Hey gang, here’s week two of my BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel round-up. If you’re unfamiliar with what they’re doing, they give you a prompt each day, and you interpret it to your liking. It’s supposed to be daily throughout the month of November, but I’m doing weekly round-ups instead. I’m a rebel.
Prompt #5: KINDNESS
One of the greatest joys of travel can be the random acts of kindness you’ll receive from total strangers. Have you ever found kindness from strangers in unexpected places?
Nothing stands out in my mind in particular, but I remember being shocked by the kindness and friendliness of New Yorkers. The whole city emits one of those “I’m so happy to be here” vibes, and the only jerks I encountered were the assholes on the Brooklyn Bridge bike lane. When Cailin developed an allergic reaction to something, and her leg broke out in welts, we boarded the subway to make our way back to the hotel and a lady overheard our conversation. She was super concerned and sympathetic, and encouraged Cailin to go get it checked out. Nothing big, but for some reason she crosses my mind from time to time.
Prompt #6: FEAR
Just as travel can be fun and exciting, it can also have its challenging, or even downright scary, moments. Being in a new place pushes us out of our comfort zone and makes us face our fears. Tell about a time you had to face your fear when traveling, and what was the result.
I face my fears every time I get on a goddamned plane, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Each time I’m sure the flight will be my last, and I end up on solid ground with wobbly legs and sweat dripping from my forehead. Beer helps.
But I assume this isn’t the story people want to hear, so this past summer I tackled my fear of heights and went rock climbing twice in British Columbia. Actually, I’m not even sure if I’m afraid of heights—it’s not the dizzying effect that gets to me, it’s the lack of control if I fall. The result was “pride.” I doubt I’ll make a career out of rock climbing, but damn, at least I did it.
Prompt #7: CELEBRATE
Joining in a local festival, holiday or special event is a great way to learn more about a local culture. Share the story of a celebration that meant something to you on your travels.
When the Vancouver Canucks won the fourth (?) game in the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, the ensuing celebration was my favourite moment on my entire cross Canada trip. It was the kind of Canadian pride I don’t see often in Newfoundland, with the city core being packed with people celebrating, strangers high-fiving in the street, revellers funnelling straight whiskey through horns, and total, 100% happiness and elation. I think I understood hockey at that point.
Prompt #8: LOVE LEARNING
Travel and learning go hand in hand. Travel teaches us not only about the world and the people in it, but also more about ourselves and our own ideas and values. What has travel taught you this year?
Travel has taught me to pay attention to the details, to push my limits, to appreciate the beauty in people and the world. Consequently, travel has been an agonizing experience, like a drug where I simply cannot be happy unless I’m planning my next trip. I’ve also learned to love Newfoundland on a different level.
I also learned beer pong, which is a pretty essential skill, I think.
Prompt #9: One Day
Travel helps us better appreciate the present moment instead of always looking to the next thing. Describe one perfect day you had while traveling this year. Where were you? What were you doing? And what made it perfect?
Holy crap, here’s another example from Vancouver.
This just happened after I found out I wouldn’t be going to Vancouver Island and I had dished out over $300 to postpone my flight, all for nothing. Then my friend Dawne swooped in and invited me to stay with her in Burnaby, where she took care of me like my mother and gave me a little insider’s perspective to the area. There was this one day where we walked around the Stanley Park Seawall, I dipped my toes in the Pacific for the first time, saw the city from a different angle, watched a beluga and dolphin show at the aquarium, ate the world’s best sushi for $9 and then went to an ice-cream shop with over 200 flavours.
That evening, Dawne took me to Cloud 9, a revolving restaurant on top of a skyscraper, and we watched the sun set over the city and the ocean. I was so happy that things had gone wrong, otherwise I would never have had those moments.
Prompt #10: EARTH
At what point in your travels have you felt most in tune with the Earth? Share a story of how you interacted with the local environment or nature.
I’ve lived in Newfoundland my whole life, but this summer’s trip to Gros Morne for the Writers Festival might have changed my life. I am a rural girl at heart, and nothing inspires me like mountains, oceans, beaches, and natural life. Things that were put here beyond our control.
I remember sitting on the Zodiac in Trout River Pond, watching the clouds casting mottled shadows over the Tablelands, and thinking, I’d never be lonely in a place like this. I remember being on the Water Taxi enroute to Norris Point with my head tipped back to take in the stars with the smell of salt water all around me and thinking this doesn’t happen in the city. I’ll come back here to live someday.
Prompt #11: FEAST
For some of us, food isn’t just a part of our travels, it’s the reason why we travel. Whether you travel the globe to try new foods and use food to form a deeper connection with the culture or just eat to live, food plays a big part in the travel experience. Share a food-related story from your travels or describe your best meal.
My most memorable meal experience was not a good one.
My girlfriends and I were staying at a 5-star resort in Mexico. We decided to dress up for one of our final meals together, then hit up the discotheque for a night of fun. We were well into the booze and food at our restaurant when my friend Kerri put down her fork and said very calmly, “There’s a maggot in my food.”
I suddenly felt hammered, like I couldn’t control my head from whirling. We sat there in stunned silence for a couple of minutes before my other friends investigated, arguing whether or not it was indeed a maggot or simply a piece of fat from the steak Kerri was eating. We didn’t say anything to our waiter, who sensed something was up, and I’m not really sure why we didn’t. Perhaps we didn’t wanna cause a scene. Perhaps we felt bad for the poor guy who was gushingly nice to us.
Years later, it came out that it was definitely a maggot, but my friends tried to salvage the situation. So we sucked back more alcohol, got drunk and forgot about our worries. To beer! The cause, and solution, to all life’s problems.
$10 to anyone who can tell me where that quote came from.