It was an interesting bus – or I should say van ride, over to the small village of Languin. Two spots had thankfully freed up, making it rather comfortable comparable to the other bus we had of the same size, on the way to Tikal. There were 5 of us Total, 10 spots in all, and I somehow managed to snag a whole bench to myself. I’m telling myself it was not because no one wanted to sit with me. Regardless , it made for a super relaxed first 5 hours! It was early when we left, so I slept for most of the morning. I finished my entire litre of water as it was hot inside, and started getting really restless like everyone else, 20 minutes to the eat and stretch stop, and really needing pee at this point. Then suddenly we were held up in bumper to bumper traffic, behind a truck full of overcrowded cattle. Our driver said nothing, not that we would have understood him anyway if he did, and jumped out of the front seat and started up the road on foot. We were confused, hungry, and at this point dancing in our seats because we all had to pee. How long would we be stopped here? Five minutes, twenty? After fifteen minutes of stretching our legs, hanging outside the car, and discussing how confused we all were, the boys decided they would try and find out, while I set out in search for a bathroom. “El Bano?” was the first word in Spanish I had learned, and quite frankly the only word I had actually remembered anyway. There were 2 houses in site, and I thought maybe one would allow me into their home to use their bathroom. I got two “No’s” followed by a lovely offering of cola, and some roadside chicken. The families were actually prepared for the road block and had set up vendors, selling pop, beer, food, ice-cream, anything to make a quick buck. But they wouldn’t sell me the use of their washrooms, or maybe they would have, had I only known a word of Spanish.
I have been very disappointed in myself in terms of the frequency in which I have been writing.. But when you meet such a great group of people you seldom want to spend time alone.
I’d like to say I spent the two weeks trekking and participating in daily adventure seeking excursions, so busy, I barely had time to sleep. But the truth is, on Caye Caulker, I didn’t do much of anything except bond with the 5 most incredible people I could have hoped to meet (and my good buddy Matt of course)!
When your travelling and constantly on the move, it’s hard to find time to sit down and write. Days are long and filled with so much newfound excitement, that its easy to forget to sit down and take a moment to reflect. This morning I was thankful for the rain.
As this trip approached I found that I wasn’t anxious nor apprehensive, as I was on my trip to Thailand. Instead, I welcomed all the possibilities that Central America would have to offer me. Parents were of course lecturing. Adults I find are often scared of the unknown, and spend to much time being caught up in the negativity the news provides them with surrounding foreign places. However I have learned the news is pretty biased. They rarely cover stories about all the joy foreign countries will bring you, but waste no time poisoning you with the horrors you may face, with some troubling luck. I wasn’t nervous. Instead, I welcomed all opinions, taking each suggestion with an open mind.
Some people choose to live a carefree life, some take comfort in feeling safe and secure. Some choose stability, while others long for constant change. Some are comfortable with what they already have, and others may search, only to find they never have enough. Understanding who you are and how you define yourself is important. To often we seek approval from our peers, and conform to an idealistic way of who we should be, rather than embracing who we are. We understand at a young age how unique we are, yet somehow lose touch of what makes us stand out, and we end up blending in.
I’ve always known I was different. Growing up, I never had just one group of friends. From elementary school until my college graduation, I had always roamed freely through different cliques. I have never completely required the attention of my peers, in fear of spending some quality time alone with myself. I sometimes get social anxiety in large groups of people, and often find myself politely disagreeing with the opinions of others, rather than conforming to them. I lose touch with friends more frequently than I’d like to admit, and make plans for myself more often than with friends.
But I wasn’t always this way, I used to crave attention and acceptance. I would tell all my girlfriends every detail of my life, and considered solitary to be a weakness. I now recognize my independence as my greatest strength. People often say to me “You’ve changed”, and sometimes I think its meant as a negative remark. However, I consider it a positive attribute, because yes, the truth is I have changed. I have grown.
What I wasn’t realizing in my teenage years, was that I was looking for approval. In high school Facebook was created, I could see clearly in front of me how many “friends” I had, and how many comparable to those of my peers. In high school unfortunately you are defined by the opinions that others have of you, not by how you see yourself. It isn’t until you branch off and pursue your individual interests that you are considered an individual, entirely, as your own self.
Unfortunately, some people are still determining their self worth by the number of likes their selfie gets. Comparing their number of followers to those of their friends, and never feeling quite like they compare without following the latest Jenner trend. Some still feel the need to tell their friends all their secrets, instead of telling one person whom they know they can trust. They keep their mouth shut when they have their own opinions, but bitch and complain about their friends, to other friends when they disagree, instead of saying so in the first place. The problem is, these people are seeking acceptance in a society that has a hard time accepting. Rather than being secure, and confident, and accepting themselves, these people choose to blend. So when a friend, who’s been more privileged and given better opportunities gets handed a job, they can’t be happy for them. They’ll bitch to the other girls in the group, and discuss why their life isn’t fair, never bothering to make their own connections, and getting caught in a recurring cycle of self hatred. “Why her? Poor me. Its not fair.”
I decided a long time ago that I was going to stop blaming everyone else for my own misfortunes, and focus on making my life the way I wanted it to be, the way I know that it deserves to be. Not by comparing, not by copying. I decided that I was going to make my own path, probably stumble along the way, but ultimately, do what I want to do, follow my own set of rules, and be confident in who I am. Continue reading
My stomach and I have never really gotten along. In my second year of post secondary studies, its hatred for me amplified when I contracted the bacterium H-pylori, and was a bit to leisure searching for a diagnosis. I didn’t take it seriously when I’d land myself in the hospital with a bad hangover, or when I’d regurgitate my food mid sentence because of a burp. Instead I hoped that marijuana would be the cure -all for my symptoms and turned a shoulder to the issue. I had gotten way to familiar with my bathroom floor before finally getting to the bottom of the issue, almost a year later.
If I’m being honest here, let’s just say the indulgences of my 20 something life style may have had a direct influence on the way my body broke down that year. I binge drank my way through high school, and started experimenting as any University student does. I also, like most young females had my fair share of body issues, and may not have always given my body the proper nutrients its so rightfully deserved. Because of this bacterium I was underweight, my stomach bled from time to time, and I contracted a few ulcers. I did resolve the problem, but I struggled to get to get back to a healthy BMI.
I’m happy to say that my young and notorious lifestyle is now behind me, and I now conduct my life in an extremely healthy manner, eating the right foods, attending regular yoga classes, staying active, and I don’t party like a rock-star as much as I used to (what can I say though I’m still young ;)). But I’ve always known my stomach would get back at me one day, with a vengeance, for the hardship it endured at my hand. I did not however, expect the misfortune that took place on Koh Phi Phi during my adventure.
From the moment we set sail for Koh Phi Phi Don I was in complete wonderment. The boat made its way into the bay over transparent turquoise water, in front of us lay sparkling white curvy beaches nestled in front of luscious jungle vegetation. The dramatic limestone cliffs embraced us as we neared the pier, and even though the shoreline was extremely over crowded, it still appeared a tropical paradise. There are no roads on Koh Phi Phi Don, and subsequently no vehicles either. Everything is accessible by walking, and the entire traverse from the east to west end would take no more than an hour – though your likely to be distracted along the way as the strip resembles a maze framed by hundreds of attractions, shops and restaurants. For such a small space its actually quite overdeveloped, even after the rebuild following the Tsunami that tore through it in 2004. The beaches are absolutely exquisite, and the island itself is a tropical idyll, its hard to ever want to leave.
But hopefully for you, you never end up in their hospital.
Travel days are always hard. We had been living in beachfront bungalows on Ko Phanang, at a family run resort called Sunsea. We each had our own bed, television and air conditioning, an area to hang and fold our clothes and a patio with table and chairs for the whopping price of $15each. This was our first long -term stay (4nights) in Thailand, and life was so at ease that I could have stayed on the island forever. The family who owned the resort were lovely hosts, feeding us delicious meals, happy to give us a ride into town, and there to answer any questions should we have them. Mornings started off with coffee and a good read on the hammock. A mid morning swim before lunch (my favorite dish of the entire trip was served here; a green coconut curry soup that heightened my taste-buds with aromatic local spices. Even though it was 30+ degrees I couldn’t help but endure the heat for a taste) Followed by some sight seeing along the island riding on rented mopeds that we carefully signed our lives away for (mum would have killed me), and ending with a group dinner fueled with laughs, a drunken board game or two, and 3 of the best friends a girl could ask for.
I made the first step into my soul search last spring when I left the security of a full time salaried position to back pack through Thailand. Against the advice of my mother, I decided to feed my curiosity, and see the moon from the other side of the world. My only regret would have to be that I hadn’t realized my desire sooner, and saved more. My best friend Nick was living my dream, backpacking for a year in over 20 countries. I only got the chance to do 6 weeks, and see 2 of them. He was, and will always be my inspiration. The kid can dream, apart from his love of less than mediocre jokes, he is always coming up with new ideas. The best advice he ever gave me was to take a second to realize what you have beyond equity, and live simply. He laughed at me when I told him how much my rag and bone jeans cost me, and again even harder when I splashed a bit of bleach on them the first time I went to wash them. He then went on to explain the depth in which that 250 dollars would serve me on the road, and the life long memories it could give me in place of a nice outfit. You see, when you live on the road, you don’t need nice jeans, you need pants to keep you warm, and once you learn to bargain, you can purchase some for as little as 10 dollars in South East Asia. You have with you what you can carry, so your forced to live only with what you need. You learn to live simply. Nick was definitely the jumpstart to the life I currently live, and I’m not even sure he knows it.
So I dropped everything in Ajax, it had never been enough for me, even when I was younger I knew it. I found no room for growth, no inspiration, and nothing challenged me. It never pushed my boundaries, never taught me anything new about myself. It just was, and people were happy just being, but I wasn’t. I longed for new adventures, and new ideas, and Ajax was the last place I would find them. Some people call it home, but I’ve learned home is not physical, nor is it necessarily geographical. It is a feeling, and you feel it where your soul is at ease. Its the most comfortable feeling I’ve ever felt; I found home living out of a backpack.
I was lucky to have my close friend Alexis catch my disease and drop her job as well for the adventure. Her and I started our life long friendship over tequila in Cancun a couple years back, and as far as my travelling had gone since then, she had always shared it with me. She is a great travel friend because she plans and researches, and helps add a bit of structure to the my otherwise haphazard life. We packed 6 weeks worth of living into 50L, and being someone who has access to a privileged life, and a ton of clothing that was difficult for me. How liberating though, not knowing if I was ready. I must have gone over my list a million times and still thought I was forgetting everything leading up to it. But there it was as soon as I stepped into the airport, that feeling I longed for, my curiosity consuming my thoughts. I lost all my fears, and though the complimentary alcohol on the 22 hour flight helped a bit, couldn’t dig to the back of my mind to find anything worth stressing over.