Tag Archives: Travel

My love hate relationship with the North

IMG_2918There is a tiny icicle on each individual eyelash. The steam around me billows up and disappears into the never-ending white. White fog, white fields, white tipped Pines, white powdered hills, snow covered mountains. Snow. Snow everywhere.

It’s falling too, all around me. Tiny spidery snowflakes, falling from whispy white clouds above. Ice cold fluff.

I keep my body submerged under water, hot steaming chlorified water up to my chin. My head and ears are covered with thick rainbow fauxfur, the rest of me is naked. My skin glistening, pale, pale white under the foaming hot tub water. The only sound for miles is someone driving through powder on a snowmobile, that distinct hum I remember so well from childhood. There is no one around, no people, no bears: it’s February and everyone is in hibernation. If there was anyone around, I’d know, there is no sneaking up on me here, the neighbour’s dog team would go berserk. Even the Huskeys are quiet today, and the silence stretches on and on. I find it eerie. A giant tar black raven soars through the mist and finds his perch on the tallest of the tiny Yukon trees. In my mind, It threatens to snap under his bodyweight, but these trees are stronger than I give them credit, older and wiser too.

The raven watches me.

I watch him back, intently.

I didn’t think I would say this in my lifetime, but I’m back. I am back here living in my hometown, Whitehorse, Yukon, and it is even colder than I remember.

I’ve been here one week and already been exposed to seven days of 30 below perhaps a high of -25 somewhere (but they say it’s minus 45 with wind chill anyway). My older brother warns me not to listen to those radio announcers, they no nothing. It’s not thaat cold.

I’ve already managed to back my car right into a snowbank and got it stuck (thank goodness my Dad has the equipment to tow me out!).

I’m just not a winter person. I like snow for a minute, then I am over it. I like to look it, through the glass, in a painting maybe, on the screen of the television while watching a winter movie but all from the comfort of my warm home when I am living somewhere hot or at the very least, warmer, a more mild Canadian climate. Yes, I’ll admit, I miss Vancouver already.

Sure, I like some winter activities. I love snowboarding. But I like it when you can go to the snow, find it on the mountain, escape it when you come back down. I like snowboarding when it’s minus 5 or minus 10, maybe. I can barely last five minutes outside in this weather.IMG_2901

It’ll get better.

Right?!

As I sit and observe the white all around me, I contemplate life.

I feel a warmth inside knowing my brother and his wife live right down the street, just a stroll away. My other brother and his wife, a short drive away. My grandma is just across the field. My parents are a staircase and a knock away.

I’ve been away from my family for too long. The distance created its own kind of silence, and I am relieved for a chance to reconnect.

I’ve realized family is extremely important to me, even if not all of them, ‘get me’, or accept me fully.

I feel an unexpected excitement to reinvent myself here. The person I was when I lived here seven years ago is so different from the person I became in Vancouver. But that person is also gone. It’s to time to connect the dots, connect all the partial Heidi’s along the way. Become whole, or at least continue to grow. I’m ready to reconnect with my past, and examine all the guilt, the shame, the fear, the closeted anxiety. All this weird shit I’ve bottled up and attached to this place.

The small-town homophobia. Judgement. Gossip.

The knowing, anytime you leave the house, you will probably run into someone you knew from before: an old co-worker, an ex-friend’s parent, thousands of acquaintances who you know little to nothing about besides there name- or their most recent Facebook status, if you kept up on the CreepTrain, but you know, that they’ll know, or they’ll find out, and they’ll think of you differently.

I will be queer here, just as I am there. People will see it differently, treat me differently, of this I have always been afraid.

I will try to embrace my difference.

And I will try to embrace this cold.

I will search in the silence for the words I’ve been lacking-

The ones that have been swept up by the constant city buzz, the lights, the sound, the beats and lines and constant drip, of alcohol, the club scene I’ve left behind.

I’ve given up alcohol for the next four months, too. Wish me luck.

It’s not as a dark here, as I remember.

The sun shines brightly everyday, and I think to myself, at least, I will not miss the rain.

I will scan the white horizon for inspiration and hope.

Hope that we will all just be okay.

Hope that I will be able to write more here.

Inspire change here.

Hope that I will learn to love the cold again, or that spring and summer will just come sooner.

From across the hills, I see a shimmer of colour, the reflection of a tiny rainbow.

Maybe it’s just me.

HJL

IMG_2917

Advertisements

What Happened in Vegas…

We returned safely back to Vancouver from Las Vegas one week ago, which was a day later than we were supposed to.

SURPRISE! Two little Canadian lesbians didn’t get the best service over in America.  We were jerked around a little bit our first night and a lot on our last night, but everything in between was pure bliss, Vegas style.

The neon flashing lights could be seen from 20,000 feet in the air, like one giant arcade, twinkling, pulsating, enticing us from the sky.

Bubblegum pink, pumpkin orange, canary yellow blazing from every hotel, casino, strip-joint, billboard, and high-rise. The first thing we noticed on the ground were all the massive billboards. Seriously, every other job in Vegas must be in marketing or advertising because I’ve never seen so many ads in my life. Promoting this show, and this artist, and this product, everywhere. There are billboards on wheels, literally, trucks that drive around the city with the sole purpose of promotion. They have no box or trunk, just giant screens with dancing products and sleazy slogans.

The Vegas strip is definitely just as flashy and glamorous as I imagined, but our first mistake was staying at the Stratosphere. For our first time in Vegas we wanted to be somewhere right on the Strip, but we didn’t realize just how far down the Stratosphere is on the strip. It is at the very very end. The upside: we walked A LOT everyday.

If you want to be right in the thick of things I recommend trying out the Flamingo, or Caesar’s, or the Venetian, which are all beautiful inside (especially the Venetian!) and way more central.

We arrived in Vegas late Saturday evening and took the hotel shuttle from the airport. Unfortunately, the stratosphere was very last stop and the bus made what felt like a million other stops along the way. It took forever to get there! No wonder why the girls sitting in front of us on the plane had opted out of the shuttle bus and went for the cab route. We had booked our hotel room online as part of a package deal with flights included, and we had paid extra for a ‘premiere’ room at the Strat. Our only requests were that we have a non-smoking room with a king bed.

Alas, when we arrived, Stratosphere employee, Robert, told us the only rooms available were standard rooms in the smoking section with two queen beds. Really?

Luckily, we had brought along a print out of our itinerary which showed we had paid extra for a ‘premiere’ room, so we wouldn’t settle for a standard one.

Robert told us it was a mistake on the booking website because it should just say premiere view, not premiere room. All we were paying extra for was a view, so okay, whatever. But we assured him we wanted a room with just one bed. He looked confused at this, because, huh, two women, want to sleep together? butttttt-

He said he would see what he could find.

He left us to go into the back room, and came back five minutes later to tell us:

“The only rooms available with just one king bed are located in our newly renovated suites which will cost you an upgrade of $200 per night.”

SERIOUSLY!?

No.

I suggested to my girlfriend, perhaps we could push the beds together and have one giant bed. That could be fun!

Robert protested this idea. Nope, can’t do that. Not allowed.

You may think it is silly that we were so adamant that we only have one bed, but the thing is two beds take up a lot of unnecessary space, and if we were a straight couple requesting a room with one bed I’m sure we wouldn’t come across such resistance. So naturally, it pissed me right off, and I told him I’d like to speak to his manager.

Once again, Robert left us to go into the back. When he returned he wasn’t accompanied by anyone, but instead told us, his manager had found a room available for us in the non-smoking section with a king bed.

Perfect.

We went up to our room to find that our ‘premiere view’ was overlooking a giant parking lot, and all night long we’d hear vehicle’s starting up, peeling away, beeping, honking, and screeching car alarms. Oh well, we wouldn’t be in the hotel room that much anyway, we thought, it’s VEGAS!

Our first night we just hung out in the Strat casino, played some Black Jack, and ate a salad and some scrumptious boneless chicken wings at the Roxy, which is the cutest little diner EVER, probably my favourite part of the Stratosphere. Check it out, their menus are printed like Newspapers!

IMG_0962

This captured my heart, obviously. And from one server to another, the service fucking rocked! Our server was cheerful, funny, charming, gave us recommendations, quality checked us, checked on us lots, but not too much that it was annoying, seriously, perfection. Actually, I was impressed with the service at all the restaurants we went to, but hey, Americans know how to tip. So servers really work it there, not like in Australia!

The next day we woke up early and got 5$ breakfast burritos at the little breakfast joint across the street. They were delicious. Then we set off in the hot hot sun to explore the strip. We made our way to Circus Circus, Riviera, the Venetian, the Flamingo, Planet Hollywood etc. And at each place, we gambled a little, and drank a lot. We also stopped at a liquor store along the way and were delighted by the prices. But we soon realized, you don’t even have to go to liquor store, cause they sell liquor everywhere! Connivence stores, gas stations, drug stores, grocery stores, and it is all hella CHEAP! A 40 of vodka is 15 bucks! And the selection is crazy. There are so many more brands and flavours of everything. Coconut this, grape that, cherry rum, pineapple vodka, mango fusion, I got thirsty just looking.

But then we made the greatest discovery of our entire trip. Single Cans of premixed Long Island Iced Tea, 15% alcohol, and Pina Coladas 10% alcohol, both only $3.40 and both taste like Heaven.

WHAAAAT?!

I know! right?

So those are pretty much what we drank the whole time in Vegas, other than the free drinks at the casinos, and a couple of margaritas and daiquiris from the Margarita Bar.

Needless to say, our trip was a blur. A beautiful, warm, tingly blur.

We ran around Vegas, sipping, shopping, and playing games, mostly Black Jack and Poker on the Multi-Game and Game King machines, my favourites!IMG_0966

We discovered the BEST Chinese food restaurant on the Strip: P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro of Planet Hollywood where she shared lettuce wraps and a coconut vegetarian stir fry that was more than enough for both of us for our lunch and our dinner too!

Our second full day in Vegas was my girlfriend Lyndie’s 32nd birthday, so I took her out somewhere a little nicer for breaky.  And again, we were astounded at the GIGANTIC portions. We ordered two breakfasts but afterwards decided for the rest of the trip we should just share one plate per meal because we could barely get through half our plates. I also made the mistake of ordering coffee and baileys without asking the price. Each shot of baileys was 12$ so I ended up spending $30 just on our coffees, whoops! 100% mark up, very clever, or is it 1200% because in the stores you could buy a whole bottle for 12. Meh, I suck at math, but either way we got jipped!

But the breakfast was decent. And the decor was fun.

P1000610

One of the strangest things in Vegas is all the promoters trying to give you ‘free’ stuff. Free shows, free drink tickets, half price drink and dinner coupons, visa gift cards, and ‘cash money’ if you’ll just sign right here, and here, oh, and here too. After what happened to us in Fiji last year, I definitely had my guard up. Wasn’t going with anyone anywhere or accepting any gifts from anyone. But man oh man, they sure tried.

But just so you know, NOTHING IS FREE! There’s always a catch.

Next time I go to Vegas I want to go to more shows. There are just so many, and we were too busy running around exploring the strip and Faremont Street. We did go to one show though, Cirque du Soleil: Zarkana which was INCREDIBLE. All of the acts were so beautiful and breathtaking and kept us on the edge of our seats. I HIGHLY recommend it. My two favourite acts were the elegant twin aerialists and the mesmerizing sand artist.

Here are a couple pics I got of the sand artwork-in process-

IMG_1049 IMG_1051 IMG_1052 IMG_1054

It was amazing how fast they came to life, and then changed into something else.

The acrobatics were phenomenal, and the costumes and sets dazzling and wildly creative.

After the show we wandered back from the Aria, all the way a long the strip, looking for a decent place to eat. We were both a little hangry as we hadn’t eaten anything since lunch and were getting frustrated at the limited options because everything we looked at was hella expensive or Mexican, and don’t get me wrong, I love Mexican food but that wasn’t what we were in the mood for. There are soooo many Mexican restaurants in Vegas! Finally we came across the cutest little strip of restaurants and shops and art right behind the Flamingo.

We even came back the next day just to take pictures of all the wicked art:

IMG_1064 IMG_1065 IMG_1066 IMG_1067 IMG_1068 IMG_1071 IMG_1072 IMG_1073 IMG_1074 IMG_1075 IMG_1076 IMG_1077  IMG_1079 IMG_1080

The restaurant we decided on didn’t look like anything special from the outside; the menu on the wall seemed okay, but quite limited. But we were AMAZED when we got inside. What was shown on the menu out front was only a tiny portion of the whole menu. There were soooo many options, and better yet, we came on a Monday night which meant half price appys and happy hour drink prices all night long. We had two appetizers and two martinis for under $30. Seriously, if you ever go to Vegas make sure you go to the Yard House. Two appetizers was more than enough for both of us, and the food was exquisite: asian influence, but pretty much had anything and everything you could want on the menu. Pasta, pizza, steak, ribs, sushi, sashimi, squid, rice dishes, noodle dishes, delicious everything. We liked it so much we came back for lunch on our last day.

The best part about our last day in Las Vegas is that we both won money on the Big Wheel. We had tried it briefly the day before at the Riveria and one of the guys playing had said he had one $900 on it last week, but I figured I’d lose too much money on it if I kept playing. But on our last day, I thought what the hell, go big or go home, right?! Well, I didn’t go that big, I was only betting a dollar on each number, sometimes two dollars, which is how i won $100 at Caesar’s palace. You bet on seven different options and then spin the wheel and if it lands on what you predicted, you win! I bet on the joker which pays out one to fifty, and if you always bet on 1 as well, you almost always get your money back. Try it, you’ll see what I mean. We tried our luck on the big wheel at the Flamingo and Lyndsie won $100 too.

When we arrived at the airport at 6 O’Clock we were buzzed and happy to have had such an epic day. We were chatting with everyone, telling everyone in line about our adventures in Vegas, and getting high fives along the way. One of the West Jet employees took a disliking to us right off the bat.

He warned me if I didn’t get Lyndsie ‘sobered up’ by the time our flight was leaving we wouldn’t be able to board the plane. Okay, not a problem. We still had three hours. I bought us a burger, fries, a milkshake, some bugles, some chips, a cliff bar, some reese’s peanut butter cups, and a lot of water. Then our plane was even delayed an hour. So, we hadn’t had any alcohol  since leaving the casino at 5PM, so by the time we boarded the plane we were totally fine.  But, Mr. douchebag had already spoke to the flight attendant about us. We got on the plane without a problem, but then the flight attendants came over to us and asked us if we had been drinking.

Not since we left the casino FIVE hours ago!

She asked us if we had been drinking in the airport.

No!

She accused us of lying to her, and said we had to get off the aircraft immediately. When we got off the other West Jet attendants said they had already held our bags aside for us, ‘just in case’ and we could go pick them up downstairs because we were not allowed to fly tonight.

They were never going to let us fly. They didn’t even put our luggage on the plane, yet they put us on there, only to take us off again! SOO ANNOYING!

Honestly, I wish they would of just told us before we wasted 5 hours waiting for our plane. We could have been galavanting around Vegas some more, maybe even winning more money. Fortunately we were able to spend our winnings from the day to get a cheap room at the Quad for the night and take a flight out the following day.

I’ve spoken with a few people about it, and they think it sounds quite outrageous. My boss says he and his wife always have a few drinks in the airport, there are pubs in there for Christ’s sake! And many of my friends and colleagues say they’ve boarded many planes and flown while ‘tipsy’ which hasn’t been a problem.

If we were a straight couple, or even just two dudes, we would have been allowed to fly. For sure.

But whatever, we got to stay in Vegas an extra night, so I’m over it.

Can’t wait to go back!!

xox

Heidi J.

My 1st all-inclusive Vacation

P1000102

Overindulgence!

is the name of the game.

Hundreds of beached whales filling up the blue and white patio chairs, waiting to be pampered. Some playful dolphins splash around in the pools, a game of water polo here, then shots, beach volleyball, more shots, BINGO, cocktails at the swim up bar. Snap snap. “Give me a drink.” Whistle. “Need more beer!” Catcall, “because they like it when you do that.” “Just look at ‘er [the bartender] doesn’t she look just like J-lo?”

Cringe.

Us vs. Them. Everywhere. The binary ablaze, so bright, I get a headache from its neon light, that, and too much sun.

Because first the sun caresses my entire body like a long lost lover, kissing every inch of skin that I expose, pleading with me to show just a little bit more, so I do, obviously. It’s so freaking nice out, and hot!! And it’s March. If I was allowed to be naked I totally would be, but this bikini will have to do. The UV rays suck the colour out, through the straw of each pore, and create streaks of  pink here, and red there, searing, crimson. Ahhh! Feel the burn!

Oh Sleepless Nights to Come!

I try to keep covered up, at least during the hottest part of the day, and I reapply sunscreen like an obsessed first time parent. Rightly so, my skin is as delicate as a newborn’s bottom. New freckles and moles pop up everyday. My body really is a map, little brown spots marking every tropical place I’ve ever visited, outlining my life’s journeys. Hawaii here, see, right on my thigh. Brisbane here, and here. Melbourne this reddish brown gem. A few spots from Wreck beach, definitely the one on my bum. This strange looking feller, I remember the day we met, on Savary Island in 2006, yep this mole was born from the worst sunburn I ever had.

You call them ‘beauty’ marks and I laugh.

Perhaps I belong where my skin will go unmarked by sunshine, unharmed, in the cold lands. I sometimes worry I am doomed for a future with skin cancer, but then again, I also worry I will get liver cancer, and heart disease, and catch every other sickness/condition/disease in the book or more accurately in the television shows I watch like Grey’s Anatomy and ER. I guess I am a bit of a hypochondriac, but who isn’t these days? Well, at least sometimes. The generous doses of vitamin D put me through the roof, and I just don’t care. Happiness, inspiration, freedom, I feel at ease here in Los Cabos, Mexico at the Riu Sante Fe. I have everything at my disposal, delicious food, delicious drinks, sunshine, beaches, people to entertain me, to feed me, to answer to my every need.

I overindulge.

But hey, everyone’s doing it.

Well, everyone here. 

The Tourists, here.

“Us”

***

I found myself thinking a lot about privilege on this vacation, and how it is used, and abused, and also completely ignored or dismissed by those who have it, were born with it.

I felt so extremely grateful and lucky and appreciative to be on this vacation. Especially given that I didn’t have to pay for any of it. This was a birthday present from my dearest. A magnificent birthday present indeed. My boo worked two full-time jobs just to save up for this present for me, for us. (And yes, I am a lucky little shit, I know this!)

I am sure many other guests at the resort were grateful and appreciative too, but much of what I saw was sickening. The disrespect from some of the tourists to the workers. The “I own you” attitude. Exoticism, sexism, racism, classism, and pure ignorant, rich, white, male-bodied privilege.

One guy threw his full beer on the ground, and spat angry words into the female bartenders face. Apparently, he needed a different beer because that one was gross.

Like, dude, seriously?!

One night as we were walking back to our hotel room some guys yelled at us (my girlfriend and I) from their balcony,

“Hey girls, you give good head?”

We were holding hands.

I swear, if I wasn’t so full from dinner I could barely walk I would have gone up there and kicked him in the balls. These were the kind of guys staying at the resort. Saying whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Sexualizing and objectifying us and every other woman they saw.

Blaaaah.

I think, the biggest mistake we made was going at the same time as the Americans “spring break.” The resort was flooded by college and university students just there to party. Hundreds of rich, white, twenty-somethings who never slept! SERIOUSLY! They never went to bed! They came to drink as much as they possibly could, hook up, puke, try Mexican cocaine, whatever. We heard fight after fight, domestic dispute, drunken arguments, drunken make up sex, drunken dares, everything loud and clear, at three, four, five, six o’ clock in the morning. People running up and down the corridors, thomp thomp, bang crash!

Oh Sleepless Nights of Cabo!

P1000126

It was easier to catch some zzz’s on a patio chair under the sun, then try to get but a wink at night, or if you went to bed really early like 8 or 9 you could get a few solid hours in before the ruckus really got underway. Which is what we started doing after the second night! Call us grannies, but we were in bed by 9 sharp for the rest of the week! Thanks to full days of sunshine, tennis, swimming, snorkelling, climbing rocks, and drinking and eating way too much, sleep started to come easier and easier even with all the noise.

During breakfast on our fifth morning we overheard the news that fifteen of the so called ‘Spring breakers’ had actually got kicked out of the resort that night!

I just wonder what was the last straw.

IMG_9874

On our last day we took a water taxi over to Lover’s beach, which I highly recommend if you are ever in Cabo. It’s beautiful! Here, we set out to build a record-breaking, giant sandcastle (to beat our previous records that is) we succeeded with the help of some locals and two bottles of premium Mexican tequila! This was the only time during the trip I felt like it wasn’t us and them anymore. We were just people meeting on a beach, united by a common cause: build an epic sand castle.

But as our new friend, Sam, gently pointed out, it looked more like an upturned cow, than a castle in the end, or possibly a birthday sandcake, but it was still pretty epic!

All in all, our trip to Cabo was pretty freaking awesome. The Riu Sante Fe in los Cabos is beautiful and luxurious, and I felt like a princess running around her castle. All the employees at the resort treated us like royalty, and we tried our best to treat them equally, with respect, and tip them as generously as we could afford. None of the obnoxious douchey jerks were locals, no, the jerks were the Americans and the Canadians, tourists, just like us.

Until next time,

HJL

New Years Resolutions

time to party

I am NOT a hater of resolutions or written goals. Obviously they can’t be too too ambitious or you’re just setting yourself up for failure, like, don’t bother writing down ‘learn ten languages, travel the world, and cure cancer’  but it never hurt anybody to make a list! And hey, you COULD learn another language this year, and travel somewhere new, and run for the cure, or paint for the cure, or donate or whatever…

It’s a new year, a clean slate, all those things you want to do, you can start now, just WRITE THEM DOWN, pin the list to your wall preferably on your bedroom wall by the light switch or on the back of the bathroom door. And don’t take it down for 365 days, unless you move, and in that case bring it with you wherever you go.

You probably already know this about me but I LOVE LISTS, I am not ashamed to say I am a list pusher, to-do lists, to-make lists, to achieve lists… I have weekly resolutions and monthly goal quotas so why not a new years one too?! It just makes sense!

Last year one of my goals was to create a blog (this blog) and post every single week for an entire year, I think I did pretty well! I only missed a couple weeks here and there and doubled up on other weeks- so yay! Success! Here’s to another year of blogging! and YOU reading it, and us together, dreaming, and achieving…

2014

Here’s what I hope to achieve in 2014!!

* Continue to contribute regularly to Vancouver Weekly

* Do some free lance stuff for other papers/magazines

* Write at LEAST one short story and/or short script PER MONTH for the entire year

* Write some new songs

* Record some songs

* Complete ‘She’s Not Me’ Music Video

* Mess around with Final Cut Pro, and make some fun youtube videos

* Practice Violin regularly (and yes post some videos… finally)

*Start taking lessons again! WOOHOO ♫♪♫♪

*Jam with some new peeps

* Submit nonfiction piece to a bunch of contests

* Get a wicked awesome artsy job… or just ANYTHING outside the hospitality industry…

* READ MORE!!!!

* WRITE MORE!!!

* SING MORE!!! even if it is mostly in the shower 😉

* Keep exercising regularly and weight lifting… a.k.a obtain dream of bulgy biceps

* Submit pitch for crazy8’s 2015

* Continue the exciting adventure that is Chalk With Me, and chalk new messages in new places all year!

* Oh, and, last but not least, TRAVEL, somewhere hot.

What are your goals for 2014?!!? Do Share!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! and thank-you for reading!

Also a big thank-you to all of my WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube followers who read, liked, and kept coming back for more this year, your support means the world to me.

XOX

Heidi J. Loos

3 Days in Portland!

Have you ever been to the city of Roses?

That’s what they call it, apparently, because the climate is ideal for rose growing, and also possibly for doughnut making???

doughnuts

For, Portland, Oregon, is known by many, as the city of killer doughnuts!

vodoo

… And it is also famous for being the American city with the most strip clubs per capita, it even beats Vegas, crazy hey?!

However, I had no idea of these many ‘perks’ when I signed up for the trip.

I had never been, nor had I given the city much thought or even any at all. I’d never stumbled upon Portland in my readings of the world, so it was definitely not on my list of cities/places to visit before I die, but it should totally be on yours!!

portland

And not because of the roses, or the doughnuts, or the strippers, I mean those are totally legitimate attractions, but Portland has lots more to offer too! I don’t even like doughnuts! And since I went last week (in mid October), I missed all of the roses. The strippers (at least the girls at Sassy’s) were all tattooed, and VERY sexy, and totally ‘sassy’ in the best sense of the word, they actually seemed like they were having fun and were insanely talented both with their pole dancing skills and their entertaining and even comedic routines. 🙂

Across the street from Sassy’s there is a bowling alley, and from 9pm until 11:30 it is only 3 dollars per game!!!

bowling

And just up the street (Morrison st. ) we discovered the funkiest little cocktail bar called Light Bar which is a little more pricey than most bars in Portland, but their drinks are some of the best I’ve ever had. Each spirit is infused with something: fruit, flowers, camomile, oak. The bartender sat down with us and explained each drink and concoction in elaborate detail, his passion for his trade shone as brightly as the lights… epic!

And then there was the discovery of my favourite bar of all time on Mississippi Street, seriously, if it existed in Vancouver, I’d be there every weekend at least. It has hammocks in the back,

hammocks

picnic tables in the front,

bungalo

an upstairs attic with FREE pool and darts,

atticbungalo

another separate games room with arcade games, and even a swinging table with real swings for seats.

If you are EVER in portland, seriously, go to BUNGALO BAR

The owner of Bungalo Bar is the sweetest, most accommodating man! Bungalo bar is not a gay bar by any means, but it is super queer friendly, and he made my girlfriend and I feel totally welcome, he even did his best to tell us about all the gay bars and gay attractions around the city, including a bar called Casey’s where they could make you rainbow shots!

Which of course, we had to go get.

rainbowshots

At Casey’s: Bartender Brandon really wow’d us with these ones. Nobody believes us now, but he actually shook them up and poured them out of one shaker right in front of us! And he did it in under a minute, not like the slowpoke youtube demos. And hey, they tasted damn good too!

After another wild night of bar hopping, clubbing, and hitting up the many live music venues and shows in Portland, cure your morning hangover with the most delicious french brunch at la Petite Provence, like we did…

petite provenence

We tried two different gluten-free benny’s, one made atop the most succulent asparagus and bacon risotto cakes, and one made on yummy polenta stacks!

bennys

To drink, they give you a wide selection of specialty coffees including a White Russian Latte, which is really quite magical.

But if you’d rather something a little cheaper, and quicker, head down town for a scrumptious sandwich at Pork Belly’s, and one of their to-die-for $3 smoothies… My mouth is watering as I reminisce.

There are so many places to eat and drink and dance and watch live music all over this city. So make sure you pack your dancing shoes… and pants with a stretchy waist band 😉

And save your money by going going with McMenamins for accomodation! We stayed at the White Eagle, which was only 55 dollars per night!

white eagle

And they have live music every single night, and the most delicious, gooey, mac n’ cheese balls, perfect for late night, drunk munching, as well as a wide selection of traditional american food like burgers, fish n’ chips, etc.

I will warn you though, the White Eagle is haunted, like a lot of buildings in Portland, but the ghosts are Portlanders and Oregonians… VERY friendly.  Like the strangers on the street, no one  in Portland is shy to give you a wide smile and a enthusiastic hello, possibly even a hug if you let them get that close!

The city itself is beautiful to walk around, there are gorgeous old buildings, bridges, parks… I wish I had time to see more, but I was only there for THREE DAYS! a very epic three days, indeed.

I know I’ll be back sometime, so maybe I’ll see you there!

Xox

Heidi J. Loos

Vancouver IS Paradise

I am not biased… I didn’t even grow up here. 😛

But my oh my, I love this city. I’ve said it before, but there is so much to do, especially if you are a literary, art, or film lover! And if you like green things, like trees, and grass. And even more so if you enjoy getting wet…

Cause guess what?

Rain season is HERE!

WOOOHOOO!

Sunday morning I walked up Robson in the pouring rain and was surprised how dead it was everywhere. The usual hustle and bustle had died down to a dull drizzle, but the rain was pounding the pavement, and had scared everyone away! Which is kind of funny because you’d think Vancouverites would be excited to have their oldest bestest friend back, the one constant you can always count on to wash away your worries, pat you on the back, and make everything smell so mmmm fresh! Or at the very least, the one and only that forces you to get a really awesome, stylish umbrella (if you are an umbrella person, that is, me on the other hand, I prefer to embrace the drowned rat look and rock it all winter long!) but it doesn’t hurt anyone to invest in some sexy rain boots because come on, everyone looks damn fine in a pair of colourful high top gumboots!!

Image

I am being serious you know!!! And I am not being gender specific. Guys, don’t be shy, you deserve funky gumboots too.

Okay, so maybe not everyone is as optimistic about the rainy season as me. But you don’t have to be outside to have a good time in Vancouver. Take a look at what is coming up in the next couple weeks.

Word Vancouver – a literary festival previously known as word on the street- the same awesome festival with a snazzy new name! Goes all weekend long 🙂 AND ALL THE EVENTS ARE FREEEEE! No fine print, hidden costs or reading between the lines, it is free, my friend,  Check it out.

And starting on September 26 the Vancouver International Film Festival which runs all the way until October 11th! Amazing films of all genres from all over the world! There are A TON of options, so if you share any of my indecisive tendencies you better schedule in a good chunk of time in the next couple of days to scroll through all of your options, and research,  and invite your friends to join you for some of your film watching endeavours.

Or go alone because there is nothing wrong with going to the movies alone! Take yourself on a movie date, or even a trip, here, to VANCOUVER!

Because this place truly is…

Paradise!

Now who wants to go out and splash around in the puddles with me?

Cause life is too short to grow up and be boring 😉

xox

HJL

Departure Time

In just five days my trip to Australia will be transformed into a blur of memories, a tie-dyed shirt with a couple of koalas and a kangaroo; a shitload of photos I’ll scroll through on Facebook from time to time and feel nostalgic… or relieved… or possibly confused? Fragmented thoughts: words exchanged, receipts, pay cheques, and Australian dollar bills, a scrapbook in my mind of all the magical places, and faces, and moments that changed me, forever.

And to think, I only came here because I didn’t know what else to do. I finished my Bachelor’s and thought, oh shit, this is where my plans end, like a sentence with no punctuation just hanging there waiting, stressing, hoping, hoping, hoping, wanting, waiting, for an answer, an instruction manual for how to live in the “real world”. It’s not like I expected to get a job right away with a Creative Writing degree, I mean, I may be  a dreamer and totally delusional at times but I’m not that unrealistic. So anyway, travelling seemed like the best option. Flying away from the mother bird, nesting in a new territory… eating [tequila] worms, experiencing life somewhere else. They say that “Life Experience” gives you wisdom and credibility, I don’t know about those things, but it definitely gives you more things to write about!

So I came to a place that I could speak the language and get a work visa. My goals were minimal: live, learn, see, work, and don’t run out of money!!! With two hundred dollars in my Australian bank account, a roof over my head, and sixteen meals give or take until I board the plane back to Canada, I think my trip has been a success 🙂 It has definitely been an exciting year with lots of ups and downs and sweat and tears, and I’ve learned A LOT about myself, and about Australia. Well, okay, not a lot about Australia, I mean, if you asked me to play the Australian version of Trivial Pursuit I would have to decline or spend hours living in silent agony… God, I HATE losing.

I definitely had a vision of Australia and its citizens before I arrived, and although some of what I imagined had its similarities in real life, most of it was pure fantastical fiction. Now, eight months later, the non-fiction I’ve discovered in every step, sip, bite, and pattern on every seashell will translate well into the realistic fiction I plan to write.

And who knows, maybe one of the characters in my novel will resemble a genuine Australian bogan.

Good, bad, ugly, beautiful.

If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change a thing.

From bustling Sydney to laid-back Brissy, the discovery of douchey Surfer’s, magical Noosa, and beautiful Byron Bay, all of my wonderful adventures in Artsy Fartsy Melbourne, and back again to where it all began…

Sydney Kingsford (SYD) to Vancouver (YVR)

Departing May 12, 2013 at 10:25

sydneysunrise

Thanks for everything, Australia, it’s been fun!

Xox,

Heidi J. Loos

P.S. I’m coming home!

P.S.S. I’M COMING HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.P.S.S. TELL THE WORLD I’M COMING HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kidnapped in Fiji

BULA!

IMG_7187

I usually blog every Monday and it is Wednesday now, but I’m not late, I’m just still on FIJI TIME! No fuss, no rush, just sun, sand and Kava: the Fijian way, slowing down the day, softening your thoughts, relaxing your body, sedating life.

IMG_6947

The traditional drink of Fiji is a natural sedative, and it really is quite relaxing…But as a whole, our five day trip to Fiji was far from the relaxing, sun-bathing, kava drinking, lazy-tourist-in-paridise kind of holiday that we were expecting. Instead, it was a giant wake up call.

Our eyes lit up from the sky as we gazed down at the beautiful green landscape of Fiji’s mainland for the first time. Miles of green, climbing up small mountain ranges, sliding over ridges and down into ravines. A landscape painted with texture and colour, lush tropical green with white and gold streaks fading into sparkling blue.

IMG_6922

Thursday April 25 2013, 3:57PM: we touched down at Nadi’s international airport fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, excited, eager, and ready for the holiday of a lifetime. It took a little while for the Fijian workers to attach the walkway to our plane, but our pilot provided a play-by-play commentary for the wait,

‘Here they come now. Wait, nope, they are leaving again. Not sure what they are doing. Sorry for the delay folks… here they come again. No, sorry, false alarm. It may be a little while longer, hopefully not too much longer, but I won’t make any promises. Welcome to Fiji, you’re on Fiji time now!’

When we finally stepped off the plane we were greeted by a wall of thick, moist tropical air. Time to shed some layers! Everyone scrambled to undo and unzip. No more jackets, jumpers, or sweaters: at last, it was bikini time!

Of course, I had done my research and knew that string bikinis and other skimpy beach wear for women was not appropriate attire in Fiji, at least, not outside of hotel and resort’s beaches. So I refrained from changing into short shorts or spaghetti straps. I had actually tried to pack somewhat ‘modestly’ for the trip, leggings for under my shorts, shirts that would cover my shoulders, a one piece bathing suit with shorts etc., but my wardrobe generally lacks a section for ‘modest’ or ‘reserved’ so I struggled a little.

For the first couple of days I was a little paranoid about what to wear or more accurately what not to wear- like, was it okay to walk around in my bathing suit at the resort, and sunbathe by the pool? Or wear shorts to the restaurant? I didn’t want to offend anyone. And I was especially paranoid about looking ‘gay’.

Before we left Australia, I googled LGBT tourism in Fiji and after reading a couple of horror stories about gay tourists being imprisoned in Fiji, my girlfriend and I had made the informed decision to leave all of our ties and fedoras at home. Anything too dykey had to stay in Melbourne.

“To anyone that asks we are just friends! No kissing, no hugging, no hand holding! No ‘babe’ ‘hun’ ‘love’ ‘honey’ no signs of affection at all!”

My partner may have rolled her eyes at my paranoia before we left, but from the minute we arrived in Nadi she obliged. We agreed that to anyone that asked we would be just friends, best friends, with boyfriends waiting for us back home, finances even… big strong military men that killed people for a living-yeah okay so maybe that was a story I made up in my head and didn’t really share until now, but I was definitely experiencing some serious paranoia about travelling to Fiji with just us two… girls. :S

The driver that picked us up from the airport warned us not to trust anyone, not to go with anyone in Nadi. He told us everyone in the markets and on the streets would be really nice and friendly towards us because of our “lovely white skin” but would try to scam us and get our money in any way they could. And we were warned again and again by the resort staff that taxi drivers would turn off their meters and overcharge us if we didn’t demand them not to and let them know that we knew it should only be 8 dollars to town and not 20 or 30 or 45!!!

I felt like we were ready for anything.

The night we arrived at Club Fiji was kava night and we were able to try kava for free! It was a really cool experience. We seemed to be the only guests that wanted to try it. Everyone else looked wearily at Tiki when he offered it to them. They turned up their noses at the dirty, murky, muddy looking water. “No thanks” “No thanks” “No thanks” “YES PLEASE!”

It was actually the only thing on my Fiji checklist before I went there, try kava. And I wasn’t going to turn down the free stuff! My girlfriend and I had three bowls each. Not full bowls though because Kava Mixing Master, Tiki, would pour himself ‘high tide’ and give us ‘low tide’ half-a-coconut bowls half-full for the newbies. Very sensible.

For me, it looked a lot grosser than it tasted. I had been told by other tourists that it was extremely disgusting and with my quick gag reflex I was worried I would spew it up straight away, but it was quite mild in flavour. Low tide was a breeze. I think I could handle more. As for the effects, it started with a little tingling on my tongue and in my lips and then gradually intensified and spread across my face. My lips actually swelled up so much overnight I had to take out my lip piercings the next day. Other than the tingling, and swelling and numbing of my mouth and face the effects were pretty mild. I just felt really relaxed and then really tired and ended up falling asleep reeeeeally early and having a really long deep, deep, deep sleep. Definitely not a party drug, but it eased my anxiety a little and helped me settle into holiday mode.

The next day we engaged in another one of the free activities offered by the lovely club Fiji resort: kayaking! We took the two-seater yellow banana boat out to sea and paddled and paddled into the calm silent blue. It was beautiful and serene! An overcast sky but still really hot, and even though I was lathered in sunscreen, I burned within the hour. Here’s where things start to get a little weird. I didn’t just get burned, I got marked. A little white hand print on my arm. I burned all around it, like someone with a little hand had been holding onto me all day while I was kayaking, only no one, at least no one that I could see, had been touching me!

IMG_7007

Creepy!

After kayaking we took a taxi into Nadi to do some grocery shopping and check out the local markets! We were both overwhelmed by all of the people staring at us, and all of the attention we received from the second we stepped out of the cab.

“Bula girls! Bula! Bula! Ladies! Where are you from? How do you like Fiji? Come this way, come try kava with us, come get local Fijian art. Where are you staying? Come in here, come in here!”

The locals would grab our arms and try to pull us into shops or away from shops, into alleyways. I was determined not to let my girlfriend talk to anyone for too long. She’s the friendlier one. Too friendly sometimes, I had to play the bitch because my paranoia was acting up again- Come on! I yelled at her. “We have to get going! We’re in a hurry!” And I had to act like I knew exactly where we were headed when I really, I hadn’t a clue. Some of the Fijians would tell us not to go into the Indian stores: ‘you want Indian, go to India’ they’d say. But Fiji is made up of half indians and half aboriginal Fijians, and there seems to be a lot of animosity between the groups. But one thing that we could tell for certain was that was that no matter what we did, we could not blend in. We stuck out like two little sore white thumbs. So exploring Nadi was rather frightening and frankly quite draining so we vowed we would not go into the city again unless we were accompanied by other people from the resort.

The next couple days rolled by, each morning starting out with a delicious coffee and Baileys (compliments of Melbourne’s dutyfree!) in our cozy comfy bure, then continued with a hearty omelette, bacon and toast, a complimentary breakfast from the main restaurant at our resort. We passed our days swinging in the hammocks, collecting seashells and sand dollars along the beach IMG_7028

and splashing about in the insanely warm ocean, then cooling down by swimming laps in the normal-tempetured pool. We went boating, and fishing, and snorkelling and had cocktails on the beach, then when the storms came, we caught frogs in the rain, then cuddled up in the privacy of our bure to watch movies, listening to the tink-tink of the raindrops on our tin roof. It was perfect- well, except for the ghost.

There were definitely spirits around the resort. If my hand print was not evidence enough, I was constantly feeling like I was not alone and there was someone there with us, not bad or negative energy, just something or someone. At one point a pair of my partner’s pants lifted off the shelf and plunked onto the hardwood floor. And it was not the wind.

We were not scared, just a little creeped out. We actually went to the front desk after the pants incident to ask if anyone had died at the resort recently, or ever. Of course, all the workers looked at us like we were totally bonkers and assured us nothing bad had happened here. But when we googled it we found out there was a crematorium right beside the resort. And later the waiter at the pizza restaurant told us that a young Fijian boy had drowned right there in the bay (where we had been kayaking!) four years ago. But the details seemed fishy, it was said that the boy had got stuck in the mud during low tide and they couldn’t get to him in time when the tide came in… but the mud wasn’t even sinky around there. So, who knows what really happened to him. I’m pretty sure the hand print burnt into my arm was from the ghost of that little boy. I wish I knew what he was trying to tell me, or ask me, or warn me…

On our fourth day at the resort my misses paid for me to get a full body massage from one of the resort’s masseuses. It was only $40 dollars Fijian for an hour! I’ve never actually got a professional massage before because normally they’re too expensive for me, but this was absolutely beautiful. I swear to God she worked every single muscle in my shoulders, neck, back and legs. It was amazing. I’ve never felt so completely relaxed. And as she was massaging me she told me all about herself and her life in Fiji. She admitted she only got two dollars an hour, below the Fijian minimum wage of 3 dollars 50 cents, and she would only get three dollars from the forty I paid to the resort. I made a mental note to tip her generously at the end of my massage! She went on to tell me about her 3-year old daughter, and how she was a single mom, but her aunt was taking care of her daughter now. The three of them lived together at her aunt’s house. She stroked my back, and kneaded her slender yet strong fingers into every knot in my back.

I asked her if she knew of any good restaurants where we could try traditional Fijian food (because the resort only offered a very limited variety of Fijian and Indian and the rest was really americanized like burgers and fish and chips!) she said she would love to take me and my friend to one of the seafood restaurants in Port Denarau. But all of the restaurants were attached to the hotels, so none were really that ‘traditional’ per say. She said her and her aunt had brought guests from the resort to her aunts home before to cook for them, but the resort found out and she had got in trouble. She said if she had the money she would love to cook us traditional Fijian food too. As the wind blew through my hair and my full body was exposed on the beachfront massage table glistening with massage oil, I was feeling completely comfortable and relaxed and safe, and I made my first big mistake. I offered to pay for groceries for a home-cooked Fijian meal at her aunt’s house.

Just don’t let anyone from the resort know that you’re coming with me because we’re not allowed to invite guests back to our homes…

Fair enough.

I agreed we would come meet her at 4:30 at the local McDonald’s and we’d go with her on the bus from there to the local markets.

I have to admit, there were little warning voices in my head, but because I deal with a lot of irrational paranoia and anxiety on a daily basis, I just chose to ignore them. My girlfriend liked the idea too. We planned to give all the extra food to her and her aunt because hey, we could afford it right? So at first it was all really nice and lovely, we chatted about what she usually cooked and what she wanted to cook for us tonight. We took the local bus to the market. We bought coconuts and tarot and ginger and garlic and herbs and five full frozen fish from a fish market. At first she seemed timid and we kept telling her to get as much as she needed, we’ll pay, it’s okay, but soon she needed everything in larger and larger quantities.

‘I need a big bag of sugar, and salt too, oh, and oil. We need juice for with the meal. And chips for after we drink the kava. And peas for my aunt, she likes these ones. And milk for my daughter, but not liquid milk, she can only have powdered milk…’

The bill got higher and higher, oh well, I thought, she needs this, they need this. we can afford this. After shopping at three different places, we had our hands full carrying five heaping bags of groceries. We’ll take a cab from here she told us, and added hastily, if that’s okay with you?

She made eye contact with a man standing beside a nearby car. They did not say anything to each other, just looked at each other and nodded. We all got in the car. Fuck, I thought, this cabbie is one of those sketchy cabbies, the one they warned us about, he’s going to charge us up the ying-yang I just know it because he doesn’t have a meter!

My girlfriend looked apprehensive too and I figured she must be thinking the same thing as me, not quite, later she’d tell me she was starting to freak then because she didn’t think he was even a cabbie at all. We drove through some back roads until we reached residential areas. When we got to the house, a little baby blue house, the driver only asked for five dollars, phewwwwwwww,  relief! But what happened next was when my fear really started to kick in. We were unloading the groceries out of the back of the car and the maseuse took out not one, but two cellphones from her purse. She dialled a number on one and started talking in Fijian, there was some yelling then she hung up and said, “Get back in the car. We’re at the wrong house.”

“What do you mean we’re at the wrong house!?! You have more than one house??”

“Yeah, we have two.”

“Umm, okay? But which one do you live at?”

“Well, we’re sleeping at the other one.”

We are driving again, a blur of houses and street signs. I look at my girlfriend, we are both freaked now, things are seeming very fishy, but we don’t even know where we are, or what we should do.

“Sorry about this, don’t worry they are waiting at the other house where we’ll cook dinner and have kava.”

Another turn, another bend, another road, then “here” she tells the taxi. We pay two more dollars and get out. There are houses on both sides of the street but none of them our her aunt’s house. Instead there are five people and a kid waiting for us in a van. Three big burly looking Fijian men two large Fijian women and a child who doesn’t really look like anyone, and doesn’t seem particularly phased let alone excited to see “her mom” the maseuse.

“Get in.”

At this point we don’t really have a choice. We are in the middle of who knows where, in the back streets of Fiji. It’s going to get dark outside very soon. And there are six of them and two of us. There doesn’t seem to be that many people around even though there are houses. If we refuse to get in the van they might make us, or worse…Plus if we refused to get in the van here we wouldn’t even be able to to tell a taxi driver where to come to pick us up. Realization occurs… We are royally fucked.

As soon as we get in the van, I can tell they’re not interested in getting to know us. They don’t ask us where we are from or what we do for work. The only question they ask us is- “are you single?” Because apparently they are all single, the men and the women- and now they’re all cousins…which one is “the aunt” who knows. None of their stories match up. Suddenly the maseuse is the only one not talking, not smiling. They are all big, and loud and intimidating. My mind is racing, my heart is pounding in my chest, I don’t have to look at my girlfriend to know  she is just as terrified as I am. They start talking about the place where the Indian prostitutes hang out-

Prostitutes?

Wait- what? Why are they talking about the sex trade? Where are they taking us? Are they going to try to sell us? Are they going to rape us? Kill us? I can’t keep up with the conversation. My chest is pounding My brain is whizzing, bumping, honking, faster than we are driving. Mild paranoia has exploded into full-blown fear, it has taken over my body- it has hijacked my mind. How could I have been so stupid? So gullible! So fucking naive! I have no idea what to do or say. I start to imagine the worst. But I try to act normal, I don’t want them to know how scared I am.

“Can we stop and get some cigarettes on the way?”

It’s my girlfriend’s voice, but she sounds so calm, so collected, so genuinely eager to buy cheap Fijian cigarettes. We don’t even smoke anymore, we haven’t been smokers in over a year. I mean, besides the occasional drunken cigarette here and there… But for a moment she even has me fooled. Wow, I think, I am really just being oober paranoid and she feels fine about the situation, all this creepiness must just be in my head. And she still wants to go to an unknown destination with all these people and drink kava and smoke cigarettes! But then I think, oh my God, thank-you, you fucking beautiful, brilliant, brave creature, this is why I love you.

It’s a way out. It is a perfect way out. Of course, they all smoke. Right away they pipe up ‘yeah course’, ‘can you get us some cigars too.’ and ‘We need to fill up the tank anyway.’

When we pull up at the gas station the two of us jump out as quickly as we can. I know before we get inside we are going to call a cab because we cannot go with them. But there is still a little voice of doubt in my mind thinking, maybe, just maybe, she actually wants cigarettes and I am being paranoid and crazy…

“I had to get the fuck out of there- we have to call Johnny.”

To clarify: Johnny was a cab driver we had met through the resort on the second day, the only cab driver we knew we could trust to get us home safely. We handed the gas station attendant Johnny’s card. There was no way we leaving that gas station.

The maseuse came in after us, “What’s wrong?” she asked.

“My friend is just feeling really sick, we have to go back to the resort.”

My partner contorted her face in fake pain, asking the cashier if they had anything for an upset stomach. Of course, the maseuse didn’t buy our little escape plan. She apologized for their behaviour in the car.

“It’s all just in fun, we joke around. Just come back in the van.”

When we refused she started acting a little desperate pleading with us, saying we at least needed to come back to the van to say bye and give everyone hugs.

WTF!? We just met these people.

No.

No.

No.

And No.

“She feels sick and we’re going back to the resort! Enjoy the food and the kava, really it’s okay.”

She finally left us and went back to the van. But they all waited in the van outside the gas station for about ten minutes, and it felt like forever… They didn’t even fill up the tank, probably because they were expecting us to pay for it.

I’ve never felt so relieved to see a taxi cab in my whole life.

Thank-Goodness for Johnny!!!!!!!!!!

We made it back to the resort okay. But I just wanted to hide away in our bure for the rest of our trip. I felt like we were so God Damn lucky to be alive. Stupid, but lucky.

This was definitely the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had in a foreign country. We had been warned again and again, don’t go with anyone, don’t trust anyone. But somehow it seemed okay to me, it seemed safe, it seemed fine, she seemed so lovely and kind, and a little voice in my head still says, maybe it would have been fine- maybe they were all genuine and would have cooked an incredible, traditional, Fijian dinner for us

but then again, I am sure as hell glad we didn’t stick around to find out.

***************************************************************

Our last day in Fiji ended up being my favourite day, I won’t say it made up for the crazy scary experience of the day before, but we made friends with an awesome young German couple staying at the resort and we went with them to the mud baths!

IMG_7099

Our saviour, (Johnny) drove us to the natural hot springs, a Fijian spa up on the mountain of the Sleeping Giant where a guide painted our entire bodies with mud and we got to cleanse ourselves in a giant natural bath. And sleeping just outside the large pool beside an old tree were six tiny week-old puppies that still had their eyes closed.

IMG_7115

We watched them snuggling, and whimpering, and then nursing their momma

IMG_7119

who had a striking resemblance to Yoda!  IMG_7113

It was by far my favourite experience in Fiji.

We washed away our anxiety and our fear from the day before. We celebrated our luck, our lives, our wisdom, thanking the universe for an eye-opening experience that will definitely shape the way I live and travel and trust in the future.

VINAKA!  (Thank-you for reading!)

If you feel inclined, please like, comment, and share 🙂

Yours Truly,

Heidi J. Loos

15 Things I Miss About Home

canada-canadian_00388705

1.  Winter. Because a year without snow, a year of summer might have sounded good in my head, but I miss the cold days, the teeth-chattering, long-john-wearing, cuddling together for warmth, opening up the oven door for extra heat kind of days!

2.  KRAFT DINNER (My Favourite Drunk Food!) Here in Australia they have Easy Mac but it’s really gross. Well, to be honest, KD is pretty gross too what with the fluorescent orange and fake cheese taste, but for me it still has that childhood charm, okay? The food I wasn’t allowed to eat (except on very rare occasions like at my friends or at my aunt’s house when my mom wasn’t there to say NO!) so I put it on this pedestal of unhealthiness, the “BAAAAD” food I’d one day be able to eat whenever the hell I wanted. So, naturally, whenever I’m drunk! Kraft Dinner is my go to drunk munch. Easy Mac on on the other hand, comes in flavours like “chicken” and “bacon” and if that is not disturbing enough you’re supposed to cook it in the microwave instead of on the stove, “EASY” radiation, yum.

3. Mushroom Swiss Angus Burgers from McDonald’s (My Other Favourite Drunk Food)
I know, I know it’s bad. But some nights when I’m coming home from the party and I’m feeling a little wobbly, a tad bit tipsy, making kraft dinner just seems like too much work, and Mcdonalds is open 24 hours… BAM. That burger is like, ultra greasy, fattening, oozing with McChicken sauce and mushrooms, no vegetables to speak of, just all kinds of wrong, pure badness: delicious, terrible badness. The inner obese child from my past rebelling. The kind of the thing you eat and wake up feeling shitty about, but yet, it was still worth it at the time, and you’ll probably do it again a blue moon from now, or sooner… I don’t miss them all the time, just when I’m drunk, so, like, most of the time here in Australia 😉 (Kidding! Mom, Dad, I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t drink on Tuesdays!). But the strange thing is here in Australia they do have Mcdonalds everywhere on every street corner a big shiny golden M just like back home, but there “Mackas” don’t have Mushroom Swiss Angus Burgers they just don’t exist!

4. Board Games! Because I left all of my awesome board games in a box at my parents house on the other side of the world 😦 My poor lonely Balderdash, pictionary risk, sorry, chess, wizard…board games collecting dust. I just haven’t met anyone with a good stash over here. Maybe everyone is too busy playing sports because it’s so warm outside you don’t need to be cuddled up on the sofa with red wine and monopoly… but I’d like to be….

5. POTLUCKS!!! seriously I love potlucks and I told someone that here, and they were like “Whats that? That’s like a really American thing isn’t it?” And I was what!??!!? Is it? Oh my God. I don’t know, I thought everybody had potlucks. Food making, bringing, sharing, eating, the best combination ever. I would have a potluck here but I don’t know that many people so my potluck might be a little sad, like day old vegetables with no hummus!

6. VANCOUVER’S LGBTQ COMMUNITY & QUEER EVENTS!!!! Sure, I’ll admit, I have talked shite, we all complain sometimes about going to an event and having all of our exes in same room, all the people you’ve ever dated, slept with, the ones you tried to sleep with or tried to sleep with you, but it just didn’t work for whatever reason- a little bundle of intimate incestual queerness, and yet I miss this. I miss the familiarity. Of walking into a room and knowing so many people, seeing so many bright smiles, or angry scowls, familiar faces, even if you don’t like them or they don’t like you (anymore)! Even if you don’t know them you probably know someone who’s dated them so you’ve seen them on Facebook or messaged them on Plenty of Fish! It’s like a little family. I’m sure it’s the same here but I’m not included, I’m not linked in on the Melbourne Chart… or maybe I am and I just know it… but regardless I miss events like Prance, and Hershe and Man Up and after attending Brisbane pride and Melbourne pride this year, I can’t wait for VANCOUVER PRIDE, the finest of them all.

7. Canadian Power Outlets because even with my adapter my computer doesn’t plug into the wall properly here. I have to borrow my flatmates power bar thingie and then keep checking it to make sure it’s in far enough it is all very complicated. And then there’s the switch which is actually very smart but I always forget to flick the switch on and then my alarm doesn’t go off because my phone actually was not charging even though it was plugged in, so it died. Oh Canada, I miss you.

8. Grocery Shopping & all the amazing little grocery markets in Vancouver You might think it’s a little weird, but grocery shopping was actually one of my most enjoyable activities back home. I just loved it. Making a list, checking it twice, getting all the food I could ever want for TWENTY BUCKS or less, cambie and broadway, best value fruit & veg ever!! Here it’s a nightmare. Things are hidden in strange places and everything cost a million times more than it does in Canadian stores. And the eggs are not kept in cold storage and for some reason it just creeps me out, I think I’m going to bring one of the eggs home and a chicken is going to hatch!

9Wreck Beach I’ve been to a lot of really nice beaches in Australia but nothing can compare to my favourite magical nude beach where beautiful naked people walk around selling alcoholic freezies and special baked goods.

10. THREE DOLLAR BREAKFASTS!  Because here, going out for breakfast is an act of war against your bank account. Bennys cost 25 dollars! A plate of eggs bacon toast hasbrowns veggies whatever also 20-30. And if you want coffee, another 5-10 dollars just for a Americano I mean a “Long Black”  which brings me to the next thing I miss like so so soooo much:

11. REGULAR DRIP COFFEE, because it’s good, it’s not as strong as a long black, but it’s cheap, and you can usally get free refills at any cheap diner or breakfast joint!

12. BELLINIS My favourite frozen cocktail. No one here will make them for me. Or if they do have a bellini on their menu, they never serve them frozen or blended (and I don’t understand because its such a hot freaking country!!!) they’re served in the tinyest Champaign flute available with a couple floaties, mushy fruit, which will cost you at least 12 dollars usually more like 18 or 20. No thanks!

13. FREE TENNIS COURTS we hauled our tennis rackets all the way from the Yukon to Sydney and now back and forth between Australian states but we have only used them ONCE! And we got into trouble because we didn’t pay the hourly fee. I understand paying if it is like a really nice brand new indoor court, but a fenced in square of dirty old cement, really? If you are paying to register for a sport with a team and refs in beautiful upkept fields or indoor venues I get it, but it’s all you, just you, your opponent and your rackets, why should you have to pay SO MUCH just to whack a ball back and forth for an hour. My poor flourishing tennis skills have definitely stopped flourishing, hopefully I still remember how to play when I return home! 😛

14. RAD FEMINISTS ON MY SPEED DIAL for all those moments after a really intense rant or disagreement when I can call up a friend and be like listen to this sexist, racist, classist, homophobic bullshit, and VENT to someone who gets it. To someone who will actually think critically and back me up… Really what I miss is being in the same time zone as all my BUDS so I don’t have to be like, let’s Skype at 8 my time which is 3 your time yesterday. Because whenever I really want to talk to someone from home, it’s always the middle of the night there!

15. MY FAMILY (of course!). Cause they’re LOOS like me. Cause they’ll listen to my stories even when they have NO point. They”ll support my latest project, manic obsession until it burns out before they tell me maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all. They’ll play board games with me even when they are not FORCED to, but of course sometimes I just won’t take no for an answer. They’ll push all of my buttons, and still love me when I am FREAKING OUT. And when I am acting totally ridiculously crazy, they’ll tell me that’s why they love me, “I’m unique”.

With LOVE (of maple syrup),

Heidi J. Loos