Category Archives: adventures

Walking the beat of my own drum

I walk to the beat of my own drum.  I have been doing this for a few years, but I will admit, there have been many times that I have followed the crowd.

 

Following the crowd during school seems to be something most of us do.  But who are we following anyway?  The popular kids?  The sports kids?  Have you ever thought about that?

 

Was there someone in your life that you wanted to be like?  That you wanted to be?  I know for me that there were a few people I wanted to be like. Especially in high school.  I wanted to be confident and outgoing, like so many of my friends were.  But I was shy and just hung back, trying to gain the courage to speak up.  Things changed in college and later on in my life, after my divorce.  But if there was anything that I could have changed, it would be to be more confident in myself.  To be stronger and self-assured.

 

Do I regret the way things worked out in my life?  No.  I believe that everything that has happened in my life has happened when it needed to and when the time was right.

 

Do I follow the beat of my own drum now?  Absolutely!!  Would I follow the crowd now?  Unless that crowd was heading to South Africa or Australia or somewhere really cool – then maybe in that case.  But no – I would not follow the crowd now.

 

Follow the crowd or walk to the beat of your own drum.  You choose.  What will you do?

Advertisements

Battling “travel-sickness”

Being homesick is natural – you go off travelling, or get married and move away, or just move away from your hometown.  You eventually miss certain things of your home, the comfort of having family nearby, the comforts of familiar places to go to, whether its a shopping mall or favourite restaurant.  You get homesick.  It is normal.  But travelsickness?  Is that even a thing??

 

I believe it is.  I have heard this from fellow travellers who have experienced this.  They are away from home for a year or more, come back home and adjust to being back home, and then experience “travelsickness”.  That feeling of being on the road seeing new things, or living in another country and missing walking to the Castle in the evening (yes – I am talking about me!).

 

I am excited and happy to be back in Canada.  I truly am.  But I would be lying to say that I don’t miss being in Europe, or travelling through Chile, or teaching the kids in China.  I must state here that while I miss the kids in China a lot, I do not miss being in the country of China!

 

I miss Prague.  Especially now that the Christmas season is almost here – walking through the Christmas markets, the hot wine, the sounds and smells of Wenceslas Square, the serenity of Prague Castle at night, the busyness of Karluv Most, and the amazing friends I met there.  I miss Prague.  A lot.  I look back at my pictures and reminisce of my time there, and feel nostalgic.  Prague was my home for almost two years.  Living so close to Prague Castle was like a dream come true.  One day, I will go back and visit.  To inhale the aroma of the city.  To envelop myself within the city.  To see old friends and enjoy a beer in Letna Park, people watching, chatting and enjoying my time there once again.

 

I miss Chile.   The walks on the beach.  The warmth of the sun.  The amazingness of the Atacama desert.  The feeling of peace that I felt while I was there.  The feeling of joy that I experienced.  I discovered a lot of myself in Chile, and I treasure the time I got to spend there.  I have become an even more positive person from that trip through Chile.

 

So yes, I am happy to be back in Canada, but I miss my adventures of the past three years.  My adventures aren’t over – I am starting a new chapter in my life, which I know will be a positive one for me. But for now, I am going to accept the fact that I have travelsickness.  And it’s okay.

Halloween

Happy Halloween from Canada!

 

Over the past three years, I have experienced Halloween in different countries.  It’s amazing how different it is, yet so many things are similar.  In Canada, the children get dressed up, anxiously waiting to see how much chocolate they get (and the moms wait to see how many peanut butter cups they get to take from their kid’s stash!  haha – at least that’s what this mom used to do!).  Some costumes are elaborate, some are home made, and some are store bought – but no matter what they wear – all kids in costumes are adorable!!!

 

In Prague, Halloween wasn’t that big of a celebration – perhaps because it is a big tourist city, there are some celebrations for the expats, but I don’t recall seeing the all out celebrations like in North America.

 

China surprised me, but perhaps it was also because I was teaching in a private school that wanted the international exposure given to the kids, but they had a huge celebration at Halloween, including a Halloween costume parade, the kids getting treats from the other classes, and a truly spectacular Halloween show put on in the auditorium!  It was a sight to see.  While the kids did not go door to door trick or treating, they did get a lot of candy at school and really enjoyed the party that they had.

 

Halloween will always be my favourite celebration during the year – I love seeing the little kids all dressed up.  Tonight I saw a skeleton, an Ella from Frozen and a ninja (there were more but not as many as there used to be).

 

I love Halloween!!

 

china halloween 1achina halloween 2a

Future endeavours

Yes, I am already thinking of my future.  Future travels, future endeavours.  I have made a big step today for my future!

 

Trips I have in mind already – Costa Rica is on my mind.  Northern Canada.  Norway.  But I have made a bigger step to my future today.  Something I hope that will bring on a possible new career.

 

I want to become a public speaker to high school kids and young adults, talking to them about budgeting and living without credit.  I have submitted a proposal to the public library to start with weekend classes!   I am very excited to start something that I really feel I can teach young adults about.  I have experience with this, many years of personal experience, so I believe I would be a good person to show this to people.

 

I really believe that high school students should be learning life skills that are going to help them in the real world.  Budgeting is such a big part of this, as well as teaching them that they can live without credit.

 

I am excited to be pursuing this next chapter of my life!!

Best of Chile

My South American journey has come to an end.  I arrived back in Canada on Wednesday evening, after missed connections and travelling back to LAX and then to Toronto.  My son and his friend excitedly picked me up at the airport (to applause! – that was fun haha).

 

I had an amazing time in Chile, and can recommend to everyone to take some time to explore the entire country.  From Santiago north to Arica, there is so much to see and discover.  I have made a list of my highlights of my trip.

 

Santiago

Santiago was the first stop, and was a typical big city with some interesting barrios, delicious food and amazing scenery.

  1. The Andes – the incredible mountains looking over the city.  Absolutely stunning to see from all parts of the city.
  2. Cerro San Cristobal – the hike up to the top of the hill was breathtaking.  The statute was so amazing to see up close, and the entire trip to go up to the top was great exercise.  The ride down on the funicular was slightly terrifying for me, but was fun.
  3. Barrio Bellavista – the area at the bottom of Cerro San Cristobal is teeming with funky bars, restaurants, shops and graffiti filled buildings.

Santiago

Valparaiso/Vina del Mar

Second stop was Valparaiso.  The funkiest city I experienced in Chile.  It was cool, eclectic and had an edge to it.  I would travel back to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.

  1. Graffiti – almost every other building had street art or graffiti filling it. Incredible art to see.  Every turn found more art to view.  Stunning!
  2. The beaches – Vina del Mar had the most pristine beaches, the incredible first views of the Pacific Ocean and the walks along the beach.
  3. The food – so many different varieties of food to try, the aromas, the taste.  It was delicious to wander the streets and try new foods.

Valparaiso

Vina del Mar

La Serena

This pretty little town set between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean was breathtaking.  The sunsets over the ocean, viewed from my terrace at the hostel, was my evening ritual.  I couldn’t get enough of walking through the streets and seeing the sites.

  1. The festival square – I arrived on a Sunday morning and wandered down to the main square, where a festival was taking place.  The music, the food, the crowds of people – it was a feast for the eyes and nose!
  2. The views – most impressive views of the ocean.
  3. The calmness – I was impressed with how calm the city was.  Everyone walking around seemed so relaxed and happy – I would be happy living there too.

La Serena

Antofagasta

The “pearl of the north”.  Antofagasta is a city that offers so much – it is on the edge of the Atacama desert, so it is a dry city.  Not much rain falls here, but it is fascinating.  It prepared me for the dryness of the desert.

  1. The sea life – sea lions, pelicans – but sadly no penguins.  The fish. It was very cool to see the sea lions and pelicans.
  2. Seafood – the seafood of the Pacific is the best I have ever had.  Antofagasta has many restaurants to sample so many different fish dishes.
  3. The wharf – I spent most of my days wandering down to the wharf, to watch the fishing boats, to eat fresh fish, to people watch.  Antofagasta was a very pleasant surprise!

Antofagasta

San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro – the driest desert on earth.  It was dry, dusty, I felt like I was in the old west – the adobe buildings, the stray dogs – it had such an interesting feel to it.  I discovered a lot about myself here, and overcame fears I have had in my life.

  1. Valle de la Luna – the Moon Valley.  The most incredible part of my entire trip to Chile.  Sounds a bit corny but it truly was life-changing for me.
  2. Pukara de Quitor – a visitor’s area about 30 minute walk from San Pedro.  Walking across a river, climbing to the second rest stop, and looking out over the valley.  Worth the sunburn I got!
  3. The Milky Way – I  was lucky to have been in a hostel that I had another terrace to sit out on.  And we were far enough away from the town’s lights that I could look up in the sky and see millions of stars and the milky way.  Incredible!!

Valle de la Luna 046

Arica

Surf City!!  My last stop and I picked a great place to end my trip.  I spent almost every day on the beach.  Such a relaxing way to end this amazing trip.

  1. Playa Chinchorro – my beach of choice.  A 10 minute walk from my hostel.  A 5 km beach with white sand, warm waters, body boarders, and surfers.  Lots of fun to watch!!
  2. 21 Mayo Av – the pedestrian street in Arica – restaurants, little shops, street vendors, buskers (rapping in Spanish is always interesting to hear!) – something for everyone!
  3. San Marcos Cathedral – the Cathedral that was designed by Gustav Eiffel – such a unique cathedral to see.

Arica

I am now back in Canada for a couple of years – but I will still continue to take small trips while I am here.  For now, I am going to get back to being a Canadian and taking in all things Canadian.  I will enjoy being back with my family and friends.

 

So long Chile

San Pedro – more than just a desert town

My week started off with a late arrival on Sunday.  Monday had me wandering around the town, seeing what there was to offer and just getting a general feel of the area. It was dry and dusty – of course!  But there was a certain feel to the town.  A feeling, to me, that something was going to happen here but I just wasn’t sure what.  Monday ended with me sitting on my terrace of my two floor, apartment-style hostel (I really do love hostels!), watching the milky way and a million stars.  I had no idea just how spectacular it was to see the milky way!!

san pedro day 1 013

The square of San Pedro

san pedro day 1 017

The volcanoes of the Andes

san pedro day 1 019

Tuesday I had booked the morning tour with Tours 4 Tips – again cannot say enough about this company!   If anyone is in Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, Santiago or San Pedro – book the walking tours with these guys!  Absolutely phenomenal!!  Anyway – it turns out I was the only one scheduled for the tour so I had the pleasure of a private tour with a lovely guide by the name of Pauline, a French girl who fell in love with an Atacamen boy and stayed in San Pedro.  She was full of knowledge and so much energy – I had such a lovely time – and what was supposed to be a two hour tour was almost a three hour tour because we talked about so many other things.  She deserved even more of a tip than I gave her!

San Pedro Day 2 002

My awesome private tour guide Pauline

San Pedro Day 2 005

A very salty tree that grows in the desert

Tuesday night a big windstorm happened, and it continued all day on Wednesday.  I am not a fan of blowing sand in my eyes, so the day was spent doing very little.  I managed to go out and get some fruit and vegetables at the monthly market that Pauline told me about – it was awesome!  Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – was sold there.  Even a kitchen sink!!!  I spent about two hours browsing the market, sitting in the town square, getting some lunch, then headed back.  I had booked the Valle de la Luna tour for that night but it was cancelled because of the wind.  I re-booked for Friday afternoon.

IMG_20170916_190925_HDR

Licancabur Volcano in the distance

Thursday- I headed out to Pukara de Quitor, an area just outside of San Pedro.  I walked, and it took about an hour to walk there.  A local man said – oh just cross the river and walk for about 20 minutes – turns out you actually have to cross a river!  Good thing I was wearing my boots – my feet didn’t get wet at all traipsing through the river!  On to Pukara de Quitor – I had been told it was a hill you could climb and have a lovely view of San Pedro.  No one told me it was an actual visitor’s site that cost money – good thing I almost had enough – the lovely lady at the desk let me pay the student’s fee.  Gracias!  So, I headed to the “hill” – it was more than a hill but not quite a mountain.  I met a lovely mother and daughter and we ended up going up together.  I conquered a big fear that day – I normally do not climb anything that has no railing to grab on to in case I feel I need to – well there was no railing and I managed to get up to the second rest stop (almost to the top).  A HUGE feat for me.  I was very proud of  myself, and was also amazed at the view at this point.  Walked back down and headed back to town.  I was so proud of myself, that I took myself out to the best burger place in town – and it truly was the best burger.  Thursday, at that point, was the most amazing day of my entire trip.  Until….

Pukara de Quitor 012

This view

Friday happened.  I woke up to a beautiful blue sky, no wind, the temperature was just right.  A perfect setting for my Valle de la Luna tour at 4pm.  I arrived, backpack ready with water, sunscreen and my coat for the cooler temperatures near the end of the tour.  With the group, we loaded on to the van to head out to the Valley.  I had asked if I needed to be in really good shape, was this difficult, etc., and I was assured that it was not that difficult.  Well, turns out, it was more difficult, both physically and mentally, for me than I had imagined it would be.  The beginning was easy, a nice easy sandy slope towards this hill.  As we got up a bit higher, I noticed that the people ahead of me were turning left, and some were stopping, gasping and looking up.  This did not bode well for my fear of heights!   As I got to that point – I stood there in complete shock.  This was not just a hill.  This was rock and sand, climbing up the side of the hill, about 200 metres (this is what Klaus, the guide, told us after).  I was petrified and frozen in the spot.  I looked up and just said No.  Klaus was encouraging me, saying I could do it, he would help me.  I just kept shaking my head and saying no.  I was so completely afraid, I didn’t know what to do.  But then I saw a couple about my age, maybe a bit older, going ahead and doing it and I thought I can do this too.  I just don’t look down.  Well, I got about half-way up – and couldn’t go any further.  I was frozen.  And on the verge of tears.  I was absolutely petrified.  And Klaus – my hero – told me to just wait and he would help me.  So there I was, on the side of a “hill”, waiting for someone to drag me up there.  He came back, talked to me, told me it was okay to cry, told me to take deep breaths, and that I could do it.  After several minutes (felt like hours), he finally got me on the right track, I put my foot and leg where he wanted me to, grabbed his arm and had complete faith in him that he was going to get me up – and I did it.  I made it up to the top.  The other members of the group were cheering me on, and congratulating me.  I just felt like crying and would not stand up LOL.  After that, there were two other hills but nothing like that.  I was shaking the whole time, but I DID IT!!!   I was so proud of myself, and proved to myself that no matter the obstacle, I can do it, with lots of encouragement and Klaus holding me up haha.  I made such a huge breakthrough that day – I have many fears and now I know that I just need to take deep breaths, tell myself I can do it – and just do it.  At the end of the tour, we went to the lookout to watch the sunset over the valley, and I said a little thank you to the universe/God/my spirits/my guardians.  Truly the best day of my time in Chile.

Valle de la Luna 002

The entrance to Valle de la Luna

Valle de la Luna 019

The three sisters

Valle de la Luna 036

The view from the “hill” – I made it!

Valle de la Luna 038

My hero, Klaus, and I standing at the top of the hill!

Valle de la Luna 075

The amazing sunset in the Valley

Saturday, it was my last day.  I did a final walking tour in the afternoon, enjoyed some lunch in the square and headed to the bus station for an overnight bus ride to Arica.

IMG_20170916_174656

After the Saturday tour, the group – three Canadians and two Australians!

IMG_20170916_185506_HDR

The square – one last time

San Pedro was amazing – I will never forget what this town, and this entire trip, has shown me about myself.  My strength, my attitude and my life – so many ways I have changed and all for the good.  I LOVE CHILE!!

Exploring the desert – San Pedro de Atacama

I arrived in San Pedro late Sunday afternoon, after an amazing drive through the desert.  I didn’t really know what to expect to see going through the desert – I had no idea just how awesome it really is!!

IMG_20170910_173529_HDR

IMG_20170910_181042_HDR

San Pedro de Atacama is a small town located close to the Argentina and Bolivia borders, high in the Andes – I checked the altitude and it is over 2000 metres!  No wonder I had a pressure headache for the first two days here!  It is a very unique town with many interesting laws and rules – one being that there is no dancing allowed!  They have bars here, but in order to order an alcoholic beverage, you must also order food.  Apparently the small police force enforces this !!  And I found out that the fire department is hardly ever busy with fires, but are quite busy rescuing visitors from the desert who thought they could handle being out in the desert on a hike alone.  Not too bright !!!

IMG_20170913_103503_HDRIMG_20170912_152958_HDR

I have been a witness to a weather pattern that is apparently quite unusual for here – strong winds for three days, resulting in sand tornadoes (? – is that a thing?).  My tour out to the Valle de la Luna had to be postponed until Friday evening – which is okay.  I do NOT want to be out in the valley with this much wind.  The forecast is calling for the wind to die down tonight – I am crossing my fingers!  I am tired of having so much sand in my hair and in my eyes!!

 

I have learned some of the modern facts of the town, and tomorrow I will be going on another free walking tour to learn about the history of the town.  I am going to explore just outside the town tomorrow morning.  I really am enjoying it here – I just want the wind to stop!!!

IMG_20170910_195824_HDR

My time is quickly coming to an end in Chile though – in two weeks I will be back in Canada.  Wow, it has really gone by fast.  I still have more to see though and am looking forward to my last two weeks in South America!!!