Everything You Need to Know About Tolantongo, Mexico

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Follow a winding road 1000 metres down into a steep valley surrounded by lush vegetation. See the turquoise blue river, steam pouring off her surface as she snakes through the valley floor. Soak yourself in a deliciously warm thermal pool, all to yourself, hanging over the edge of the cliffside while you stare off into the mountain valley. Let the warm waters pound on your back like a massage as they cascade down the mountain. And if you dare, climb into the very heart of the mountain through a black tunnel, torrid water pounding down from every crevice inside her, the hot blood of the mountain.  Steam billows so thick you feel it in your lungs. Watch your step along the smooth rocks as you walk along them from ankle deep to neck deep water. At the end of the tunnel, in the mountains heart, sit and breath her in, feel her heat wrap you in a blanket. It’s impossible to tear yourself away; it’s like being back in the womb, the sounds, the comfort, the warmth, the peace you feel. But you must. The rest of the mountain is calling you. Dare to run through the blast of icy cascades pounding from the mountain top, the very mouth of the mountain.  Pass through the frigid wall and reach the inside of the cavernous mouth, a warm reprieve, waste deep, with tiny smooth round tastebuds, pebbles on the floor, to massage your feet. Stare in awe at the stalactites, the strange smoothened figures on the walls and cavern ceiling, like grotesque teeth from thousands of years of dripping that warm, mineral rich water. And in the centre, a battering blast of hot water beckons you, dares you to try to withstand the power as the tongue of the mountain pounds on your back and pushes you down into the warm depths. Steamy breath gushes from her mouth out into the valley in clouds. Continue reading

Hiking Toluca de Nevado

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Our three day trek in the Sierra Juarez mountains was great, but we needed something a little higher, a little more challenging to help us prepare for trekking the great Himalayas.  Toluca de Nevado offered us just that challenge. Towering at 4600 metres, this long dead volcano is now home to two beautiful caldera lakes and absolutely stunning views.

We paired up with Julius and Sandro again and decided to rent a car. We grabbed snacks and fluids and hit the road around 1030am. Major props to Juluis for being the hero and doing the driving to get us out of Mexico city! It took a while, as traffic in this beast of a city is horrific! But finally we made it out, paid a couple of tolls and eventually took the turn off Mexico highway 10, drove past the little town of Raices, past the National Park area (where all the vendors are set up) and began to gruellingly slow switchback ride up the mountain. The reason so many people trek this mountain’s peak is because you can drive almost all the way up! In fact, you used to be able to drive right to the caldera, however the road now stops 2km before and you must hike in. Continue reading

Viajo Sola: Why Victim Blaming Needs To Stop

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Viajo Sola.

I travel alone.

I, a woman, a daughter, a sister, a partner – I travel alone. I travel alone because I can. I travel alone because I come from a free and beautiful country that gives me the freedom to travel around the world alone. I don’t have to be accompanied by a man, or by anyone at all. Not all women are so free as to have this privilege, I know. Which is why I so passionately, so gratefully travel solo: I have an opportunity that so many women in the world are denied.

When I told my friends and family I was setting out on this long journey to travel the world alone, they were supportive, excited and of course, a little worried. But they knew I was a strong, smart woman. Others who didn’t know me so well weren’t so sure. In fact, the only thing they were sure of was that I was going to be assaulted, or murdered, or robbed, or raped. Or all of these things. Yes, people said these things to my face. “You’re going alone? To those countries? That’s so dangerous and reckless of you, what must your father think?”.

To which I sadly smiled and asked them, ‘Do you know how many people are victims in our little hometown of all of those atrocities each year? How many people are victims of these injustices in Canada each year? Home can be just as dangerous as abroad. I just have to travel smart and safe”. Continue reading

London Underground

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I did it! I crossed the old pond and at long last touched down in Europe for the first time in my life! It was a heck of journey to get here: a four hour bus ride from Cuenca to Guayaquil at 1am, a three hour flight from Guayaquil to Chile Santiago at 7am, an 11 hour layover in the awful Chilean airport, a four hour flight to Panama, another hour flight to Puerto Rico and after running to my next gate with no time to spare, the eight hour haul overseas to land in Frankfurt to switch one last time for the last little jaunt over to Heathrow Airport in London. I made it!!! I was exhausted, sleep deprived and jet lagged. And of course, on my eight hour overnight flight a two year old toddler sat behind me on his mothers lap kicking my chair and crying hysterically the entire time. I’m not exaggerating here either. I felt terrible for the child and the mother as something was clearly wrong with the kid – the crying was hysterical screaming – not just regular crying. It was exhausting. He would scream himself silly until he passed out, over and over again. I can only assume he had an ear infection or something else the pressure may have aggravated. Continue reading

How To Not Get Robbed On A Bus, Like I Did…!

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Well this also finally happened… I was robbed. Before you freak out, family and friends, no, I was not held up at gun or knife point and stripped of all my belongings, thank god. It was a more of a ghost robbery, where I was left totally unaware. I  hopped on my bus in Banos heading for Guayaquil to meet up with Anthony, a nice cheap $7 ride for 7 hours. I walked towards the back of the bus where my assigned seat was. There was a man at the back of the bus who looked as if he worked on the bus as he was directing patrons to seats. He motioned for me to take my assigned seat, which I did and then said I could store my backpack up top or below my seat. There were bags under the seat in front of me so I slide my back pack back under my own seat and settled in. Mistake number one. Unnoticed, the man took a seat directly behind me. Continue reading

When Travel Sickness Strikes – How To Cope

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*Warning* this post is explicit in the shameless details of being ill- if you’re easily disgusted, don’t keep reading! 😛

So it finally happened. I got sick. Real sick.  Two days before I left Guatemala, I came down with mild food poisoning. I got through a bad night of basically trying to sleep while sitting on the toilet, the agonizing cramps making me nearly cry out for my mommy. There’s something about being violently ill that makes you want you mother desperately. I had flashbacks of warm baths, cold cloths on my forehead, four litre ice cream buckets that we dubbed “puke pails”, gingerale, tums, and gentle back rubs from moms comforting hands. Unfortunately all I had was a shared public bathroom with doors that were open on both the top and bottom, allowing all the gastric sounds to escape easily. Continue reading

Travel Tips For Central America

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Central America is wonderful little collection of tropical countries that separate North from South America. I spent the last three months traveling through Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras and Belize. Three months was no where near enough time and I regrettably missed seeing El Salvador and Panama and only got to see a tiny bit of Honduras. It was my first time backpacking, so I was a bit of a novice at traveling in general, but I learned a lot about travel through Central America in those three short months. I’ve compiled a few of the things that I think would be most helpful to a first time traveler in Central America, however these tips could likely be applied to most places backpackers venture! Continue reading