I was not born a traveller. In fact, I did not start travelling much until 2003. Before then, my only visits outside my native Quebec were to the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario, a few New England States, Boston, New York City, and a couple of European vacations as a kid with my parents. Adventurous travels around the World were simply not part of my life or dreams at that time.
Late in December 2002, I went to a shopping centre to buy, in those days of limited hard drive space, a DVD burner. The place was packed with crazed last minute Christmas shoppers, running around looking for random toys and ugly neckties, which children would soon scorn and adults pretend to like. In the midst of this madness, I saw a rather empty looking travel agent’s office and I walked in, primarily to get some reprieve from the crowd. A short while later, I walked out not with a DVD burner, but instead a last minute ticket to Cancun. This was not a resort vacation, just a return ticket. I ended up spending three weeks touring Yucatan, with no specific plan or itinerary, and I liked it. I liked it a lot. Nine years later, my travel experiences had expanded significantly, to include visits to:
– All 10 Canadian provinces.
– Most of the US East Coast, Georgia, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, California and Washington State.
– The Bahamas, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, several trips to the UK and France, Spain, Andorra, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Czech Republic, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Ghana, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, the UAE, Afghanistan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.
Despite many great and sometimes crazy experiences, it just wasn’t enough. Trips were often whirlwinds of frenetic activity and several adventures were just not to be had, because they took too long, were too far or otherwise didn’t fit in my work schedule. I also didn’t want to wait until I was retired to enjoy travelling. How many people have I seen accumulate significant assets and die of cancer or a heart attack a short time after retiring? It may be financially safe, but there are other risks to the “deferred life” plan. So I decided to live my dreams now and travel full-time for a while. No detailed plans, not much of a schedule. We’ll see what happens…
I have a bit of an aversion to accumulating things. All the objects I own fit in this 5′ x 15′ x 11′ storage locker – including a king sized bed.
My cooking equipment before packing it away.
My new kitchen! I have yet to use the Spork, and the knife, while very useful, has yet to serve in a food related role after a month of travel.
Back to travelling. There are many places I would like to visit, but I have decided to focus on the ones which are either hard to reach or require more time or flexibility to visit. This Fall, I have decided to focus on Southern Africa, and I will start with a bang; the most remote inhabited settlement in the World! More to follow on that later.
About ten years ago I used to really enjoy photography, but I gradually lost interest. I have travelled to many places where I didn’t take a single picture. I haven’t carried more than a small point and shoot camera in about 7 years. I now intend to change that. I want to maintain this travel blog as best I can and share my experiences with anyone who is interested. This may help me convince friends and family that I am not completely crazy. More likely, I hope I can convince myself I’m not!
Since blogging, photography, photo-editing and related subjects are all on the very long list of things I know nothing about, any feedback and advice will be greatly appreciated. I’m finding it’s actually a lot of work, and lack of good (or any!) internet access in the last month has not helped. I will try to catch-up in the next few days.
Some serious matters now! Before leaving, I had to make arrangements for my pet penguin, who lives in my freezer. I really would have loved to take him with me but, being a penguin, his constant need for refrigeration poses a major logistical challenge. Furthermore, his alcoholism makes it difficult to take him to Muslim countries. So, I put him in the care of a good friend.
Pokey the alcoholic penguin in an insulated lunchbox, ready for the drive to my friend’s house.
A new freezer, a new life. Given what he drank on the way, he’ll have no clue where he is upon waking. Oh well, nothing new there.
The end of a nice dinner with friends in Toronto, early September, shortly before leaving Canada. After hearing what the evening was about, the staff at Auberge du Pommier brought a plate of sweets (the name of which I forget) with this written in chocolate.