Upon our arrival to Reykjavik, Iceland, one of the first things at the top of our agenda to do was to go see the erupting volcano, Eyjafjallajokull.
Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you’re looking for a vacation that’s away from the crowds, out of the ordinary, and good for the soul, check out Chumbe Island, off the coast of Zanzibar, Tanzania. The island is tucked away in the middle of a Reef Sanctuary, and is a short boat-ride away from Mbweni Ruins Hotel, just south of Stone Town. There are only 7 eco-bungalows, so even when its fully booked, it’s never crowded and you still feel the peace and calm in a perfect natural surrounding. Whether it’s grabbing a book from their island library, taking a guided nature walk through the coral rag forest, or snorkeling in the reef, there’s natural inspiration all around, and no shortage of ways to relish in the time.
All meals are included, and the food is incredible. Meals are served in the main building – the Visitor’s Centre – with private tables each overlooking the breathtaking ocean view. Meals feature locally-inspired dishes, laden with beautiful sauces, spices and flavours.
For more information on the island, visit: www.chumbeisland.com