Our second destination in India was Goa, known as the original hippie town, attracting backpackers since the end of the 1960s. A perfect place to relax and “take it easy”. Although the atmosphere of spirituality, smoking pot around the campfire and full moon parties was still there, it also felt like a place overwhelmed by decades of mass tourism. The small streets were packed with western travellers, mostly British. The little shops and markets were designed to sell things to these day-trippers and felt less authentic than we might have hoped for. The pubs were offering dishes that didn’t come close to the regional, traditional recipes we had tried in Mumbai. Luckily, our cabin was located on the beach away from the main party street, offering a breath-taking view over blue water waves and white sand.
‘Wolf warning in effect’, read the poster at the start of the Rainforest trail we were about to walk. Supposedly, a pact of wolves was active in the area, showing bold behaviour towards people and dogs. There had been a number of recent attacks and therefore we were given advise on how to act if we were to come eye to eye with a wolf… or wolves. Most importantly, we were told to keep the ‘eye-to-eye’ contact – to not turn around or let alone run away! Then, to step backwards while raising our arms to make ourselves appear larger and let the wolves know who is boss by speaking to them in a loud, impressive voice… something I simply didn’t see myself pulling off. If the wolves would approach us despite these precautions, we were meant to throw sticks and stones at them. The last sentence of the warning poster gave me no peace of mind either: ‘If all else fails, then fight!’.
We woke up early to make our way to Telegraph Cove, a port town on the northern part of Vancouver Island. Here, a boat was waiting for us to take us out on the ocean for a couple of hours. Ever since watching Free Willy, it has been my dream to sail the waters that killer whales call home. The tour guides, who were all marine biologists and researchers, welcomed us and told us what to expect from the upcoming trip. To create more realistic expectations, they explained that there had been no sightings of orcas for a while now, but that we were likely to spot some sea lions and dolphins. I was worried, as this would be our one and only chance to see orcas – we would soon leave Victoria Island and travel away from the coast, deeper into British Columbia. Then, just ten minutes after the boat’s departure, the captain received a signal from one of the fishing boats out on the ocean…
Many of you probably know the concept of home-exchanges through the movie ‘The Holiday’, where Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz decide to swap places: a little cottage in England for a mansion in the USA. This movie happens to be my favourite feel-good movie of all time, and it’s the way my mum and I have been traveling for many years. I love to explore the world by exchanging homes, because you get to ‘live’ somewhere and feel less like a tourist, save a lot of money and often get really great insider tips as a nice bonus! Among many places, we have stayed in a massive house in San Francisco of a former Harvard University law student, a gay couple’s flat in New York, and a large farm in England. Now, we are in Brazil for the next 2.5 weeks living in a house with a swimming pool at a peninsula’s coastline.
I always knew that one day or another, I would move to Canada. When I was as young as 4 years of age- or I should better say as far as my memory goes back – I remember telling everyone over and over again that I would one day live in this country. Six months ago, at the age of 22, I finally went and did it: I made the move to Montréal together with my boyfriend. My time here has been a wonderful experience and absolutely met my expectations (see, the 10 things I will miss most about living in Montreal). However, I have also missed Europe and started to appreciate certain things about it more. In this blog, I will name a few of these things. Also, in this blog post I am holding my first giveaway contest! More info about this at the bottom of the page.
In less than a month, I will be returning to my home country, the Netherlands. Therefore, this is a recap of the 10 things I will miss the most about living in Montréal.
10) My favourite hotspot: the anti-café. This is a place where you pay per minute, rather than per drink. What this means is that you pay 3 dollars for the first hour you are there, and 2 dollars for the following hours (with a maximum of 9$). Basically, during your time at this cafe you can consume as many cups of tea and coffee as you would like, in addition to having unlimited cookies and snacks. If you know me, you know that I drink a crazy amount of tea every day and that I hope to have a huge tea corner in my future dream house. Therefore, this place completely suits me.
My boyfriend and I visited Boston a while back, and of course, being in Boston one cannot miss out on visiting America’s first institution of higher education: Harvard University, where we took a 2-hour walking tour around the prestigious campus. Visiting Harvard really interested me, as I was very aware of the fact that Harvard is ranked as the best university in the world and has been the home of many of history’s important individuals, from US presidents to the founder of Facebook. To go back to university, specifically the idea of studying among the intellectual elite of the world, is something I very much desire. Unfortunately, for many of us, Harvard is but a dream.
A few months ago, I moved to Canada to do an internship for an organisation called Big Brothers Big Sisters. Many people have asked me what BBBS is about, and my answer usually was `We provide children with a positive role-model. ` However, I wasn`t fully aware of either the meaning or importance of this at the time nor of the actual role of a mentor. What does `being a Big Brother or Sister` entail? How do they make a difference? Over time, I have learned a lot about the positive effects our volunteers have on the children in our programmes. Mentoring not only helps children, but helps their parents as well. Additionally, many volunteers feel that they benefit from the experience themselves too. Let me tell you more about the insights I have gained from my time at BBBS.
Today was quite possibly the most beautiful day of my life in terms of natural scenery. My boyfriend and I visited the Montmorency Falls just outside of Old Quebec City to get a taste of the Indian Summer. Not all the trees had turned red yet, however, it was the perfect time to see the transition in colours between the seasons. The forest was filled with different shades of green, yellow, orange and red. This blog is full of pictures, my favorite one being the one above… as green fades into yellow fades into red.
My brother is visiting me in Montréal. He told me beforehand that I shouldn’t plan any activities on the first Friday of him being here, as he had a surprise in mind. Turns out, he arranged for us to go bungee jumping and zip lining! This was his birthday present to me, as it has sort of become a tradition for us to do something for our birthdays that we can tick off of our bucket list. In the past we’ve been skydiving, go-karting and water-skiing, but this has been by far the scariest activity yet!