Advice from Mom
By Rita Lessard

Thanks to my sister Joan, I was the happy recipient of a very leisurely holiday in Punta Cana for 10 days.
I don’t know about Joan, but for me, it was a very pleasant vacation and a much needed rest with plenty of sunshine – a respite from the frigid weather that you unfortunate souls had to endure the last part of March and the first week of April. I was quite surprised to see snow when I came back, but now as I look out it is sunny and warm. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of the white stuff.
The secret to a successful trip is preparation before you leave. For instance, the most important thing is getting your passport. When I renew my passport in two years, I will be on my fourth application. Still, It doesn’t matter how many times you apply: the government will still put you through the same crap. Even though these jokers know that my mother’s maiden name will never change, or that my birth month, day and year will never change, they still insist I give them the same information every time I deal with them. I know they know who I am: over the years, I’ve had a social insurance card, birth certificate, and filled out income tax forms, etc. You can see why I’m surprised I have to go through so much to convince these people who I am.
I suppose it’s quite a cash grab, though; when I first applied forty years ago, the passport cost me $5. Now they’ve raised the stakes, so be sure you save some extra vacation money for the passport.
In the past, you could smile when you got your passport picture taken, but not today. No smiling! If you don’t look like a criminal, you can’t leave the country! I supposed they figure you’re ticked off after all the bull they’ve put you through.

Speaking of which, this vacation was my first time encountering the dreaded Montezuma’s Revenge, or as some people call it, the tiki trots; in plain English, diarrhea. For the first week or so, it was a stop and go situation. In case the reading public is ever plagued with this condition, here are some helpful hints:
– Drink plenty of fluids.
– Eat foods like mashed carrots, chicken broth, crackers, dry toast, bananas, Jell-O, apple sauce.
– Stay away from dairy, except yogurt.
– Also avoid explosives like beans, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
– Try to maintain a bland diet until your condition passes (maybe that’s a bad way to say it. Correction: until you’re relieved of the ring around the bowl).
If you are lucky enough to be able to travel outside Canada and unlucky enough to encounter the Katmandu Quick Stop, take comfort in something like Imodium, or as some people will say, “put a plug in it.”

Not to worry, though; I’m back in good stead, and just in time to congratulate Casey for winning his newspaper awards. You’re the best, signed your prejudiced mother.