February 4th, 2010. The first day of my first ever blog.
To all those unfortunates who somehow stumble upon this posting, I offer the quintessentially Canadian qualifier: I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all the mistakes and omissions you're about to discover. I'm sorry for all the typos and spelling errors. My self-taught, two finger keyboarding skills are primitive and my trusty old Funk and Wagnalls is too heavy to pack. There will be many times when I'm too tired or busy or just plain fed-up, and my postings, or lack of them, will display that all too clearly. There will probably be more navel-gazing than is comfortable for either of us.
My aim is to share my thoughts and views and feelings about the Stratford/Suchitoto Project. I am not the voice of the Stratford Festival or anyone else. There will hopefully be a few photos. And maybe even a laugh once in a while.
Before I go any further I must thank a few people, secure in the knowledge that I'll undoubtedly leave out the most deserving. My wife, Mary-Eileen, for her unwavering support and love. Frank Holte for getting me into this mess and for his irreverent sense of humour. Eric Ball for his patience and youthful exuberance. Robbin Cheesman for her tireless hard work. The folks at CUSO-VSO in Ottawa for their generosity in sponsoring this endeavor. My two brilliant children for their help in pushing me onboard the computer band wagon last year. Joan for encouraging me to write. The tellers and listeners from The Story Barn. My sister and brothers.
This is beginning to sound a lot like a really boring Oscar acceptance speech, so I'll leave it at that. To the rest of you, and there are many, thank you, thank you, thank you.
This journey began for me a couple of years ago when Tatiana and a few others from El Salvador were touring the backstage area of the Festival Theatre. I was briefly introduced and became immediately intrigued with the concept of the Project. Helping the people of a small town in a distant country just coming out of years of civil war. Getting a school and a theatre started. Having an opportunity to give something back after thirty-five years in theatre. But my work schedule seemed to preclude my involvement, so I put the idea aside as another one of those things that I'd like to do but would probably never get around to actually doing.
Fast forward to December 3rd 2009. A chance sighting of a notice that there was to be an informational meeting on the Suchitoto Project at Pazzo that night at 7 pm. I guess it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Others might interpret it as 'a sign'. In any case, I phoned home to say I was staying in town for awhile. A few hours later, I had signed up and the wheels were in motion.
Christmas in Baden began December 17th with the arrival of daughter Julia from France. A wonderful whirlwind of celebration with friends and family followed for the next two and a half weeks. I can't pinpoint the exact date, but one day in early January Frank called with the welcome words "You're in!". The past four weeks have been devoted almost entirely to the Project. I've spent more time on my computer than is healthy. Sent and received more emails than I ever thought possible. Waded through pages and pages of information. Filled out more forms than Neil Armstrong ever did before his big trip.
Last weekend we Tres Amigos (Frank, Eric and that other guy) spent three days in Ottawa taking a CUSO-VSO preparation course. We're now entering the final few days before we head out. There is still much to be done. A couple more meetings, a few more emails, and the inevitable last-minute packing. We're taking some tools and hardware along with us onboard the plane - staying under the weight limit will be a challenge.
Hopefully the next blog will be less about me and more about Suchitoto.