Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Many Realities of Tanzania

I hardly know where to begin as so much has happened in the last few weeks. It has felt like several life times or at least a whole childhood relearning patterns of behaviour and communication. I guess I will start with some of the lessons I have learned and then go onto my exciting plans that have gone from seeds to sprouts before my eyes.

To be honest Reality is harsh here and so sometimes the people seem to be too. It is not a place where people are constantly concerned with how you are (though they may not actually care). You have to say what you want and what you don't want, there are no games in the way they communicate. It has been an intense lesson and I am still working on it. People care for each other but only if you ask and this is something we don't do at home. I almost feel guilty asking them for help but they don't care they expect it of you. It is an excellent practice at looking at what you really need and what you don't want. Saying no is particularly important, as they will not stop if you fumble on your answer. I can see why people do not have the neuroses here we have in the West but I can also see why so many of these people get cheated out by foreigners and locals who know how to play games with their words. There was a German doctor staying at the Jeshi for a few days before Christmas. He was about 65 and came from a very different generation than me. I had quite the love hate relationship with him. I loved having someone to talk to and some of the stuff he said was interesting the other stuff was slightly horrifying. He has been too many different countries during times of war or suffering to help people, and perhaps you would expect him to be a calm, caring fellow but on the contrary he was an abrasive, angry man who likes the drink. He sees life here in a startling and yet refreshing way. He sees the life of these people living with nothing and understands why they would rob each other or get stuck on a mzungu (white person) in hopes of salvation and yet he often referred to the people here as barbaric and stupid. He himself has a Tanzanian girlfriend who he says helps keep him in check while he helps her and her baby survive. His words all seemed to contradict each other and yet they all spoke of his reality. He seems to have taken on the abrasiveness that people here have but doesn’t quite have the calmness that they possess. One thing he said which I really liked was that people here will always forgive and once they forgive they will not bring it back up and rub it in your face, it is gone forever.

My days have become filled with much more action and I actually haven’t been studying or doing yoga as much as I was. I have started to teach English to a friend on Saturday mornings and I make a journey to the market ever second day to pick up the most fabulous fresh produce, a ripe juicy mango only costs 30 cents. I also have been to visit my friends in Mbande, the village I lived in last time I was here and went to the most amusing Christmas party ever. I was invited by Alex (who works at the Jeshi) to come to his house for christmas, so Abdallah, his daughter and I got all dressed up and hopped in a cab. The safari took us threw the small streets on Mbagala a large settlement on the outskirts of Dar to a beautiful home in the midst of great poverty. It was actually Alex’s friend’s house and by the time we arrived at 4pm they were all well on their way to being inebriated. They welcomed us warmly and immediately began to feed us alcohol. The yard was filled with children; some relatives, some the house girls and others kids of the four families gathered together. I was very thankful that these were all quite well educated people, even their kids went to private school and thus they could speak English because it gets tiring trying to understand people speaking Swahili after many hours. After many drinks and lots of laughing we were invited to the back where a beautiful feast had been spread out; pilau, rice, beef, chicken, salad, fruit and an amazing chilly sauce. We feasted and ate our fill and then came the music. Tanzanians really love ridiculously loud music, I don’t fully understand it but I highly enjoyed it this time. After a few more drinks (I had consumed a whole bottle of wine by this point) we started to dance to joyous African gospel, middle eastern inspired Tarabu and some bongo flava. I even learned a South African Kwaito line dance. It was a great party and
We partied hard until after 11pm. It was definitely the most action packed Christmas I have ever had.

Since Christmas I have been on the hunt for somewhere to live as the Jeshi will leave me bankrupt soon and haven’t had much luck yet, as I had to check out the beach area which was really pricey ($80-300/mth). But I have faith as I have some friends who pay as little as $12/mth for a room to $65 for a modest two bedroom home. I have also just put in my application for my residence permit which will allow me to stay in the country and volunteer for a year. I have started working with a wonderful local NGO started by an inspiring young man who comes from a very poor area near lake Victoria and was lucky enough to meet Jane Goodall at a young age and his involvement with her foundation roots and shoots has changed his whole life. His foundation is called Rafiki Development Foundation and works mainly with sustainability projects to help local people live a better life and take care of the environment.  I am currently putting together an environmental education program to pilot at a few schools and an orphanage here in Dar and we also hope to build an educational centre where people can learn about sustainable building, organic farming, wildlife and forest conservation, the 3 Rs and renewable energies. I am starting to help write the proposal for this and will let you all know more soon. At the moment though if you feel so inclined I would love it if you would download the igive donation button. It is a simple download and whenever you purchase anything at an online store $5 or a % is given to RDF.

Many thanks and so much love to you all

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tanzania First impressions the second time round

I have now found myself in Tanzania for a little over a week and it has been an intense 10 days. Last time I came here I was blessed to come with my professor and 6 other students and I didn’t realize till now just how wonderful it was to have them around. It is quite ironic that on my Europe trip I longed for time alone and now I long for someone to talk to who can understand what it is like to be here as a Mzungu (white person). It has taken me a good week to get a handle on the language again and be comfortable with venturing out to new places on my own. It feels a little like a test on my abilities to survive and to trust while being careful. Most days I meet men as they are the ones out and about working and usually they are the best educated, though yesterday I met my friend Abdallah’s brother who is in his third year of high school and studies everything in English and was unable to speak to me in English. Most of these men are usually only attracted to my white skin and the thought that I have money. Ninakupenda baby (I love you baby) is a phrase I often hear. Though some genuinely want to share ideas and learn about different cultures and people. It is hard to trust in this situation as most people here I would say who are my friends constantly warn me to avoid these people.

Education is greatly lacking here and many people only finish grade 7, some don’t even get that far. There is also an incredible amount of unemployment here, I am not sure of the percent but about a third of the people I meet are unemployed and another third are surviving off of petty business ventures like selling underwear or fruit or anything they can afford to buy. I find it amazing that people always try to survive here, they don’t give up and family and neighbours help each other out. Though sometimes that means they will steal your stuff or give you company in order to get food and drinks.

I did meet some very cool young ladies who were here from Kenya for the East African Handball competition. They spoke English which was a nice change of pace and they were all in university or high school. I went to watch the finals that they lost to Tanzania and the Men’s semi finals. This is quite an interesting game. It is super fast, very aggressive and oh how the people in the crowd get worked up. It was hilarious like a hockey game times if everyone in the crowd was yelling at the players, coach or refs. We also went out to possibly the most hilarious bar I have ever been to. Not knowing where to go we want to go their driver took us to a random bar and we walked into to this place with a circular stage in the middle and people all seated around. It was some sort of a strange talent show or karaoke event, people would get on stage and dance, lip sync or impersonate the singer and people would get up and give small change to the people on stage if they liked it. There was some amazing ass shaking and impressive gymnastics from the men, there even was a midget who got up and danced several times. During breaks from the performances we all got on stage and danced and the ladies taught me all sorts of amusing dance moves. I wish I had of had my video camera.

This week my days will be expanding from doing yoga, studying Swahili and going to town. I finally got my professors kitchen goodies so I can start cooking for myself. Today I went to the market and got two bags of produce for $5, yum yum. I will also be going to a school in a village near by to teach some English and tutoring math at an orphanage in town. I am also in contact with a developing NGO who I want to help in implementing an environmental awareness course in schools using English, art, music and gardening. 

Granada and the end of Spain

Oh Granada, what a love song I could write for you. If you have never been to Granada you absolutely must go!! It is exactly what I love in a place. Old buildings created over the centuries by many different cultures, tapas that come free with your drink, three exclusively veg/vegan restaurants, hills and mountains to climb in, amazing sunsets, hot springs, caves where hippies and gypsies live, flamenco on every corner, and of course the Alhambra watching over all of it.

After being told by many people to go to Granada, we found ourselves there after 13 days on the road staying at the fabulous hostel Rambutan. It was a welcome change from the busy streets of Amsterdam, Barcelona and Sevilla. Ashley and I immediately felt at home in the amazing landscape, tucked into the hills the perfect balance of civilization meeting nature. The Rambutan happens to be located at the top of albhaycin the oldest part of town just below the caves. This area is amazing with tiny little winding streets moving up a vast hill. It was a great workout and an amazing adventure every time we ventured to and from the Rambutan. In fact it was so fabulous we ended up staying there for 12 days.

We stayed for many reasons, first because it was incredibly beautiful, second because it felt safe enough for Ashley and I could have time alone to reflect on our journey, third because the food and drinks were amazing and lastly and most importantly we met some super awesome people; Isa and Nick who ran the hostel, Alex who worked there and Doris from Amsterdam who shared a glorious week with us and many others we met there.

Everyday was refreshing and relaxing; I arose early and ate a damn fine breakfast for hostel with fresh baked bread, eggs, muesli and coffee. Then we would wonder about the streets, go shopping, eat amazing food, go on one of the many free tours, relax in the Arab baths, walk in the hills or just chill out at the hostel reading and playing on the internet. We went to two superb flamenco shows, one was a weekly event in the local theatre and another was a nightly gathering in a little bar in a cave. The fierceness and power of these dancers is amazing and the facial expressions they use are so intense. I had hoped to study some flamenco while we were there, but it will wait for another time when I have more time and can really immerse myself in it. As Granada will definitely be a place I will return to! I of course did get to dance in Granada. The first weekend we were there we were told about a pirate bar by some gay guys at a tapas bar. Oh and I was hooked the minute we went in. Pirate paintings all of the walls, the dj booth looked like a ships helm, their mojitos were seriously strong and seriously delicious and they played the most fabulous Latin music that I just couldn’t stop shaking my hips to. We went back our last night in town needless to say ;)

Finally we had to say goodbye to Granada and so we headed to Madrid to visit Cristina who was so lovely as to host us. Madrid again was a nice change from the quiet of Granada we were once again in a big city but it doesn’t seem as crazy as Barcelona. This time we did the real touristy stuff. We went to see the Egyptian temple and then went and tapas bar hopped, another day we shopped around and went to the national geographic café and finally on our last day we to the prado, which was a nice treat. Though I must admit the intense amount of religious art that is in European museums does very little for me.

And we had reached the end we flew to London and slept in a little Japanese style bunker hotel in the airport and in the morning we drank our last coffee to together and had a good cry as Ashley went to board her plane at London Gatwick and I journeyed on by myself to Heathrow to begin my long journey to Tanzania. It was a magickal journey filled with much learning about relationships, patience, boundaries and supporting ourselves and others. So much love to you Ashley!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunny Sevilla

We arrived in Sevilla after 10 whirlwind days travelling about some of the biggest cities in Europe and all I wanted to do was rest and so after we checked into our hostel we proceeded to take the day off, simply eating some greasy tapas washed down with red wine in a sweet little plaza filled with orange trees and going for a walk through the labyrinthine streets of Sevilla. This has been our first stay at a hostel during this trip and possibly Ashley’s first hostelling experience. It was a great relief having other people around to spend some time with and allowing us to have some time away from each other ;) The garden backpacker became our home for what was originally supposed to be two but grew to four nights. It is a lively, brightly coloured place with sky lights, a roof top terrace, a large kitchen, beautiful garden and free sangria every night.

It was not out of an indescribable love for Sevilla or the garden why we stayed for four days, but for the pleasurable opening of the skies and an intense down pour for two days which allowed us to rest and rejuvenate in a relaxed and warm city in Southern Spain. Though perhaps our drinking a little too much one night with an American and a French man subsequently leaving me in a brutally hungover state which not even the exquisite Arab baths and there different pools and steam rooms could relieve. My only cure was some ibuprofen and rest followed by some tv watching.

After these days of recovery, we set out to discover Sevilla and all it had to offer. A truly enchanting city, the quintessential picture of Spanish life filled with slow days mixing large portions of booze with tapas and small portions of work. The buildings are amazing and everything seems more exotic than most European cities. This is no doubt to the fascinating history between the Romans, the Barbarians (aka the large white people who came from the North and could not speak latin, which I am clearly one of according to our tour guide), the Muslims, Jews, and Catholics. Each people built upon each others successes and mosques were turned into churches as the Jews and Muslims were thrown out by the inquisition. This city tells a fantastic tale of acceptance and fear of the other. The free historical tour we went on was excellent and my inner anthropologist was completely enthralled as I walked from room to room in Alcazar as it’s room change from Arab to gothic and on and on as different rulers had controlled the city.

The one thing I must say I found lacking in Sevilla was the food, tons of ham, cheese and white bread. It was just too much for my body to handle and I was incredibly thankful for having access to a kitchen where I lovingly and joyfully prepared food for Ashley and some of the lovely people we met in the hostel from the four corners of this marvellous world of ours.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beautiful Barcelona

Barcelona, what a city, filled with the architecture of Gaudi, tourists galore, middle eastern men using selling strange noise makers that seem to be everywhere. Our airbnb was even exceedingly eclectic, run by a young European couple whose grandmother previously lived in the place and now was taken care of by her former maid, Rosa, who spoke not a word of English and loved to chain smoke and yell at the foreigners. I got at least one smack for trying to turn the stove on. The building itself was fairly derelict, a super old building right in the gothic quarter. The apartment was long and thin with two large bedrooms, three tiny bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a sort of living room. It was decorated by things found on the streets and no doubt the travels of the people who had lived there. Our room was one of the large rooms with our own living/dining area and the big bed tucked into a separate nook. The room was definitely decorated in my kind of style but it looked onto the street so it was noisy till all hours of the night. I will put up some pictures soon.

Our time in Barcelona was rather ruckus and ill planned. Attempting to go by the seat of our pants with little time to see all the momentous things that Barcelona has to offer after running around London and Amsterdam was quite an experience and of course with mine and Ashley’s love for looking at shopping we spent a number of hours looking in windows and occasionally trying stuff on. I ended up falling in love with a company called Desigual which just had the coolest, brightest, wildest clothes. I was really like a kid in a candy shop and fortunately have more restraint then a child and managed to only come away with one dress.

We found another favourite café called Artisa that had the most perfect coffee and flaky, melt on your tongue croissants. Everything in it was organic and local and it was only two blocks from our apartment. Another gastronomic delight was the picnic store that two of my former students took us to. It was filled with pastries, breads, meat, cheese, oils and vinegars, wine and liquors and in the middle was seating where you could enjoy these delights. Wait there are more Café Oviso done the road from us in a little plaza played hip hop and had roman paintings on the walls, and at the wax museum there was el Bosc de la Fades, an enchanted garden where you drink amongst the trees, waterfalls and fairies.

I am sure by this point you think our trip has been nothing but food and shopping but there has been more. We did manage to see the Picasso museum, which is an amazing collection through time of the evolutions of Picasso. We also saw the cathedral, the marina and of course Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and Guell park, which were so inspiring I cant even believe it. Why are buildings not built like that today with all things natural considered, what people need to be happy like sunlight, heat and breezes, comfortable ergonomic seating and beautiful bright colours. He was an absolute genius and I am determined to return and see all of his works one day.

This journey so far has been an interesting lesson for me around patience. Patience and encouragement for others and mostly for myself. I do not need to know everything or getting everything perfect every time. It has also reminded my how I need to be alone and connect with the earth to replenish myself, which is the opposite of my travelling partner who needs to process everything externally. Life is amazing and constantly surprising. Much love to you all.

Dutch Gastronomy

Amsterdam is a blur now or perhaps it always was ;) After our ticket fiasco we arrived into the loving arms of Steph, a dutch couchsurfer with the loveliest apartment in Haarlem. Attempting to find somewhere to couchsurf in Amsterdam and really in Europe in general has become ridiculously difficult which is why our stay with Steph was all the more special. In total we stayed there four nights and each evening after she finished massage school Steph would come out and enjoy Amsterdam or Haarlem with us.

As you would imagine most of our days were filled with visiting cafes, exclaiming in awe at the beautiful architecture, eating tons of amazing food and visiting the sex museum. I must say one of my favourite things this time round was the food, thick dark loaves of bread, handmade farmer’s cheese, stroop wafels, hearty soups. It was really my kind of cooking and my body really enjoyed it too!! We found one restaurant we especially loved called Café Latei. They made amazing sandwiches, great coffee, delicious desserts, tasty soup and on evenings they had a special Ethiopian menu and everything in the store was for sale and I mean everything probably even the dishes we ate off of. All in all I think we ended up going there three or four times.

We were lucky enough to be in Amsterdam during 11/11/11 and get told about a meditation for peace at the Dam (a huge monument in central Amsterdam). It was a very cool experience sharing meditation with a bunch of strangers who may not speak your language, but in our common desire to change the world we can come together and communicate with our souls. I give props to everyone who was there as it was cold! And we certainly did not make it through the full hour without having to scamper off to a warm restaurant to warm our toes and fingers. Once we were nice and warm we went out to Ruigoord, a small little neighbourhood that had been annexed for demolition but squatters had prevented it and they turned the area into an awesome little hippy village. So we danced away with our hoola hoops for world hoop day in an old church that had been saved by a bunch of hippies :D

I definitely loved Holland. It feels the closest to home of most of the places I have been. Everyone thought we were locals and were so friendly. The bicycles everywhere and no one wears helmets. As Steph’s mom said you would only get a helmet for a child who kept falling off a bike because they obviously had serious problems and needed a helmet :P The occupy movement was also very self evident there with camps set up everywhere and flyers and talks going on. It has been a powerful time to be travelling and witnessing all that is going on. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

London Calling

Waking up from a rather uncomfortable sleep on a decent British airways flight I felt washed clean, as if crossing the ocean had taken all my sadness and fear of leaving and loosing my grandmother away. After all how can one be sad in London on a sunny day where you find yourself surrounded by the entire British police force outside the bank of England because of some student protests. Well this is where Ashley and I found ourselves in an attempt to find meet our airbnb hostess near her work. For being stuck in a place for over an hour you really could not have picked a better one. Finally after realizing we were dialling the number wrong and our hostess obviously had not received our email we tracked her down through the kind help of a WWF canvasser. We were swept onto another tube and off to Harringay to a cute little apartment and a comfy bed which Ashley immediately dove into. However, her peaceful little nap was not long as we were to go and meet a very old friend of mine, Rene. When we arrived at russell square tube there he was with my lifesaver bottle which had just arrived that day. We wondered oxford street and Soho, chatting away and finally settle on a cute pizzeria where we had some amazing pizza and wine. After catching up we journeyed back out on to the street into Piccadilly circus and all the lights and found a lovely pub with a George Orwell bar (still not sure what that was about) and enjoyed a pint of fine English Ale. By this time the booze and food had definitely made us sleepy and so we journeyed to our flat and slept straight through the night.

The next morning we were regretting our decision to stay only one night in London as we had slept in and had to run around to get some food and try to make it to catch the train, to catch the bus, to catch the bus to Amsterdam. Little did we know that when we reached the airport our reservation could not be found because I had booked it for the day before, oops!! As you may know I do not like to admit my mistakes and after wishing I had not agreed to go to Amsterdam I was just a little peeved, especially since the price of the tickets were three times as much. But what is to be done and so after much humming and hawing I gave in and booked tickets for the next flight. But if you think the story ends here you are mistaken for our already extended wait was increased when the flight seemed to have the wrong number of people on it and they had to go through the manifest individually until they realized we were the right number. Oh travelling how I love thee!

Lose and Gain at the beginning of a new journey

As I prepared for this journey I have been faced with many challenges, had many inspiring conversations, seen a life pass on and let go of a home and two jobs. When I told my energy worker about my energy she said I would be tested but boy did I really have no idea what that really meant. Letting go of my house and jobs was easy as pie, despite choosing to leave it all behind only a few weeks before taking off. Though renting out my place till only five days before I left was completely ridiculous. I was able to sell all my furniture, got out of my lease, stored my stuff at friends all in these five days. I would not recommend getting major energy work done the day before you have to move everything by yourself. I also learned that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to asking for help and then facing the truth that I can not do anything at all. The day after my healing I was convinced that all of my friends were too busy to help me and besides I could do it all myself. But as the hours ticked by and I ran up and down three flights of stairs with my legs and arms aching more with each step, I could not do it any more and this realization brought me to my knees and I cried for the first time in ages. It was a powerful moment. But luckily friends did help and my last night in Van was filled with amazing food, tasty drinks and wonderful friends.

My second and perhaps harder challenge was to be met when I arrived in Calgary to see my family and a few friends. I thought I was going to face my own fears reflected in my mother but nothing is that simple and instead I was faced with the loss of my last living and dearest grandmother. I can only say that I am so thankful that I had come and got to see her before she passed and the little bit of time that my brother, mother and I got to spend with her were amazing. At the age of 94, I didn’t think she was ready to let it all go. But when she fell and fractured her pelvis in two spots the morning I arrived in town and it went from an easy break to internal bleeding, she was ready to say good bye. She led a long and inspiring life, filled with family, travels, adventures as a nurse during the war. She was full of so much love and compassion and would chat with any passing person. I can not say her actual passing was as hard as leaving my mother grieving loosing both her mother and daughter at once. But we all have our challenges to face in this life and that is hers as leaving is mine. My grandmother finally passed on 11/11/11 at midnight during the full moon, a more powerful time I could not imagine. On this day I participated in a peace meditation in central Amsterdam and could feel my grandmother smiling down on us all. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ode to Ontario (and Spirit)

Back in Vancouver on a brisk but surprisingly sunny day I have had time to sit and reflect on all the amazing, frightening, uplifting things that I got to experience while cooking in the woods in North Western Ontario. Ontario was an amazing surprise! Huge lakes, rocky hills, big trees with incredible colour changing leaves and hot hot days. I absolutely recommend to everyone that you should go and check out this part of our amazing country. It will be a delightful discovery I am sure!

 But now I can not stop giggling at how spirit works in us. To give me this opportunity to shift and release in a place that promoted my healing a thousand fold in comparison to staying here in Vancouver and giving me a substantial amount of money to go out and walk my path to Africa. It is hard to find words for all that I experienced and all the lessons learned. I had many realizations about my own fears; completely ridiculous unsubstantiated fears of bears in the woods and crazy men hiding out in the cabin waiting to do terrible things to me. My shadow popped up at all times and in many corners to stop me from progressing on my path and I now am able to hold it and give it the love and compassion I would give another person who had suffered hurts and pushed away their pain. I have looked the anger I have carried for others and questioned its rationale. I feel lighter and as the cosmos whirl faster and we are shifting to a new better truth filled existence I am feeling more prepared.

Another gift spirit gave me one day as I sat on the deck sipping my tea and checking my emails was a visit from a lynx. It was a beautiful sunny morning around 11am and out of the bushes directly in front of me walks out this beautiful strong wild creature. She stood at the edge of the bushes and looked around not noticing me until I said “hello beautiful” to her. And then she looked at me with the intense eyes peering into my being she stood and looked and after what seemed ages she began to walk around the side of the deck. In a sudden panic I got up and ran inside fearing she would come up on the deck but of course she did not and my fears had tricked me once again. Later in reading more about the Lynx, I discovered how very rare they are and how much rarer it is to actually see one in the open and for you to have minutes to connect with it. The totem of the Lynx is that of the keeper of secrets, being able to move precisely and stealthily it can watch the world and see what is truly there and not what people try to show. I immediately connected with this totem from my own experience in the woods and of my life in general. She stood there looking through the fears and beckoned me to tell the truth, my truth, the whole truth. She also reminded me how when I am still and take time to listen I also know the secrets of the world.

At the end of it all I was very ready to go and so thankful I went. Being able to cook everyday, creating delicious edibles makes me super happy, Spending time alone listening to the trees and the birds, Jumping on the trampoline and run about like phoebe from Friends ;),  Enjoying 27c weather, basking in the sun, swimming in the lake, enjoying a late night sauna, baking bread and having time to concoct my plan.

So here it is as it stands at the moment. I am returning to Mama Africa and don’t know when I will be back. I starting off with a visit to Calgary to welcome a beautiful new babe into the world, then off to Spain with Ashley to study flamenco, eat tapas, look at Gaudi’s creations and hopefully hang out with the gypsies, then we are off to Morocco to get scrubbed in the Hammam, drink mint tea, work on some organic farms and venture with the nomads. At this point I will bid Ashley adieu and fly to Kenya to travel to a farm on Mfafango island on lake Victoria lead by where I will work on their demo farm and help train youth in sustainability. Then I am off to Tanzania to visit my friends and to work with an orphanage and the Tanzanian scouts association. This will take me to Malawi and where I will stay and do a more intensive training on their farm. From there who knows, but I know it will all work out in divine order.

Much love light and laughter to your all

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I can not tell you how blessed I feel!! I am so thankful for so many things: The ability to write how I feel and release all the feelings that are built up inside of me, whether anyone reads them or not; The opportunity to manifest this and collect an income that can help pay for all my dreams; The chance to work by myself and process and learn; The chance to work with all these other people and learn about myself through them; To concoct mad meals and have the internet to search out amazing new recipes; to sit in the sun watching the leaves change and listen to the birds chirp; sweating it out on the beach at 27c and then going for a swim, the list goes on and on.

We all create out stories and we all must take responsibility for their creation. I am reminded of this constantly as I am on this journey in this magical place. Yesterday, I chose to create a new story. I sat down and created a vision board made up of pictures, colours and symbols cut out of magazines. I look at it for inspiration; journeys, movement, plants and trees, beautiful moving bodies,…. After my vision board I sat and read an amazing article about the turning point that is coming at this time, the end of the mayan calendar. I wish to share it with you and hope you enjoy it
This lead me to a video on the high priestess and transforming one’s outward intelligence into one’s inner wisdom. Which further lead me to a deep meditation, yoga session and chakra cleansing. All of these things helped me to release and to appreciate what I had and to prepare for my new world view :D

I would like to thank you all for who you are, for all that you have showed me, and for the beautiful words of compassion and comradery you sent me. Many blessings on this journey we are wondering through in these human bodies.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

From the banks of my muddy mind

Being alone by yourself in the bush for 8+ hrs a day is certainly a good way to help you identify your neuroses and if you already knew what they were then it is a good way to get to know them really really well and hopefully with that knowledge accept and disarm them. As I have already been trying to accept, love and disarm the deeply ingrained beliefs that I need to be, do and have better and the need to follow the little voice inside my head that speaks for society, my past lives, friends and family, I find them incessantly nattering at me now that I am alone. Though I have gotten to know this pattern well the ability to love and disarm seems to be taking me much longer (and there it is again like a vicious circle). In this beautiful and serene place I find myself alone and scared, strong and fearless. The dichotomy that lives within me is powerful beyond belief and in my own stubborn way I choose to witness it alone. I think sometimes it must be hell to have me as a cook and I think other times how blessed I am to do this and provide delicious and nutritious food for everyone here.

Currently I am reading a book on raising our consciousness to a higher level, my mind constantly questions the legitimate way to do this. If it is our story and we are the only ones to blame for it when do we change our way of being. How do we admit that we are emitting negative energy, taking responsibility for it and yet not use this as an excuse for emitting these energies? I know these things take time and they often get worse before they get better, but sometimes I have a hard time believing it.

Where have I come from and where am I going to? What place have I created for myself on this planet of ours? How can I be cooking for people who are searching for gold when I disagree with the ideas of mining and yet part of me would be overjoyed  if someone were to give me a pair of gold earrings? Will the dishes ever end? Oh so many questions run through my mind and as I watch the leaves drop and try to meditate and master my mind, it simply lashes back with more nasty things to say. But then I look at the leaves again and listen to the birds sing and all is beautiful and blissful.

This weekend was particularly awesome because Grant, the camp’s owner, brought up his two super cute daughters; Payton, 7 and Avery, 5. It is interesting how in going through all my mental garbage, two little girls can be so easy to connect with. Inquisitive and joyful, I absolutely loved playing with them and having them help me around the kitchen. Their ability to make something out of nothing and show how they feel no matter what is truly inspiring. I do so hope I will see them again.

From the sunny autumn leaved forests of North Western Ontario, I send you all my love.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Halfway through and feeling inspired

            Half way through and things are looking up, partly because I have been able to see all of my work mates as a reflection of myself and a  way to learn about the things I hide from myself and partly because I have made a new friend. His name is Fernando and he is a squirrel. I had noticed him before in passing but it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized he was following me around. First I found him down at the beach, where he nearly scared me to death thinking it was a bear, then I found him inside the kitchen and then at the back door trying to get in again. I now see him everywhere and with a bold stare as he walks up to greet me.

Well I feel it is time to tell you about the camp that Fernando and I share throughout our quiet days. It is literally a young boy’s wet dream, super camp extraordinaire. It was originally a junior ranger camp in the 70s-90s where no doubt many boys and a few girls (judging from the pictures) had an amazing time. But if they had of has Grant Brodeur as their camp manager they would have had the best time of there lives. Grant, our esteemed host has truly made his dream camp come to life.

There are 5 main cabins, with standard double rooms and lovely wooden decks, there is a rec hall and classroom with a 50”+ flat screen, vcr, dvd and satellite TV, a heated wash house with smoking hot showers and full laundry, the kitchen with everything I could possibly want including internet access and a supreme stereo system with speakers on the deck which over looks the lake and above the bbq (now I have never seen a bbq like this it has 8 burners and an electronic spit and will hit 800c in 10 mins). There is the lake with a pontoon boat, catamaran, speed boat, dock slide and my favourite a wood burning sauna. Nothing like a hot sauna and a jump in the lake before bed!! We also have a trampoline, various sporting thins, and a gas pump and it is all run on solar energy. I have turn Jenny on for a few hours in the morning and sometimes night but that is it. Amazing!! When the apocalypse comes I would like to be at a place like this.

So those are our digs and I am sure you would like to know what else I have been creating in the kitchen. Well lets see last night I treated everyone to a tasty little Korean meal with chamchi chijae (tuna kimchi soup), bulgogi (beef) and sam gap sal (three layered fatty pork), veggies tossed with vermicelli and some sesame beans with homemade kimchi. Tonight is wing night with hot, jerk and sesame buffalo wings, chicken soup with some partridge the guys hunted, salad, fries, homemade bread and blueberry pie and of course beer ;)

On another note I have also been cooking up some ideas in the kitchen like what am I going to do when I leave this glorious place with my pockets full of money well I have decided. I am going back to Africa. I have signed up for wwoofing independent and have sent off a few messages to farms in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa and Morocco. We will see which ones works out best but if everything goes as planned I will be off some time mid to late- October and return sometime in late February or early march. What better way to start the beginning of my thirtieth year and complete my first Saturn return than in the continent that I love most.

Much love, light and laughter to you all

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In the bush of North Western Ontario, week one

Week one is over and this woman in the woods is seriously wondering if she really signed up for taking care of four of her brothers. The calm, cool and collected soul inside of me knows, they are merely a reflection of myself, but my vengeful ego would like to see some heads roll. No it is not that bad, I am feeling emotional and perhaps have a little more wrath than normal at this moment in time.

My days are usually actually quite nice usually. I begin my day at 5am, before the world has risen I get up throw on some warm clothes and skip out the door of our cabin to greet Jenny (the Generator) and start her up. She charges up the batteries which are usually run by solar, but alas we all know the sun does not shine at night. After I have power I do a little meditation and try and remember that all the people I am working with are just people and I ask that all the food I make for them may fill them with love and nourishment. Then it is time to get set up. I prepare the lunch table with breads and buns, meats and cheese, veggies and snacks. Lunch has been by far my hardest meal to figure out, for someone who does not really eat sandwiches or meat or junk, I just haven’t been able to work it out. Alas my ego is often kicking me in the butt over not knowing what to do for lunches but I tell it to shut up and tell the boys if they want something they better tell. Once the lunch table is already I start up with breakie, I try and switch it up but there is always fruit salad and yogurt, toast with all the fixings, cereal, eggs and bacon and if I am feeling inspired I may make some strata or pancakes or oatmeal.

After all this and cleaning it is usually about 9am and I take a few well deserved hours to relax. Depending on the weather which has been all over the place from glorious and sunny to -3 and frosty to torrential rain with truck shaking winds, I have been enjoying watching movies and knitting (have finished a toque and almost done a cowl), reading (two books at once) , jumping on the trampoline or taking a walk to the lake. These are my favourite times, when there is no one about and I can talk to the eagles and run around singing or just being quiet as a mouse.

My afternoons vary based on what I am making, usually I do lunch prep and baking in the early afternoon. So far I have made spelt and roasted garlic; honey oatmeal and olive breads, peach pecan spices muffins and oatmeal pecan chocolate cookies. I am totally loving making bread which is something I have never done before but will definitely be doing in the future now that I know how easy it is (granted I do have all day). I also use this time to plan my recipes and check out what I am needing for groceries. I had planned on going to town just on Saturdays for the farmers market but at the rate these guys eat shit snacks I have been going twice a week. I am running out of things I figured I never would run out of and am hardly using other things. It has definitely been an interesting learning experience. Though also the hardest part. I feel a bit like a beck and call girl granting the whims of big boys planning in the woods. I find it hard not being appreciated for this as when  I do go to town it means I get no break at all during the day.

However town is quite amusing. It is about a 40 min drive along a beautiful road with magnificent red, gold, orange and green trees. The town is small about 8000 people and main street is only about four blocks. But the people are so friendly and helpful, even to a big city tattooed woman. There is a little organic store with an owner who loves to talk and talk and talk. There is also a super quaint farmers market with amazing produce, elk and bison meat, Mennonites, seniors and high school girls with awesome painted nails. I managed to buy almost all of my produce, meat, cheese and bread there!! Other than that there is a Canadian tire, where a sweet old man named Elmer helped me cut the thickest chain they had with a hacksaw because we busted the cutter J There is also a walmart, yuck (all the towns here have walmart and that is virtually it), safeway, lots of fast food, truck dealerships, little local stores full of tacky clothes and furniture and a few local food stores. I still haven’t managed to find Rocky and Bullwinkle and Dudley do-right, but I am on the look out. One of my most and least favourite parts of town is driving around in my half ton chevy, who knew I would love driving a big ass truck so much, if only I had brought my cowboy hat.

After all that is said and done and I have had another break if I didn’t go to town, I start up dinner. Dinner of course is my favourite meal and as I am theme queen I constantly have regional or country based menus; Jamaican, Italian, American, Thai……. Some of my favourites have been Mexican with Fish tacos, Yam quesadillas, rice and beans and guac and salsa with chips; Indian with Butter chicken, baijan Bharta (aka eggplant curry), quinoa dal and chutney with peach, cardamom, rosewater lassis. Tonight I am making Italian with a Pesto torte, chicken cacciatore with potatoes, salad and pears baked in wine. This usually takes me from 4 to 6 to prepare and then 6:30 to 7:30 or 8 to clean and then I rest until I fall asleep at 9pm, in order to start all over again.

Welcome to my life!! Keeping my eye on the prize, loving nature and meditating as much as possible.
 Love and miss you all! Xoxoxoxo M