Slip Sliding Away in Saskatchewan

Suddenly I was going down fast and the sidewalk was coming up hard. Then I was face down on the cold concrete. Stunned I picked myself up and tried to figure out what had happened. The culprit was a puddle of puke, likely generated by someone from the wedding going on at the Civic Centre across the street. “Mierda,” I snorted, “at least I didn’t fall in it.”

The reason I was walking down Main Street in Watrous (population 2000) at 23:00 – a mere two days after I’d arrived in Canada – was because Mom’s bike doesn’t have a light. People here take such things seriously. I reluctantly agreed to be responsible and walk the ten minutes to the bar — rather than ride —  to meet friends. Ellie offered me a ride home, but I waved my hand and pooh-poohed the idea as I wanted to walk. Fresh air and all that.

Main Street looking south.
Main Street looking south.
Main Street looking  north.
Main Street looking north.

So  much for the nanny state. In Buenos Aires I navigated the streets fraught with dog poo and broken concrete without any trouble. On the chaotic streets of Phnom Penh I scoot around on my bike – complete with a basket and looking like a proverbial Mary Poppins – without anything untoward to date. Riding a bike without a light is the least of the problems in the Kingdom. But on the prim and proper prairies it is an offense..

Consequently, here in safe, secure Saskatchewan I wipe out on a flat sidewalk without any cracks, holes or obstacles.

What you look like  when you live in the developing world.
What you look like when you live in the developing world.

“You’re lucky,” offered my friend Charlene, who is a nurse. “If you had landed on the curb you could have whacked your temple. People die that way.”

What you look  like when  you  slip and slide away  in Sask.
What you look like when you slip and slide away in Sask

Fortunately I was carrying my over-the-body handbag. My arm goes through the handles – as it makes it harder for purse snatchers – so I wasn’t able to pull it out to break my fall. “A friend of ours in Mexico had a similar spill.” continued Charlene, “She broke her wrist and her arm in five places and is still having trouble with all the pins they put it.” Ouch.

Yes, a bit of karma, a puff of ju-ju smoke and an inshallah were with me.

I told the story of how I’d managed to end up looking like a candidate for a domestic violence poster more times than I can remember. Everyone wanted to know what happened. It always started with, “On Saturday night I went to the Town Bar.” Their ears perked as they waited to hear about the brawl and what the other guy looked like. By the time I got to the details of what had really transpired, however, the giggles started. By the time I finished there were rounds of belly laughs. So much for local support.

Saskatchewan Travel Warning: Before you book your next trip to Watrous, make sure you pack your golf cleats – or other appropriate footwear – if you plan on doing any walking. And you might want to tuck in a helmet and elbow pads just to be on the safe side.










Five Scoops In a Sweet Submarine Roll

The ice-cream man drove his cart into the compound at A New Day Cambodia and the kids – in their new red hats gifted by parting Australian expats – quickly and quietly lined up for a treat.IMG_2870

He sliced open a sweet submarine roll, spooned in five scoops of what looked like ice-water, poured a dollop of condensed milk over the concoction and handed it to one kid after another. The staff also had ice-cream sandwiches made for those who were away on work experience so they wouldn’t miss out. The cost for each of these ohhy-gooey taste-treats that I didn’t want to try?  A mere 25 cents.


An hour later, Alex – a young woman from Australia – Todd – the Down in the Dumps official photographer – and I piled back into the tuk-tuk. I rang Vichika and told her to get the kids organized to meet us at the communal spot. The ice-cream man tucked in behind us and we headed for Steng Meanchey.


Vickika took over as is her natural-leader manner and the kids lined up. The ice-cream man did his bit; she poured on the condensed milk and passed it to the next one in line.

Photo credit: Todd Black
Photo credit: Todd Black

The word got out and the kids started running in from all directions. Alex just missed a shot of a kid coming in on full tork.


Some adults – like the guy who is generally stoned out of his tree on whatever substance he happens to be abusing that day – borrowed a baby and got into line. As the people walked by, they thanked us. One older woman came up while I was talking with a kid who wanted to practice his English. He told me she was very thankful as it was the first thing she had eaten that day. I told her to go back for another one.







There were smiles all around and the food helped create a feeling of camaraderie.


It cost $38 to make 152 people’s day a touch brighter. Bargain. We will do it again.

_DSC3561About the only downside is that I’m going to have to do some damage control to re-establish my child-hating reputation.

The Next Project: Chickens

My friend Christine from Australia made a donation. So did an anonymous donor – who told me she would give me a spanking if I mentioned her name – so we have close to $800 in the Down in the Dumps fund. For a couple of hundred dollars we are going to start a chicken project.

Alex is going to do the reconnaissance work.


Where to buy the cages and the food. How much does it costs for live ones? Then we will send Tuk-Tuk Nick out to get what we need as it will be much cheaper than having a white face buy the supplies.

Chickens are low-maintenance and there are a few scavenging around now.  More chickens will also help get rid of the debris and the proper food will make them healthier. The dump people can eat the eggs, sell the chickens or do whatever they want with them. Once the system is in place we can supply them with more chicks which are cheap-as-chips. They aren’t going to get rich as chicken-farmers, but it may help them get a bit of protein and some extra cash.

Stay tuned to this blog for the next episode of Down in the Dumps.