August 20, 2012 § 2 Comments
Several months ago, we were invited to go spend a weekend at a friend’s cottage on Amich Lake. As is often the case, the weekend was planned so far in advance, we had no idea what might be demanding of our time and attention when it finally came. As it turned out, the timing of our cottage get-away landed squarely in the midst of a particularly busy week amongst a slew of colliding deadlines. I found myself struggling. To go or not to go?
The need to pause for a recharge usually goes without saying after a particularly busy spell, but it often goes ignored in the midst of one. The busier the time, the bigger the drive to postpone the break until later… when you can afford it. But sometimes, the less it feels possible to take the time, the more it’s probably needed. It was definitely the case for me. In the end, I went, and I am so glad I did.
We were warned the drive would be long. An estimated 3.5 hours from Toronto. Our friend wasn’t bluffing. Between the usual cottage traffic and a must-stop at the infamous Webers burger joint on the way, we arrived at nearly 1AM after four hours of driving… but was it ever worth it.
The long-time family owned cottage compound awaited us. And yes, I said “compound”. Upon arrival, we quickly saw that this wasn’t your average cottage on a lake. The property housed several cabins of varying arrangements that could sleep anywhere from two to eight, plotted in close proximity of the lake, washrooms, and the main house. A boathouse contained a games room and several more rooms and bunks. All in all, we were told the property could sleep up to twenty-four people comfortably.
The main house itself was a beautiful three-storey lodge with roomy ceilings, a spacious family-centric kitchen and dining room, and small hide-away nooks built into different parts of the house. Large windows let in streams of sunlight, and the top floor acted as a natural ventilation system with windows that drew out the warm air from below and pulled in the cooler air from the outside. Decor was a tasteful rustic: everything from the enormous elk antler chandelier in the living room (which was made by collecting shed antlers, by the way – no elk were harmed in the making of the chandelier) to the birch bark lamps and beams.
However, perhaps the best part about the property was the nature and ability to immerse in it. The nights suffered from none of the light pollution of the city, and the sky was deep with millions of stars. The air was crisp, fresh, and rich from the oxygen pumped out by the trees in the area, and the lake pristine. Complete peace. I believe I slept more in the one weekend than I had for weeks. Incredible.
For our puppy, the weekend meant her first encounter with a body of water. Days were filled with new sights, smells and endless exploring through the trees, running in the grass, sniffing the waters edge… rolling in beaver poop. In other words, doggie heaven.
Does life get better than this?
I really don’t think it does. And it really can’t help but bring a certain perspective. Something about pausing to breathe and allowing the body to recharge. And when it seems like you can’t afford to take the time to slow down to recharge – it’s likely the opposite is true. You really can’t afford not to. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you. And if nothing else, your puppy will.
May 23, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Within 24 hours of being in Iceland, I was already blown away by how unique this country is. Not that other places do not have interesting things about them – on the contrary – but never have I been somewhere where within moments of arriving, I was hit with so many “really!?” moments. Coming away from our trip, these are the top fifteen things we learned about Iceland. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 22, 2010 § 1 Comment
When most people think of Iceland, they don’t necessarily think of diving. The water averages out to be around 2-4 degrees Celsius – which is almost as cold as it gets for diving. That said, because of the cold water temperatures, if you’ve got the steel to do it, it’s an incredible diving experience. You’ll never get water that’s clearer – especially at the Silfra rift.
May 20, 2010 § 2 Comments
One of the things we’ve found, being in Reykjavik is that there is no shortage of fantastic places to eat. After a long day of diving, we went to check out the Fish Company on a recommendation from our dive guide the other night. “If you want the best seafood in the city, you should go to the Fish Company”, he said. Having dined there, I would say that if you want some of the best seafood in the world, go there. It was incredible. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 20, 2010 § Leave a Comment
May 10, 2010 § 1 Comment
This evening, I experienced a miraculous customer service turn-around. After an exorbitant eight hours holding on the airline customer service line, the fantastic attitude and helpfulness of the customer service rep actually not only erased that negative experience, but further enhanced the image of Iceland Air in my mind.
April 24, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I’ve been going through a lot of old photos this evening, and I’m reminded again of how fast time has gone on by, and how much my life has changed in what feels like a short period of time.
As I went through photos tonight, I felt compelled to pull some of them that represent moments in my life that have had a particular significance to me for one reason or another. Below are a capture of those moments.
March 23, 2010 § Leave a Comment
In Puerto Morelos, Mexico – a small fishing village sandwiched between the big Mayan Riviera resort cities of Cancun and Playa del Carmen – two community tourism projects provide travellers the opportunity to connect with and experience local culture while empowering a group of local Mayan women to be financially self-sufficient. These two projects created by an American woman, Sandra Dayton, through her non-profit organization Lu’um K’aa Nab, are the Jungle Spa and the Jungle Market. Sandra, who has lived in Puerto Morelos for more than 20 years, started these projects so local Mayan women would have access to the growing tourism economy, become financially self-reliant, and be able to provide their families with a better quality of life.
The Jungle Spa and the Jungle Market are located next to the home where Sandra lives with her husband, Daniel – behind the colonia where the local people live, and approximately 5km from Puerto Morelos. The Jungle Spa and the Jungle Market are indeed in the jungle – massage beds are set up in traditional palapas throughout the property, amongst towering trees and tropical flowers. Although visitors are sometimes taken aback by the rustic-ness of the Jungle Spa (this isn’t your typical spa in a 5-star resort!), having a massage as you hear birds singing and leaves rustling in the wind is what makes the experience so unique and unforgettable. The local Mayan women give visitors a traditional Mayan abdominal massage. This is a technique that has been passed down to them through generations, and which focuses on releasing emotional and physical congestion in the internal organs to bring the body back into balance and harmony.
At the Jungle Market, the same women who give massages at the Jungle Spa sell traditional Mayan handicrafts they have made themselves, including jewelry, huipiles(long white cotton dresses embroidered at the bodice), shawls, and embroidered napkins and tablecloths. They also sell homemade traditional Mayan food to visitors, snacks like tamales, panuchos (a tortilla with hard-boiled egg and beans), andcodzitos (small fried tacos). At a certain point, the women leave their wares to perform traditional Mayan dances for visitors, including the Ribbon Dance during which they grab colourful ribbons and weave complex patterns as they circle around a central pole.
The money the local Mayan women make from the Jungle Market and Jungle Spa stays with them and goes directly to their families and the community. These two community tourism projects are success stories, as they mutually benefit both the local women and the global travellers who visit them.
For more information about the Jungle Spa and the Jungle Market, visit Sandra’s website.
March 20, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Sometimes the best travel spots are right in our backyard, only we are so accustomed to them, we forget how fantastic they are.
I grew up in Alberta, Canada and frequently felt the call of other destinations. That said, one of the things I could never get my fill of was that nature was our backyard. The landscape opens up to a vast blue sky, the air is clean, and in all my travels, I’ve yet to see a sunset that takes my breath away like those we get in my hometown of Edmonton.
If you’re ever in the area, some of the obvious places to go to are Banff, Kananaskis, and Jasper. These are fabulous destinations that you should definitely not miss out on. But if you want to go back in time, and get a small taste of what the plains must have been like before our cities grew and became more established, visit Elk Island National Park. It’s a national park reserve for wild bison, elk and other native animals in the area. Whenever I go, I feel so small in comparison to these grand, regal creatures.
And, if you’re able to stay till dusk – and can find a spot along the lake – the sunsets are still the best I’ve seen.