur…

    Its hard. Its hard when you return home (for me the USA) and everything there thats turned on turns you off. While we cant blame anyone for not giving themselves the gift of travel, it a shame that its not a law to do so and leave your country to see whats out there. Why are all these people saying hello to me as i walk down the street? Why are they smiling at me? Why arent they drinking out of plastic bottles? Why are peoples parents living with them in thier houses till they are 100? When you have less, you have more. I dont hate the USA (or Canada!) but after spending even just a short time travelling where the values are different, and time is more precious than things, its hard not to bring the truth into the foreground. Some folks will just never know, and that is a little sad. Travel, grow, live and love. You will never look at the world the same if you give yourself this gift. Actually I dont think EVERYONE should travel,…someone needs to stay behind to keep making that Maple Syrup…

  10. Hi guys,

    It’s been quite a while since we checked your blog … but you have obviously been keeping it up to date. It is wonderful to read, so full of enthusiasm and enjoyment of life.

    I can empathize with your feelings about returning to a former home. I guess things change around us constantly, but we don’t necessarily notice them. When you have been away from somewhere for a while and then come back, the changes are so obvious and overwhelming that they “hit you right in the face” or in the wallet or some other tender part of the anatomy. Every time I go back to England, I really enjoy some aspects of it, but there are so many features that I could not endure on a daily basis that I am always glad to come home.

    Keep up the blog writing. It is a delight to read.

    Hope to see you guys again at some point in time.

    Paul and Donna

  11. Lovely to read your post. So you have settled down in Oaxaca! Small world. I am currently reading Oaxaca Journal but one of my favorite writers, Oliver Sacks.

  12. That was poetic in nature and deadly in accuracy.I have “lived” next to you guys in Oaxaca for this short time but it has been insightful to the context at which you write. I too have grown out of the mass consumption and it peripheral politeness of Canadains, so focused on the getting home to watch the weather on the big screen in the “living room” at home. The sad part of this is seeing what I call “globalization” not just set roots in Canada, and usa but to see it in the small villages in Mexico. There is something heart breaking to have a 75 year old woman give up here entrepreneurial drive of selling her beautiful hand woven textiles, to sell Kit Kats, and other plastic candy, to me and all the others who pass. What you have written is truth, what you have written is a conflict of interest for many, but if any one is willing to open there eyes then they will see, its time to lighten up…….. on what is on sale, on the consumption of STUFF. Its time to fill our lives with face to face interactions not just facebook and internet, its time to understand that our actions effect more then ours selves and our families, it effects the whole world.

  13. Leanne and Calvin we miss your posting. Claude

  14. Just checking in again and I enjoyed rereading the post and all the comments that followed it. I attended the TESOL Convention in Boston last week and saw Rita, Buth, Aiden, Cheryl (apparently she came down from Maine just to have dinner with us), Elizabeth, Christine, Berta and so many others but no Vance, no Moira, no Daf, no Tere, and no Leanne. I still remember Seattle with nostalgia. Wasn’t it fun? How are you doing?

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