That time I disappeared from the Internet for a year…

It dawned on me this week that I haven’t updated in a very, very long time. So long, in fact, that I got the domain name renewal reminder email this week, and I shamefully realized I probably haven’t updated this blog since the last time I renewed my domain. Shameful. Continue reading

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This is why I’m going to Costa Rica in a month

I’m going to Costa Rica next month. I have done very little planning for this trip, but it has been a long time in the works. A long time ago, I entered a contest to win a trip to Costa Rica. I didn’t in that particular contest, but it started a chain of events that indirectly brought me down a new career path, a new life, and ultimately, winning a different contest to Costa Rica. Continue reading

That time I spent Christmas in a hostel…

It’s really not a huge secret. I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. To say that the holiday spirit is lost on me is kind of an understatement. I tolerate the holidays, I go through some awkward outsider’s version of the motions, but I don’t really carry with me the same kind of sentimental attachment most people have with this time of year. Continue reading

A weeklong friendship

I had the best of intentions when I bought a plane ticket to Reykjavík. Ten days to visit a good friend, see some sights, eat some Hákarl, sit in the Blue Lagoon, and come back fully refreshed with a nasty hangover from the Brennivín.

Sometimes the plans you lay out don’t work out for reasons beyond your control. Continue reading

And I’ve gone to look for Ontaaaaaaario

On August 1, I officially became a “resident” of Ontario. This simply means that my good old Carte d’assurances maladie from Québec was no longer a valid thing, and I received a very ugly OHIP card in the mail. (Man. I look like crap on my Ontario ID. I had such a good photo on my old driver’s license and health card, but that’s a whole other story.) Continue reading

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

Sometimes, the best laid plans just don’t pan out. And you know what? That’s OK. It will inevitably happen to you, and it’s agonizing when it happens. Your stomach bunches up, and all you want to do is curl up on your hostel bed and cry. Assuming, that is, that the hostel is still open for business.

I arrived in Rome on an early morning flight from Sardinia’s capital, Cagliari. I had already adjusted to the time change, but it was still very early. Painfully early. Probably even more painful for my two friends who had made the trans-Atlantic journey that day. We wandered through Rome’s circular streets, a faded googlemap our only help. We followed the Babblefish translated directions. A severely water damaged door with an unreadable, rain-damaged sign greeted us. We rang the doorbell.

We waited.

We roasted under the mid-day Roman sun. We sweat. We cursed.

We rang the doorbell.

We called the hostel on an expensive roaming phone call.

We waited.

We cried.

The hostel, for all we could tell, had vanished into the sky, taking our deposit with it.

A man from the hostel across the street poked his head out the window, inviting us in. With few options left, we hoisted our packs on our backs and trudged up the stairs.

“Your hostel… How do you say? They have big flood. Si? Si! Big flood. We honour your deposit.”

—–

Today was one of those travel days.

Somewhere about halfway between Montreal and Toronto, on the über cheap MegaBus, I noticed I had mistakenly purchased two one-way, non-refundable tickets for the same day for Montreal-Toronto. It wasn’t catastrophic, I was merely out $28. Or so it seemed.

Then the wifi stopped working on the MegaBus. I couldn’t book a return ticket.

I finally arrived in Toronto and checked into my hostel at 1 a.m. It was cold. Actually, it was bloody cold and Yonge St. was a wind tunnel.

I spent a good 45 minutes in my door battling the unreliable wifi, only to find there were no convenient MegaBus times to get me home. I frowned. I lost my internet connection. I tried to find a plane. I frowned at the idea of dropping $200 to get myself only to the outskirts of Montreal.

I found a 50% off sale on a business class train ticket, and splurged. Even at 50% off, it was still the cost of two round-trip bus tickets, but it included a meal and lots of beverages of the fermented variety (I think I’m on my fourth. Possibly my 6th?), and ample leg room. With my alumni discount, it became justifiable.

I shut my laptop to try to get a solid 6 hours of sleep before my back-to-back job interviews. I reached over my bed to hang up my hoodie, happy that although I had “splurged” on a 4-bed female dorm, I had ended up in a 3-bed room as the only occupant. Sweet. Private room for $28.

The bed collapsed.

I sat bewildered on the floor. The bed had collapsed and I was exhausted.

Upon closer inspection, I realized this was the same Ikea bed found in hostels across the planet, with plywood slats supporting the mattress. I carefully touched the planks. They weren’t broken, they didn’t try to eat me. I gingerly reassembled my bed, and delicately lay down, vowing to swim a few hundred extra laps this week at the Y.

—-

And that couldn’t possible be enough, right? In French, we have a saying: “Jamais deux sans trois,” which means never twice without a third occurrence.

I had a wardrobe malfunction upon exiting a job interview. I will not discuss how the job interview went, since I don’t want to jinx anything.

The lovely, professional-looking skirt I borrowed from a coworker? I felt it inching its way down my hips as I walked out the door in front of the interviewer, with nothing to stop it. It was loose, but I didn’t realize it was *that* loose. So I may or may not have flashed the person I just spent an hour or so trying to convince to hire me.

That should be about enough for one day, I think. However, if the ground should decide to swallow me whole right about now, I wouldn’t really object.

Instead, I’ll wander off to the happy place in my head. It looks something like this:

Ton Le Sap lake in Cambodia

Chiquita, the traveling monkey

This is the story of Chiquita, the traveling monkey. It is not exclusively my story to tell, as she is not exclusively my monkey. (Note: I’m using other people’s photos here, with their permission. If your image has slipped into the batch without permission and you would like me to take it down, I’d be happy to. I’m sorry if I ganked the wrong photos!) Continue reading

Fences do not make good neighbours – or how I visited the West Bank in 2008

A fence, a wall, a divider runs through the land. Some have called it the Berlin Wall of the 21st century. Some call it a land grab, some call it a security fence, some love it, some hate it. I crossed it. Continue reading