The Tropical Canadian

an oxymoronic life of adventure

Deep thoughts on tutus

Two of the things I am looking very forward to in the next 10 days are events within our local Pride Festival. I am excited for the chance to dress up, to wear a tutu or an outrageous gown, to be as bright and bold and vivacious as my wardrobe and daring and energy allow. I am excited to attend with friends, to share in the joy and freedom of a community.

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On the move

I moved again this weekend. I still live in the same town, but I live in a different part of the city. Well, there’s more to it than that, but maybe I’ll get to that later. This was not my first Canada Day move. In fact, when I first moved to this fair city it was on Canada Day 16 years ago. In that time I have had now 7 different addresses, as well as my 2 addresses in Jamaica. Considering that I lived in one of these places for 7 years, that’s a lot of instability for bursts of time.

In fact, this current address is only temporary. I am subletting a lovely furnished condo and moved in only my clothes, linens and food. Everything else has gone into storage. In many ways this move reminds me of Jamaica – bringing with me only what is essential for me to work, play and live in a space, travelling light(ish) and appreciating the space as it has been filled by someone else.

It also reminds me of Jamaica in its temporaryness. The length of time I can use this condo is almost exactly the same as the length of time I was in Jamaica. I was only in my last place (affectionately called “the treehouse”) 14 months, and had only been home from Jamaica 13 months when I left my previously happy little house.

We’ve also moved this month at my new job. The day after I started work we began packing and sorting and by the end of the week we were in new offices. Temporary offices. Offices we will likely only be in slightly longer than I’ll be in this condo.

My co-worker asked me “what do you have going on about not settling down?” – or something to that effect. I have to wonder what the answer to that question is. Am I really so enamoured of being on the move that I can’t find stable ground to stand on for a while?

There’s another lesson here, though. Or more of a reminder than an actual lesson. In Jamaica, particularly in my second home which was a perfectly functioning bachelor suite, I was as satisfied as I’ve been in any home, and more so than I’ve been in many. I didn’t have a TV or a yard. I didn’t have secure parking (or a car for that matter) or in-suite laundry. My couch was lawn furniture, and I mostly read in bed. And I loved that space. I revelled in the ‘all-mine-ness’ of it. I thrilled at having a place for everything and everything in its place. Not worrying about “stuff” and living in a space as is was incredibly freeing.

It will take me some days to figure out where my stuff fits in this new place. I have a lot of shoes and clothes for a place with not a lot of storage. But once I do – once I have that clarity of how this space works, I think I’m really going to like it here.

But even more, I think I’d like to not be on the move for a while. After this, I’d really like to stay still. To focus more fully on learning my new job. To have adventures of choice not continual upheaval.

I didn’t want to come home from Jamaica and it has taken me a long time to feel like my life is here in Victoria. But it is. For now, at least, this is where I belong. Maybe realising that will help me find a home to last.

Luggage gone wild

There are no palm trees in this post. Yes, I’ve just returned from my first trip to the tropics in 2 years (island hopping Dominica, Martinique and Saint Lucia), but before we talk about that I have a little insight about packing. I have always considered myself a good packer – I plan well, make lists, maximize use of space – but for some reason on this trip I lost my mind a little. Not only did I over-pack, but I also over-shopped before the packing ever began. There are lessons here that I hope will help you (and future me) from wrestling a 45 pound suitcase up and down broken sidewalks and from having to leave great souvenirs behind because you just don’t have a way to get them home.

Lesson 1: Take half as much stuff and twice as much money as you think you’ll need

This great advice comes from my Mom, one of of the best travelled (and organized) people I know. In the case of this most recent trip her advice would have been pretty much spot on. Everything from food costs to local transportation cost more than expected in both Martinique and Saint Lucia, and repeated trips to the ATM meant repeated high service charges.

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The journey begins when you buy the ticket

I have been meaning to post for a while, recognizing that the me who started this journey (not just volunteering in Jamaica, but redesigning my life to allow for that and so much more) is still me even in double layers of wool socks and huddled up to my fireplace. I’m still me even though the path I thought I was starting out on in September 2014 has taken a slightly difference route. I’m still that me. But when one takes on a persona as “the Tropical Canadian” it seems important to spend some time in the tropics to keep that persona thawed out. And, well, that hasn’t happened.

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No welcome for Matthew

Filed under “things I can’t do anything about but can’t stop worrying about anyway”: hurricane Matthew, the most severe hurricane to threaten Jamaica in half a decade.

Yesterday Matthew was a class 5 (out of 5). Today it has been downgraded to class 4. That’s still enough wind and water to do severe damage to both the natural environment and human constructions.

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An Isak Dinesen kind of day

Every so often – once or twice a year, I suppose – I get into a mindset that only salt water can heal. On those days I awake with Isak Dinesen’s most famous quote ringing in my ears:

the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.

Luckily for me, I live on an island in the Pacific with easy access to rock-hewn beaches and stirring sea breezes.  Continue reading “An Isak Dinesen kind of day”

The quicksand of memory

I’ve just returned from a wonderful week reconnecting to the region I live in. For much of the world the island I call home is a dream destination – rainforest, wide Pacific beaches, quaint communities that have adjusted well to changing economies, wild animals that have disappeared from much of the world. I take it for granted, and this trip was a true gift in reconnecting to how rich life is right here.

And yet … the urge grows every day. The little voices reminding me there is more to life than this piece of granite. The pull to warmer sun, to foreign accents, to learning about myself and the world every time I open the door.

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The temperate Canadian does #LakeWeek

When you brand yourself and your blog ‘The Tropical Canadian’ and then unexpectedly spend a year in the temperate, tepid backwater of Victoria, it’s hard to come up with anything to write that seems topical. Or interesting. The truth is, I’ve been pouting. It’s cold here. Life in Victoria is plain old boring (don’t give me that bullshit that only boring people are bored. I used to use that on my kids. Victoria may be pretty, but it’s an African violet on your grandma’s mantle. Dull, duller, and dullest). Did I mention it’s cold here?

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Lessons in transit

I just found this draft from January 2015. It made me smile with nostalgia:

Several years ago the Jamaican Urban Transit Commission (JUTC) invested heavily in large, modern bright yellow buses and an updated terminal. They are still working out kinks in the system to reduce driver skimming and passenger jumping, but for the most part a JUTC bus ride is a trip in modern convenience.

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