Travel Burnout

Travel Burn Out

I didn’t really know why at the time, but I did recognize I was pretty burnout from overdoing the movement and routines of travel. It was a struggle at moments to keep up with the pace of a new city, another bus ride, another day the bag on my back. It’s so cheap to go from city to city these days; it can be so easy to do it all the time.

Arriving at new places, many things to do there, sleeping at hostels maybe far from where you landed, having friends in random neighbourhoods, it was a very ‘always burning energy’ time of my life. And when I arrived in a city, I was never there to rest or take it easy. Sometimes I would consider easy days, but when I settle in, view the sights on the tour pamphlets, talk to people about places, I’d get reignited to go again. That’s also a challenge to only being in a city for a couple days. To do the things you wish to do, you have to be moving and a rest day takes away from half your trip in that city.

To do: the hike, church, café, old bar, cute park walk, small town, big city walking tour, etc.

My entire life at the time revolved around seeing things outside of me and talking with people. It was a pretty addictive and enjoyable experience. I suppose I was on longer trips then others. I was rarely around people who could relate to the fatigue and duration of the trip. Surrounded by people who are only away from home for a few weeks, in a city for only a few days, no wonder they are bursting with energy.

I enjoyed meeting people while traveling, and seeing the cities with them for the feeling of community, experiences, and memories made. I think as well hostels weren’t the most conducive place to really relax and take it easy. Of course I could have not gone out and just enjoyed myself in the hostel, cook a dinner, watch a movie and let it be. It just felt so uninspiring, aimless. I traveled half way around the world for that? Fair point. But I didn’t travel half way around the world to feel drained and trying to keep up with an infinite amount of options and places. The concept of a good balance at that time was clearly something I was not excelling incredibly at. I felt estranged to doing nothing and waiting during the time. The momentum and resilience I had on day one was different then what it felt like after countless days, but I still tapped into it almost every day on the trip

I felt guilty being there and not doing the sights, and it was exciting, so I kept going. I could have said “Ok, you’ve seen a lot, it’s not a failure to rest and give it a day, let it go a bit, take a chill’.

Less is more may of helped, but really less is less and more is more in some cases. And I was betting this was one of them.

So there I am, traveling too much and resting too little, that’s this blog post in a nutshell

Traveling wasn’t building community, it was witnessing others communities. The health they buy in the markets they visited, their nest of a home, security of a job, partners they build lives with. Travel was a sacrifice of many of these things to see it in others.

Being far from friends and family, it was easy to be completely immersed wherever I went.  At times we think I’m not enjoying this and it makes no sense why. Too much pride fueled me in those days. The trip of a lifetime, those headlines and labels id create would make changing course from it that much harder.  It all felt like too worthy of a mission to slow down on. The very idea of taking a break felt too far at the time, I was too inspired and elated in all the new places I went.

Was I running away? Maybe, I was pretty stoked about going but maybe that’s something to consider. It was a wonderful time that I didn’t want to end. But I craved going immensely. The part that sticks out to me was there was this sort of have to go mentality. I wouldn’t allow myself not to go. I would think about it constantly. Maybe abit obsessive about how cool the trip would be, the potential of it, how much I would see.

Something, somewhere, gets on your mind, and one becomes impassioned about it. Even if it was off your mind forever up until then.

Perhaps those are the blind spots in the psyche of these times. The attitude of go, go, go, and never having a slowdown button. Maybe it’s just young people energy, our ability to see more than ever, further than ever, quicker than ever. The burnout that is a side effect of any rushing, overdoing, mentality. Of having too much and never enough simultaneously. The universes fatigue from speeding up, expanding, making new connections. The battle between what’s new and what it’s replacing.

And there was the inner realization. The excitement about going versus the reality of being there and feeling exhausted, savings drained, missing friends, missing home. Clearly the long term travel was something I wanted to do, more then come home, more than a day of rest, at the time. I had moments I wanted to come back, but turns out not enough. There was still a lot to see and experience.

Just buy the flight and happiness will follow, but by the year mark I was done. Even the 3 month mark, 6 month mark – it’s a lot of work living from a bag, in a new city with a new language, with traveler rights rather than citizen rights. I’d say as long as I’m in the place, everything will sort itself out. Clearly by this post not everything sorted itself out, but I’m here learning, and reflecting that some challenging days doesn’t take away from the good exciting ones.

Burned out in Paris? Watch a French movie. Read a good book about the city. Or cook a French meal. Pull some Tarot cards. Who knows. Something other than sightsee, then crowds, standing in lines and waiting at bus stops. Maybe that’s the new way.

I feel lighthearted now as my life is a lot easier then it was traveling like that. Traveling is simple, for sure. There’s an ease nowadays. I’m making money, got my home, things are cute and easy in that way. There’s a slight fear that it’s cyclical and before I know it a new burnout will happen again in its own way. Things are good now, and maybe extremism slips into all our lives at certain times. Could I do another big trip and lose my balance. Sure. I’ll write another post about it when I do. Maybe this post will be the little reminder if I feel I am. To take it easy…

It can feel hard to default to rest in times full of amazing things. But isn’t an amazing thing a wholesome thing. Isnt the amazing part that its nurturing, brilliant, fun, exciting, wild intertwined? Is that an illusion, like a city that has everything? Beach, mountains, tropics, never rains. There is no perfect city, but there are cities perfect for certain peoples tastes. No city can make everyone happy, but we all can find pieces we like and admire from each, and settle in the one that perhaps fulfills most of those desires for us.

The paradox of feeling drained in the place you came to come alive. So I felt it, good lesson. Who knows? Maybe there is a tinge of that, a lack of patience to really feel it. I’m not expressing how that Adam truly felt, I’m expressing how this Adam feels about it. Whole different experience. Right now it feels light, because I feel light. But when I felt emotional about it, it was a much more challenging experience. I’m not sure if I’m giving it credit it deserves. Maybe I need to touch on it. Maybe I don’t. Who knows. But talking about it is the beginning.

Has anyone else ever felt this? Travel burnout? There’s a decent amount written about it on the internet. It’s a new age subject I imagine, with all these digital nomads and long term travel ambitions of the world. Hit me up if you ever are going through it, love to help and talk about it.

Cheers and love!

Adam

 

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Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii

Historically, Haida Gwaii was called Xhaaidlagha Gwaayaai by the natives which translates into “Islands at the Boundary of the World”.

 

 

 

When my flight arrived in Haida Gwaii, it was a bit of a distance to the town I was going to, so I hitched a ride. The driver who drove me used to work on Deadman’s Island in Stanley Park for many years. For those who don’t know it’s a small island close to downtown Vancouver where those with smallpox were quarantined over a hundred years ago. He was telling me eerie stories and histories even before the smallpox time about the place during our drive.

Our chat transitioned from that grim topic. He said an interesting statement as our ride commenced. “You didn’t choose Haida Gwaii, Haida Gwaii chose you. This is a very spiritual place and you didn’t arrive by accident.”

Once I arrived at the town of Queen Charlotte I did alittle hike on a nearby island to pass the time. I was waiting for someone to get off work because we were going to have a dinner afterwords. The first thing I noticed when I arrived here in Haida Gwaii was the eagles. They were everywhere.

I had dinner that night with a local resident who was a librarian. She shared stories about the challenges and generation gap people can get as they get to their older years, especially if they are retired. Her name is Michelle and she is a couchsurfing host who gets to meet a lot of young travelers from all over and share stories and memories.

 

I spent 4 days in this town, went to the local coffee shop, did day hikes, visited the local museum, and helped a friend make cinnamon buns! I did a day trip to the south of Haida Gwaii were a group of us went to an island called Skedans (Haida Gwaii is an archipelago, a collection of hundreds of small islands). This historic Haida village had over 40 totem poles during its day. The Haida primarily had villages close to the water as they were typically traveling by canoes. The relied heavily on the ocean for their food source, and were trading with local tribes regularly. Below is a historic photo of the village.

It now is nearly deserted of totem poles. Museums and collectors raided them when they had the chance, aswell some have naturally decayed. There’s a big wave of repatriation happening on Haida Gwaii today. Artifacts, old burial boxes, totem poles, clothing, are among some of the many things the Haida people are working to get what was created on their land returned to their land. The creations were made for ceremony and family, rather than museums and private collectors.

You can see in this photo above that there are no trees growing in the settlement. The Haida would remove all of them to make the totem poles very visible. When you go today you see trees now cover the land.

 

This is that location up close today.

 

This is the view facing the water from the beach of Skedans.

Haida Gwaii had (and still has) a huge lumber industry, probably one of the main centre focuses of all its resources. During European contact, Sea Otter pellets were really prized. Gold mines on the island were also sought after creating a gold rush, and canneries for fish were booming later as the island was settled. There is a lot of abandoned equipment on the island. Old machinery they used to move trees to the mill. They even used to have a railroad. All abandoned and falling apart.

 

The tour guide taught us that during WW2 some planes began to be made out of the Spruce Tree from Haida Gwaii. The tour guide highlighted one word – regression. From wood to metal in aviation felt like advancement. To make planes from wood felt like a step back in time, and many doubted the idea before it ever began. Yet it was lighter and faster than many expected, and was a big success. This idea of regression really struck me. Herbal medicine compared to modern medicine feels like a regression. Leaving a progressive city to move to a small town feels like a regression. Going from a well payed job to less paying job that fulfills you in other ways can also be argued like a regression. It’s these perceptions that keep us stuck in our ways. Afraid to experiment and let the results speak for themselves. Many people argued how moving to the island was a step forward, rather than a step back. No commuting, cheaper rents, more nature time, and they were now big fishes in small ponds of their niches. From the outside it looks like a step back, but some people have really moved forward in their lives by moving there.

The Haida people have many superstitions. It fascinates me these stories as they are very personal to the group where it is true. And I find our modern day to be superstitious as well. If there is one ticket left to an event we are thinking of going to then ‘it’s a sign’. At 11:11 we feel lucky. Shooting stars and make a wish, on your birthday too when you blow out the cake. We say the universe is helping us, supporting us, ‘guiding’ us. In Haida culture, when you are carving a canoe, if someone dies during the carving it is considered an omen to abandon the carving and not use that tree. There would be half carved out trees remaining scattered through the land back in the day. These canoes would be transporting 50 of your strongest and most capable men long distances, any reason to doubt its capabilities had to be addressed. I learned as well that when Haida people use the Cedar tree to weave hats for example, they would only strip a very thin amount, and never on the side of the tree where people would see. Apparently it would be shameful to do so.

The Haida host many Potlach’s. It was a sign of wealth to host them, and was a huge festival of food and giving, sometimes lasting multiple days. Raising a pole, a death, a birth, celebrating a chief or an important moment were all reasons to throw a Potlach. You were judged in these events by how much one could give away. The chiefs of the villages would host these Potlach’s and when a chief died, a pole would be erected for him that would display how many potlaches he hosted. Each ring on a totem pole like the one below show how many Potlaches that chief had.

 

 

Following my time in the southern part of the island I migrated to the middle of the island, a whopping maybe 45 minutes away. I hitch hiked to a music festival which was playing there. It was great to see some phenomenal music in contrast to such a deserted, under developed island in Mid-Northern Canada. The festival had tons of amazing bands and rappers. It was an incredible experience.

The festival closed with a Haida drum circle. They sang a song for the woman, then one for the men, then one for the babies, and then one for the children. They had a song about discovering the gift you had inside you. I really loved that message. My current focus these days are questions like that. How is my time here helping the ‘whole’? Should I be working, going to school, seeing my sister, grandma, mom, etc? Asking myself if I am really doing what is of true value for the world. The host ended the ceremony by saying everyone is here at the festival for a reason. That was a calming (slightly dramatic) statement to me after feeling what I was feeling. I suppose I’m exploring, maybe that’s the reason. It can feel hard to gauge the value of these trips in the long term. Sure I felt happy, maybe that’s the only metric that should count.  It was a nice indulgence that ended on Sunday as I made my way to a hostel for two nights. The next morning I journeyed to the northern part of the island.

The Haida wish to have trees to carve 1000 years from now. They are planning today for the old growths for their lineage next millennia. One issue they are having is that deer keep eating the shrubs of the new trees that grow. Deer is an invasive species (aka an introduced species that now lives without any predator) and it is eating all their medicinal plants. The seeds for these trees are underground, waiting to grow, but the beginning of the plant gets immediately eaten.  Fenced off areas are trying to protect the plants and trees from deer’s. The seeds are literally dormant, waiting under the ground, for their day to become a tree.

I hitched up to the North next.

Standing on the Northern beaches that morning, seeing Alaska in the distance, and the nothingness but giant amounts of ocean and sky, was profound. It felt so sacred in the moment, and it was so impulsive. It was a spontaneous “I’ll go to Haida Gwaii” which brought me here. It was a “Sure, let’s visit the Northern part” attitude. All this easy going direction led to a really glorious conclusion. I sat down abit and reflected on it all.

 

When middle of nowhere
stats to feel familiar
its glorious
its scary
Foreign and love
Medicinal and inedible
Heaven like, it has an area code
clouds and rainbows
Whys this rare?
There no gate keeper
The doors are wide open
Yet there’s no one in line for it
the best things in life
are out there
unconsidered
under our radar
In
this life
this incarnation
this generation
this economy and circumstance
can do it.
Beauty is hope.
Hope is sacred.
It too is volatile.
Heaven is held by a thread.
It’s that delicate
the mountains and oceans are strong, they will last.
The observer is actually the one hanging by the thread. Me. Us.
Not this place.
Moments like this are the flowers boldest days, its richest time.
I am the garden, full of life, and am the seasons, full of come and go. Travel is seasons.
The burst of experience, the rest after the finish. Moving freely, wildly, lightly tip toeing here.
Like a dancer, floating as I walk. The clothes to keep me grounded. Immersed in space, alive again.
Nature is a tarot card. Today you are free, my today last forever. Even still, id gift it to tomorrow. Voluntarily change and accept to pull my flag and sell the cloth and wood to feed us. It feels just as human. Thanks glory, let’s go back to reality. To the city. I’ll bring you. Hold you. Cherish and honour you. I respect you belong here. That’s true. Ill bid my Namaste to you. I am the camera validating this is real. Yet no picture can capture this. But I’m your selfie; I’m
your creative expression. 

 

After sitting and writing, my next goal was a small mountain top on the far corner of the island. It was a bit less busy on this road, and the first truck that drives by me is carrying the group who I did my first tour with in the south. What an interconnected moment! They picked me up and we explored the north together with a guide. Life has so many hidden doors, but doors don’t come to you, you have to be moving to find them. I never imagined waking up that morning, reconnecting to the group from days ago, now driving on the beach with a guide on this distant island. It all felt so meant to be. The invisible force weaving everything together. It felt like a reward for trying, for risking, for putting myself out there. There’s a quote I love that encompasses this. It goes something like “Start moving so I may start blessing”.

I felt really lucky the way it all worked. I separated from the group after our hike up the small mountain/hill and began making my way to the older village in Northern Haida Gwaii called Masset. They say during pre-contact with Europeans the Haida had around 50,000 people. Post contact when disease like smallpox spread, the numbers dropped to as low as 600. These few hundred people conjugated into two places on the island, one in the north and the other in the south. One of these was Masset.

 

Haida being an oral tradition of storytelling and history suddenly lost a lot of its wisdom and records. There were no elders to turn to especially as they were dying that fast. As well, Potlaches became banned, and public schools became introduced. Haida is a very visual culture. The word art does not exist in their language. Everything was art, it was inseparable. Nothing existed without it. When these laws and rules were forced upon them, a lot of the visual references they relied on were gone. Aswell the upheaval of their culture from those taking their cultural artifacts, as mentioned before, made their roots appear less and less noticeable. I see how the Haida animals and drawings on water bottles, mugs, and hats for example puts the symbols back into the world, and out of hiding.

Masset had some totem poles which were great to see, and a very nice ocean town with tons of smiling faces.

I hitch hiked almost entirely on this trip. There were gaps during some rides, and one point of the hitch hiking took a long time to get picked up. Only once, but it did happen, funny enough at a location which had a thumb for hitchhiking.

 

 

There were a lot of commonalities shared by the locals. Everyone has a reason for visiting the island. A friend invited them, a story they heard about it from someone, or short work stint. Usually they were already settled somewhere else when they visited, but the island summoned a feeling in them they couldn’t resist, and they moved there shortly after. Come for one reason, and stay for another.

Ofcourse I was not picked up by those who visited this island once and never again, so there stories are silent.

 

Trips can be very individualistic and one of a kind. I couldn’t repeat that journey in any way. The destinations yes. But the people along the way are always new. Each ride contained stories. I met a judge, tour guides, people from Germany, Vancouver, tons of locals, and got to really hear so much about people’s lives. It felt so honest and connecting. It was those pieces that were harder to predict. I planned to see sights, but the side bonuses were these awesome connections.

 

So why did this place choose me, as the first person I met on the island said. Who knows? I was thinking that when I was about to fly back to Vancouver. I had a lot of awareness that some things don’t make sense in the short term, but in the long term. We judge things so quickly and impulsively that we don’t give them enough time to come full circle. On my last day I did a hike called Spirit Lake. Just the intention of calling a lake that says so much. The story had to do with a supernatural being that lived there.

In the Haida language Haawa means thank you.

Haawa Haida Gwaii for the stories and memories! ❤

 

 

 

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Where bodies burn, the Buddha was born, and the top of the world exists.

 

Where bodies burn, the Buddha was born, and the top of the world exists.

Varanasi, Lumbini, and The Himalayas

I took a 27 hour train ride (it was delayed so technically longer) to get from Mumbai to Varanasi. All I knew of this city is that it was a holy city to Hindu’s. It is a place in their religion where being cremated is of sacred importance and value. It had this Middle Eastern feel in some ways. It was beating hot, and the concrete felt faded by sun. There wasn’t much nature life around, and it was very busy with traffic and people. In its own unique way it reminded me of Jerusalem as historic, desert climate, and religious significance.

Life and death I suppose is my caption of this city. Where death is open and revealed. Perhaps too, the lessons? I wondered that while I was in Varanasi. I was so mystified by it all. What would I see? What would I feel? Filling myself with imagination while on the rooftop patio of my hostel. I was going that night to go to where the ceremonies take place. Before that I was reflecting while watching the everyday life on the street below of cricket being played by children. The innocence and moment felt so fragile. Death is an invisible picture, which we confront when dying is close. Here I’m a complete stranger, in a very new place 12 time zones from home. I wondered, is here where I will see the inescapability of black and white, and of how we use story to understand death and passing.

The smells of burning flesh are repulsive, naturally. Pungent odour. Snake charmers and mystic Indians asking for change surround the area. The walk to the ceremony space felt really theatrical, like Hollywood designed this entrance of the ceremony. It was concrete, and very dark. I imagine an Athens atmosphere, these gigantic steps right to the water, and stone architecture everywhere. I was really turned off when there was this dark ring of drug dealers surrounding the ceremony spaces, trying to sell to tourists. What a place to trip…The ceremony’s all took place close to the water.

There are some shamans in this area, extreme Shamans. I’ve heard they get high on weed and eat human flesh. I hope I discover that this was all a story, but I recall some Indians telling me they do exist.

I really didn’t enjoy watching the bodies’ burn. To the family it was a private mourning moment, and to tourists it was a public spectacle. It felt too, disingenuous. I appreciated knowing the families found meaning and reassurance in their act, but found myself disconnected from that. I felt like I was just watching something I had never seen before, like chasing a new experience. It humbled me to not want to go back. To realize less is more here. I have respect for the ceremonies and those that wish to watch, however I felt like an uninvited guest. A passenger intertwining my objectivity with someone elses real emotional heartbreak and struggle. I let the wind fall from my sails and within a few days was gone from the city. I began on my next journey, up to Nepal. Here my goal was to do a trek in the Himalayas. During India I didn’t even know this was possible. We ran into one person who told me about it and it inspired me to do the same. The train was scheduled for around midnight but shown up at almost 4am. Expect the unexpected.

 

It’s a sleeper train and we arrive in a town of the border of India to Nepal. Tourists are swarmed to try to take a cab or taxi. Many people fighting for a few. The border crossing feels very unofficial compared to North American or European standards. Almost like an entrance to an amusement park, accept with passport stamps and high admission prices. I arrived in Nepal, to traffic and chaos. I learned shortly after that the Buddha was born near the border town. I decided to check it out, hence begins my story in the town of Lumbini.

The town is packed with tourist things. Hotels, restaurants, knick knacks for sale. I find a one bedroom, I believe for maybe 10$. What a treat. The palace that once birthed Buddha is now rubble, with parts of it standing. It was a busy place; there were plenty of people, and temples surrounding his.

A journal I wrote while there:

Buddha to me doesn’t represent religion, but instead for me is a symbol of a man who leaves his palace, renounces his wealth, and dedicates his life to discovering the meaning of life and suffering. He, instead of spending his remaining existence living off the taxes of the people, changes his life to make everyone else’s better. His temple today looks very lifeless and ruined. Yet thousands of years later he is all over the world. It would be hard to imagine these fallen stones long ago were a palace. I’ve seen these same stones in Europe and Israel, the story is the only change. This disintegrating palace was a container of dreams, people, lovers, death, passions, arguments, parties, friendships. But all I see is stones. The museum (I think it’s appropriate to call it that) has tons of educational details about Buddha’s upbringing and life. Apparently he was destined for two paths before he was even born. To either be the biggest conqueror ever, or an enlightened individual. His father wanted him to have the biggest empire, so he sheltered him from the outside world. He gave him luxuries, lovers, anything he wanted, to try to get him to follow that path. There is plenty to be read about how Buddha became who he was, and it is a fascinating tale.  We know how history went, and now people pilgrimage to his birthplace as a thank you, as a symbol of unity. A ripple so big it touched every pond. A very old grandma came to the monument with her son. She struggled with much effort to go to the rock he was probably birthed on. Clearly a sacred and dedicated love and fire within her brought her here.

Lumbini fed my curiousity of the Buddha for a night, and then I was on my way to Pokhara, a lake town in Nepal where one assembles before heading to the Himalayas. It was a 10 hour brutal nightmarish bus ride of bumps and twisty turns.

 

Pokhara was very fun town to be a backpacker in. Western food at great prices, beautiful lake to walk, drinking and great weather. Highly recommend this city to anyone ever in the area. I spent a week here just relaxing and getting the necessary gear to do the trip with. It was very exciting to imagine climbing parts of the Himalayas. The treks are made up of small villages, each one where you can get a meal, have a tea, or sleep for the night. The daily costs are relatively low, so it was a great experience to trek without all the camping equipment. The town was packed with people also with a similar agenda. Trekking here is a hugely popular mecca. The trek I did was called the ABC – Annapurna Base Camp. The Base camp is the last settlement before you climb the mountain without services. The lodge is 4,130 Meters above sea level.

I made a few friends at the permit office (anyone wanting to do the trek needs a permit), and we decided to do half the trek together. They were going to a different end destination, but part of the way we shared the same path. The first day was a lot of elevation gain, climbing stairs, and walking along villages. It was so beautiful in so many ways. Idyllic nature, the freedom of a week spent with one goal, get to the end point, and between that enjoy the walk, enjoy the conversations, and the people. Old buildings, cows walking the streets, it was all very scenic. I have had a history of back pain and carrying the bag with me daily was starting to trigger it, I believe even from day one. I was very committed to trying to continue the hike, and tried to go slow, with my trekking poles, to get it done. I took my leisurely time, doing it in maybe a week to get to the top. To give perspective I believe I met someone who said they were trying to get to the top within 48 hours. So you can do it quick if you wish. One day I was borderline about to give up because of my back pain. I thought I’d give it one more day, and that day I got to the 80% point. I knew once I made it that far that I was in. Reaching the top, the snowed lodge, was incredibly invigorating. The story of my back pain amplified the emotions, it made everything relatively more challenging, so to finish despite that was a big win for me. It was a feeling of glory, accomplishment, a clear goal and a clear finish. I enjoyed that moment tremendously.

The walk down was drawn out in a way. Felt long, but there was a hot spring along the way. A nice recovery which all the hikers bathed in to calm the muscles and soreness of the long trek. I think in total I did 10 days on this hike. Something in that range. It was incredible some little details of it all. I remember weed was growing everywhere there, locals trying to sell you fresh grown Himalaya weed. Death of animals was a big theme there. One of the villages I stayed in told me they had a “Puja”, which I believe translates to prayer or ceremony. The Village had a successful year so they sacrificed chickens for a feast. There was this white temple with blood on the walls and in puddles from all the chickens slaughtered. Felt weird, to intertwine celebration with that visual. To think ones celebration is another’s devastation. In the same town I saw goats which were recently slaughtered. They were cleaning the meat, and it felt extremely local, yet tough to watch. The reality of it all was very intense here. This was as local as things get, yet even that was hard to watch, hard to feel at peace with. If I can’t feel easy about that, then what can I feel easy about? Maybe the chickens were old, who knows. I just feel it’s an emotion that’s tough to sit with head on. It’s only confronted as a by-product. I ‘happened’ to see this, rather then chose. Yet it stirred me and left a memory. All I was seeing was what happens behind closed doors here. Hard to think, incomprehendable the scale.

Pokhara was a nice leisure experience when I got back from my ten day trek. I just relaxed a few days, made some friends and tried to enjoy the relaxing lifestyle there. Afterword I made my way to Katmandu by bus. My flight was from Katmandu to India, where I would then head back to Europe. The bus rides are terrible. Utterly an awful experience. The roads are bumpy as can be, there are no washrooms on board, so you have to adapt to the rhythm of the crowd. And the food is so spicy and foreign so you don’t want to eat too much incase you get sick. Stomach sickness mixed with road sickness is not unexpected. I managed by not eating much and just watching the road the entire time, but it is a challenge rather than a trip.

Katmandu has this industrial theme to it that is such a polarity to the nature of Nepal. The country people are so friendly and smiling, and I found the city to be a bit of a money first mentality. People begging to drive you, sell you, wanting you to eat at their restaurant. Tourists were chased there. It felt uncomfortable. I did a small hike here with a Nepali friend I made in Pokhara and that was lovely. Going with a local to an off the beaten track place felt great. I felt really relaxed and happy to have a companion who knew the culture and language. We got along great and had an awesome time. In Nepal I must have done 4 small overnight hikes, and they were all very lovely and scenic. It reminded me of that Vancouver lifestyle, the outdoors and the nature revolving around our experiences.

It was a headache to go back to India. You can’t just fly into India, that would be crazy. No, you have to buy a visa just to fly to India, even if you have a flight out in a few days. I’m exadurating abit, it just was unexpected to me, that’s all, and took a few days to get the visa. I eventually got back to India with one day left. I met up with a friend there who also was flying out the next day. We went for dinner and talked and enjoyed our last day in India. All the memories there with my dad, in Goa, Taj Mahal, in Delhi, and Dharmashala, which is where the Dali Lama resides. It was all an epic 3 months. It was the first real taste of culture shock. Europe was people living my life in different ways. We’d generally eat the same, like the same music, pursuing same jobs, and didn’t have much difference in some ways. India was a new level of exploration. And Nepal, just the gorgeous nature was so achievable to be witnessed. I loved that. I hope to come back one day, to trek again in Nepal, and enjoy the wild craziness that is India. All the colours, foods, scents. It was all so decorative and creative. A funny note, in an Indian restaurant there are endless choices, yet in Nepal there is usually a traditional dish that all the people eat. It’s called Dal Bhat – a vegetarian mix of rice, lentils, some salad, and maybe little curry. It was eaten perhaps twice a day by nearly every Nepali person I met, every single day. It was unbelievable the consistency of that habit for them. Truly local and truly self-sustaining. Good for them. Thank you India and Nepal, and my dad for beginning the entire experience. Many good memories and many dreams of returning.

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Paris

I visit Paris twice on my trip, for 2 days and then for 2 weeks. On my 2 days there I made a friend and we stayed together for the 2 days. We explored, walked the city, viewed statues and monuments, and spent lots of time together. I was en route to Spain after those 2 days, where I volunteered for my month and a half. As well, after Spain I visited Morocco for a week. I flew back to Paris to spend 2 weeks with the friend I made. We walked the Paris streets, going to cafes, having croissants and baguettes, buying wine and cheeses, visiting galleries, vintage shops, and admiring the buildings and old heroes of Paris. I reflect back on the time as romantic in that sense. Very typical European time. As well we visited The Catacombs, an under the city gravesite of 1000’s of skeletons, arranged architecturally for storage and design. It was a startling experience and hard to really comprehend all that truly was in that moment. Will I one day be a skeleton piece on a wall under the city 500 years from now?

Paris is known as a city of love, yet had a sort of surprising energy in the people. I feel like it was hard to understand at times, living in the land of history and accomplishment, yet feeling like the times today are troubled, somber, unpassionate, and challenging. The poverty, the well-off people, tourists, it was a melting pot, but still finding its balance. Visiting the amazing churches was an extraordinary experience. Getting to see the life of people hundreds of years ago, it felt so huge and massive for the times. I was staying in Montparnasse which was frequented during the early 1900’s by the famous writers of the times. The dynamics of WW1 finishing led to a surge of life energy in some people of that time. It was great to walk into the old cafes and old neighborhoods of these creatives. It felt really romantic to be writing journals while being in these same places. It was amazing the fact that so many of these places were busy purely because there was historical events there many years ago, so a great source of business today.

I was in Paris for two weeks and then moved on to India to travel abit with my dad. It was a surreal time to find out I was going to India. It was a total unexpected moment in my trip, and filled me with a lot of wonder. I recall thinking I will have much more of an appreciation for the culture, the food, and the people after spending time learning about them in India. I was really looking forward to that.

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Lan Jaron – A small town in South of Spain

I was in Spain for around a month and a half. I landed in Barcelona from Paris by bus after a fun weekend in Paris. I stayed at a friends in Barcelona for a few nights, enjoying the architecture, beach, and warm weather. It was an exciting city with a hustle and bustle. I was on my way to volunteer with a family in Andalucia in the South of Spain. I was with this family for one week and it was my only real plan up to that point. The family knew of a friend in a nearby town called Lan Jaron, which sits on the edge of Sierra Nevada. This takes place there.

I went and volunteered for a month in Lan Jaron. I got there just before Christmas, and was looking for people to share the holidays with. The property had olives, oranges, limes, cactus, and many bnb rooms. It was freezing by night and hot by day in the middle of winter. Among volunteers were Europeans. There was one other German girl around my age, and the rest were in their 40’s and 50’s. One was named Vulker. He was a German, who had done a lot of life exploration to that point. He listed the psychedelics he’s done, and the astonishing things he plans to do. For example, there is a place in Europe where you can go into a pitch black room for weeks and be alone just with your thoughts, which I believe he has done now.

The mountains and nature were gorgeous here. I was just in freezing Paris, and now I’m hiking every day after my volunteering, which finishes around 2. I would climb the mountain areas, or go into the small town of Lan Jaron. To Spain, Lan Jaron is known as the town of water. It has a constant flow of glacial water pouring in from Sierra Nevada above. The property I was on was always having this fresh moving water moving through there. The Spanish culture here at times was not so romantic. Dogs were left outside on properties, usually hungry and mistreated to breed more ferociousness into them. I don’t think animal rights people would find those southern towns very peaceful. I remember the next door neighbour bringing in a rifle to shoot some of his chickens. He just started shooting them right in the chicken coup. Was sad to hear the panics…

This small town was my home base for a month. I got to write a lot and see some surrounding villages. There was a hippie town next door, which was sort of like a small festival constantly. It was great hiking to there and beautiful seeing new parts of the world.

I reflect on my journal written at that time, and I find myself so introspective. Always planning the next trip. The Europe trip in general was always a step ahead, rarely a moment of presence long endured. The fomo was very intense, and everywhere around me was new cities, new places. All different manifestations of that same romantic feeling.

It was nice to have somewhere to spend Christmas and New Years. I got to spend so much time reflecting and appreciating the gorgeous view from the property, looking out to the giant mountain cliff across the horizon. I began to think of the mountains and all the symbolism they embody. I tried to write down some notes I reflected on that day below:

  • Nature doesn’t have New Years, it’s a human concept. Sure the mountain has gone around the Sun one more time, but its meaningless to it. That made that New Year’s feel less important to me. Ill celebrate the warmth of the day, every plant can relate to that feeling. This mountain may have been around for so long, it’s incomprehensible.  A year in my life is a day to a mountain. Such a titan of strength and endurance, so profound to truly imagine.
  • It takes focus to climb a mountain. It takes everyday having the same goal. It takes many days to climb, and one moment to quit. Consistency is so essential. I wondered if this mountain was an overnight success. Was it a flat piece of land and one earth quake shifted it all. Or has it slowly been on the rise, day by day, for hundreds of thousands of years. And nature is such a brilliant architect. It made the gorgeous, long lasting mountain of beauty on its own. Even if humans were never here to witness it, it would be here. Amazing to think the eye of the creator and the eye of man both find the same things beautiful.
  • A mountain is a symbol of solidarity. It can’t change or be in denial that it is a mountain. It can’t be grass, coffee, a mug, a human, cotton, or shoe laces – it’s simply a mountain. Diversity is boundaries. This is a mountain, and that’s its destiny. This timeless, and as still as a monk, piece of nature is so different from up close then from far. From far it is a beautiful symbol of growth, of the climb and work needed to go from the bottom to the mountain top. From close, it’s a home for plants, habitats, and a rough and misshapen terrain. Colourful, alive, what you see in the mountain depends on where you view it from. It’s a completely different experience a meter a way or a kilometer. If mankind falls in a future this mountain wont, it will be safe. The moment I was thinking and writing these things I also thought about respect. Learn from what you respect. Not what forces you to learn, guilt’s you to learn, or what orders you around. Follow what you respect, and you’ll open your heart.
  • Truths can contradict. Snow and fire both exist, and both are right. Under certain circumstances, truths change. Water is a liquid in certain environments, and a different state in others. To know ones truth you must know ones circumstances. Water is a product of its environment. It doesn’t choose to be frozen or liquid, its environment dictates it.

Although I really enjoyed my time volunteering on this farm, I had some inner conflict. I didn’t come to Europe to be on a farm. I could have done that back home. It was nice to be healthy, save money, but I also felt I wasn’t honestly following through with the reason to come all these 1000’s of miles. It didn’t feel like Europe. I came for a dream, and this started to feel too close to everyday life. Dreams of cobblestone streets, cafes, small towns, wine, cheese, bread, history. Chasing these sorts of dreams felt liberating, and I was divided when I wasn’t doing so.

More on this perhaps another time…

 

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Berlin Syndrome.

After traveling Australia I heard so much about Berlin. This hyper cool, progressive, cheap, fun, young central European city. Since coming back from Australia over 5 years ago, I wanted to go desperately. I tried to make my life here in Vancouver work but always felt this sort of force pushing me to a more aligned dream.  It took me many years to finally get the courage to leave and go to Europe. I knew I could go for a few weeks if I wished, but felt a real opportunity to do something larger, and to go for a long time. I remember wanting to get a year working visa for Germany. I had already booked my ticket to Europe and had maybe 3 weeks before takeoff to apply. I was surprised to learn that the Visa for Germany takes around a month to approve, and must be done before leaving. I was sad that because of this a year in Germany for me was not going to happen. I got a Visa for The Netherlands instead since their rules were easier. I knew I wouldn’t stay in Berlin now long term because I couldn’t work, but at least ill experience Europe long term. I landed in Europe in mid October, in Geneva, and within 3 or 4 days was in Berlin. My emotional expectations of the city were very high, after all I’ve heard. When I got there, it was dark, with this heavy industrial feeling. Like getting dropped off on the outskirts of a city. Not the read carpet fireworks my mind imagined. I had a base to go to (a friend of a friend), and began settling in. The emphasis I gave on this city was so strong, and it took me a bit of reprogramming to see it for what it truly is, rather then what I want it to be. In many ways it was a great city. There was so much space, so many buildings, so much young culture, and a more liberal environment. There was an abandoned airport that was now a giant place for people to bike and exercise, as well as just meet. You could smoke and drink in many bars, and beers on the street were totally fine. Not to mention good beers were only a dollar. On the outside it was such a perfect match, yet I don’t know what it was that left me, unenhanced. It hurts to imagine some things that sound too good to be true maybe are. I didn’t stay here long; I think I was in the city for a week. Which is great to see the buildings, but not to actually do all the things it offers. After this point began a nine month journey through Europe, as well as 3 months split between India and Nepal. It was a big lesson for me on over expectations. Of putting too much value on something that maybe isn’t quite capable to fulfill them. Later in my trip I lived in a small town called The Hague in the Netherlands for 3 months. That to me was romantic, and much more individualistic. In Berlin I’m among plenty of other people from all over the world. In The Hague I felt much more special. A Canadian, in a Dutch city other than Amsterdam. I worked at a beach restaurant, and was the only non-Dutch speaker there. I felt cherished for that, rather than a part of the crowd. The irony of this entire experience is I wouldn’t have been confident to choose this experience beforehand. I was open to The Hague because I had to be, it was my only choice after many things weren’t working out. Yet, it turned out really special, and a secret so hidden from my sight months before. It’s so novel that system life uses. Sometimes where you end up can be very unique, and where you thought you wanted to go doesn’t fulfill you like you expected. It’s amazing the unpredictable nature of life. And to think we all go to the Berlins and Vancouver’s, and haven’t ventured off to the plenty of other inviting and embracing places as well. The big cities get so many spotlights. I look at this to myself as “Berlin Syndrome”. Where I dream and set huge expectations for something which isn’t based on my experience, but on others. Who knows, I could go back tomorrow and love it. It’s just ironic the way the cards played in that moment. I like analogies of poker. Sometimes the best hand going in loses in the end. And life is strange for that, but it’s always a possibility.

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Leaving Netherlands [From the archives] Post 1 of 12

On September 11 2017 I left Holland. It was after a 4 months experience in that country, where I had a work visa, a job, and a settled feeling. I first volunteered in a hostel there, and then worked for a beach restaurant on the busy tourist beach Netherlands West Coast, in a town called Scheveningen. It was an exciting, relaxing, more grounded part of my 9 months in Europe. On September 11th I decided to fly to Poland and do some traveling through Eastern Europe. This decision came after working for months in Den Haag (The town I lived in), and ready to continue what I started – seeing the continent. Below is an excerpt that I wrote, that I contemplated. At this point I had 3 weeks left on my trip, and was at this point nearly one year away from Canada, away from home. I feel it gives inspiration to the thoughts going through my mind, the heritage and roots that so many in the world have in Europe, and just the questions I asked in that moment. As well this is my first post among 12 over the next 3 months of delving into my writings and seeing what I find. Enjoy!

“When I was in the plane looking down on Europe I imagined how man has tried to have dominion over this land for millennia. People killing others in the name of tribes. Name of god. Name of peace. Before some of us came to Canada, some of us were from here. Where for me, my roots must be. Perhaps in Poland or Russia. Maybe Sweden. Or somewhere in the Mediterranean.  There’s a certain home about this place. An ancestral home generations and generations ago. Untraceable maybe now. Unfathomable how long back the cord of ancestry goes. Like a past life, a blood line, of all our past lives. Real birth and endless human cycles gave birth to me. I wonder if my ancestors in Europe imagined this. 500-1000-1500-2000-5000 years ago. The newest generation, living on a new continent. Flying. Vacations and long term travel. Inexistent at the times. Maybe my ancestors were simple working class, never leaving their cities, or more accurate their village. And here I am, never staying in a city for long – the irony. How one, on a long enough time line and after enough generations, gave birth to me, and to these times. 7 billion other people all born within the past say 100 years, so much re-creation. So many eyes and varieties get to experience this thing called life. And in our separateness, we are combined, with living in this century with these abilities and these obstacles. We all have cheap travel, and we all have global warming. What seems disconnected is a fight and celebration we all participate in together. What seem like clouds and dark greenish bluish land from this planes eye view, is really are cobblestone villages, medieval towns, modern universities, a detailed-ness hidden from a height so high. The detail is in the cities, is in being on the same level as what you are witnessing. “

 

This was a small excerpt but is mostly about getting the ball rolling on my project.

Reflecting back on this trip today, 2 years later in the summer of 2019, I felt really astounded by the life I was living. Nearly every part of my life was a contradiction from the times long before. Transportation, food, clothing, mixed cultures, credit cards and cell phones. We have evolved so far, it was great to contemplate and see that. Europe to me was a glossy cover. Beautiful landmarks, food, way of life, but Europe had its fair share of dark sides. Its slavery, wars, tortures, inequality, diseases, and poverty made me really aware of the yin and yang of those times, and life in general. We too have our past, each and every one of us. The beautiful things all arose from a world where this existed too. It was really conflicting. How the creation for some of these amazing monuments and wonders were funded by the conquering and killings and various exploitation. I did not go to Europe to learn that but I came back realizing it. That reality made the picture less romantic. I struggled to imagine living in those times. The crusades. The wars between countries, plagues killing millions. I went to see the buildings, meet new people, and learn stories. Incredible that one couldn’t be separated from the other. That its history is intertwined to its losses.

 

 

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