Fake Plastic Trees

It was like that opening scene from Forrest Gump. A white plastic bag fluttering by. Turning over on itself. Somersaulting. The only difference. This one was underwater. Part of a parade of juice bottles, styrofoam food containers and foil packages caught in the current.  We’d boarded our catamaran, Shana, a few days earlier and sailed out of Phuket into the Andaman Sea. Being on the water allows us to escape the resort types, get closer to local people, culture and untouched landscapes. ...

Hell or High Water

The sound was deafening. The whitest of noise. I was at it’s mercy, unable to touch the bottom. A strong current clawed at my legs, pulling me as I kicked and spiralled my arms. Nothing slowed the motion. I could see the place where the water fell away, mist beyond obscuring the chasm. We’d planned the side trip to Zambia more than six months earlier. Just one day, hours really, to swim in one of the worlds most dangerous places – Devil’s Pool on the edge of Victoria Falls. It ...

The Hills Have Eyes

“Are you sure this guy actually likes you?” I thought I was. We’d met when I hired him to take photos a few years back and we still grabbed lunch on the regular. But now, driving down a deserted dirt road to nowhere, I wasn’t so sure. He’d sent me this way. Given me directions to an off-the-beaten-path town that would make for some pretty pictures. Over the last few hours we’d driven deep into California’s Mojave National Preserve. I wasn’t sure we’d make it out. Our fall road trip had ...

Fucking Amateurs

I didn’t need to look up, I knew they were watching us. Six people trying to maneuver a boat backwards into the open slip were bound to become a spectacle. They’d seen us coming. The giant logo running along our boom was a dead giveaway. And now, as the wind pushed us sideways towards their anchor lines, the crowd roared. They hurled insults, all in the local language, until one voice cut through the din – fucking amateurs!  We’d been invited to sail the Greek islands about six months ...

Three’s Company

I walked down the stone path towards the arriving taxi. He looked tired. After missing a flight, J had rebooked his entire trip from Vancouver to the Isle of Man. I, on the other hand, had arrived on schedule, more than twenty-four hours earlier. As I led him back towards the hotel lobby, a group at the bar waved and shouted, ‘Pam from Canada!’ J looked at me, confused. In the day he’d lost, I’d become an international sensation.  A year earlier, we’d begun planning for a trip that would ...

Free Falling

Standing on the side of the mountain as the sun rose overhead, I started to cry. Fellow travelers were making their way from the hut to the tiny cart that would carry them across the gorge to a gondola suspended between two opposing peaks. I watched them walk by. Kind of. Ten minutes earlier as we’d checked in for the first event of a very big day, I’d been forced to hand over my glasses. Everything was blurry, made worse by the tears that were now running freely down my face. The day was ...

Golden Shower

The upside of travel is embracing the unknown. The downside, never knowing when you’ll find a place to pee. I think about it. A lot. I measure every ounce of liquid I consume against the expected number of minutes between potentially useable washrooms. It’s either that or, get arrested for public nudity in a foreign country.  Men don’t have this problem. The world is their toilet. I can’t count the number of times we’ve been less than two minutes down the road when J realized he should have ...

Road Rules

The lot was full. Promising freedom. Adventure. The open road. And, as it turned out, eight days in a tin can adorned with the anti-slip stickers from grandma’s bathtub.  We’d booked a camper online for our one-week trip from Sydney to Melbourne and back. The budget option. They make the price worthwhile by ensuring everyone knows it’s a rental. Large purple flowers covered the exterior. At best, it had a Mystery Machine vibe. At worst, the spring decor line at Walmart. Just hours after ...

When in Rome

Do as the Romans do. Adapt to local customs. Emulate the culture. Drink ridiculously expensive cocktails in a luxury hotel until the lounge singers hand you a mic. A saying based in antiquity, uniquely applied to modern day travel. Bora Bora. It’s home to some of the largest overwater bungalows in the region and impossibly beautiful. I could feel the ka-ching in the air. If a cloud of thousand dollar bills floated by on the breeze, I would not have been the least bit surprised.  We’d never ...

Havana, Ooh Na-Na

We landed late, touching down well after dark. Sleep deprived and probably a little bar cart(ed), it was a slow roll through customs and then outside onto the curb where we caught something resembling a cab. It wasn’t. The streets were silent. Few lights. No people. A saw tooth skyline both colourful and crumbling. This is Havana. I’d made arrangements to spend our first two days in the city with a total stranger. We met him outside the tourist district, a house with a shop around back. We ...