my favourite viewfinder.

The last few weeks have been an ongoing shift of new cities and consquential adventures. It has been holding a viewfinder up to my eyes and slowly dragging down that black arm. The scrape against red plastic. A rotating wheel of slides. A click and you are somewhere brand new.

Holland. Belgium. France. Switzerland.

I have decided that travelling alone induces good conversation. And while i tend not to be an advocate for small talk, i have found myself making friends along the way. Allowing myself to be open, when I usually tend to be withdrawn in new surroundings. My hostel in Brugge was an immediate family. It was a continuous pasta boiling, tea drinking, card playing marathon. Along with being a beautiful village, i loved having a sense of community.
Brussels was beautiful, but isolating.
Lyon had a gritty sort of charm.

But in the end, I think my favourite place was Chamonix. The heart of the French Alps. Albeit touristy, it was a town the carbon-copy-banff-whistler-blue-mountain-villages could only dream of one day replicating. My hostel was rugged at best. But I was happy with the metal frame bed, ancient lumpy mattresses, petrol burners in the kitchen, and a resident cocker spaniel. Belle-amie. (Yes, I miss my dog.) And the combination of people present, was more than entertaining. Marriage proposals, to drinking red wine out of bowls, to lazy afternoons of "planet earth" in snowpants.

Yet, more importantly, snowboarding the alps was unbelieveable. And even that is an understatement.

White peaks. Deep vallies lined with enormous pines. A thick blanket of snow. A post card never-ending. During my first cable car ride up Mt. Brement, I definitely said "this. is. crazy." an embarrassing number of times. But it was.

The entire week I felt as though i was on the most elaborate movie set. With one light tap of my fingertips, the scerary would topple over. Two-dimensional high peaked dominoes. All the while under a barrage of fat snowflakes.

I loved it.

I did not however, love sleeping in the Geneva aiport. Concrete floors are officially the devil.

But, back in Holland now.

I have spent the last few days soaring around the dutch countryside on a borrowed bicycle. Much too big for me, my tip toes grazing the pedals. A little kid attempting to ride her older sibling's bike. Teetering along, swerving down back streets. White knuckles, three sweaters and countless back roads. It has been nice.

I have drank endless cups of tea, read even more, and contemplated cutting off my hair.

I travelled to Kettle on the weekend, and found the house my dad was born in. A crooked little brick duplex. A house leaning precariously overhead, playing chicken with the ground. It helps to make my father's history feel a little more real. This part of his life has always been difficult to grasp. The first seven years, in a fabricated place i could never relate to. Flat open spaces and family bicycle trips.

My dad immigrated to Canada on a ship in 1953. He once told me, his first orange was on that ship. He liked it so much he didn't eat it, and it finally went bad. I have always liked that image. A little blonde version of my father, cradling a fruit he refused to eat.

Tomorrow i go to Friesland. The place my grandparents met during the war. Teenagers. The farmlands where my grandma grew up. The area my grandfather entered into the underground.

Now the challenge will be nagivating the non existant transit system of the north. Then off to London.



one warzone to another.

We left flew out of Nairobi the day of the presidential elections at 11 o clock pm. Spent most of the day indoors, glued to BBC. The streets of nairobi were dead as we drove across the city to the airport. And now only nine days later the city is littered with riot teams, and families burying their dead.

From the bustling city i nagivated not even two weeks ago, it is something incredibly hard to believe.

The worst i experienced during my time in Kenya comes no where close to what is currently taking place. Although i think i recieved my first taste of injustice.

We bribed two corrupt security guards to get Kathryn's camera back. Apparently, a photo of a palm tree = compromising national security, and a camera constitutes "evidence." I have never been more livid in my entire life, and never more aware of my inability to reason with an irrational giant clutching an ak-47 in my direction.

So it looks as if i exchanged the escalating warzone of Nairobi for the visual one of Amsterdam on new years. A strange trade off.

Dam square and the surrounding area is a complete battle field. Thousands of people set off endless fireworks for hours after midnight. Littering the cobblestone and canals of an old city. The streets a solid wall of smoke. Shifting red, engulfing. Dodging fire crackers tossed carelessly or deliberately in our direction.

So the night was spent wandering the canal system watching fireworks bloom above the silouetted row houses in the rain. Arm in arm with two of my oldest and closest friends.

And now i have put them both on trains to the airport. I feel as though i may be a little lost in the days to come. I begin the new year alone. But it is a challenge i am ready for.

So I have filled my backpack full of sweaters, clementines and delicious dutch cheese. Bought a slew of used books at a market the other day, and am mapping out my next route.

(i raise your vintage 'as i lay dying' with a 1st run graham greene).

Also, i think that only an obscenely long train ride, with no friends, could possibly motivate me to read the grapes of wrath.

Otherwise i will just look out the window at pretty windmills.


(By the way, with my friends gone, this is the last of the pictures you will see till i get home. Go film!)