Project Run for the Border is well underway.

I’ll give you a few clues and see if you can figure out where we are going.

Stromatolites or stromatoliths (/strɵˈmætlts/; from Greek στρώμα, strōma, mattress, bed, stratum, and λίθος, lithos, rock) are layered bio-chemical accretionary structures formed in shallow water by the trapping, binding and cementation of sedimentary grains by biofilms (microbial mats) of microorganisms, especially cyanobacteria.[1] Stromatolites provide ancient records of life on Earth by fossil remains which might date from more than 3.5 billion years ago.


Jacqueline makes a run for the border

We were bound to hit some form of bureaucratic snag during our first year. Little did I expect it to happen to the least of these Cuthills. That would be Jacqueline. Or shall I say, Jaqueline.  Sleight of hand, twist of fate as the U2 song says, at least as it pertains to one’s green card. Fear not, this story will have an adventurous ending.

Last week we were informed that Rachel and Ryan’s Residente Temporal cards were nearly ready to be issued. Kary and I applied for ours without problemas in September.  We thought this would be a waiting game and rubber stamp ordeal for the three kids. There would be an eight hour taco and horchata party to celebrate afterwards.

Turns out, Jacqueline’s application for temporary residence has been denied.

Criminal record you ask? Delinquency and truancy at Bearspaw Preschool? Illegal substance abuse? Good guesses given the suspect, but, no.

A better story would be that she was caught storing a souvenir flag in her underwear drawer. But she would never do such a thing.

The culprit – a typo. Yes, a typo.

Do you remember all of those years being reprimanded for spelling mistakes? It turns out that it is a good idea to stay on top of one’s spelling, and also on top of one’s proofreading.

The Mexican consulate in Calgary prepared the kids’ pre-entry paperwork and transcribed the name Jacqueline as Jaqueline.

That error recently became known to the local immigration authorities. Though they didn’t quite see it as an error so much as an identity issue. That’s a problema.

We will be receiving a written notice next week that Mexico officially disallows the alleged child <cuyo nombre is Jacqueline Cuthill> to remain in Mexico, and suggests that she might like to leave the country in the next 30 days. It will be a gentle suggestion is my guess.

The impostor child will be welcome to come back into Mexico during that time period as a tourist (tacky beach apparel and spray tan required) and then start the process all over again.

We don’t think they are sending the federales in to deport her but we can’t be sure. She’s 4 years old and could be dangerous.

And therein lies the beginning of our next adventure : a run for the border.

More on that topic next time. This is going to be good.


Las Tres Carabelas

We have been recording short videos along the way as part of our ongoing torture-by-documentary-and-interrogation program. This week has been a real treat in the Cuthill recording studio. Jacqueline is quite a little singer and is picking up a few cute Spanish songs at school.  Me gusta cantar, she says. Nos gusta eschuchar cantar, we say.

At first we laughed over the morphed Let It Go song – not English, not Spanish, but something in-between. Next we heard the Adios and Hola songs that she apparently sings every day before and after class. Then there’s the Chocolat -EY song she sings with Ana Pa OH lina, her best friend with little curls.

This week’s new melody is something we now think is called “Las Tres Carabelas” in honour of Colombus Day.   I sent it to my dad who picked up the words and sent back this insight:

“After listening to Jacqueline’s latest song several times, I realized she is singing about Columbus’ ships, Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. The English word for the design of the smaller two (Nina and Pinta) is caravel, so I think the word she is singing must be ‘carabelas’, not callabelas. For the record, the Santa Maria was a bigger three-masted ship square-rigged on fore and main masts, and this design is called a carrack, not a caravel (carabela) which uses lateen sails, a fore-and-aft rig.”

It’s good to be in such a nautical family so that we don’t mix up song titles that could easily have been misconstrued as Tres Cabezas (Three Heads), Tres Calabazas (Three Pumpkins or Blockheads) or Tres Calobozos (Three Underground Prisons or Jailcells).

One way or another, I rest my case once again. Is this an education or what?


Las tres carabelas

Un navegante atrevido
Salió de Palos un día
Iba con tres carabelas
La Pinta, la Niña y la Santa María

Lungs, guts, puppy dogs and tareas

The daily homework (tareas) challenge ensues. For those of you following this particular saga, Kary is assigned to Ryan and I am assigned to Rachel for a daily slog of roughly 2 hours. I am learning the Spanish words for blood, nerves, lungs, intestines, rectum and bronchial tubes. Kary gets to work with Ryan to learn nice words like mom, dad, flag, puppies, friendship and ice cream cone.  He gets to watch Ryan draw pretty pictures of our family tree and hand washing before mealtime.

Me, I get to torture Rachel by making her label anatomic drawings of the six major systems of the cuerpo. She does not like this.

On a lighter topic, I thought you might enjoy seeing what I had to translate last night in Rachel’s tareas libreta . Fortunately it was not related to cuerpos, at least not directly.

Tell me if this makes any sense to you.

(In Rachel’s writing) : “Seva a celebran un combibio con motibo del cumple anos de la maestra de ingles el jueves 16 de Oct en el salon de clases. motivo por el cual no gustaria tu cope racion de 5 brownies mi bobida faborita.”

(From Google Translate): “Seva to combibio celebrating a birthday with motibo of the English teacher on Thursday 16 Octobre in the classroom. why not like your brownies cope ration my faborita bobida 5.”


(Likely what this means): “There’s a party. It’s a birthday party. For your english teacher. In the classroom. Your classroom. Don’t ask how old she is. You should be nice to her. You should bring 5 brownies for her. And your favourite drink. No, bring her favourite drink. She’s the one who has to deal with you every day. It’s a good idea to be nice to your english teacher since that’s the language you seem to know. If this was written in english you would know what this means. Do your homework.”


Shoes for a Cause

It’s that time of year to put on our shoes and boots to raise support for the poor and needy in Mexico. I’m coming home for a quick visit at the beginning of November to see friends and to raise much needed funds for C-Quest. If you are in town I would love to see you at Fiesta Zapatos at John Fluevog Shoes on November 6th.  You can buy tickets online through Eventbrite. 50% of the shoe sales go directly to help us help those less fortunate in Mexico. Did you know that there was such a thing as a charity shoe? It is possible to expand your shoe wardrobe, with purpose. This year we are opening up the event to both men and women so men, don’t be shy. You can buy shoes just as well as the women can, and you know it. Go to to get the wheels turning. Please bring amigos and amigas.

We are also collecting used shoes for a Calgary women’s charity so please bring donations with you. It’s our way of helping two communities at the same time. If you would like to write a check we can give you a tax receipt for your donation. If you can’t make it to the event but would still like to buy some shoes in support, please window-shop online and get in touch with me to make arrangements to purchase your items during the event on your behalf. We will move mountains to ensure you get your new charity shoes.

There will be hundreds of little feet in Mexico that are better off because of your generosity.

Thank you for helping us to help people here in Mexico. Su generosidad es muy apreciada.

Fiesta Zapatos Invite 2014 higher res-01

Thankful in Mexico

Greetings to our fellow Canadians who are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend.

Today we give thanks for :

adjustment in Mexico

learning Spanish

 new friends

Mrs. Garmin

 partners Miguel, Ricardo, David and Gama

C-Quest leaders Gary and Joanne

our home team and Board

Maestras Erika, Maria Mar, Diana, Svetlana

John Fluevog Shoes

Rock Pointe Church and Brentview Baptist

Kary’s team at AER

prayer partners, church leaders and small groups

food, shelter, clean water, all of our needs

including stain removers

 families and friends back home who care about us

 the opportunity to serve others less fortunate

learning culture and history by immersion

knowing the Mayan and Yucatecan people

learning to love others more than ourselves

and remembering to say thank you to others

especially to God.


Chichén Itzá

We decided that it was time to take this family classroom on the road. We picked up the kids from school on Friday and headed out to a small colonial town called Valladolid, a charming, quiet, tranquilo little town. Our hotel was right in el centro, overlooking the town square and main cathedral. We went up on the rooftop to watch the stars and to see the beautiful church lit up at night. At the crack of dawn, we had breakfast, and headed to nearby Chichen Itza. Many of our friends have warned us that this is an overly touristy Mayan ruin – some have suggested to skip this so-called wonder of the world in lieu of the less discovered archeological sites of the Yucatan like Uxmal and Ek Balam. I’m glad we didn’t. We arrived early, beating most of the tourist buses and vendors. We had a private guide, a Mayan man whose family has lived in the pueblo surrounding this highly significant civilization for centuries. We learned about Mayan calendars, astronomy, civilization movement, sports, religion and culture.

I leave you with a very famous photo – one you have seen many times in your world history and civilization textbooks.

And this one is just the beginning in our family classroom.



In other news: 

Kids – good, check (well, Jacqueline threw up an entire orange and lemon ice cream cone in her carseat on the way home from Chichen and Rachel came home from school with a fever and chills today, but no pasa nada).  Adjustment is going very well. More friends, more understanding, easier drop offs at school. No less homework though – man is it time consuming to help them as we are essentially learning alongside (ok thank you God, that was a good one on your part).
Language – good, check. Kids are starting to speak to Yesenia in a little bit of Spanish. They are also responding with ease to strangers when they are asked their name, age, school, etc.  I feel like I am speaking a lot more easily now and feel good about where things are at. Still working hard at this, both of us. Our Spanish instructor is good but she is starting to crack the whip on us. Our homework is also ramping up. I practice constantly with Yesenia and she is a gem at teaching me and correcting my grammar. I am gradually reducing the number of idiotic things that come out of my mouth.
Culture and Religion – good, check. The road trip to Chichen Itza, Valladolid , an ancient convent in Izamal (visited by the Pope in 93), a cenote, and several very small pueblos this weekend proved to be a great learning adventure. Also learning more about the Catholic church and its traditions. The Mayan culture and religious beliefs are more known to us now.  I got to teach the kids about limestone geology, caverns and marine sedimentary environments while floating and looking up at a 75 foot cenote wall (closet geoscientist, always). While driving, Kary taught the kids about how plastic bottles are made (oil and gas engineering) and how they can hurt the environment , landfill issues, etc. They actually listened and maybe they learned something. Jacqueline looked at my Mayan book in the car, and then proceeded to recognize one of the temples. She is singing in some language other than English and it sounds a little like Spanish (let it go). Rachel is trying to understand why the Mayans and the Catholics seem to worship idols (ok that is a big conversation and somewhat complicated). They are witnessing thousands of years of civilization right in front of their eyes. What school in Calgary would do this right now?
House and Home– good, check. We are grateful that we can afford Yesenia and that it helps her family in the pueblo. She is like family to us now. She came to church with us on Sunday for the first time. She is going home with some clothing donations and she is grateful and looking forward to taking them to her family and neighbors.
Ministry partners – good, check. Had long meeting with Gary and Joanne this week  and feel much more connected now, a little more organized. Much planning for our two events.  Good debrief from August trips. Positive movement  with partners. Learning more about their focuses and needs.
Fundraising efforts – good, check, but lots ahead to prepare for Fiesta Zapatos (me), SalsaFest (Joanne).  Hope you can come to one or both and bring friends and family. I am so grateful for John Fluevog personally, and of his staff and Calgary store. This whole connection via shoes is quite the miracle in action. I made connections this weekend with a small shoe workshop in Valladolid, could be another potential avenue in the future. Fluevog is thinking about sending down a short term Aid team in 2015. This would be huge for us.
Trip home plans – good , check. Flight booked Nov 3-12 and working on setting my plans for fund development and personal visits, also with RPC and our small group. If anyone has connections that I could meet with please get in touch. We really need help to connect with potential donors.
Local church home – good, in progress . Liked the Presbyterian church we went to last week. We went to church at C-Quest in Progreso with one of our pastors (Pastor Miguel) and about 70 people from his congregation. Was a great experience for all of these families and they had a mini-retreat right at our base. I can’t believe what happens when you say ‘potluck’ here. No one runs to the grocery store for the pre-fab veggie tray. We’re talking full-on roasted pulled-chicken, homemade tacos, fish empanadas and dulces. Delicioso. These families have very little in terms of money and yet they have so much to give. Makes you think.

The Engineer’s Wife

That was a nice post from mi marido. It is not often that I get that many compliments in such a short timespan. Thank you honey.

A few comments about the Engineer thing, from the Engineer’s Wife. Let me tell you, it is both a joy to be married to one, and a joy. There is nothing more fantastic than being married to an engineer. Engineers are soft, cuddly, compassionate creatures. They love people problems. They like to talk about things for hours. They love to consider all of the people’s emotional needs before making more phone calls to see how everyone is feeling. They like bubble baths and candles after a hard day at the office.

And then there are the really good ones.

Ode to My Engineer Kary

He fixes stuff.

He outsources and delegates.

He untangles things.

He kills insects, crabs and salmon swiftly.

He assembles Ikea furniture.

He drives with precision (except for one tree incident).

He checks the oil with his bare hands.

He does NPVs in his head.

He builds spreadsheets for everything.

He analyzes one thing at a time and doesn’t get distracted.

He finishes what he starts.

He project plans, plans projects and then fantasizes about making projects that plan more projects.

He arranges the refrigerator to maximize its capacity to store yogurt, beer and milk.

He can do volumetric calculations on a trailer to determine how many bikes, boxes and yoga mats will fit.

He manhandles wayward carseats and stuck seat belts without killing anyone.

He figures out Spanish instructions for a modem without calling a friend or crying.

He drives a truck with a loaded toolbox, metric and Imperial.

He invents new words when Spanish words are not known and somehow gets his point across.

These are only some of his God given gifts.

This post is for you honey. You’re the best. We would not survive without you down here. Two thumbs up from the whole family.

Love, Darcy