YOU ARE HERE

So you are here…reading my thoughts as I travel long term alone into places most people have told me to avoid. And also enjoying places familiar to many. I procrastinated starting this blog months ago. At first because I had to wait to tell my work about my plans and also the actually planning of this trip has gotten in the way. Which in the end I don’t feel like I planned anything at all. And now the actual traveling is making it difficult to focus to get this up. Regardless, here it is and you are here. This whole idea started about 2 years ago…but in all honestly it may have been destined all my life… 

My Background story 

As a child I ran away from home a lot. I was a difficult kid and had trouble dealing with emotions, well life in general and always wanted to run away when things were tough. I was suppose to travel after high school with my best friend but decided if I did I would have never gone to school (not such a bad idea in fact) so we didn’t go. She asked me again while in college when she decided to travel to Australia. Again, I put it off thinking I would never finish school. She went and sent me emails telling me all about her adventures and eventually about her new love. There was a sadness and jealousy when I read those. I felt I was losing my best friend to someone else. But in fact in reflection I think I was jealous I couldn’t just do the same and follow my dreams instead of what I thought I was suppose to do. I traveled a bit with school. Visiting and falling in love with Paris when I traveled with my fashion program. I said I would love to live in Paris! I also visited New York which I loved but didn’t really know it until I visited again for work years later. 

So after school I moved to Montreal as constellation to Paris because Paris was too expensive. When in reality it was an excuse to not take the courage and just try and move there. I lived in Montreal for about a year and met so many people from different cultures and countries. Memorably a Moroccan woman who convinced me if I moved to Morocco I could do the same job for more money and be treated like a princess…the first seed was planted.  Another Romanian coworker asked me what the rest of Canada was like and of course I didn’t know since I had only lived in Ontario. This inspired me before I could visit the world I had to se my own country. So I went back to college again to get a certificate in Chef Training because I had worked in a kitchen so many years and knew it would help me to work while traveling. So first moving to New Brunswick and working at what then The Fairmont Algonquin Hotel. An historical building in a quaint town of St. Andrew’s by the Sea. The people and the smell of the ocean made that time wonderful for me. One of the best summer’s of my life. Experience with people that had the warmth and energy I had never really seen before. Since then the smell of low tide holds comfort to me. It was also my first adventures on my own. Driving alone and visiting most of the East Coast of Canada. After the summer contract ended I was trying to go the same ski village in British Columbia as my friends I had met that summer. But after applying many times I never heard back. But the discouragement didn’t stop me. In the end I drove out west with no job, no place to live, with my clothes in garbage bags in the trunk of my car and about $3500 debt on my credit card. Even now when I think of how I felt that week driving out there. I had never felt more free! I didn’t care and simply had faith everything would be alright. And it was, I had two jobs and a place to live within a week of being in Sun Peaks (north of Kamloops, British Columbia. I had an amazing time living in the mountains and snowboarding as much as I could. Unfortunately, all my life I struggled with depression and it hit me harder in that village then it had hit me since high school. I was a mess and didn’t know what to do. I lost faith, courage and desire for anything. I wanted to keep traveling and go on to Vancouver Island but feared the lifestyle I was living would follow me there and leave me even more broken. So I went back to Ontario after 2 years in the mountains, I was fragile and lost. My father flew across the country to drive back with me. That was the best travelling I could do, he often makes jokes or comments thinking it was lame to travel with him, but in fact it is one trip I will always cherish and keep close to my heart. His driving scared me on occasion but it was actually me that hit the giant pheasant and broke the radiator, but that’s another story.  

After taking some time with family and a little recovery, I returned to Montreal where I had a good base of friends and support as well as job opportunities. It was after the recession and the salaries were much lower so I felt like I was starting all over. Which essentially I was. I made a promise to stay at least 3 years and make a base for myself, thinking it was the traveling that was damaging. But in fact, it was me, like a counselor had told me the saying “Everywhere you go, there you are.” and she was right. Regardless, I needed to find stability and regroup myself.  I got back into fashion and moved up the ladder quickly. I made new friends and kept in contact with old ones as well. I grew as person in my style and taste, and self awareness. I had matured and explored different attitudes, music, ideas and regained my passion for life. I had some really amazing times in Montreal, surrounded by people who loved me and taught me to learn how to love myself. I learn about other cultures and languages. I gained confidence through work and was inspired by all the people who were successful and happy around me.  But eventually something went stale again. Some of my close friends were getting married and having babies, while others were traveling constantly for work. My lifestyle once again was getting dangerous. My history of negative relationships with men finally made me realize I did know how to properly love myself or how to take care of myself. I was naive and believed everyone had good intentions had were good people at the core.  I finally realized my innocence and ignorance in love and life no longer served me.  I had been taken advantage by some people and was randomly a victim of potential identity theft (I had caught it in time before it went further). I grew cynical, frustrated and skeptical of all people. I lost trust and faith in people. I became bored at work and grew resentful of people around me and their achievements and happiness. I began to hate who I was becoming, I was sour and bitter. But worse I became comfortable in a life I didn’t want. It was really a mixed bag. The good taught me how to be grateful and live in the moment and the negative taught me how to push forward. How to deal with my depression how to deal with emotions, life and its downfalls. It was then I started to get itchy feet and knew it was time to travel again. I knew I didn’t want to become a permanent version of that self. It was time to finally follow my dream to travel around the world. It was about 2 years ago I started my plan of action.

2 years in the making…

After meeting different people, and dating a few Moroccan men in Montreal I decided I would like to go to Morocco, but by this time it had nothing to do with the men. I no longer liked them. I had been intrigued by the food, the culture and landscapes. So I said I wanted to go for a month. One month turned into three months then I wanted to go to Spain as well, and Egypt…and then Portugal was added to the mix and maybe meet friends in South East Asia, perhaps Nepal and Sri Lanka as well. So I realized this was going to be a much bigger trip than my initial idea. So I started saving. I know I didn’t need to have much money but enough to get around. I based my locations on cost of living. The cheaper the better. However, over two years even the locations changed. My plans were no longer plans but possible ideas. Africa was calling me more than anywhere. And what was initially a one year goal got pushed farther and farther. Partially because I wanted to visit more places and also out of fear. As the departure date grew closer the more anxiety and fear I had. I realized the true reason I kept putting off traveling over the years wasn’t money or time or obligations, it was fear. I was so afraid to leave my comfort zone. So afraid of the unknown of taking chances and risks. And also I breaking the rules. Meaning not being what society has so forced into my subconscious. Go to school, buy a house, marry, have kids, work and retire. I always had this obsessive need to follow the rules even when I disagreed with them. It was easier. I was good at school and work. But not at relationships, stability and consistency. Maybe if I was better at relationships the rules wouldn’t seem so much like rules. So I was a good robot, a depressed one but a successful one. A good friend said to this to me one day when I upset and crying after a good friend’s wedding. I was upset because I envied my friend for finding love and making the next step. I envied her for fitting in a box that I couldn’t nor understand why I didn’t. Why I couldn’t I marry, buy a house and have babies. And she turned to me and said “Susan you do not fit in that box, so why do you keep trying to put yourself in that box?” She was right. I was constantly trying to follow the rules that did not work for me. What works for many people do not work for me. I envied people who could go along life happily without desiring to leave their hometowns or wander a bit. I felt selfish and at the same time jealous. Until I realized that my box maybe was just a different box. More like a ball, that rolls from place to place. Not to say I don’t want to marry, buy a house or have kids. Just I want to see a bit more of the world first. Have a big adventure on my own. I need to follow this dream first before I could fulfill another one. Especially one that would end this dream before it was realized. 

So two years went by fast. I did many things in that time, I graduated from my photography course at Dawson. I was lucky enough (and very grateful) to travel with my flight attendant friends to different places. They were so kind to share those experiences with me that pushed me to believe I was making the right choice to travel long term. Notably, traveling to Argentina and Israel opened my eyes to what I need to be prepared and ready for. I wasn’t planning easy destinations. So I was very happy and grateful to go there with my friends.  So I got my vaccines, my travel insurance, even an international drivers license just in case. I gave my notice at work, which to my surprise was well received and everyone only wished me well.  Finally my babbling about traveling to my friends became less annoying (or I hope at least it was) now that it was an actual plan. I was so excited in the first steps of saving and researching where I wanted to go but like I said as the date got closer I got more scared. I didn’t know what to pack because I didn’t know where I was going. For months up until the day I left I only had three nights booked and a one way ticket to Lisbon. A week before leaving I woke up at 3 am realizing, I didn’t even check the entry visa requirements for Kenya! I was panicking. I wasn’t prepared, I had no fucking clue what I was doing. I was in over my head but it was too late. My job position was filled and I gave up my room in Montreal. The same week, I received a text message that my flight may be cancelled due to cabin crew strike, but wasn’t confirmed. No email or phone call just a random text message. So I had to call Portugal and couldn’t get through and was completely stressed out for two days. Finally I managed to call a Toronto office and got through and changed my flight to the next day. Thankfully the airbnb was flexible and I was able to adjust my dates and didn’t lose any money. Also, in the same week I was in an ATV accident and hurt my back, and also scared the shit out of me. I couldn’t walk (it was an ongoing issue I have with my SI joint). I began to think the universe was telling me not to go on this trip. It was an omen. Luckily I fixed my back at the chiropractor and my flight and airbnb was all in order. I had bought all the things I needed and couldn’t be more prepared. Of course I was still scared. The fear of the unknown has a powerful rule over humanity. Anyways I said my goodbyes, I did what I could and I took my transport to the airport. I felt more at ease when I ended up talking the entire route with the driver who was from India and actually worked in the textile industry. We even exchanged emails for possible future business together. However, he was given the wrong info and dropped me at the wrong terminal and I thought he had left and ended walking with my heavy gear to the other terminal. I ended up with blisters from my new boots. Needless to say I was nervous about the what would come next. He called me many times and finally I received the phone call. He apologized many times and it reassured these things just happen and you have to deal. Since then that has been my attitude. Life is going to throw anything and everything at you, you just need to learn how to catch them. I have also enjoyed living one day at a time. I mean with the exception of delaying writing this blog and carrying way too much weight on my back…but it takes some time to get adjusted to life on the road. Especially with camera gear!


Anyways that is my long and overdue intro to this blog, which I sincerely hope I can manage to update once a week or at least once a country! It will be sad if the only entry is this! 

So hopefully in the next couple days I will try and post my adventures in Portugal along with photos. 

My lightroom is packed with photos already…I haven’t really even looked at yet! 

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