Near the Old Man of Storr, Scotland I took this in 2004

Friday, February 27, 2009


Then there's also travelling via memories, so that's kind of like travelling backwards in time.
( my cat is purring so loud right now, I have never heard a purr as loud! I guess she's that happy, which is good, cuz she's really loved:)

I found Homestar Runner after not having seen it for years, and searched and found one skit in specific that I found hilarious, but more than that, finding HR again reminds me of a pretty good part of my past, and a friend, who, at the time was good too.

Check it out!

Stay tuned for northern adventures....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Travelling with the heart

Yesterday,while fiddling with the radio in the car, as the passenger, I chanced upon the powerful and beautiful song "Change Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke.

I have tried and tried to add the song, or at least a link to a site to hear it, but I have been successfully unsuccessful each time..but go to and you can find the song there.

Perhaps it was some sort of omen, but after not having heard that song for ages I heard it again in the same day, at the end of Malcolm X,( a film I have yet to watch in it's entirety, not for lack of wanting, I never seem know when it's on) and it was played when he was killed, in real life.

When I hear that song, I burst out into a gigantic smile, my heart smiles, even though the song is painful. He was a genius. He was able to take issues of jim crow racism and transform that horror and pain into healing art.

So, that, dear readers, is the other kind of travelling I'm talking about.

We can travel with our hearts, imaginations, emotions, words. For me, music is a very powerful agent in allowing this type of travel to happen; soul travel.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why I adore travelleing!

So, dear readers, with a lovely mid-winter snow effect, is this the right word,(?) upon us, after that bizarre faux spring weather, post-Groundhog, we welcome President Obama today to Ottawa. Good on him, I say, for coming! Now on to the nitty gritty: why do we travel? I usually know why I travel, the reasons, or the lack of them. ( see my All about Colombia story. ) Travel is amazing. For me it's THE thing that truly gives me whirly-dizzy butterflies in my stomach, and that's just in the beginning stages of planning for a trip.

I love the thrill of going, and not really knowing what it is I'll be in for, so more times than not, I travel map-free.

I've seen a bear up north, which was both incredible, and sad, because s/he was in a dump, and Moose in Algonquin. The Northern lights in Grundafjordor, Iceland, a Mafia funeral in Naples, and I even took a photo! And if you think Naples is a third world city, wait till you see Colombia. I've been whale watching off the coast of Maine, and eaten raw shark, an Icelandic "delicacy", ok, I spit it out, because to all intents and purposes it smelled and tasted like rotting eggs, dogs droppings and hmm, what else? Anything vile I couldn't even imagine.
I've seen the unglamorous side of bull fighting in the south of France. I've climbed mountains in Scotland, Iceland, Italy and America. I've seen a tarantula walk past me, quite casually, in the outdoor lobby of a hotel in Cuba, and toucans roosting on a tree branch in the jungle of Costa Rica.
I've seen the greenest, flattest land that I didn't think really existed save for in the creations of those old Dutch painters, in Holland. I've slept in a hostel that was formerly a morgue in Glasgow; I found this out well after I left it, and had one of the best sleeps ever! Yes, I
did sleep like the dead :). I've seen the Mississippi in St. Louis and I've been to East Cleavland; I watched as a dock filled with men, some young, some children with their fathers or brothers, but most were very old sat and fished for their dinner as the sun sank quickly. Poverty is a difficult equalizer.

I've eaten the best pizza in the world, in the birth place of pizza: Naples, made in the traditional way from Buffalo milk mozzarella, and all the while, packs of starving dogs would follow me, begging, I of course fed them, but my heart hurts, and still does.
I've seen a dead deer splayed across a northern Ontario highway, and I've also seen a family of white tailed deer with babies in tow, and a great blue heron hiding in the reeds of a swamp , and turtles both crossing the road, and sunning on water lilies.

In other words, I could say I've seen some truly spectacular things, which is true, but, more to the point, I observe things with my whole entire self. As I writer, I pay attention to the wonders and details of everyday experiences, especially when I am out of my everyday life and somewhere new.

travelling with all our senses can be both wondrous and painfully difficult, but all the same, it's life, unedited.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Scotland, part 2

That's the beautiful light of Scotland!

So, the mail did come, I was wrong. It happens, so does shit :)

And now, back to Scotland...the Scottish seem to really be a pretty
friendly people, not at all like the leftovers we seem to get in "the colonies" and by that I mean, the racists, the skinheads all that garbage that is so often associated with people of Scottish origin, especially so, here in Canada, a land founded by the Scots.

Guess where?

Monday, February 16, 2009

on your mark, get set, TRAVEL!

Today is "Family Day" as decided last year by our very religious, read, right wing provincial government. Meh. The down side is we get no mail.

Anyway, here is a wee list of some good travel sites to get anyone in the mood for some serious travel/and the other fun part, the planning.

For me, one of the most exciting parts of a trip is searching for that great ticket.
The one that you can hardly believe you got, like the one I got to Iceland. It was an amazing ticket for a few reasons. 1) It was the cheapest of the 2 other companies I talked to 2) My travel agent specialized in Caribbean spots, not northern Europe,
3) To make everything that much sweeter, my travel agent gave me a voucher for 2 nights at a beautiful hostel, in the capital, and a shuttle bus from the airport to the capital all for free. It was pretty incredible to be honest, because between the hostel and the bus ride I would have spent well over $150, easy. 4) Lastly, he could see how the decision to go was gnawing at me so he said I could talk to a college of his who had been, I thought that was sweet, seeing as they really only focused on sunny vacations. I wasn't even planning on heading to Reykjavik initially. So, it was all so bountifully fortuitous, and the Universe provided me with courage, strength and an amazing trip!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Isle of Skye

Howdy, day 2 of back to blogging. Happy Friday the 13th to you, wherever you roam! The picture above is my little Scottish(couldn't you tell?) guide:)

The weather we've been having lately has put me in mind of the misty hills of Scotland. So that is where our journey will take us today.

I've travelled to Scotland twice, the second time I travelled around the highlands and ended up on the beautiful and perfectly remote Isle of Skye.

Before leaving I actually decided to splurge and plan, a bit. Something I am normally totally opposed to. I prefer to wing it. Though, I figured a guide book about hostels all over the U.K: indispensable genius! Yes well, it may have been had I not forgotten here, at home. However, I digress. While perusing through, I started getting excited about the places I'd love to visit and laughing at all the funny place names. Then I came upon a page devoted to the Isle of Skye, and it sounded incredible; wild, and remote were the words used to describe it.

So, there I am, I had just arrived in Scotland, not a guide book in sight, no plans, just moi. So, I decided to put myself on a tour, a jump-on-jump-off, and found myself in Inverness, and the next stop was this elusive Isle; Skye.

When I heard the name mentioned it didn't ring even the slightest of bells for me, nothing at all. 2 boys I met who were from Nova Scotia said they were heading to Skye, and they wanted to know if I was planning on heading. "An island?", I thought. Wow! A remote, highland island. Sure, I was game.

The only caveat I placed on anything was that I planned to stay no more than 2 days so as I could keep moving along.

Mhhm, 2 days came and went as did an additional 12 and I was still quite happily mired in the drama that was my home-away-from-home, aka: the hostel!

I couldn't believe it, 2 weeks after the fact I was only then thinking, "maybe I need to keep going" cuz really apart from drinking like , like, ? well like backpackers , and, gathering in the lounge every evening to drink, after a night of being at the pub and drinking, we'd all settle in and read a stupid dictionary, yes that's right, a dictionary of Scottish/English in the lounge every night, around the warm glow of the fire...ahhh, travelling.

The strangest part was the day I arrived. The driver of the bus I was on from my "tour", was ready to kick me off the bus cuz after he told us a vaguely political story about the
British anthem, I couldn't get it out of my head, so I started humming it, he got very serious, and said, " Look, I'm not anti English, I'm just pro Scottish." Followed by, did I want to walk?
Ok. Also, he was a larger man, in a kilt. And he had a few issues.
There was no reason for me to piss him off.
So apart from my humming, the other point of contention for him was good ole prince charlie, and all things English.Though, for the life of me I couldn't figure out why he was talking about The Prince for. "Weird", I thought.

He drove us over to where we would take the local transportation into town to the island. I got on and all the locals were buzzing about was The Prince. Pretty strange.

I reached my hostel, finally, and the moment I saw it, I felt like I was home.
It was such a powerful feeling, I knew this place was gonna be something amazing.

Even from the get-go it was good. I got to stay, cuz I asked, in their caravan, alone and it was much cheaper, and so damn for the busted window. Thankfully I'd watched enough episodes of Macgyver..and felt as intrepid as he. I found a thin yoga-mat style foam and some string and managed to tightly secure the window so cozily well that I was actually a little too warm in there:)

So, I got my self organized, and made my way into the kitchen to prepare my lunch. I took out my beet roots, that travel surprisingly well. They are sold, whole, peeled and cooked, in shrink wrap plastic, juice in tact.

In the kitchen, I began chopping up my beet roots, when a person who was working at the hostel came in to the kitchen and finding I was the only guest about,( there were also very few people there, period. Another reason to love the place) ,she asked if I wanted to meet the prince of Wales. "What? Was she kidding?", I wondered.

"No", she said, she wasn't kidding. He had come to visit a boat builder next door to our hostel. I figured, "why not", and promptly headed outside.
When I got outside, looked down and realized, my hands were covered in beet root juice..great, first impression I'd make, but where, prey, was this "Prince"?

It was starting to rain, which, was obviously less than not a big deal, it was Scotland for Pete's sake. However, I was getting wet, and thought, " If this guy does show up, I might at least get a picture." I went to get my raincoat and camera and returned to the very small crowd of people, some islanders, others hostlers, the rest MI5. "Hold on, MI5?" , I thought. This was turning out to be a fairly big deal. The security were as covert as possible on an island village of 500. There was a helicopter flying overhead, nuff security in the carpark behind us and the ones among us who were not hard to distinguish. I amazingly managed to get one picture of Charlie, the amazing part was that it was my last picture on the roll..and I had had no idea.

Check it out!
Ok, below is charlie, if you're able to enlarge, it'll be best, and the second is the view from the Skye Bridge..pretty magical:)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Things done change

As I sit here, the beginnings of thought awakening, I can see the mist that has surrounded and blanketed my city, or at least my nook of it, this morning.

I haven't travelled in such a time that I dream about it all the time.

I pick a place I've never been and imagine what it may or might be like, with such relish...
I'm waiting for inspiration to take hold of me and help me decide which path to follow, as it stands I only have past memories and hopes of new ones to quench me.

Before I go and travel, I wait for the place to call to me, like a lost child. It becomes a deep yearning to find that place, to go, to see, to connect for reasons I have never been able to fathom at the time of the calling.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to go to Ghana. The Ghanaians I have met are always lovely, but maybe it's also my bias, could be? I happen to think that as an over arching rule, people from African nations have an amazing kindness and love that other continental groups don't share with the same gusto.

I re-memebered just yesterday, in fact that Ghana was the place where people who were to become slaves were taken. They were held in what is known as The Middle Passage, before they left their continent forever, along with stories, languages, dances, songs, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunties and uncles, foods, the land that birthed them, and the sky that held them.

I now have an image of the scene from the book Roots, by Alex Haley, in my head. The scene where we learn of all the conditions on that ship. The people chained below deck, dying or dead.

I also can hear Bob Marley, sing Buffalo Soldier, as I conjure up these images,
"Buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta:
There was a buffalo soldier in the heart of America,
Stolen from Africa, brought to America,
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.

I mean it, when I analyze the stench -
To me it makes a lot of sense:
How the dreadlock rasta was the buffalo soldier,
And he was taken from Africa, brought to America,
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival."(I got this from, but they words africa and america weren't capitalized, so the capitals, mine.) is just a wee bit of info about who the Buffalo Soldiers were.
I hope this link works it's an amazing history in photos of the Buffalo Soldiers, with accompanying music sung by Neville Dennis.
otherwise there's Bob Marley's version, check it:
While we're on the subject of dissecting culture, history and politics , I strongly recommend that you, whoever you may be, read Zakes Mda, an amazing writer from South Africa. He writes about the horrors of hate , in such a poignant way. One such masterpiece of his is called Ways of Dying, about modern S.A, "post" apartheid. I put post in quotes, because it's clear to anyone that apartheid is still very much alive and torturing, even now, in 2009.

My mother was in S.A not less than 5 years ago, and saw children with no shoes,with no pencils or paper to write with.

It's easy to take so much for granted, when we never have to wonder about our instant comfort; our feet being kept safe in shoes, our bellies being kept satiated by our full fridges and cupboards.

And the title of this post is my homage to Biggie, cuz slowly but surely we shall and will overcome.