The Tropical Canadian

an oxymoronic life of adventure



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 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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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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Live free, but don’t be a jerk about it

Since getting home everyday – without hyperbole –  I’ve thought about how to redesign my life so that I can work from anywhere and balance making an income with making a difference. I’ve read several books on the subject, ever more blog posts and a growing number of tweets. While it’s nice that so many people seem to be building a tipping point of freedom from the expected life path, my concern about the conversation is building.

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Tempus fugit, part 2

I’ve been home for six months today. At last I can say home without using quotation marks, as Victoria once again feels like home – not like forever or an anchor, but as a friendly and knowing place to rest and reset. I still miss Jamaica. I miss the sea; I miss the people; I miss the experience of being a contribution through my daily activities. And, I miss who I was there – active socially and physically, healthy, nourished, free – I don’t know why those things feel so much less accessible here. Either way, the missing has less ache and more sweetness in it these days.

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Because of Jamaica

Because of Jamaica. Because of the people and the heat and the noise and the colour. Because of warm water, sunny skies, spicy fish, caramel rum. Because of 160 days. Because of encouragement and support from behind and beside. Because of lessons learned in tears and laughter. Because of good work and deep leisure. Because of Ocho Rios and Port Antonio, Runaway Bay and Falmouth, Montego Bay and Negril, and escaping to Barbados. But first and last because of Kingston …

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Thanks, Jamaica.
Soon come back.

It’s never too late

For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing.

We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.

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Ordinary day ~ extraordinary life

Whenever I walk-dance down the sidewalk to a Great Big Sea’s “Ordinary Day” I’m struck by how much it could be a Jamaican song:

I’ve got a smile on my face, and I’ve got four walls around me.
I’ve got the sun in the sky, all the waters surround me.
Oh you know, I win now but sometimes I lose
I’ve been battered, but I never bruise,
it’s not so bad

And I say way-hey-hey, it’s just an ordinary day
and it’s all your state of mind.
At the end of the day, you’ve just got to say,
it’s all right.

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