Colima Governor visits the Calgary Stampede

We are excited to host the Governor of Colima, Mexico and distinguished guests at the 2007 Calgary Stampede. This occasion generates very fond memories of all the wild and wonderful experiences we enjoy together. Of all, it is the enduring friendships that top the list!!

Finding ourselves in Colima

Melanie blogged how we began visiting Colima in 2007. She, as President of Calgary’s Local Council of Women(CLCW) works with a parallel group in Colima.

After her first trip, Melanie suggests that I travel with her on a second trip and I eagerly accept. Executive Director Leonor Sanchez (R) and assistant, Rebeca Gonzalez (L) are wonderful hosts. We meet several members of the Colima community. Included are friends we now work with on the Concierto Resorts project and government officials.

A highlight of our trip is exposure to many of the beautiful places, tastes and traditions of the State of Colima. The Minister of Finance, Hugo Vazquez Monts, (pictured left with Leonor), serves as our gracious host to show us much of what this beautiful location in Mexico has to offer.

How Not to extend an Invitation to a Governor

Melanie presents funds raised by the CLCW in Calgary to support the important work of the Colima team. A very pleasant result is that we receive an invitation to a private meeting with Governor, Silverio Cavazos Ceballos.

During the meeting, I comment to Governor Ceballos that he would enjoy Calgary and Alberta as much as I do Colima. I also mention that our major Calgary celebration, the Stampede, takes place every July. He smiles and says that he fully agrees. We go on to other topics, are surprised and delighted with the gifts he presents to us and our meeting concludes. We thoroughly enjoy the rest of the trip and return to Calgary in late April.

Be Prepared Before You Invite!

Melanie is reading aloud a letter just received dated May 16, 2007, written on ‘Gobierno de Colima’ letterhead. The translated message reads, “The Governor of Colima, Silverio Cavazos Ceballos, accepts, with pleasure, the kind invitation to join you in Calgary, Alberta on the dates of July 7-17, 2007.”

The letter goes on to explain that approximately ten people will be travelling. The exact number will be confirmed closer to departure. An exact itinerary has not been confirmed and can be discussed over the next few weeks. The only thing we can think to say, in unison, is “Holy Sugar.” (Not an exact translation!)

Let’s review several important facts I could have thought to mention to the Governor about the Stampede. But didn’t!! Calgary gets extremely busy. Visitors travel to Calgary from around the world. Hotel rooms are reserved many months in advance. Rental vehicles, like hotels, are very high in demand! We all wear jeans and boots. Everybody quits working and parties for ten days. Yup, that’s about it!! Maybe I’ll call him?

Lots of Work Ahead

We’re on the phone 24/7 with hotels attempting to secure space for 10+ and with rental outlets for vans to transport them. Requests go out to Government officials at every level seeking “non-official meetings” with Governor Ceballos. Similarly, we call the University President and Chancellor, presidents of major oil companies, farming and ranching leaders, Spruce Meadows and more. Meeting requests are out and now to find a venue. This quickly proves a major challenge.

We’re happy with responses from a broad spectrum of members of local, provincial and federal government sectors. The same is true with leading members of Alberta’s business community. The University of Calgary confirms it will also be involved. Thankfully we secure the Calgary Elks Club ballroom for two days of meetings. Food and Beverage Manager, Perry Rebitt will present a delicious assortment of hors-d’oeuvres and refreshments with a Spanish accent.


Melanie amazingly secures rooms at a good hotel in Calgary and we’re celebrating. Three days later we learn the original list of ten visitors has swelled to 18 and we face a major problem. Now the van issue also becomes acute. Taxis, that we were going to rely on, are no longer a viable option.

We are so thankful that I am working at WestJet Airlines. My association there helps significantly in securing two 10 passenger vans at a WJ partner. It also makes it possible to get rodeo, chuckwagon and grandstand tickets for everyone.

White Hat ceremony kicks off an active trip to Alberta 

The always incredible Calgary White Hat Association get our guests’ visit off to an incredible start by bestowing the official greeting, pledge and hat to each! For the non-English speaking guests, it is a little confusing but they good-naturedly go along with the ceremony!

There is a full array of travel experiences over the next 10 days. The famed West Edmonton Mall, the world dinosaur leading site, Tyrell Museum, Banff and the Columbia Ice Fields (below) are a few of the locations and experiences they are awed by during their visit.

It is impossible to clearly describe the level of choreography being used to prep, load, transport, experience and reverse from each experience. With 18 guests and seven of us rotating in and out of action as support, it is truly amazing! Quite honestly, everything goes very well and any blips are insignificant!

Vignettes: #1 Calgary Proud

The first vignette involves the Governor’s daughter who, together with friends visits the Chinook Shopping Centre. I drop four of them off at noon and arrange to pick them up at 4 pm. I arrive and am greeted with tears and upset. What happened is that her wallet has been lost or stolen. Nothing confirmed.

We discuss when she realized it was gone and what store they were at and check there but with no success. I check with mall Lost and Found and they don’t have it. We speak in person with mall security personnel and explain the details of the lost wallet. They ask about identification and she provides her name. They ask about the contents and she shares that in the wallet is her ID, one credit card, some photos and four hundred dollars in Canadian cash. I almost pass out!

As we walk with personnel discussing a possible course of action we hear an announcement over mall speakers. My name is mentioned and I’m asked to return to the security office. We do so immediately. There she is presented with the wallet, with ID, credit card, photos and every single dollar intact. A very proud day for this Calgarian!   

We place a call out on the speakers for the gentleman who turned it in so we can provide a reward. The man stops a security person in the mall who radios back to the office that he does not wish to accept a reward and wishes her well! What a City!!                                                 

Vignettes: #2 Almost Home Alone

Several of the visitors are members of the government or associated directories within Colima. They agree to turn off their cell phones during daily excursions so others won’t be bothered. Checking in with Colima during early morning and late evening seems to work well. Of course, there are a couple of exceptions.

The last day of the visit finds us in Banff at the Springs Hotel. With the departure time of 2 pm from Calgary International, we all meet outside on the hotel steps at 8:30 am ready to load the vehicles and head off to the airport. I read off the list of people who will ride in the two vans and the two additional cars.

Because it will be so busy once we get to the airport, there’s several series of hugs and tears after the bags are loaded. Once all the tears are shed we are ready to be off and running. Vans start departing and Melanie and I are looking around for our friend Pepe scheduled to drive with us and two others. He was just here and now we can’ see him anywhere. We all assume he jumped into a van to lessen the number driving in our car and away we go!

As we approach the Banff gates our male guest gets the affirmative nod from his wife and switches on his phone. There are, not surprisingly, several messages on his phone. One stands out immediately because it’s from Pepe. He calls Pepe back quickly. Speaking Spanish they talk for moments and he starts to laugh uncontrollably. Pausing the call, he shares with us that Pepe had gone into the washroom and when he returned to the hotel steps, the entire group was gone. Highway U-Turn-Emergency Avoided!

Vignettes: #3 Roll Up the Rim

How we got here no one can say but the entire Mexican entourage is in the Tim Hortons outlet in Chestermere, where we live. We arrange tables, take orders and introduce the owner to the Governor and our visiting friends. Everyone practices phrases such as Timmys, Double-Double, Sausage Breakfast Combo, Timbits, Roll Up the Rim and the National Hockey League. Each is explained during the next hour!  Totally surprised but Tims turns out to be a very popular move indeed.

Let’s be honest, we are with Governor Ceballos (centre) of the State of Colima, Mexico and a visitor to Alberta at our invitation! That’s why we don’t even blink when later that day he asks if we could go back to Tim Hortons for a double-double and sausage sandwich. We must disappoint explaining breakfast is over at 11 am. He says he will settle for a coffee. Next morning, no question, it’s Tim Hortons for breakfast. And the next. In fact, there aren’t many mornings that don’t start at one Tim Hortons location or another. 

Note: 1) The Governor provides the foreshadowing for all-day breakfast and for international Tim’s locations. He asked us to meet with the Tim Hortons organization in an attempt to get one or more franchises into Colima. We try to do so in 2008 but with no success.

Pepe from Vignette #2 is pictured on left above.

Our Spanish friends’ visit to Alberta, the time spent together and the friendships that evolved and endure remain as significant factors reinforcing our dedicated plan to build Concierto Resorts in Colima and call it our dual-home!   

¡Gracias, queridos amigos, por el tiempo memorable que compartimos y por su apoyo y amor!

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