If I Rest, I Rust: Confession of a Restless, Roaming Spirit

I came across this quote not a long time ago. It really stuck to my mind. “If I rest I rust. ” words from Helen Hayes, an accomplished American actress who won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award as well as receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom and awarded the National Medal of Arts. Wow.

“If I rest I rust.” Well surely Hayes didn’t rest nor did rust.

Since I left the comfort of my mother’s nest and moved out west, I’ve constantly been craving for more. I’ve tasted what it was like to live freely, adventurously, passionately… I was always planning the next adventure, and always had a destination country next on the list to visit. My bucket list evolves each year and my biggest dreams never fade to exist. I got to travel around the world, live and work abroad, volunteer overseas and even start my own business. And I get to adventure outdoors with my dogs and play in the immense backyard that is my home, the PNW. I live a spontaneous and rather adventurous lifestyle with amazing people by my side. And I am beyond grateful for that. But yet, I need more. Is this too selfish to admit?

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“My restless, roaming spirit would not allow me to remain at home very long.” – Buffalo Bill

When slowing down isn’t enough

Getting older makes me slow down. Having senior dogs also keeps me closer to home. Having to stay in one place, I try my best to change the familiar sights and diverse my days: hike a new trail, explore a new town, camp at a new spot, cook a new meal, try a new craft… I even started to play the Ukulele backwards and am re-learning my Spanish. But the region where I live is getting insanely busier by day, and after a while, I feel that the places I enjoy become a little too crowded for my wandering soul (I guess that’s the price to pay when you live where people vacation).

Surely, my heart constantly pangs for a new thing to get excited about.

Strangely, I’m the first person to hope to inspire people to live the moment. I’ve always believed that we need to learn to slow down time, and be in the moment if we want to live well. Inevitably, when I do things, I’m there 100%. Or so I try.

So why is there is a constant yearning in the deepest part of me to be in a place I’ve never been? Why am I constantly distracted by my dreams? Why is my mind always wandering, longing to where I’ve been, and homesick for a place I’ve never been?

“You are free to dream as big as you want, but always remember that every big dream comes with some big responsibilities. So be willing and courageous enough to step out of your comfort zone.” ― Edmond Mbiaka,

Is there all there is in life?

I’ve read once that the evolved human brain constantly needs something to keep him occupied. As such, we are always on the search for purpose, meaning, adventure, happiness… Some of us have created bucket lists, others have a goal ladder they wish to climb and some are content just the way things are.

I wish I could be content in one place. I try. But my desire never ceases to end. I long for more and am never fully satisfied with what I have. The truth is that this fiery desire holds me close to my dreams…

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“Man is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied.” – Henry George

Wanderlusting and the ceaseless yearning for an extraordinary life

Sorting through my boundless wanderlust, I find myself longing for a life spent at sea. Diving everyday with sea life, eating the fruits of nature, volunteering in communities, away from the mainstream, waking up and going to sleep with the sun, living with the pulse of the ocean, one wave at a time… To me it calls for freedom, peace, simplicity, a dream lived awake. Careful what you dream for, right?

I recently took a wonderful trip to Japan, with an incredible layover in China. It’s been a while since I stepped out of my country and explored a different part of the world. Far away from home I felt at home… in the uncertainty, in the unknown, in the newness. I came back refreshed, revitalized, rebooted. It was extraordinary. And it leaves me with exceptional memories. But coming back to my beautiful home the travel blues hits. Instantly. Back to ordinary. Two weeks was way too short. And I’m back on a severe case of wanderlust.

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“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton

Fear of settling down

In the past years, I’ve been stuck in a routine, living a predictable life, filled with small pleasures and frolic adventures. But I’m afraid to get a stable job and be locked in one place. I’m afraid to upgrade my living situation, afraid to jump into the mortgage world, have payments, have commitments. I’m afraid of settling down.

The slightest bit of idleness affects me. I’m afraid to rest for too long. I fear stagnation. I fear to see the years blend into one another and forget to move forward and progress.

Maybe I just need that one big adventure. To get it out of my system, before I slow down again and put my feet on the ground. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll always be restless. Maybe I’ll always chase this extraordinary life. And maybe that’s okay.

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”Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you.”

If I rest, I rust

I’ve been trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied in the present moment. I try to do the things that make me happy on a daily basis. But I can’t ignore that ache for more. It exists for a reason.

If living the journey is the goal, if pursuing a life well lived is the path we are on, it will not be restful. It will not be comfortable. Nor will it be easy. But it will be exciting. It will be valuable. It will be worth it.

So I’ll keep pursuing the most important things that my heart aches for, even as crazy as they are. Because as long as I can feel, I am living – and as long as I am living, I’ll keep moving.

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“They told me to grow roots, instead I grew wings.’ – Lou

Would You Dare to Live a Simple Life?

We spend our lives on the hunt, searching for happiness to fulfill the void. We live for paychecks that will allow us to purchase the things that make us look good to the eyes of others, distracting us from the things that are essentially important around us. It is a delusional craving for ‘’normality’’, trying to fit in a template that society created. But really, self-indulgence and excess consumption doesn’t satisfy this longing for meaning. Contrary, it creates an addiction of wanting more, an insatiable desire of always looking better, because we came to believe that looking successful is the key to happiness.
Since our young age, we have been influenced by mainstream media and social system. Society is a mould that forms and shapes our opinons and behaviours. It is a structure that we are taught to follow in order to “fit in”. It is hard to believe that we aren’t puppets of society, while people strive for a 6-figure income, a luxurious home in a popular neighbourhood, 3 cars parked in the garage and a wardrobe filled with fast-fashion clothes. It’s inevitable to think that there is something so attractive about the American Dream, this perfect and predictable life captured into Ikea frames hung in the staircase. We need this. Because they told us so.
We are zombies of our virtual world and live a life of filters that embellish our reality. We are dogs that salivate at the sound of our ringtone or the buzz of a notification. We live for this intangible reality, interrupting us to live the moment that is passing in front of us.
By believing that our human identity is defined by the things we own, rather then by the things we do and believe, we over consume and hide our true self behind materialistic things that have absolutely no value. Then we feel lost. We feel unhappy. We feel a void. So we buy more.
The core of the human existence is consciousness. Once we realize what we don’t need, we start minimizing. And once we get rid of all the overflow of unnecessities that cluster our hearts, our minds and our spaces, we start feeling free. And we start living.
We become aware that moments are more valuable than things. And most importantly, spending time with the people we love offers a greater sense of satisfaction and meaning than any materialistic belongings. We come to understand that life doesn’t have to be complicated. Maybe the little things are enough. Maybe what we have is enough. We are enough.
There is something extraordinary about living a simple life. Do you dare to try?
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Work Less, Live More, Spend Less, Do More: Part 2

I decided that I wanted to live a life doing the things that I love, and only work to be able to pay for the things that I need. And okay, a few things that I want too. I work a 4-day-week, and I take about 2 months or more of vacation a year. I don’t owe any debt, I have some savings, and I have all the time I need to do the things I love. The secret? I don’t own much, and I don’t spend much.

Of course there are things in life that involve money. I have to work to be able to pay for the necessities, such as my housing, and my food. Then I add the things I need in order to get going, such as my car and my phone. Add to this the things I can’t live without: wine and travels. That’s pretty much it. My wardrobe consists of only the essentials. I don’t shop, and if I do, it’s to replace something that broke or ripped. I realized that I didn’t need to make much money in order to live the life of my dreams. The importance is to decide what it is that is important for you. What are the things that make you the most happy? But mostly, what are the things you can happily live without?
 
Here are examples of things I did:
 
Cut on services
Cutting down on cable was a great first step. I love watching movies and documentaries, but I found that cable sucked my time away by sitting there and zapping until I find something average to watch. Instead, I read a book, take my dogs for a hike, or have a girlfriend over for a glass of wine.
 
Choose outdoor exercise
I don’t go to the gym. In fact, it’s never been my scene. Instead, I’d rather go for a hike in the wilderness or go for a nice long swim in a lake. Spending time in nature has strong benefits for the health, and it’s free.
 
Cook at home
I opt for home cooking instead of dining out. I put on some music, pour myself a glass of wine, and use whatever I have in my fridge to whip up a feast. I get to try new things, and never spend more than a few bucks a day. Plus, cooking makes me very happy 🙂
 
Choose free activities
When I spend time with friends, I much prefer outdoor activities that don’t involve much money. Going for a hike, a picnic, a canoe paddle, or a camping trip into the woods are just examples of really fun and free things to do.
 
Opt for travelling rather than touristing
People may find travelling expensive. They are right: After plane tickets, insurances, ground transportation and vaccines, it all adds up to be a nice bill. However, travelling is a choice that I make, just like someone will choose to buy a new car. I avoid all-inclusives, and I stay away from resorts. Instead, I choose backpacking and I stay in hostels, or host families. I try to live like the locals by attempting to assimilate to their culture and to adopt certain customs and ways of life. Once I am abroad, everything is so cheap. It costs me less to be overseas, than it is to be at home. Plus, I get to spend my money and my time within communities that are in need. It is true what they say: travelling is the one thing that costs money, but makes you richer 😉
 
Live in a trailer
When the housing crisis erupted in my town, I found the urge to find an alternative for accommodation. I wasn’t quite ready to settle and purchase a half million dollar one-bedroom condo, so I bought a trailer. I’ve lived in it for nearly a year now, and I can’t believe I haven’t done it earlier. I only have to pay the campground fees, and everything else is included. This way, I save over half of what I’d pay to rent in town. Plus, I don’t have any mortgage, and I can resell my trailer for the same value of purchase, or even more! Oh, and did I tell you how stunning my backyard is?
 
Adopt a mutt
I see way too many people parading with their pure breed dog in the streets. Paying $1,000 for a dog is absolutely ridiculous. Plus, pure breed are most likely to be in-breed, against nature, suggesting problems in the long run. If you want a dog, I urge you to save a mutt. There are too many dogs in the streets that need to be rescued. Not only are they free (after neutering/spaying and vaccines), but they are usually problem-free, friendly and loyal. I have two. They are my adventure partners and we do everything together. In fact, they keep me away from spending money and encourage me to spend more time outdoors.
 
Having time for ourselves is essential. We are only here once and it is important to figure out what matters the most to us. It’s to understand what it is that our lives are worth and how we can change our habits and spendings in order to enhance our time on this planet. It is to determine the difference between our wants and our needs, and define the success that we want to lead through our journey.
 
I might not have a fancy wardrobe, a shiny car, a well-combed pomeranian, or a luxurious home, but I am rich in time, and for me, it is all I need, and it is enough.

Work less, Live More, Spend less, Do More: Part 1

The world has created a society of consumerism, leading us to live a life of full time work, with little time to live a life of ours. It is a mentality of living to work, rather than working to live. The more we work, the more we spend, and the more we need to work again in order to pay for the things we most likely are not able to afford. And don’t need.
We have maxed out credit cards, mortgages that take a lifetime to pay off, car payments with laughable interests. We want to treat ourselves with shiny things because really, we deserve it. So we consume to follow the trend, to show we are doing well, to feel good about ourselves. We surround ourselves with materialistic things to make us look good.
Really, why do we want money so badly? To drive a nice car? To have a fashionable wardrobe? To eat at gastronomic restaurants? To add decadent decor to our home? To travel to luxurious all-inclusive resorts?  In fact, we want money for the image that it gives us: We look successful. We look accomplished. We look good.
A lot of people think that happiness comes from the things that we have, or the image that we reflect on others. Looking successful is important. But does that make us happy? I believe success is happiness. And I don’t believe it starts with money. In fact, I believe money is a poor illusion of success, and that people often wrongfully associate being rich with having money. Wealth should be defined by who you are, and not by what you own.
When I travelled to Thailand over a decade ago, my first trip overseas, I spent some time in the jungle of Chiang Mai. We trekked for 2 days, carrying supplies to a family living in the midst of the dense forests. Their location was so remote that they never ventured further. They bathed under the waterfall, fed from their garden and livestock, and played with whatever nature delivered them. With tourism expanding, they accepted to trade their home for supplies that travellers would bring along. They were so isolated, that the little boy was amazed at my friend’s blond hair and blue eyes, as he’s never seen such a thing before. The tribe was all smiles, pure and wide, as if they were the happiest people on the earth. I understood that they were happy because they never were exposed to the wants. They had a shelter, food and water, their family, and that was all they needed. And that was enough.
When I returned to North America, I found myself standing still in a middle of a time-lapse, as if everyone was rushing, living life on fast-forward, forgetting to pause a moment and breathe. It was a race against time, like what was waiting for them after life was more important than right now. I told myself I didn’t want to be part of this system. I wanted to have an authentic smile just like that family back in Thailand.

Confession of A Diver: How I Found Awareness Floating In Nothingness

I was 5 years old. I sat in the staircase of my apartment building where I resided with my mother. I looked through the window I faced, pondering the why and the how, trying to define the meaning of myself: Who is this person inside of me? Why do I think like this? Why do I act like that? Why do I feel this way? At such an early age I already had a deep interest for existential philosophy, although I didn’t have the knowledge nor the experience to answer much. There was a constant hunger to know more. A need to fill the void. I’d ask my mother:” Who am I?” She’d answer: ” You’re my daughter. You are Capucine and you are 5 years old.”

I always felt different, yet I didn’t know why. Although I always had a strong circle of friends, I always found myself safer in nature, in quietness, in open space, in something I didn’t quite understand yet…
When I started to travel, adventures and experiences were predominantly leading my way of living. During a trip to Panama, I decided to get certified for scuba diving. I learnt in the natural pool of the ocean. While at the surface of the water I feared the underneath, being part of the ocean made me feel safe. It made me feel like floating in space, into an under-terrestrial world, where all worries and efforts vanish in the void. In the ocean, I felt far from the light of the surface, far from the reality I perceived, floating into the darkness of the depth, drawn into selflessness. There was something so special and unique about diving that trigged my curiosity. I wanted to go back underneath the surface, and explore that state of mind that I had experienced.
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When I moved to the Caribbean, I had the chance to be surrounded by one of the best diving playground in the world. I took the great opportunity to dive frequently. Every dive had it surprises and its secrets, its poesy and its romance. Yet, it wasn’t just about finding that shark or that eagle ray or that murray eel. It was the opportunity to withdraw completely from the world, and from myself. It was a disengagement from my reality, a liberation of all worries. It was about losing all longing for worldly desires. But mostly, is was about letting go of doing and entering a place of just being.
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While breathing underwater, I’ve never felt so disconnected from my conception of reality, this persistent illusion that I have of life at the surface. Yet, this void, this unconsciousness that I encountered underwater brought consciousness into my life: I became aware. I was aware of my breathing, of my surroundings, of every little detail that filled the space. I was in a state of void, filled with blissful awareness. I was aware not only of my body and of the existence of my mind that I discovered at 5 years old, but also of my soul, my consciousness.
I noticed the vast openness, the emptiness allowing all things to be. I understood that you can’t have something without nothing. Like you need empty to see solid, a background to see contrast. By emptying myself I allowed the ocean fill me in. I became interconnected with the elements: I was the ocean. I was the fish. I was part of it all. And that was my reality.
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Living life one breath at a time. Every breath I inhale purifies my mind. Every breath I exhale releases a worry. It clears my mind, empties it from contaminated ideas and thoughts. It is a return to the essence of the mind, intrinsically pure, empty. Like nothing else in the world matters than breathing and being.
Breathing underwater is nothing like our daily life at the surface. It is one deep and long breath at a time. There is absolutely no rush. Because if you do, you die. So is life at the surface much different? Why are people rushing so much on Earth?  Where are they trying to go if it isn’t quicker to their death bed?
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Most people fear nothingness. They see emptiness as a negative state. Just as some see scuba diving as boring, inactive, with a lack of thrill. Their reality of life is conceptualized by one’s own ideas, and formed by a culture of rushing in the doing-mode, living busily and effortfully, and striving for better and bigger in order to give a sense of self. But really, the basic of reality is nothing. Once you experience the true essence of nothingness, it reveals the meaning of everything. It provides you with clarity, and allows you to make room for new choices, and open up a world of possibilities. Because the void is fertile. And new things come out of it. Scuba diving not only allows me to be amazed by the simple details of nature and wowed by the grandiosity of the ocean, it also brings me blissful awareness, clearness, happiness and peacefulness. It allows me to rest in the stillness and the quietude of my being, to be aware of my surroundings, to interconnect with the elements, and to reconnect with the essence of who I am and how I want to be in this world.

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6 Lessons My Free-Spirited Friend Taught Me

I just dropped my best girlfriend at the airport. Along with all her necessary belongings and a one-way ticket to Panama, she is leaving a place she called home for the past 11 years, and taking the plunge to start a new chapter with the love of her life.

She met her now-fiancé while on a surf trip in Panama a couple of years ago. What seemed to be a simple vacation fling soon turned into a flaming romance. She spent the last year with him, living on their sailboat and running charters. She returned home for a few months, to make money and sell all her stuff. Now she is back to a simple life: She realized that she didn’t need much to be happy and satisfied.

I met Julie on a friend’s boat on July 1st, 2005. It was 35ºC, and she wore wool leg warmers up to her mini-skirt, rocking her unique fashion style in the summer heat. Her free-spirited nature amazed me and I knew right away a long friendship was about to begin. In those 10 years we have adventured often, such as road tripping Hawaii, backpacking Central America, and exploring the wilderness of Canada’s West Coast. Julie has always been my invaluable companion on so many escapades.

My friend is one special human being. The kind that doesn’t follow the mold, but instead chases her dreams. By following her heart, she ventured around the world, living and working in places such as Europe, Australia and now Panama. She has a collection of “Dreams-To-Do Lists” and manages to check off most dreams realized and goals achieved on a regular basis.

I will miss my best friend, indeed. But the inspiration she leaves behind is greater than any sorrow. I will follow her journey through life as I walk my own. And I will always be grateful her for those things she taught me:

1. Embrace Reckless Abandon

Life is too short to reminisce too much in the past, or live too far in the future. The moment is here, ready to be fully lived. Anything you want to do, at this right moment, do it. Taste experience to the utmost. Do what makes you feel alive. Be with the ones that fulfill you. Embrace your life and the people in it. And when you meet the moment, live it. Sometimes the little things are the big things. Be present to meet it.

2. Don’t Care What People Think

We tend to over-think what people might say by what we do or we don’t do. We act like this as a way to protect ourselves. But sometimes, putting too much energy into those thoughts prevents us from fulfilling our greatest potential and from enjoying life to its fullest. Life is too short to worry about what people think. Start living now! Express yourself, be bold, smile often, have FUN, shine brightly. Like story-teller Oriah Mountain Dreamer once said: “Look like a fool, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.”

3. It’s Okay To Be Scared

Whether it is being afraid of taking a big step forward, afraid to try a new experience, afraid of the change and transition, being scared generally means opportunities for growth. As long as you don’t let the fear overpower your mind and control you. Once you overcome your fear, you feel a sense of pride and independence. You get closer to who you are and discover what you are capable of. It makes you stronger, it makes you grow. So get out there and create new boundaries. Test the limits. Make the impossible possible. Make mistakes, make discoveries. Believe in yourself. Being scared makes life exciting: It makes you feel alive.

4. Discover And Do What You Love

What is it that you ache for? What makes your heart beat? Where do you feel the most alive? Whether you follow or cultivate a passion, the idea here is to do the things you love, and go after the things you want. Whether it is a job, a hobby, or an activity, it is important to have passion infused into your life. You can have a very successful job, yet feel unfulfilled. Like explains the author Gretchen Rubin: “What you spend time doing can also tell you what you should do. Because sometimes the things we do without thinking really are things we naturally enjoy or are good at. ” It’s about finding what draws you in and what makes you shine and feel beautiful. And once you find it, embrace and cultivate it.

5. Just Do It!

Ever wanted to learn how to surf? How to dance salsa? How to play tuba? Ever dreamed of travelling the world, owning a business, living on the beach? We live in an era of many possibilities and opportunities available for us to choose how to make the most of our lives. It’s easy to be lazy and dream of how things could be. But really, for most people that can afford the essentials in life, everything is possible. And you’ll never know until you get up and try. Stay curious and keep learning. Challenge yourself. It’s never too late. Just get up and do it!

6. Be free

Being a free-spirit isn’t a trend, or something you want to be. It’s about being you. It’s about creating your own freeway and not following the conventional path. Accept and be happy with who you are. Be honest with yourself and lead the life YOU want to live. Take the time to explore your heart, your soul, and your goals. In doing so, you will find peace. And once you do, spread your wings and fly. The world is yours, and you are free.

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If you ever make a trip to Bocas Del Toro, on the Northeast Coast of Panama, check out Julie and John’s charter business:

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Home vs. the Insatiable Wanderlust

3219168-old-globe I am sitting here with a glass of wine, looking at my globe accumulating dust. It hasn’t spun in a few months, resulting from having to keep my feet on ground for a while to make money. I have been back home since November, working the clock, collecting paper bills of different colors and trying to solidify the stump before I can go again, explore the world and vagabond.

The mountains, my home for the past decade, is a wonderful place. The mountain life is always filled with outdoor activities, creative arts, inspiring encounters and beautiful sceneries. It is a playground for the young and young at heart where people get inspired and live lively. However, why do I feel so nostalgic? Why, with all my amazing surroundings, am I still not completely fulfilled? Will it ever be enough?

I am a girl with an insatiable desire to travel the world. Without travelling, I am like a junkie without his goodies. I have itchy feet and I find satisfaction when I am submerged into the unknown. Routine and stability are scary things for me and I still don’t know how to live with them. I wish I could close my eyes right at this moment, spin the globe and travel to wherever my index finger lands. I want to be brought back in a smelly train in the middle of Asia looking at incredible landscape go by; I want to be squeezed again in that chicken bus in Central America amongst sweat and glorious stares; I want to be back holding on aboard a wooden boat somewhere in the Indian Ocean trying to spot a pod of wild dolphins… I have been to amazing places. I have seen things that I could never compare. I have met people that I will never forget. Travelling refreshes my senses. It brings me happiness. It fulfills me. And I miss it right about now.

Travelling blues? Yes indeed. Remedy? That’s why I started this blog. Not only to document my travels and experiences, but also to cure my nostalgia when she arises. Writing about my past adventures, I relive them. And I smile. And to read fellow wanderers that are diagnosed the same, my heart smiles. ”I might be a dreamer, but I am not the only one”.

My mother always told me to fully live all my emotions in order to get a better understanding of their origins. Feel the emotion, explore it, work it then release it. Perhaps turn it into a new emotion. Writing about this now, and embracing nostalgia, I come to realize that I am so lucky to have this unique life full with incredible and rich memories. And I am grateful for that…

Did gratitude just take over nostalgia?

I know I will be on the road again, feeding on the natural and cultural beauties of the world. But meanwhile, I must live in the present and enjoy my surroundings and the people that are part of it. I will climb to the peak of the mountain, grasp a breath of fresh air and remember that I live in one of the most magnificent places of this world, and that I am fortunate to be standing here along with extraordinary friends and family. To be able to wander the world, I need to wander mine first. To have a beautiful tree full of branches, it needs to have a solid stump. And it starts at home.

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(I do not own these images)

7 Ways To Cure Your Wanderlust At Home

Travelling months overseas and returning to the nest to feed on money isn’t always easy. We go back to commonness and boredom can easily come from daily routine. We feel strapped in normality with the urge to be on the road again living a satisfying life of adventures and discoveries. We constantly scroll down our travel pictures, chat too regularly with our friends met abroad, steadily look at flight sales and we wish we could throwback Thursday everyday. We withdraw ourselves from our current world and dream of our next escapade. The symptoms are right: we are diagnosed with wanderlust. This impulse to travel and explore burns our body with an aching fire. But until the time comes to fly away and vagabond another continent, there are a few things you can do to help cure your wanderlust, at home.

Keep Planning

Whether you plan the next big trip abroad, or simply a weekend getaway with your friends, planning soothes the wandering soul and energizes the spirit. Researching about a new location, new activities, new places to eat and to sleep is exciting and refreshing. It is always motivating and stimulating to look forward something.

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Set Yourself Goals

Setting goals not only allows us to have a better understanding of where we are going with our lives, but it also raises our motivation and self-confidence. While we are mainly focusing on planning and saving money for our next trip, doing a little bit of life planning isn’t a bad idea either. By setting the ‘big picture’, we can start to assemble the resources we’ll need to achieve our dreams. Open a saving account, and even if it is a little at a time, you will be grateful in 10 years that you put that  money aside. See yourself do the things you love. Work on the things you really care about. Set yourself the goals that will allow you to fulfill your short and long-term dreams.

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Be Creative

Just like artists, travellers are built with deep emotions. We are passionate, compassionate and loving individuals. We are inspired by life and are engaged in all its beauties. By writing about our wanderlust, or photograph through nostalgia, or paint our emotions, sometimes it helps relieve the itch and find clarity. Travelling is an inspiration booster, make sure you keep your inspiration alive.

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Try a New Activity

Trying something new is not only revivifying for the soul, but it also gives you the opportunity to meet new people and challenges your skills at something you’d never think you’d do. This winter, I took a shot at skate-skiing. We have such a beautiful terrain built here in Whistler, a legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics, offering over 35km trails of nordic skiing. I’ve never tried downhill skiing before, being primarily a boarder, so it involved a few funny falls indeed. But to be out there with friends sharing the same first experience, meeting people with different conversation topics and exploring a new zone in my own town made me feel like I was a thousand miles away.

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Photo by Toshi Kawano courtesy of Tourism Whistler

Go On a Road trip

You don’t always have to fly to cure a wanderlust. Sometimes you can just hit the road for a few hours and feel completely lost. Taking a couple of days away from what we know, and wander to a new town is refreshing and rejuvenating. Put on a good playlist in your car and head to a new town. To see how people live in a city nearby, do what they do, eat where they eat, play where they play – Sometimes only a few k’s can change drastically and make you feel like a world away.

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Explore Your Own Backyard

When I come back from travelling abroad, it takes me some time to adapt to everyday life, and then suddenly I fall back into a routine. That’s why I chose Whistler as my home base, a playground itself, so I can get energized by nature and adventures. While my goal at home is to focus on making money, and spending time with the ones I love, I make sure I get outside every day. From exploring a new forest trail with my dogs, hiking a new peak, camping a new ground, canoeing a new lake, snowboarding a new run, I find extreme satisfaction in simple moments, right here at home.

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Ask Yourself: Why Do I Feel Like Packing My Bag And Leaving?

Bored with routine? Life is lacking of purpose? Running away from something? Absence of inspiration? Missing your friends abroad? Lost in wanderlust? Sometimes it helps to know where the itch comes from so we can sooth the tingle.

Although sometimes, there’s really only one remedy…

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Finding Ground Above Clouds

“Drink chhaang, nectar of the Gods. Then eat shutki”.

I didn’t know which one made me more reluctant: the pungent smell of the fermented millet drink travelling to my nostrils, or the sundried little fishes, their round eyes fixed on me morbidly. As I directed their heads towards my mouth, my bitter face anticipated the bad circus about to perform on my taste buds: my look was unmistakable. As I victoriously finished my glass, chasing each sip with a fish, each bite with the ‘wine’, Manik refilled my cup instantly.

“Oh no thanks, Manik,” I implored, battling with a piece of fish scale stuck between my teeth.

“Mountain tradition! Glass always full. Drink!” he insisted, as his chubby cheeks blushed from the consumption of the home brew while passing around the shutki.

Manik is a 5-foot tall Nepali. His petite stature didn’t seem to be of the average Himalayan guide. However his leathered skin, yellowed eyes and chapped lips confirmed a heavy exposure of sun and cold, prop to a mountain life.

Two days earlier, we had booked a three-day trek around Kathmandu, the capital and gateway to tourism in Nepal. Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, Nepal has been an admired destination for trekkers and climbers since the 1950′s, and has been on my list for a long very time. This was the perfect way to start our 2-month backpacking adventure through South Asia.

“I’ll set you up with our best guide”, affirmed the tour agent while finalizing our booking. “He his a very experienced trekker and has great knowledge of the area. You’ll like him for sure.”

Day 1: 16km to Chisapani (2340m)

It was an early morning in November when Manik picked us up from my hostel. The taxi dropped us at the entrance of the Shivapuri National Park, on the northern fringe of the Kathmandu Valley in Sundarijal. Chicken roamed near a set of steep stone steps built into the mountain. Goats followed our ascent, feeding occasionally on woody plants along the trail. We trekked through sprawling forests of pines, oaks, wild cherry and rhododendrons. The forest gave way to rural villages where we caught a glimpse of villagers going about their day.

The scenery enhanced with every step we took. We traversed alpine meadows, hiked through yak pastures and crossed glacial moraines. Soon we reached the clouds, piercing through thick fog and crisp air. When the trail narrowed in the jungle, we observed the prayer flags hanging from the trees, floating through the mountain mist. As we gained elevation and started to hike the mountainside footpath, we feasted on the views plunging into a dramatic landscape of maize fields and rice terraces.

When we arrived in Chisapani, we entered a candlelit teahouse where a group of guides and porters chatted around a table.

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Manik invited us on the rooftop terrace, where he happily served us hot tea from a silver tray.

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The night was cold as winds swirled through the cracks of the stone walls. The teahouse was without electricity, hence dark, cold and drowned in quietness. I curled into a ball, tucked in with wool blankets. Memories filled the emptiness as I drifted into sleep.

Day 2: 15km to Nagarkot (2195m)

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It was 5am when we awoke to a profound silence. It felt like we were in a different world, dazed in a haze of peacefulness. A heavy fog slowly entered the windows like a mountain ghost.

We started our daily trek well rested and fed. However, the slanted trail reminded me of my unshapeness. My legs endeavored with difficulty to succeed.

 “I carry bag,” suggested Manik, his round-shaped head nodding with a persuasive smile.

 “Oh, no, but thanks,” I refused with a frazzled smile.

He insisted: “Me porter before. Carry big bags for weeks, bigger than you, bigger than me”. He expansed his lean body, exaggerating the size of a tourist’s bag. His goofiness amused me. Yet, I resisted his offer, and sweated my decision every step I made.

“How was it to be a porter?” I asked while scrambling across a river.

“Very hard. Family poor. Before porter, me work in corn fields. Mountain life very difficult.”

Manik told me about the time he lived in the city, working as a rickshaw driver. Unluckily, he almost lost a leg in a traffic accident. He returned to the mountains to recover, and then became a porter.

“Me no English,” he pursued, wind ruffling his raven-black hair. “Carry tourist bags for days, weeks, months in mountains. Hard work. People mean sometimes. No shoes. Me not look strong, but very strong.” He flexed his biceps with a giggle, his feet sliding down into his oversized and overused sneakers.

“Porter for 15 years,” he continued. “Work hard. Learn English talking to tourists like you. Guide now. Hope to trek Everest. Good money Everest,” he explained as he pointed to the horizon.

“You have a family?”

“Yes mam,” he affirmed, pride sparkling in his chocolate brown eyes. “Three boys. Me guide now. Now can pay for education. Hope best future for my boys.”

The trek became effortless as I sank into Manik’s life stories. How could he seem so content, healthy in and out, living a life that is so far from what I can possibly relate to? I empathized. I was inspired by his optimism and heartened by his genuine care.

Eight hours and a dozen swollen bug bites later, we reached the second summit of our trek, Nagarkot. My legs were inflamed, my face was red as a beet and the sweat dripped off my forehead endlessly.

“How I’d go for a glass of wine right now!” I exclaimed between two breaths.

“Me find wine for you!”

I looked at Manik trotting down the dirt hill, fading with the dusk.

As the moon rose up and settled in the sky, we gathered around a low table and sat on wooden drums outside a vendor’s hut. With the company of a fellow guide, Manik cracked the re-used water bottle and poured the chhaang in four glasses. Then came the shutki. The family that lived in the hut watched us with curiosity from the inside.

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He asked about our journey. I asked about his dreams. We conversed about life while the moon crossed the starry sky.

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Day 3: 15km to Thamel

We watched the sun rise over the Himalayas, snowcapped Mount Everest slowly piercing through the blushed clouds. As I contemplated the hues of the sky, I thought about Manik, and how he led me to a new way of seeing things. Just like my taste buds, he allowed me to be aware of the things I failed to appreciate. And while tourists snapped photographs of the morning spectacle, I stared in the distance, pondering the why and the how, and gazed upon a life of beauty and misery.
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We returned to the buzzing backpacking town of Thamel, where tourists and locals congested the tight alleys. I soon missed the stillness of the mountains, where my thoughts reflected far and beyond the open space.

I gave Manik my brand new trekking shoes. They perfectly fit his feet. He wrapped a white silk scarf around my neck, a khata, symbolizing compassion and purity.

We parted in different directions. And as I stood amongst the moving crowd, I closed my eyes. Suddenly, I was back in the mountains, walking on the rugged trails through the Himalayan mist, along with Manik.

“You want chhaang?” he’d ask.

I’d smile, indulging in reminiscences and the lessons I’ve gained: “Absolutely, I’d love some chhaang.”