I moved 11 times in 5 years. In that time I lived in 5 countries & backpacked in 6 others. WHAT.
Kingston (Canada) : Sept 2014 - April 2015
Quito (Ecuador) : April 2015 - April 2016
1 month backpacking in Peru & Bolivia
Burlington (USA) : June 2016 - August 2016:
Peterborough (Canada) : September 2016 - April 2017
1 month in Ecuador to visit host family
Sherbrooke (Canada) : May 2017 - June 2017
Grenoble (France) : June 2017 - July 2017
Trebeurden (France) : August 2017 - December 2017
2 months teaching skiing lessons in Burke, USA
Quito (USA) : March 2018 - June 2018
Saint Johnsbury (USA) : June 2018 - August 2018
3 week backpacking Sweden, Denmark, Iceland
2 week family trip to Cheticamp, Canada
Montreal (Canada) : September 2018 - April 2019
2 week family trip to Cancun, Mexico
1 week family trip to Arizona, USA
Coming Soon, Nanyuki (Kenya) : May 2019 - August 2019
Stockholm, Day 2
Historical Center Tour:
Night Stroll in Gamla Stan:
Stockholm: Day 1
Defending the Amazon Protest
A walk through the historical center of town surprised us with an awesome protest against petroleum and mining operations in the Amazon! This meant a lot to me considering my time living in the Amazon two years ago with the organization called Union de Afectados por Texaco, which has been fighting against Chevron Texaco in court for 20 years seeking justice for the billions of spilled gallons of crude oil which made the cancer rate in the region twice as high. The women were singing a song about strong women opposing the destruction of nature.
La Basilica, Quito
Small world! My friend Bri, who I worked with last summer at VPIRG in Vermont, was living in Cuenca for a Workaway project and ended up in Quito for a bit. We met up and had an awesome day in Centro Historico. The highlight was climbing up the Basilica, which I had actually never done despite all the time I had spent in Quito. It was great. For $2 you can climb to the top and get a GREAT view of the city by climbing god-knows how many sketchy stairs. It was awesome.
22nd Birthday in Quito
I've spent my past three birthdays with my host family in Ecuador! This was was equally great, with the whole crew coming over one night and me going to their house the next. Baby Luana was not impressed with the birthday cake and it was hysterical.
"La Floresta" Graffiti Walk
I HIGHLY recommend the free walking tour of the Floresta neighborhood in Quito if you have the chance to do it. The walk takes about 3 hours and it is a great overview of the lovely artsy neighborhood. I went with my host sister Gaby, her partner Juanse, their baby Luana, and my pals Emily and Dyalla. Here's the website where you can get more information: https://www.quitostreettours.com/street-art-and-local-life
And here is an overview of what we did:
We started at the Swiss Hotel in central quito, then walked up towards the neighborhood while getting a quick tour of a local food market on the way. Our first stop was a local theatre called "Ocho y Medio" which doubles as a cute cafe. The neighborhood has a strict parking ban so you can clearly see the the colorfully decorated road blocks everywhere.
I was quite pleased when we ended up at a well-known pottery studio in the area called "Perro de Loza" connected to a vegan restaurant called "Vegano de Altura." Meanwhile, our tour guide pointed out some beautifully painted murals. We stopped at a park where we received some free Pacari chocolate samples (delicious).
The tour is "free" but really by donation. We thought the tour deserved at least $10 each and our guide was made happy by our tips. Worth the afternoon!
Ice cream, anyone?
The best place for Ice Cream in Quito is the Heladería Dulce Placer, which has ice cream flavours inspired by classic Ecuadorian treats. The flavours are completely unique and the location is in the cute street called "La Ronda" right in the old historic center.
Back to Quito!
I got my TEFL certificate to teach English abroad and of course Ecuador was an obvious choice, considering all the positive experiences I had there a few years ago while studying abroad. Here are some photos of the first few weeks getting together with the host family cousins!
On top of that, I made my new best friend Luana. My host sister Gaby and her lovely partner Juanse have a 1 year old who I adore spending time with. The photo on the left is of Emily (my Canadian pal who studied here with me during Ecuador 1.0) and I with a terrified Luana, and the second photo is Luana very intrigued by my phone.
Winter Recap: Teaching Skiing
But let's be upfront: 1. You will not become a millionaire teaching ski lessons, yet 2. It will not matter because you'll be having fun. Let's dive in.
One important thing you should know about ski instructing is that you are only paid for the time you are on snow teaching lessons. This means that although you might be asked to come in at 8:30, you won't get paid until you begin teaching your lesson at 10:00. I was fairly good at getting hours doing non-lesson activities, such as running the magic carpet (it brings the 3 year olds up the 5 meters of beginner terrain) or setting up the fencing in the morning. That being said, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that 1/4 of my time during my work hours was unpaid due to the nature of the beast. On the busiest days, I'd show up at 8:30, get on snow for a 9:00 lesson, teach until 12:00, have another lesson from 12:00 to 1:00, and an afternoon session from 1:00 to 3:00. If I was needed, I might run the magic carpet from 3:30 to 4:00, totaling 6.5 hours. This only happened a handful of times, and my average was probably closer to 4.5 hours. Since there are so many people willing to teach lessons, one cannot demand to be paid when they are waiting for lessons to show up. Similarly, one cannot complain when they can take free runs to the top of the hill on their lunch break. It's a trade-off, but overall I enjoyed the experience, especially with such a friendly snow sports team.
I was lucky enough to have free rent during my three months instructing (thanks mom & dad), so it didn't matter all that much that I was only making only a bit above minimum wage. My commute to the mountain was about 25 to 30 minutes in the morning, which might bother some people but I quite enjoyed listening to my Portuguese audiobook. I did have car troubles on two occasions, hence giving up those hours, and school groups sometimes cancelled because of snow storms.
I really enjoyed teaching the 8 to 9 year olds how to ski because they were often on the chairlift, which meant I got to ski too. Teaching the 3 to 4 year olds was also fun, but more challenging since we spent the majority of time trying not to fall over. The group I enjoyed the most was probably the adult skiers, because once you break the fear of falling, most are surprised by how well they do.
Gentrification in Lisbon
During my walk in Lisbon's Alfama district today, I saw a sobering sign that said "No to Gentrification" in Portuguese. Gentrification is a process of "renovation of deteriorated urban neighborhoods by means of the influx of more affluent residents... a common and controversial topic in politics and in urban planning." Let's dissect why I stopped to look at the sign longer than I stopped to look at the monument nearby, shall we?
I walked 5k from Estoril to Cascais on the boardwalk, then rented a bike in Cascais for 4 euros to get to Guincho beach about 10k away. The water was chilly! But the views were fantastic. I biked back to Cascais, then on my walk back to Estoril I met up with 2 german girls who had stayed in the same hostel I had stayed at in Lisbon! What a coincidence. We hung out on the beach and got some gnarly sunburns.
Aside: It turns out that of the five german phrases I thought I knew how to say, I had been pronouncing one of them dreadfully wrong for years. Instead of saying "Gute Nacht," or "goodnight," I had been pronouncing "Gute nackt" which sounds SO SIMILAR but actually means "good naked" and NOT "goodnight." Oops.
At around 5 PM I headed back to the Cerqueira's house. Some of their friends came over and I had a lovely time trying to decipher Portuguese dinner conversation.
Warm Welcome in Estoril
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