A Look Around the Bend

Travelling is a gift, I’ve said it time and time again.

Travelling is also a task. I recently read a brilliant book titled, The Geography of Bliss, where author Eric Weiner describes his mighty adventure in search of the happiest place on earth.

Lock and key: on the Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne, Germany.

Lock and key: on the Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne, Germany.

Deep into the text, Weiner explains the history of travel: “The word “travel” stems from the same root as “travail”, the word for ‘work’ in French. For centuries, traveling was equated with suffering. Only pilgrims, nomads, soldiers, and fools traveled.” To think that travel was an unfortunate destiny for many in the past is an odd thought for this generation; travelling is deemed a luxury, a dream, something only the rich and lucky can do often.

When I say that travel is a task, I don’t mean the same tedious measures as it was back in the day; travelling demands commitment, dedication and enthusiasm. Travelling tests you to see how much you will do to make it work: will you wake up early on a Wednesday morning to get the best flight prices? Will you suck it up to stay in nothing more than a budget-hostel? Will you turn down expensive transit for sole sight-seeing with bikes? on foot?

Politics isn't always pretty: L'Hôtel de la Chambre (Chamber of Deputies), Luzebourg City, Luxembourg.

Politics can be pretty: L’Hôtel de la Chambre (Chamber of Deputies), Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.

If you answered yes to all of those questions, then travel is what you want.

Travel may seem like it also tests your finances (which it does, sometimes), but there are ways to get around that: travelling to work.

Old habits die hard, yes, but the burden they bring are long past. With the development of technology, travel methods are no longer a burden, but quick and easy, allowing work and travel to go hand in hand. I mean, you get to discover while you get paid; it’s genius! And if your dedication still runs thick, the task of finding outlets to do this that meets your needs can be tricky but possible. To help with your search, check out these sites:

International work and travel organizations – http://www.gointernational.ca/work-and-travel-abroad/overview.aspx, http://www.swap.ca/out_eng/index.aspx
For the environmental worker – http://www.wwoof.net/
For the Canadians looking for work – http://www.international.gc.ca/development-developpement/partners-partenaires/avail-internships-stages-dispo.aspx?lang=eng
For those who want to work without the cash reward – www.lattitudecanada.org

So travelling is work, but it’s fun work; and where there’s a will, there’s a way.

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music of the Moment:

Comme les Éléphants

While wondering the halls of the musée Dauphinois right by my French residence, I happened upon a quote by mountaineer, Caroline Villeneuve, that read, “Mon rêve, c’était de faire comme les éléphants, de revenir où je suis née” or in English, “My dream, it was to do as the elephants, to come back to where I was born.” For some reason, this has resonated with me since then and I did not really know why until now.

I recently returned from a fulfilling trip back to Jamaica. It was the first time I travelled for the holidays since moving further north, and I have decided that travel during the winter season to a warmer destination can cause some painful withdrawals, upon return, which I do not admire at this time.

Uptown Kingston at primet-time: Hop on while you can!

Uptown Kingston at prime-time: hop on while you can!

Still, though I have taken this trip before, I had never taken it like this. The fragile innocence of youth can blind one to the realities that they have lived, and this trip exposed me to many of these facts and figures I had not concretely defined before.

Simply put, it was a family trip to celebrate the start of the end and the end of the start.

Nevertheless I went into this with an agenda; comme les éléphants, I knew that there was much to rediscover and I only had two weeks. I prepared myself as I had during last summer’s European adventure: I made a list of destinations after a quick search on TripAdvisor and I made a promise to myself that no time would be wasted; at least once every day, the sun would shine on my face. Soon I came to realise that my agenda was becoming of something more.

Negril: Rick's Café at sunset is a must.

Negril: Rick’s Café at sunset is a must.

It is quite difficult to explain exactly my experience; to analogize, it is as if I have been telling a story I once remembered so clearly as a kid, as clear as real life. Every time I retold this story, something was added to it or taken away; and so everytime I retold this story, it felt less true, less authentic, like I had never really known it before. So once I began seeing characters and objects from this story again, things slowly came back to me, still faint but ever so familiar.

Unlike my European escapades where walking was a must, we drove everywhere; it was a blessing and a curse as the heat could kill, but I had to absorb everything in 5 seconds or less. Even so, for the things that took more time, like going to the supermarket or meeting my father’s friend from high school, I was like a sponge in water.

St. Catherine - Flat Bridge: on the road.

St. Catherine : on the road to Flat Bridge.

Conversations had more depth, people and places had more features, and my memories had more flavour. I concluded then that, in all my denial as a proud immigrant against acclimatization, I could now properly justify my multinationality as the proof was right there.

I did indeed live a part of this story, but a long time ago; when trees grow, their roots stretch out, reaching ends once unknown to that same trunk. So I may have lost my accent, and I cannot easily differenciate between uptown and downtown as other locals; but my roots all started from the same spot that I can and will always return to.

It never hurts to learn what you have always known.

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music of the Moment:

Pop Goes the Hatchling!

There is a time for work and a time for play; and so far I’ve had quite a bit of fun.

So! – on to the tasks at hand once again.

I finally got myself a (somewhat) new pair of glasses sent down here by my wonderful family, and now that I am once again with proper vision, I’ve been thrown back into the old routine of morning and night patrols along the beach.

A lot happened during the one month I was without glasses and only permitted on morning patrols: I saw my first ever hatchling, a leatherback baby turtle. It was absolutely ADORABLE, and just reminded me why my work here does indeed help. I say that because my coworker and I unknowingly stumbled upon the hatchling as we were checking the state of all the nests in the second part of the beach that we survey. Even more, this little hatchling was attempting to get to the sea from its nest, and was caught in some branches buried in the sand.

If we weren’t out there, and the sun completely rose and exposed its often scorching heat, the poor little hatchling probably would not have survived.

08/07/13: Look at him go!

Jimmy the Leatherback Hatchling –             08/07/13: Look at him go!

Nevertheless, I took it out of the debris, placed it gently in the palm of my hand, and watched as it slowly crawled out of my palm, flopping onto the still warm sand, to finally float and get whisked away into the sea. It was magical.

I also got to see three hatchlings of the rare Hawksbill species dig out of a nest I was excavating. One could even say that I not only saw them, and helped lead them to sea, but I also swam with them (not literally, as my feet were the only things deep in the water, but the hatchlings did swim right by my knees, so it counts as such in my mind!).

Now that I’m back on night patrols, I get to have more close up action with the mothers as they lay their nests, which is always a fascinating sight. Two nights ago, I got to read the tracking tags placed on the turtles’ flippers to monitor their movement between nesting sights for the first time. I also attempted to stop the turtle, but was unsuccessful (this time, at least!).

Ah well, still a work in progress..but isn’t that just life?

Pura Vida,
Moi

Man fi get kuff

Jamaica airport immigration, 1971

Jamaica airport immigration, 1971 (Photo credit: rickpilot_2000)

Travelling, I find, helps one discover, not only the world outside, but also the world within. And as this discovery develops for me, I’ve come to realize a few things about myself and my identity when mingled with so many others.

I was born in a little, but very well-known, island called Jamaica.

I lived there for the first 8 years of my life, then moved a lot more north with my family in the hopes of gaining a more advanced education which could provide me with a better future.

Now, while I appreciate my life to the fullest, and there isn’t a day that goes by when I am not so very grateful for the life I have been provided with by my parents and their hard work and dedication, I am constantly in an identity battle with myself and others around me.

I identify myself, essentially, as a Jamaican since that was my place of birth, where my roots have been sowed, and I am very proud of it.

Yet, every other day, it seems, I am being told that I am not a Jamaican (mostly by those that are not even of Jamaican descent).

They use stereotypical characteristics like the accent with which Jamaicans speak, the attitude with which all Jamaicans are supposed to exhibit, and certain activities all Jamaicans are supposed to partake in to classify a Jamaican’s true authenticity.

As a Jamaican thrust into the frightening diaspora of the young North American life, I could do nothing but adapt to my surroundings. Adaptation, which was subliminally imposed on me by some of my new neighbors and fellow classmates after I moved, seemed like the most plausible key to survival.

Still, what one comes to realize as he or she grows older and is exposed to so much more, is that when you adapt, you lose something that was once there before.

So a lot of my Jamaican habits and mannerisms that would give me a “better hand” at the Jamaican-authenticity test, were lost as I tried so desperately to fit in in order to feel comfortable with my new home and myself again.

And with that comes my ongoing frustrations with my identity and its unnecessary importance to people who really shouldn’t be all too concerned about it.

It’s amazing to see how swiftly stereotypes glide over seas and beyond borders, without so much as a question of their truths.

Still, I must remind myself that I shouldn’t worry about what others think, because they don’t do it too often.

I am who I am, and as Shakespeare says, “This above all: to thine own self be true.”

The world is how the world is, and as I lose my innocence yet manage to gain some wisdom, I must learn to accept and move on from the things I do not have the power to change.

Pura vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment: