The little guy in the photo on the left will now be 23. It’s crazy to think I took that picture of Hans almost 20 years ago in South Korea. It doesn’t feel like that much time has passed. Today I’m returning to the Land of the Morning Calm.
I’m stopping in a few other places before landing in Inchon International Airport. From there, I’ll visit Taejon (Daejong), where I worked as an English teacher for a few months. The photo of Hans was snapped in Puyo (Bueyo), the first place I taught English in 1998. I won’t be heading there.
To get to Puyo I’d have to crisscross the southern part of the country on different buses. The trip will gouge a large chunk of time from my already busy schedule seeing other parts of the country that I never got to visit long ago. I do feel a tug towards the rural town and wonder if it’s changed over the years.
I’ve changed. Even though I don’t want to admit it. I have lines around my eyes and memories that stretch over many years. Korea changed me first though. It was in Puyo that I grew up. Where I became an adult. Without mom and dad nearby or just a telephone call away (the time difference was about 12 hours), I had to rely on me. I had to make my own money and spend it on groceries. I had to make my own decisions of where to go and what to do. I had to sort out my own problems.
So even though I’ll be bypassing Puyo soon and driving past the classrooms where I taught and the temple I ran by every morning, I’ll resist the pull of memories. Puyo will always be part of me. I don’t need to re-visit it. After almost 20 years, my time there has been absorbed into my bones. It has made me stronger. It made me: me.
I’ll be back at the beginning of June. See you then.
Fort Smith, NWT borders the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Friends and I biked in RMWB a lot in the summer. If you enlarge the image, you can see the RMWB sign. Photo taken August, 2007.
While I have only been Fort McMurray once — passing through the airport a few years ago — I know a lot about the city. As the editor of what was then called the Slave River Journal (now the Northern Journal), I was responsible for covering the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. I talked to the politicians and business people serving the area as well as some of the residents. As the wildfire blazed through Fort Mac this past week, my heart has been hurting. I can’t even imagine how the people of Wood Buffalo must be feeling.
I have no family or friends in Fort Mac but I have ties there. I learned about its growing pains and other issues that often spilt the communities surrounding the city. It had drugs and crime but was also the setting for the TV comedy Mixed Blessings. (I love that show.) Fort Mac was where many Canadians found work and in turn, spent that hard-earned cash back home. In fact, when my husband and I were in Newfoundland two years ago, the first people we met while hiking on the East Coast Trail were two guys who had just returned from working in the oil sands near Fort Mac. They were home for a couple weeks off.
There are some who say Fort McMurray is getting its comeuppance, whether it be for pollution or the oil sands or its relatively wealthy residents. It’s BS and extremely hurtful to those who have made their home there, especially when some of those homes are gone.
The wildfire doesn’t wipe the environmental slate clean and there are still questions about energy processing there. However, let’s remember that people lived there and some have lost everything — homes, businesses, pets — and deserve to be treated with respect. Thankfully, Canadians everywhere, from Lac–Mégantic to Cranbrook, are answering the call for help and pitching in to help the city rise again. To clear away the ashes and start rebuilding. To put pieces of lives back together.
Here are some details on how to help: http://bit.ly/1SYRRoC
This is one of the grizzly bear tracks spotted on the hike in Peter Lougheed park, with my hand for scale. Another set of tracks was MUCH bigger.
I didn’t write a memoir for my blog today. My middle sister is visiting from Ontario and so we were busy touring around Calgary. We created a lot of memories like going hiking and seeing grizzly paw prints all over the muddy trail in Kananaskis. We turned around and headed back to the car after discovering not one, but many sets of the large bear tracks. It’s spring and the big bruins are probably hungry and we didn’t want to stick around and find out what they wanted for lunch.
My sister and I also went to 2016 Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo yesterday. Comic Con is usually not something I’d go to but why not check it out. It was a fun day of people watching and listening to actors discuss their roles in their movies. We got the inside scoop on the television show Vikings from Clive Standen, who plays Rollo. I guess there are a lot of pranks played on the set. We also heard from Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) about being in the Harry Potter movies. They were a comedic tag team on the Corral Arena stage and had the audience laughing the whole 45 minutes. Needless to say, Isaacs and Felton are nothing like their nefarious Potter counterparts on screen.
Clive Standen being interviewed by Garrett Wang.
There were lots of people dressed up as Hogwarts students and professors. Other attendees were dressed up in elaborate costumes from every and anything you can imagine. One man was an Ent (a talking tree-type species from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth). It looked like he made his costume out of pipe insulation. It was a piece of art and must have taken him many, many hours to create. There were so many imaginative characters and fantastic fantasy people it was hard to know where to look.This is why I don’t have a long story to post today – because there were two Storrys out and about this weekend.