Monthly Archives: August 2013

Open

I’m sure there are big things that I’ll look back on in however many years and attribute to this [nearly] year I devoted to seeing the world. In foresight, I’m grateful because I can’t think of a piece I’d rather be placing in the puzzle of who I am becoming… But I’m also grateful right this second. I’m in the back of the family CRV driving the 16 hour journey home from Seaside, Oregon and for the first time since we first came over a decade ago, I’m marvelling at the scenery. The lush greenery leading up rigid peaks to the East and rolling hills of golden grass past the Columbia river to the West. We’re breaking the drive to two days, 8 hours a day, toilet breaks, food stops, lingering salt water taffy…compared to 24 hours with a squat toilet and Asians just a little too comfortable with bodily functions, I’m laughing.

The 8th and final semester of my Human Ecology degree was the most important to my degree. Not because it literally determined whether or not I’d get the 40,000 dollar piece of paper, but because it all started to make sense. Not to say I was in the dark for four years, but I always felt like I was going through motions, learning semi-useful theory, and doubting my post-graduation opportunities. In that final semester every presentation I made seemed a little easier, each paper contained ‘aha!’ inclusions from research done in other classes, and most importantly I finally integrated my core values with the profession of Human Ecology.

Academically it all started to mix, but that final component followed an assignment to write our mission and vision as practitioners. I’ve had jobs with a couple big ‘brand’ companies; mission statements weren’t a new concept, in fact I was sure I’d find a perfectly cheesy tag line to satisfy the passing criteria easily. But when I sat at my computer type out a simple sentence for 5% of a 4th year course, I was stumped. I felt like I had to choose in that moment what I wanted to do with my life because mission statements are goal specific. So if I chose to pursue HR it should be about recruiting, targets, development…but a position in cancer care should be about compassion, support, and empowerment. In writing this simple (changeable) statement, I felt I was choosing my career path forever. Obviously I wasn’t.

My personal values weren’t conflicted, I just didn’t understand until the eleventh hour what my whole degree really meant. If ‘Human Ecology’ were greek and I were giving you that disproportionately long translation, I would say it means ‘it’s all connected’. And when I stopped writing company mission statements and started writing my own I realized that no matter what career I was targeting it at, it turned out the same. Go figure. I strive to empower individuals and communities to achieve their highest potential through providing accessible resources, inspiring education, and being a role model for integrity. Sure, a recruiter may want to hear about my success in achieving sales targets for business versus my volunteering and understanding of families for patient care…but in terms of my personal attitude and intention towards what I’m doing, that’s all same same but different.

The last couple months of travel have been sort of like that last semester; every weird moment, accident, and world wonder fit together in just the right order for me to experience situations and meet people at just the right time so that in the end the ‘why’s melted away and my confidence that I was meant to do it all is unwavering.

I’ve been in Oregon with family for the past week in what a friend of mine referred to as a state of suspension. I’m not home, but I’m not still travelling; I’m with family, but not friends; it’s familiar, but not home. It’s a pleasant yet potentially detrimental place for introspection (…and job searching) . It has been good though, to condense my whole ‘speech’ before meeting the masses and facing job interviews.

As I drafted cover letters I found myself doing the same thing I did with my mission statement over a year ago. Using ‘organization, adaptability, cultural awareness’ on business letters and ‘empathy, understanding, humanity’ on patient care positions…then I stopped. I took a step back and thought about what nearly a year, 4 sub-continents, and hundreds of people met ultimately meant for me…hoping that it would be something a little more profound than characteristics I could get just as well from being part of multi-racial school club or petting some cats at the SPCA. What I’ve decided is this: travelling has shown me the value of an open mind and heart; an openness that empathizes with needs, appreciates all perspectives, and recognizes every opportunity for growth.

Sure, there are other great by-products to travel like Aladdin pants, bargaining skills, using a squat toilet, or knowing how to describe the taste of zebra…but in the end, even the less lame things like saying yes when you would say no, acting with right intention, letting go of outcomes, and recognizing the contentment that can in fact be found in simplicity all lead back to having an open heart and mind. I would have heard every golden nugget of advice or food for thought just for being in the right place at the right time. It was the openness that allowed me to accept, processes, and live it.

So, when I really think about it…after a month of Yoga Teacher Training, making my body (and probably my heart) as physically open as it’s ever been….it’s really no coincidence that the months following were when it all ‘came together’. Whether we realize or not, our discomforts arise from a lack of openness, in hips or in life…

Carolyn said on day one of training, “People are happier when they do yoga”. I heard it, I smiled, and thought of my own superficial benefits from practicing asana. Somehow though, in this state of suspension it has returned to me and I’ve brought it all together. You know how they say body language says it all…like if you’re standing in a circle, your feet and hips may point to who you’re most interested in…duh, it’s in cosmo…maybe right, maybe that’s the angle your blisters don’t hurt in. What is true though is that the more open your body is, the more open you are. Your posture improves so your aura can shine bright and you are open to receive the love and opportunities headed your way. Years of running will produce tight hips, it doesn’t make you a close minded person. However, in working through the tightness physically you are allowing yourself a greater range of comfortable motion which subconsciously is mirrored by the heart and mind.

So my friends, travel young…not because you can’t travel old, but because you will have that many more years to share your stories, see things more openly, and go again. And do yoga. Stick with it. Trust me.

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The Emirates Experience

So oddly enough the cheapest flight from Cape Town to Seattle (To meet my family on vacation) was with Emirates…top ranked airline in the world. A nice night flight from Cape Town to Dubai (10 hrs) followed by a 4 hour layover followed by a 14 hour flight to Seattle via the arctic route. Long story short, Emirates is unreal, defs consider flying with them!

The longer version…

Flight 1
Had an unchangeable middle seat but nobody annoying around, in fact the lady beside me checked to see if I needed to go to the toilet often which was nice. Meals were great, I had hake and veggies for dinner and a continental brekky.

Friends on my tour informed me that all ….all…beverages on long haul flights were included….which I either slept through on my flight to Sydney or Air Canada sucks…but I got well tipsy on some “Flying Solo Viognier” The flight was even a bit early arriving in Dubai, we had to re-do security which was annoying until I felt a bit better about it on the second flight.

Layover
Did you know that if you have a layover over 4 hours Emirates gives you a meal voucher?
I didn’t either…shockingly…anyway I went to pay and the guy saw my boarding passes and told me to go to the transfer desk. Turns out I got a massive grilled baguette sandwich, brownie, and large flat white at le Pain Quotiden. Other options included thai, indian, mediterannean, or buffet food!

Also, the Dubai Airport is MASSIVE. I’m pretty sure it took me a solid hour to go end to end checking out the different food options I had for my voucher. And its packed…it makes LAX look lame.

Flight 2.
So, I.m happy…I have my aisle seat, they have better entertainment…touch screen instead of channels. We are all ready to go, I have my second flight pack with socks, touth brush, eyepatch, and stickers to identify whether I’d like to be awaken for food or duty free or not at all. then…

“Ladies and gentlemen this is the pilot speaking. Unfortunately we’ve had a few individuals decide not to take our flight to seattle today. Due to safety regulations we must now rescan baggage and remove theirs from the aircraft. Thatnk you for your patience.”
[3 different, 2 visibly muslim, 1 middle eastern people scurry off of the plane]

Now, I like to think I wouldn’t care….but when you’re flying between Afghanistan Independence day and a Full moon from Dubai to America and 3 people who historically dislike the states and are currently having some serious turmoil in their home countries (passports were seen)….decide for whatever reason they want off the plane youre about to ride for over half a day ….you panic.

Anyway, I quadruple checked the satelite phone setting, did some calming breathing and managed to somewhat compose myself.

This flight was leaving at 9 am locally…so for most people not on a connecting journey it was ‘morning’…i however got 2 bottle of vodka with my OJ for breakfast followed by a self created wine tasting for the remainder of the flight. The flight attendants were amazing… I hung out with them for a while while the kid behind me played footsies with my chair over and over again and the mother thought I was a bitch for caring.

Anyway it was great overall, the staff were great…My biltong got revoked at customs, but otherwise a trip including 15 countries prior to the united states didn’t hold me up too much.

Now I’m in seaside, running the prom daily, and forgetting I ever left. The family is always the same, but friends at home will be interesting…I’m already getting invites I can actually attend and randoms seeping from the woodwork…more importantly I’m looking for jobs, that’s making it all get real, real fast.

Cape Town!

When you’re on a 25 day overland tour that ends with “to Cape Town” the already exciting city becomes oh that much more amazing. Not that I didn’t love my time on my Tour of Southern Africa, but I love memory foam matresses, duvet covers, and water pressure more than I love Tents and drizzling glacier fresh H2O.

Our last stops out of Namibia were at dune 45….can’t remember if I wrote on that one or not. It was fun BUT I totally wish we had the chance to go to Deadvlei…if you research Nafaulk NP where we were that is all the sweet photos of the petrified trees and dried mud with dunes as a back drop….either way dunes are ssweet, same same to what I saw in Peru, Oregon, and Vietnam though.

Then we went to Fish River Canyon…second largest in the world. Defo sweet, got good selfies and the profile photo was due for an update so no complaints from me! ….Following that we stopped at Orange river right over the border in to South Africa. GREAT setting…they offered us a canoe trip but nobody did it because we were busy relaxing in teh first GREEN we’d seen in weeks/swimming in the river. Might I add the running view was spectacular, and the showers had a view of the mountains and stars AND good pressure/heat! I think it was grocery lodge? spelled differently though, but the general gist.

After, for our FINAL night on tour we went to highlanders in teh cederberg region and did a wine tasting…the rest was history…oh, except the fact that the crossing tour had 19 people (18 girls) and all I could think was what a nightmare that was…specifically when they asked how well blow driers work on the trip :S

Finally we got to Cape Town. Not without some mechanical issues along the way, but we got here just after lunch. Most of us are staying in Green Point which is right by the beaches and waterfront. HIGHLY reccommend the area or Long street. Everyone says its bars and parties but its really not that obnoxious.

We ate dinner at a restaurant called Arnold’s which was at the top of long street on kloof, it was GREAT. I had the game platter so I had Gemsbok, Croc ribs, Warthog ribs and ostrich…to add tothe croc, ostrich, oryx, kudu, and zebra I had at Joe’s beerhouse in Windhoek I think I made a respectable dent in the game tasting.

Ranked best to worst: Zebra, Gemsbok, Warthog, Croc, Ostrich, Oryx, Kudu….Although others placed Kudu higher, I had a pretty gamey piece. GOt all cooked mid rare. Joe’s was on a skewer so the cooking was a bit off because they were all at different temperatures becasue they’re different meats, but you got to compare meat not dishes. Arnolds presented 4 different dishes with sauces which is great because they are all cooked and paired to perfection BUT its hard to know if you like the meat or the sauce.

Also went to the craft markets on long street…all of them. Definitely shop around first as sometimes things seem cool and original, then you buy them, then you see them 10 more times and regret the decision. There are TONS of craft markets in Cape Town though and they are the cheapest yet (bargain Hard)…defnitely a great place to END a tour because you are back to civilization and can appreciate the African as well as the Western side of all of it.

I don’t have tim for table mountain or Robben Island but my run alon the esplanade and self-navigated city walking tours are having me leaving happy. I will not though that it is better than Joburg but I’ve still felt particularly unsafe and fights break out often inthe streets!!

Finishing off my tour today I went to TabelThirteen in Green point for lunch. They have chicken/tuna salads for under 50 Rand, amazing baked goods, well priced and better made coffee as well as a delectable by weight lunch buffet to stay or take away. Just off of Main Rd when it turns to Somerset in the direction of waterfront. MUST TRY.

Also A SUnflower Stop–my hostel has been ever so helpful, donates stuff to charities, has great security and a clean pool. Right on main road but super quiet. And super cheap when booked with hostelbookers-defo recommend after a tour or just landing in cape town…or any time in between!

As for feelings and such…I fly to Seattle to join my family on vacation on the Oregon coast in 3 hours. Expect a lovely dozen or so posts of recap, memories, reflection, and planning the next adventure very soon!

PS WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME YOU GET OPEN BAR ON LONG HAUL FLIGHTS?!