Over the mountain: road tripping from Victoria to Tofino

The drive from Victoria north along the East side of Vancouver Island and then west over the Beaufort Mountain Range is an attraction in and of itself, especially if, like me, you love to drive winding coastal roads through the wilderness. I stopped several times on this drive, making it significantly longer than the Google  Maps estimate of 4.5 hours from the Victoria airport. It’s worth taking your time to stop off at the roadside lookouts between Victoria and Nanaimo, including the impressive Malahat, and to pull to the side of the road to explore short trails and stream and lakeside vistas as you cut across the island.  It took me almost 6.5 hours, including a brief stop at Rusticana Coffee Shop in Mill Bay for a delicious smoked salmon sandwich, complete with delicious locally-made artichoke pesto and tons of veggies.



Finding the Space to Do What You Love


There are so many articles, books and people out there advising us to ‘do what you love’ that’s it’s become an acronym. Yes, there are also articles that advise against this, and suggest instead learning to love what you do unless you want to be penniless and living on the street painting crappy artwork for pennies.

I can certainly see both sides of the coin, and yes, we all have to make a living, but I’m a firm believer that if you feel you have something you’re meant to share,  you should find a way to share it, even if it means sacrificing other things that society, our parents or friends tell us we ‘should’ want and pursue.

The books telling us to chase our dreams offer ideas for how to figure out what it is what you love, and then go after it.These are of course helpful, but in my experience, the hardest part of the equation can be to extricate ourselves from our day-to-day lives: the routine of going to work, socializing, finding time to relax- not to mention any bad habits and attachments we may have that don’t serve us. Sometimes we lose sight of HOW to do what it is we want to do, even when we know what that is. But it is possible.

In my first week here in Colombia, I had already taught a workshop on Yoga Nidra, a couple of yoga classes, and given a Reiki session. I’d written an article which has been published on Elephant Journal, booked two private clients for therapeutic yoga classes and made strides in so many other areas. People are asking about my services and want to schedule time with me for my healing and yoga sessions.

It makes me so grateful, and also really made me reflect on why I haven’t been teaching, offering Reiki or writing as much as I’d like to in Ottawa. Travel with the intention to be healthy, active and mindful has always stimulated my creative side and allowed me to share more and make more connections with a like-minded community.

Why does it take leaving to gain space to share the things I really want to share and do the things I really want to do?

I was really, really scared to come here. I also knew that the fear I was feeling wasn’t the kind that should prevent me from doing it. I keep travelling because it allows me to keep true to my heart, which tells me to find ways to share what it is I have to give- yoga, reiki, and my unique perspective in any way I can, even if that means I need to go halfway across the world to find the space to do so at this point in my life.

In a full moon fire ceremony last night, my housemates and I wrote down situations, feelings, people, habits or other things we were ready to release and burnt them in our courtyard, allowing the power of the full moon to help us let go of these things that were using up our energy. My list was somewhat long.

By first recognizing the things that keep us stuck in certain situations, we can take steps to detach from them and move towards sharing our gifts.

If you enjoy what you’re doing, are truly happy with your life, and have no urge to do anything differently, then great! But if any of this resonates with you, I encourage you to really look at what you can release from your life however you need to, and mindful travel can certainly provide that change of perspective.


Gautape: The Perfect Active Weekend Escape 

Gautape, a tiny pueblo less than two hours outside of Medellin is a popular destination for Paisa’s and international travellers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The town itself is small, but lively and colourful.  

It is surrounded by a beautiful system of man-made lakes that shine turquoise, and is just a few minutes drive from the main tourist draw- La Piedra del Penol, a giant rock jutting out from the landscape with a staircase leading to the top.

Many also come to let loose on the lake, as is evident by the multiple party boats cruising the lake at any given time, but there are also so many options for those looking to get outside and soak up the fresh air and be active. There are a couple of delicious restaurants offering fresh, healthy food as well.



Cycling in the City: Medellin by Bike

 Medellin sits in a valley, surrounded by the Andes mountains. A beautiful sight, but also a recipe for smog.

In recent years, the city has taken steps to develop its cycling infrastructure and promote cycling as a mode of transportation in order to curb air pollution and encourage healthy living among Paisas. These initiatives have had great success, and Medellin has become an excellent cycling destination.

There are now bicycle routes in many areas of the city, and plans are in place to expand biking them by 400 km in the next two decades. Medellin also hosted the World Bicycle Forum in 2015.

The ambitious Encicla program has also certainly contributed to the rising popularity of cycling: this bike share program has more than 35 stations in the city with over 600 bikes available for loan-for free.  Anyone in the city , including tourists may sign up online to access this service and take a spin on one of the recognizable blue bicycles. 

Bike clubs and serious athletes have proliferated, and the last Wednesday of each month has become a trendy event, offering the opportunity for bike lovers gather to ride in the Fiesta de la Bici.

Though at first glance the streets seem to be quite hectic, they are generally safe as motorists have become accustomed to keeping an eye out for cyclists on the road. On any given weekend, hundreds of cyclists take to the streets and the recreational paths to take a weekend ride. Yesterday, Earth Day, was also Dia sin Carro- Day without Cars here in Medellin. Only bikes, and public transportation vehicles were out on public streets.

Popular routes for serious cyclists, including the challenging Las Palmas and Alto de Minas routes, which take you out  of the city into the countryside, all include lots of hills. Be prepared for some steep incline training. There are also mountain biking options in the hills outside the city, with numerous operators offering tours.

In my week here, I’ve seen more cyclists than any other city I’ve been to. The lovely weather year-round and the forward-thinking initiatives of the local government really encourage people to get out and cycle the city.



Back to the Pura Vida

This is my fourth time visiting Costa Rica. I can’t seem to stay away from this place that holds such a clear space in and for my spirit. I’ve always believed we can learn so much from place: the different physical, geographical, cultural, social tones and our perception of how we fit in to them. Each time I am here, I experience something new.

 This space that is created continues to grow as I see paths that never existed in my life or mind before. I am continuously pushed me out of my comfort zone in so many ways as it feels like this place is supporting self-reflection over and over and over again.