Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

8/40-3 Finally, We’re Home

14 Nov

.

8/40-2 Should Have Taken the Scorpion Bus

14 Nov

So Sarah and I waited almost four hours for the Mazhandu Family Bus to arrive and take us on our journey. And this is a long time to wait for anything.

We really couldn’t go exploring under risk of missing our departure so we just stood around until it finally arrived a good three hours late.

But it wasn’t all bad because we learned about this place called the Copperbelt! It’s a region of Zambia with lots of mines and it sounds super interesting but sadly we couldn’t go because we have dinner reservations in a different province.

So instead of getting on one of the buses that did show up on time, we hung around the terminal trying to take the perfect selfie.

We’re still trying

8/40-1 TIA

14 Nov

Has anyone figured out Destination Number Two yet? Maybe my clues were too difficult. Maybe you’ve discovered Sarah’s IG where she’s posting instant travel updates AS THEY HAPPEN where at the same time it takes me two days to write up one of these blog posts.

“Stop living in the past, man!”

Sure thing. In fact that’s what I’m doing right now. For the first time ever I’m blogging to you from the mobile app on my phone which means I’m typing live!

All my other blogs have been typed up, created, “born” if you will, from the keyboard of my MacBook Air. But right now I can’t take out my computer because Sarah and I are waiting at the Lusaka intercity bus terminal for our intercity bus and it’s a bit chaotic right now.

There are people everywhere – passengers, vendors, drivers, guys selling snacks, phone chargers, mosquito repellent – pretty much anything you’d need for an eight-hour bus trip in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our coach leaves in two hours and we have some time to kill. So here are some photos for you to look at.

Here’s the terminal.

They have this one bus line is called Scorpion.

And if you think Scorpion is a cool name, you’re going to love this:

I’m thinking I should probably write up a detailed description of how to take the bus from Lusaka to [insert tourist destination] because all the information on the web right now is like, “the bus station is crazy, go there and take the bus.”

Not very helpful.

7/40-1 Where Do We Go Now

13 Nov

Apologies for the previous post – I teased you with the mystery of a new destination and then forgot to leave you any clues! So, here is your assignment. Call your boss tell him you won’t be in today – this is going to take a few minutes!

994476

Clue this First: The place we are going is represented on maps that use the Mercator projection in an incredibly racist manner.

Clue the Second: the climate-related problems we encountered in Spain will have been the opposite of what we expect to experience in the new country.

Clue the Third: We are actually visiting more than one country.

374757

Clue the Fourth: I will consider it a blessing if we encounter zero Tim Horton’s franchises.

I feel that’s enough for you to get started. Godspeed and remember, keep watching the stars!

6/40-1 Travel Day Number Two!

12 Nov

Today we’re off on the second leg of our epic voyage. Where could we be going next? To what country and / or city? Which mode of transportation will we take to there? Which airport will we fly out of?

So many mysterious, unanswered questions.

And I, for one, believe this is a healthy thing. Having some mystery I mean. If our lives were devoid of mystery they’d be pretty boring. It’s why as a species we are so fascinated by the outcomes of events – it keeps things interesting. With things like sporting events and political elections and awards season it’s pretty straightforward. You just follow the thing beforehand and then you watch the thing when it happens and then it’s done.

But with international travel it’s really hard to set up a holiday without giving up the jig. The questions I had to answer and the DNA I had to provide for some of the visas would have been very difficult for someone who is not me to complete.

That said I’m very excited for this leg of our trip but I can’t help think I’d be more excited if someone had organized it *and* not told me where we’re going. As mysteries go, that’d be a pretty compelling one!

IMG_4566

Number two!

.

4/40-1 Measuring Pants

11 Nov

What is the correct way to measure how long one has gone without spilling food on ones’ pants? Is it hours/days or number of meals consumed? Right now Sarah and I are on a tight pants budget (the constraint is not financial nor waste size, it’s pack space.) Our matching backpacks are 25 litres each – for comparison around forty litres is the maximum sized bag you’re allowed to bring in the cabin of your average commercial airliner.

The past few years have seen a marked increase in belt tightening (see what I did there?) by a lot of air carriers where the main innovation has been charging passengers for their checked bags. This makes prefect sense to me as the more weight on a flight, the higher the fuel costs. What this means though, is that more passengers are cramming all their underwear into their cabin bags and on busy flights the overhead bins are getting filled to over capacity.

We decided early on that one of the main goals of this trip would be to reduce the likelihood of encountering any luggage related issues. We purposely purchased the 25 litre packs because

A) they can be taken into the cabin of the plane (no lost luggage)

B) they are small enough to fit under the seat in front of you (if there’s no space in the overhead bins)

C) even if the overhead bins are full and can’t fit a large-size carry-on bag, there’s a good chance we can fit our smaller bags in there

D) they make public transportation and foot travel a breeze because their small capacity forces us to limit what we bring with us therefor reducing our overall pack weight – the main discomfort factor in carrying ones luggage while traveling without a car.

Which brings me to my question from the first paragraph – is it the hours or the meals? I’m asking this because I managed to get exactly one meal (or about seven hours) into our trip before I dropped a spoonful of pasta noodles on the one pair of pants I have to wear for the next hundred and twenty meals. You’re probably wondering, “who eats pasta with a spoon?” and this is a completely valid question. But it’s one for a future blog post. In three days we’ll have access to a laundry machine *and* (hopefully) a clothes dryer. Until then, my pants and I bid you, adieu.

3/40-1 The Big Reveal!

9 Nov

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Sarah and I are in Madrid Spain: Land of the Tim Horton’s franchise opportunities!

If you were surprised to see that the former Buffalo Sabres defenceman has invaded yet another country, you are not alone. I found it quite unnerving to be confronted with such an iconic Burger King-owned property so far from my home. I mean it should have been comforting, but it wasn’t.

I think this is mainly because while I search for the familiar when traveling, I don’t think I want something that’s too familiar. It’s like I want to try new and exciting things – for example like food. I want to eat a hamburger but with the local take on it. Like the hamburger is American but the cheese they put on it is from some village close by.

One of the risks of eating the local food is that you could find something you really, really like and then when you leave you don’t get to have it any more. This is pretty much my life story surrounding many of my visits to Germany. I’ve actually made costly travel detours (extra flights, accommodations) to eat one of their Döners.

I won’t go into too much detail about the food here in Madrid except to say that’s it’s outstanding and the kitchens are all open late. If you order any sort of drink at a bar, 100% of the time the server will drop in front of you some sort of snack that will be salty and delicious. It’s happening right now as I type this.

Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 5.12.19 PM

.

3/40-1 Final Clues!

8 Nov

You remember that famous scene in U-571 (2000) where they capture the Nazi U-boat and then they’re attacked and then they have to try to escape using the captured U-boat and Harvey Keitel yells to the other soldiers, “Everything’s in German!”?

Well that’s what it’s like here in the first country of our big trip. Except everything is not in German, it’s in another language. And we’re not being attacked. Everyone here has been real friendly… mostly because we’re not capturing anything. Except maybe their hearts. Which is something you’re legally allowed to do when you visit somewhere. As long as its metaphorical.

Wait, what was I talking about?

“You were saying something about the street signs”

Yes! The point I was trying to make is that interacting with the locals here is difficult because we don’t speak the language. And when I say “don’t speak the language” what I actually mean is interactions with the locals are difficult because “I’m behaving like I *do* know some of the language but what’s really happening is I’m speaking German to them and this is a problem because as I’ve recently disclosed, we are not in Germany”.

This happens to me a lot when I travel – my brain hears not-english and I switch to German. What can I say, it’s a quality language.

Anyway, nothing bad has come from my language shenanigans (yet – we’re only on the second day) and to celebrate, here’s your final clue to try and figure out where we are! Good luck everyone!

IMG_7751-4

In this country, a popular mode of transportation is this bizarre looking kind of car. They’re everywhere.

.

1/40-1 These Things I Look Forward To

7 Nov

By far my favourite part of traveling international is I get to interact with new and diverse, vibrant cultural bureaucracies. On any one of my garden-variety travel adventures I might have at *most* one or two opportunities to interact with the local/state/federal government officials of my host nation, but this time I anticipate there will be *dozens* of exchanges. I know this because in preparation for this trip, I’ve had to fill out *many* different application forms for *many* different countries. In one case I even had to write a letter to the Director General Of Immigration for the entire Republic.

One of the reasons I’m like this is because I used to be a government bureaucrat myself, and I’d like to think I share a measure of mutual camaraderie with my brothers and sisters in the civil service of the nations I visit – the shared experiences we have dealing with systems that feel like they were designed around a set of processes and not a concrete goal.

I think my biggest concern from my time in government stemmed from instances where no one was able to explain why something was a certain way (the private sector has this too). It’s like the hypothetical son who cooked the hypothetical Christmas ham by cutting it in half before putting it in the oven (just like his hypothetical mother did) and he never found out she did this because the uncooked ham was too big for her hypothetical baking pan.

Me, well I don’t really like ham. And the stove at the new house is TINY. And that’s a good thing. It uses less energy and it takes up less space in our tiny kitchen.

But that’s unimportant.

What is important is that several of the countries on our itinerary asked for information pertaining to “religion” on the application forms we had to fill out. Sarah and I didn’t really co-ordinate our responses so we might have different answers for some of them. I’m not sure if this will make a difference, but it is something that might come up as we pass though customs and/or immigration.

IMG_4493

More clues?! 

.

0/40-1 Hey everyone, I’m back!

6 Nov

Sorry about the disappearing act I’m not sure what happened. One minute I was out there boating it up to New Zealand, then everything went blank and the next thing I know it’s seven months later and I’m back in Ottawa. (Despite what you may have heard from my sister-in-law, the boat did NOT sink. She held together magnificently and delivered everyone safe and sound to their final destination.)

Half a year is a lot of time to have go missing, especially when you’re in your forties. This is why I was surprised to discover this week the first thing I wanted to do after getting my memory back was the exact same thing I would have done thirty years earlier (when I was not in my forties) and that is check in on the Marvel Universe to find out how all my favourite characters are doing, all of them alive and well and having adventures and stuff while all the time being very much alive, I’m sure.

But unfortunately I have no time for that because right now I’m off on an adventure of my own. While I was sleeping Sarah organized us a giant mystery tour and we leave today, like right now!

Now I’m not one to spoil the end of a popular movie, so if you want to find out where we’re going, you’re going to have to follow a series of clues, each more mysterious than the last. Here is your first – good luck and happy guessing!

CLUE 1: Here is a picture of all our luggage for our trip. Where (and for how long) could we be going that would only require us to do such a minimal amount of packing? Are we going to play with the penguins at the North Pole? Who knows?!

IMG_4490

To demonstrate the true extremeness of our packing, I’ve included a banana for scale. Or is it a clue? Who knows?!

.