Wednesday, October 29, 2014

This Island is Trying to Kill Me (Or: That Time I Got Dengue)


This is not the first time Roatan has tried to kill me.

There was the entire first year that I was here and had allergic reactions to the sandflies and mosquitoes, and earned the somewhat unsavory local nickname of 'Sorry Legs' from the islanders....

There was the time I fell down a concrete ramp...

There's been a few more I haven't mentioned due to legal issues and/or my mom's sanity.

But this one has been the worst. You guys, I got dengue.

Dengue fever is one of those shitty tropical diseases that you can get in (surprise) tropical countries. It's transmitted through mosquitoes, so I guess I should really just be happy I made it well over two years before getting it.

Here is the list of symptoms that I have officially compiled from all of the internets:
  • sudden onset of high fever/chills
  • joint and muscle pain (dengue is often called 'breakbone fever' due to the pain)
  • headache 
  • pain behind the eyes and when moving eyes
  • nausea/vomiting
  • rash
So all really super cute stuff. After you get bit by an infected mosquito, in 4-10 days you will start to show symptoms. Usually it passes in a week if you don't have complications (like it turning into dengue hemorrhagic fever which to me kind of sounds like Ebola and I'm pretty sure you die). But it's the worst week ever. And you get all kinds of residual goodies to deal with, like being weak and having no energy for months.

I woke up one day with what I'll call just a 'touch' of a hangover... no big deal, I sat on the couch and begged a friend to bring me some soup. After I ate, I was watching TV and felt better by the afternoon. Around 5pm I stood up to make dinner and BAM! My knees gave out and I fell back on the couch and immediately started sweating. Now, sweating is not normally a cause for alarm here since I do it pretty much constantly, but I could actually feel the fever starting and rising, all out of nowhere. I figured I hadn't done a good job of killing the hangover so popped two extra strength Tylenol and went to bed.


Four hours later I woke up, teeth chattering and delirious. I fumbled around in the dark for some towels and sarongs to get under (I don't own a blanket!) and put on basically everything I owned and tried to go back to sleep. I knew I was sick with something, I just didn't know what it was yet.

The next few days were an awful blur of Googling symptoms, whimpering pitifully to myself while contemplating shooting off whatever body part was having a painful moment, ginger pills to help with the nausea, and alternately wearing everything and throwing everything off. I've had a few episodes of fever here on Roatan but nothing like this. It seemed never ending. I realized I was really ill when after 3 days I hadn't eaten anything. ANYTHING. For someone who normally eats 8-10 times a day and can put big football players to shame at the dinner table, this was really disconcerting to me. Also the fact that nothing sounded appealing - every time I saw a restaurant commercial on TV or thought about a cheeseburger I would start to gag. For someone whose world revolves around food, this was a very sad time.

I had zero energy and even had to crawl from my bed to the bathroom for two days. I had to give myself full-on pep talks to get out of bed to get water, and I had to do it with my eyes closed or with sunglasses on because the pain in my eyes was unbearable. If I closed them and put my fingers on my eyelids, I could feel that my eyes were swollen and protruding. It was sexy. I also got terrible dizziness and looked like I was drunk because I couldn't walk straight. If I bent over or got my head underneath my heart somehow, I got vertigo so bad I would black out. It was not a nice time to be living alone with most of your friends off the island visiting their respective homes.

Here's the best part about dengue - there's absolutely nothing you can do for it! Just take Tylenol (acetaminophen) to try to keep the fever down, rest and drink plenty of liquids. And lay around being the most miserable human ever.

My friends who had already had dengue told me I had to wait until the fever was at least on day 5 before I could go to the clinic and get the test done. I finally made it to day 5 and went off wobbling to the clinic. The doctor examined me and said, "yep, dengue" and sent the bloodwork for testing. It came back positive, and thus was the first time I've ever Googled my symptoms, thought I had something terrible and was actually right!


I went home and thankfully my fever started to go down, although I had some interesting new symptoms such as a disgusting red and white rash all over my stomach, chest and tops of my legs, which is apparently a hallmark sign of dengue:


Also the itchiest palms of hands and soles of feet ever. This was soooo uncomfortable and I woke up one night having rubbed my hands raw. I got hungry again but everything I ate made me sick. (Had some serious empathy for pregnant ladies after all this nausea.) I had a day where I threw up everything I ate, but after further investigation that might have been due to chicken salad gone off rather than the dengue. I'll give that one the benefit of the doubt. I was desperate to get some relief from the dengue symptoms so I drank some 'bush medicine'... so whatever this thing below is... and it seemed to help:


Finally after 9-10 days the symptoms all subsided and I felt normal again, although my energy was seriously sapped and any little bit of physical activity left me exhausted. I still can't dive for a few more weeks and I am trying to take it really, really easy on my body so that it can heal properly. I've heard of people who went out on drinking binges or started exercising again too soon after dengue and their symptoms all came back, and I am not interested in finding out if that will happen to me!

If you get dengue: you really do need to go to the doctor. Even though there is no treatment for dengue (just taking acetaminophen to try to keep the fever down) your doctor will need to keep an eye on your platelet levels in your blood. If they dip too low, you'll need to be treated at a hospital ASAP. It can be really dangerous to let them get too low, so make sure you get your blood work done. I was lucky that mine stayed in the normal levels throughout the time I was sick, but the doctor was very surprised about this so I guess that isn't normal.


Guys, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ... there's lots of extras posted there that don't make it onto the blog. I also have Google+ if anyone even uses that? And I'm on Bloglovin', so you can follow me there too! Plus it makes me wear bug spray more, because subsequent dengue infections are apparently way worse than the first time. So there's that.



Friday, October 24, 2014

Bucket List Destination: Portugal


Many of my favorite travel bloggers have raved about traveling through Portugal. The culture, the food, the gorgeous coastline – Portugal is a country that has something for everyone.

Even scuba diving! (I had to check into that, of course. Looks chilly but interesting!)

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Portugal has been on my bucket list for a very long time for one huge reason: my grandparents spend the winter months there every year and have been doing so for over a decade. I would love to be able to go over there and see them while they are on their escape from Canadian winter!

Their descriptions over the years about their time in Albufeira has always captivated me – the stories of the kind locals, fresh seafood dishes bursting with flavor, leisurely people-watching over delicious coffee, historical buildings and charming coastline walks have had me sold on Portugal as a travel destination for a very long time. Since then, I’ve become more connected in the travel blogger community and have read about experiences with surfing amazing breaks in the Algarve and chill backpacker beach vibes in Lagos that have made me eager to head over and explore all that Portugal has to offer.

On my dream Portugal itinerary:

Albufeira

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The Algarve is a region on Portugal’s southern coast with many towns to visit, but Albufeira is the biggest holiday hotspot in the Algarve. I would definitely be spending some time in Albufeira with my grandparents to experience ‘their’ Portugal. There are miles of beaches, nightclubs to dance the evening away, and restaurants with fresh fish caught that day. While I would take time to enjoy a relaxed morning coffee with my grandparents at a seaside cafe, I would make sure to get in a day trip to the Western Algarve for a surf trip. Many of the surf spots in Portugal are perfect for beginners and are reachable in a day trip from Albufeira.

Lagos

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After visiting my grandparents in Albufeira, I’d make my way west to the stunning Lagos area. An ancient maritime town with a colorful history, Lagos now boasts cobbled streets and beautiful beaches like Meia Praia (Half Beach), and is famous for its moscatel wine and a strong spirit called aguardente de medronho, which they call ‘fire water’. There is a lot of history in Lagos, so before getting into the moscatel I would spend a day checking out the city’s 17th century fortifications and the 15th century slave market. On the food agenda would be trying the local specialties of salted cod and grilled sardines, washed down with local almond liqueur.

Funchal

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After exploring the Algarve, I would head over to the Madeira region. Funchal is the capital city and has both old and new world offerings for tourists. There is modern shopping right next door to old traditional restaurants. I would take the cable car that goes up and over the city to get a birds-eye view of the entire coastal city… and keep my eyes peeled, in case the extremely good-looking (Funchal-born) football star Cristiano Ronaldo was in town! Madeira is known for being a lush and verdant area of Portugal and Funchal is no exception. I would be taking plenty of photos of the outdoor garden areas with the beautiful backdrop of mountains and the ocean. Restaurants range from posh high-end modern to small, family-run local restaurants with a ton of history. I would try the local specialty of espada com banana, which is scabbard fish with banana, fresh salad and potatoes. Then I’d take an after-dinner rest to get ready for going out - with nightlife beginning well after midnight for those ‘in the know’,  Funchal would be my kind of party town.



There are so many other regions of Portugal to explore – the Algarve and Madeira are only two! When I go to Portugal I feel like I will need at least a few weeks to see everything that I want to see… or I could do like my grandparents do and spend the winters there (they are smart people). While my grandparents have their travel arrangements down pat after so many years of doing the same trip, I would use First Choice for my holiday in Portugal since I am less experienced and could use a little help.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with First Choice.


Guys, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ... there's lots of extras posted there that don't make it onto the blog. I also have Google+ if anyone even uses that? And I'm on Bloglovin', so you can follow me there too! Plus it makes me finally plan a trip to see my grandparents. So there's that.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Two Years as a Scuba Diving Instructor in Paradise


You guys. I've been a dive instructor for two years today. TWO YEARS. What the hell!? Where has all this time gone? I feel like I was just writing about how I wasn't sure I'd even get my other courses done in time to do my instructor course. And now I've been teaching people how to dive for two effin years already!

the first day of my instructor course in october 2012... so happy that i am still in touch with all my fellow candidates!
I have written a few posts about being a dive instructor. I even was interviewed by PADI about trading my cubicle for an underwater office. But I haven't written all that I could about it... mostly because I still find it tough to put into words how I really feel about my job.

I don't think I will ever forget the first day after finishing my instructor course when I led a dive for certified divers and did a Discover Scuba Diving experience (sort of a 'try-dive' half-day thing). The certified divers had no idea it was my first 'real' dive lead. I blustered through a dive briefing and spent the entire dive frantically searching for creatures because I felt like I couldn't find enough cool stuff to show the divers, and I kept going too fast and had to keep reminding myself to slow down. When we came back, all the divers thanked me and had a good time, but I felt like I hadn't done a good job and then the boat captain told me I had done the sites in the wrong order... I made a hasty retreat to the bathroom with my cheeks burning with shame and had to will myself not to cry. The DSD went better but the instructor supervising me made some suggestions (which were valid), and I felt like I had made a horrible mistake in coming to Roatan and that I was going to be a terrible instructor.


Obviously things have changed since then :) It was easy to forget that your first week at any job always sucks and you feel like you're incompetent, no matter what the job is.  I now lead already certified divers with confidence and ease, and have certified nearly 100 new divers. I see new instructors on their first dive lead or certification and am now the instructor offering suggestions! One of the best things about my job is how dynamic it is, and I still take suggestions from much more experienced instructors and incorporate different styles and tricks that I see them using. My teaching style is always evolving as I find what works and what doesn't. I learn something new every day, whether it's new knots for tying the boats out or a new cave system at a dive site.

You can see me teaching at the beginning of this video:



(I'm just doing a refresher with a certified diver, so all you crazies about to jump down my throat for not wearing a snorkel can sit back down.) Also, it's super weird for me to watch this.... I've seen lots of videos of me diving so I know what I look like doing that, but I had no idea what I looked like teaching!

Teaching people how to scuba dive is such a strange thing when you think about it. Like, you read a book and someone shows you how some equipment works and then you GO UNDERWATER AND BREATHE. It's super weird. I have to remind people all the time that it's totally normal to be nervous and feel a bit out of place underwater... that's your brain working properly! Humans aren't designed to be 60 feet underwater breathing and swimming around for an hour.... but I am sure happy that we can.


I find it really, really difficult to get across to you all through writing what my job is like. I wish I was a better writer. Some days it is the most frustrating job in the world. Sometimes I take people on dives and no matter how many rare macro creatures I find, or crazy awesome swimthroughs I take them through, they complain about everything and I can't seem to make them happy. Sometimes I feel like asking my students how they manage to get up every day and feed and clothe themselves when they can't do something basic like clearing their snorkel. But some days it is the best fucking job in the world. Sometimes I feel like a queen who's conquered the world when I find divers their favorite fish, or when I take them through a shipwreck and they say it's the best dive of their life. Sometimes I squeal with happiness and joy when my students nail a skill they are struggling with, or when I take them on their first open water dive and I see their eyes get huge as they get their first glimpse of the coral reef during descent. It's feeling that sense of accomplishment when I certify a diver and they are awesome right away. It's an even better feeling when they fight for it - not everyone is a natural diver, but the tenacious ones who don't give up on themselves make me the proudest. I will never have kids, but I have created many baby divers and I love seeing them progress and improve. I won't forget any of them. They probably don't know it, but each of them have taught me something too, whether it's a new way to explain a skill to someone who isn't understanding the way I'm doing it, or to slow my pacing, or to give them more space to figure things out themselves. My students and my divers help me to become better at my job every day.

taught my best friend to dive, this was a blast!
And sometimes, just sometimes, my job is a little bit selfish and it's about me. It's about me finding my favorite fish (it's a queen triggerfish, in case you were wondering), it's about me nailing my buoyancy through a tight swimthrough where two years ago I was hitting the sides, it's about finding the boat on a night dive at a shitty confusing site...which is the most glorious feeling in the world, FYI. It's about those times where you get really good divers and your job is actually fun and doesn't feel like work, instead the times where you have to turn around every 30 seconds to make sure no one is about to do something stupid and die. It's about being able to say YES YES YES when my divers happen to be guests on a megayacht and they ask me to get on board and finish their trip with them through the Caribbean. It's about getting to tell people (juuuuust a tad smugly) who ask, "I'm a scuba diving instructor on a tropical island". That's not something I ever thought I would be saying in my life. But it feels pretty fucking great to say it.


I didn't jump into this life lightly, although I know it may have seemed like it to other people. But I planned for months, and scrimped and saved. I worked two full time jobs for 6 months to save enough money to do this. If you read back in the archives on this blog, you can see all of this in early 2012. I always said that if I went down to Roatan and become an instructor for even six months, all the planning and work will be worth it. I have such a hard time believing how far past six months I've gone with this. I never planned to still be here well over two years later, but I'm pretty damn happy that I am. No matter what happens going forward, for the rest of my life I will always be able to remember that time where I said fuck you to the corporate grind and became a dive instructor in the Caribbean for a few years. If I make it another year I will be 30 years old and this will be the longest-running job I'll have ever had in my life. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but I think it says a lot.


Cheers to you all for following along with me on this incredible journey! Let's see where my "Three Years as a Scuba Diving Instructor in Paradise" post comes to you from next year.


Guys, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ... there's lots of extras posted there that don't make it onto the blog. I also have Google+ if anyone even uses that? And I'm on Bloglovin', so you can follow me there too! Plus it makes me keep on blowing bubbles. So there's that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Tourist Visa Procedures on Roatan

I had mentioned the new-ish Honduran visa procedures in a previous post, but I am getting asked a lot of questions from readers planning to visit, move to, invest in, or retire to Roatan.

Let me first be VERY CLEAR that I am not an expert, a lawyer or any other kind of official. I am simply someone 'on the ground' who has been through the procedures and has seen how it has been working since it's been put in place (late August 2014). I am also not making any sort of statement of what I personally have been doing one way or the other, this post is for informational purposes only. You should consult a Honduran immigration lawyer for advice.

So - here are the changes.

Previously: when you entered Honduras as a tourist you were granted a 90-day tourist visa. While on the record you should have had to leave the country every 90 days for at least 72 hours before re-entering and (maybe) being granted a new 90-day visa, it has been a common practice for years to pay immigration officials around $100 for an extension every 90 days. With residencies and work permits costing $1800-$3000 USD and taking up to a year to complete, they simply were/are not viable options for most tourists wanting to stay longer term on Roatan. (I am not here to debate the legality or ethics of visa or immigration procedures so do not comment on this post or email me if you want to argue about it.) 

Now: the government has implemented fingerprint scanners at airports and some land border crossings and your fingerprints will be scanned at entry and exit. Apparently the info will be shared with the US Department of Homeland Security, which the US expats are in an uproar about but I'm not exactly sure why. Anyway, visa 'extensions' from within the country are no longer permitted and you must leave Honduras for at least 72 hours before re-entering to get a new visa. Overstaying your visa comes with some hefty fines... there is no 'official' number anywhere but I have heard of people 1-5 days over being charged around $160 and up.

(source)
 

Short story: tourists (I'm using that as a general term for those people without residency) are now going to have to do visa runs. You need to stay out of the country for 72 hours every 90 days.

Reality: people are already leaving because of this, especially in the dive instructor community. With wages as low as they are, frequent visa runs or residency applications are out of reach for a lot of people who would like to stay here long term.

With Roatan being an island that's not exactly cheap to get in and out of, the cost of doing visa runs every three months ($400-$600) to neighboring countries like Belize or Guatemala will end up being about the same in a year as a residency or work permit ($1800-$3000). Catch: you still have to do visa runs while residency paperwork is in progress, and there's no guarantee that the government will grant your residency. There is also a ton of paperwork to do for a residency application, and citizens of some countries like Canada are not able to obtain some of the documentation abroad - they will need to factor in the cost of a trip home to get certain documents for the residency application.

I am sure those who are familiar with SE Asia visa runs are feeling very little sympathy, but remember this is a new thing for Roatan. There are no 'visa run' companies set up who take care of all the documentation for you and arrange transportation (although that could be a new niche market here I guess!), and Honduran visa rules state that you need to stay out of the country for at least 72 hours before re-entering... it's not a matter of touching down in another country, getting a stamp and turning around and going back. There are going to be flight costs as well as accommodation & food for 4 days, so it's not a quick cheap trip.

Hopefully Honduras will come up with some sort of extension program again or a realistically-priced work permit that people can apply for. Everyone I know here would prefer to work legally and not have to do visa runs, but when you make $5-$30 a day you're not going to pay $2500 and wait a year for a work permit, especially the current ones that tie you to one employer (if you change jobs, it's another $2500 work permit application) - that's just ridiculous, which is why hardly anyone does it. It would benefit the government to create an easier and cheaper process, so I hope they figure that out before more people leave and dive centers, restaurants and hotels start folding.

I'm still not sure how this will all play out - as with most things in Honduras, you kind of have to sit back when a change happens and take a 'wait and see' approach. I already have questions that no one seems to be able to answer... like how I just entered the country and was fingerprinted at the Roatan airport, so I am in the system as entering the country... but if I leave through Utila and then come back in through Utila, a neighboring island that hasn't received fingerprint scanners yet, I won't be on the record in the system as leaving. So we'll see, but for right now those planning to travel to Honduras for longer than 90 days should be sure to budget for visa runs when planning their trip.



Guys, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ... there's lots of extras posted there that don't make it onto the blog. I also have Google+ if anyone even uses that? And I'm on Bloglovin', so you can follow me there too! Plus it makes me start pinching pennies for a Belize trip pretty soon. So there's that.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Roatan Month 26 Roundup


After month 25 coming to you from Canada, this month's roundup is actually coming from Roatan once again.

I am happily settling back in my little life on the island. While I picked a fairly terrible time to come back work-wise (this is the slowest time of year and won't pick up again until Christmas) I am hoping I can scrape by until high season starts.

The 5 weeks I spent in Canada were, as always, never long enough to see everyone I wanted to. Sorry to anyone who I missed. Having spent significant chunks of my life in different cities in Canada means when I go back to visit, I have to divide my time between lots of places. During this trip, I spent my vacation in this order: 4 days in Vancouver, 4 days in Ucluelet, 2 days in Vancouver, 14 days in Moose Jaw, 5 days in Edmonton, and 5 days in Vancouver again. There were a lot of flights involved and time went fast. By the end, I was ready to get back to Roatan and sleep in my own bed!

Well, that's the news! Shall we get on to the roundup? (You can see all the past roundups here.)

1. Gratuitous diving photo:

Haven't been in the water much over the last month, so I don't have one for you! I'm in the background a bunch on this video though, so you can see me diving here (I'm wearing a white rash guard):


And I make a few appearances in this one too:



2. Posts from the last month:

I didn't get as much writing in as I would have liked due to all the traveling. Immediately after getting back to Roatan I spent a week diving with one of my readers who hired me for the week as his divemaster - it was a blast, and any other readers headed my way who are interested in something like that should contact me! I didn't spend much time at the computer though, so here are the few posts from the last month in case you missed them:

  • How Taking a Walk at Night Was a Revelation - a night-time walk in Canada made me realize how my behavior has been altered by living in a place where it's not safe to walk around at night.
  • Time to Go Again: Canada Highlights - a photo recap of all the awesome things I did (and ate) in Canada.
  • On Being a Chameleon - I was convinced in Canada that I was 'home', and ready to sign a lease. Then I got back to Roatan and felt like I would have to be dragged out of here kicking and screaming.


3. Best thing I've found on the internet lately:

I get so many emails from readers who are miserable in their cubicles and want to make an escape like I did. While I hope you all get to execute your very own cubicle throwdown, in the meantime... here are 54 Ways to Make Your Cubicle Suck Less :)

My fave is the hammock chair, obviously.



So happy fall to those of you in the northern climates. Enjoy your pumpkin spice lattes, boots & scarves and snuggly blankets. I'm back here sweating my ass off and getting sunburned and I am loving it!

Monday, October 6, 2014

On Being A Chameleon


I've been back on Roatan for a week now (a very busy week! more about this later!) and absence really does make the heart grow fonder. While I am already missing good sushi and fast internet, I am relishing every walk I take down the street that takes me 20 extra minutes because I have so many people to say hi to. Being back underwater has been immensely helpful in getting my stress levels in regular parameters, and I've been lucky to be diving with a shop this week that is...wait for it... AIR CONDITIONED, so that has eased the transition quite a bit!

From the moment I had this view on the plane, I smiled and thought, "I'm home". Not just because this is where my stuff has been for two years or where I have a lease, but because this is where I feel like I'm home. Even though a couple islanders thoughtfully pointed out this is not my home simply because I was not born here (in their books, anyway), thankfully it's up to me to decide where I make my home...and right now it's here.


Now, all the lovely warm fuzzies aside, let it be on the record that I feel the exact same way in Vancouver. And Victoria. And San Pedro in Belize. And pretty much anywhere on the east coast of Canada. Oh, and San Francisco, Ucluelet and Kyoto, too.

Obviously it's wonderful that I'm happy to be back on the island (if I wasn't, after 5 weeks away, that would be a sure sign that my time here is over) but I started thinking about how and why I could feel at home in so many different places.

Eventually I realized that growing up in a military family where we moved every couple of years has had a profound impact on my adult life that I hadn't thought about before. I was a painfully shy and awkward kid, terrified of trying anything new in case I wasn't very good at it and burning with shame if I made an attempt and failed. However, being essentially forced into an entirely new life every couple of years made me great at a few things after a while. It drove the shyness right out of me. I have no fear of new places. I can make friends with anyone. I am outgoing. I can set up a life in a brand new place and be adjusted in a manner of weeks, where I see others taking months or years to settle in. I can pack and unpack my apartments in hours. And, as I found out recently, I can throw a few things in a backpack on a few hours notice, find my way alone to a different place that I know absolutely nothing about and successfully figure it out when I get there.

I had never attributed these personal qualities before to my upbringing but the more I thought about how deeply I can feel that I am 'home' in a place that I wasn't born in, didn't grow up in, or didn't spend years and years in, I connected the dots. I think having the ability to quickly adjust and adapt to whatever place or situation you're in is an invaluable life skill.

It might not be helping my gypsy hobo tendencies at all, but damn it feels good to be a chameleon.





Guys, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ... there's lots of extras posted there that don't make it onto the blog. I also have Google+ if anyone even uses that? And I'm on Bloglovin', so you can follow me there too! Plus it makes me figure out how to change color too. So there's that.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Time to Go Again: Canada Highlights


How does time go so quickly here? Is it because I spend every waking hour eating or being constantly lost in thought about what I want to eat before my time is up and I'm off again to the land of the worst food ever? (Hint: possibly.)

It's been five weeks since I came to Canada and I am out of here today.

While my friends and family were all so, so lovely for hosting me during this trip, I can't wait to get back home, get underwater on a dive, and sleep in my own king-size bed...mosquitoes not included in that wish, obviously.

The thoughts of my own bathroom and $2 drinks (PS. fuck you Vancouver, in that department) waiting for me in Roatan is going to carry me through some really terrible overnight flights and nasty layovers this weekend. Keep me in your airport god prayers for some quiet seats that are free of those stupid armrests they put on them so no one can lay down.

While my next post will be coming to you from the tropics once again, here's my photos + witty caption essay on the highlights of the last five weeks in absolutely no order at all (warning - many delicious food pics):

some amazing views in vancouver

vancouver from english bay at night

with friends like these who needs anemones? (ukee aquarium)

i would like to scuba dive here in ucluelet, minus the smashing violently into the cliffs bit.

so yeah, saskatchewan really is flat enough to watch your dog run away for three days.

smoked salmon is my favorite. i ate it almost every day in canada. that's probably not even healthy.

tofu! tempeh! vegetables! HEAVEN!

a well-attended hockey game in moose jaw

this smelled the best. ucluelet forest hikes for dayssss.

this is a real thing and i'm very happy about that.

so it was zero degrees and i couldn't handle it.

dress shopping. in air conditioning. does life get any better?

i think the theme of this year's canada trip was 'poutine'. there's three other poutine photos i didn't post.

mad stacks of dim sum.

vancity views 

little brothers never grow up

creepin from the seagull view. (vancouver)

the most beautiful chocolate in the world. oh, and it tasted fucking amazing.

last day in vancouver roaming around in my old 'hood... any readers recognize this?



Adios, Canada. See you another time, might be soon. But for now, I'm going home.


Guys, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ... there's lots of extras posted there that don't make it onto the blog. I also have Google+ if anyone even uses that? And I'm on Bloglovin', so you can follow me there too! Plus it makes me figure out how to make poutine in Roatan. So there's that.