ZYTARUK: Nothing like international shaming for the old home town

That’s all I heard about Canada during my three weeks abroad: That we treat our seniors poorly, and we grow great pot.

Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now. Email him at tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

So let it be written.


So I was in Guatemala for three weeks and after a time got to wondering what’s going on in Canada.

I’d noticed during the Olympics that media coverage of our country is pretty much non-existent outside our borders. We care; the rest of the world doesn’t.

In fact, the only news I caught concerning Canada during my time abroad was on BBC World News, about Canada separating two senior citizens after 62 years of marriage. The ticker-tape carried the story all day long. And as you are most likely aware, the Washington Post and other major newspapers with global influence carried it as well.

You can imagine my dismay to find this sad story originated out of Surrey, B.C.

Nothing like international shaming for the old home town, Fraser Health.

Way to go, guys.

This story made news around the world because, obviously, the rest of the world knows it’s freaking barbaric to separate an elderly couple like that.


The only other Canadian connection I experienced down south was in Antigua, a 500-year-old Spanish colonial town with cobblestone roads, hanging flower baskets, the rich aroma of coffee in the air and Fred Flintstone-like cinder cone volcanoes for a background.


Anyway, I was walking down one of these cobblestone roads, wearing a T-shirt with “I (heart) Surrey” on it. I passed by this Mayan guy who was leaning against a stone wall and he called out to me, in Spanish, “Hey man, are you from Surrey, British Columbia?”

I was a little surprised.

“Si, hombre,” I replied.

“I was there!” he said, with much enthusiasm. “In White Rock. I love your B.C. bud!”

And that’s all I heard about Canada during my three weeks abroad: That we treat our seniors poorly, and we grow great pot.

Oh, and I saw a grizzly bear, a mountain lion, some red-tailed hawks and a family of raccoons in Guatemala’s city zoo. So, there’s that.

Our sons were pretty much amazed that they could order a Big Mac delivered to your front door by a guy on a motorcycle.  And the service at gas stations in Guatemala is also amazing; way better than here. You pull up to the pump, and it’s like you’re a race car driver making a pit stop.

Five guys descend on your car, filling your tires, cleaning your windows, checking your oil, etc.

But now that I’m back, let me mention some newly realized good stuff about here that we sometimes take for granted.

Like our water, water pressure and fresh air. Ah, our glorious, gulp-worthy fresh air.

Can’t beat it.

And our complaints about traffic congestion here in the Lower Mainland are almost cute compared in context to the near-apocalyptic traffic chaos that is endemic to big-city Third World countries where stop signs don’t count, traffic cops are ignored and common courtesy is scorned.

All this, of course, is served up with stifling humidity and suffocating black bus smoke.

The experience you gain from travelling, like all education, is one of the things in life they can’t take away from you.

But it’s good to be home, eh.


So let it be done.

Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now. Email him at tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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