Thursday, May 19, 2011

NOW I can BELIZE it!

After 10 fabulous days in Belize I am back safe and sound and full of stories to tell all of you!

Let me break it down day by day so not to overload you all with tips and ideas for your own trip to Belize!

I am not used to traveling with so many people at once! Actually the most people I have flown with at one time has been one other! So when all 18 gathered at the Halifax airport at 4 am it was somewhat overwhelming. Don't get me wrong i was flattered that all of these classmates turned to me to ask questions about customs, security, boarding passes, and passports, I had just never been that person before!
Sadly, before we even left the province we had to suddenly say good-bye to a traveler. Yacob, a student from another campus who I had taken a collaborate class with earlier in the year, did not have the proper documentation to enter the US for transit. It truly put a damper on the trip at the start line, and each of us were quite disappointed, especially his classmates.
After a long day of travel, (Halifax - Newark - Houston - Belize City) we finally arrived safe and sound... and stinky... you know that airplane smell... yucky!
My first impressions of Belize? It reminded me a lot of Indonesia, the same smell, climate and tiny airport! For a moment I was disappointed that they were so similar. But seconds later I took a step back and remembered that I was in a new country with some of my closest friends.
My pretty girls, Catherine, Katrina, & Bethany aka Beffy

Catherine taking it all in

That night we stayed in the city of Belize City at Hotel Mopan... more on this somewhat of a dive hotel later.
Some quick shots of Hotel Mopan
Just in case we needed to work out, there was a "gym"on the roof of the building beside us... score

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's un-BELIZE-able!

I know I know... I have been a horrible blogger! I has been months since I have last posted and I apologize for keeping everyone at the end of their chair for so long... but I am back... for today at least!

The day has finally arrived! Today I leave my small town to head off to a jungle far far away, to explore and learn. Can you BELIZE it!?

I will spend the night with two of my bff's, Keshia and Catherine, and then grab a jet plane tomorrow morning at a time that no one should be awake unless your dragging your sorry ass home from a night of clubbin'.

As i run around my new apartment, (a lot has happened since I have blogged since), gathering last minute things to put together, (who am I kidding, I'm packing EVERYTHING) I had a blast from the past! I was running around doing my flight attendant routine of what I used to do before I trip;

Garbage out - Check
Bed made - Check
Book packed - Check
Fridge empty - Check (it usually is empty anyway)
Plants watered - Check (first time I have done this since my last trip)
Make-up not only on my face but packed - Check & check
Currency  - well... half a check - it's in my bag in about seven different forms
Maple leaf pins to give to children - check... thanks to Grammy!

And I am on my way, whether I have forgotten things or not! What out Belize where we come! :)

Stay tuned for photos, stories and the stupid things me and my friends do! :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Don’t Show Them Leg! - How to get a cab in Abu Dhabi!

I spent two years of my life in the United Arab Emirates, in particular in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which is also the capital city of the UAE. During my time there I realized that getting a taxi to and from was probably one of the most difficult things to do, besides actually getting your driver’s license, which involves essentially getting written permission from your employer.

Here in rural Canada, taxis are usually called by phone, or picked up outside a busy location. In the capital Emirate I would not suggest calling a cab company. If by chance you get someone on the phone that actually speaks English and not Punjabi, the difficult task of arranging a pick up place then commences. In Abu Dhabi there are no civic addresses so you need to pick a well known destination or area to meet your taxi driver. For example “I will meet you at the New Fatima Supermarket on Airport Road”. You then pray that your driver does not go to Old Fatima because you’re then walking about two kilometers to meet a very ticked off driver!

Often waving down a cab outside of your apartment is the way to pick up a ride, as long as you’re not doing this during the prayer times of the day. I have actually been in a cab and been half way to my destination, when the cabbie turned to me and said, “Prayer time…Get out of cab!” And I am there stranded in the middle of the Desert somewhere between my flat and the end of the Earth! So I know what you’re thinking, as long as you’re out on the side of the major street, and it is not prayer time, your golden! And I would say you’re right, your golden alright, or maybe more a shard of red more than golden… from the beating sun on your shoulders. Because remember it is 550 outside and you’re right in the middle of it all!   Take an umbrella with you while waiting for a cab outside, you will be thank full, especially if it takes an hour or two.  

When within range of a luxury hotel, which to be fair is pretty much everywhere in the Middle East, take advantage of your acting skills and walk inside. Not only will you enjoy yourself with the cool breeze of the air conditioning, but pretending as though you are a guest in the hotel can get you a free phone call to a luxury taxi company. But beware, luxury taxi companies come with a hefty price tag attached. Instead of paying that ten Durham (approximately three dollars) to get to the IKEA, be expected to pay at least twenty to twenty five (seven to ten dollars).

The most important tip I can give someone looking to see the up and coming city of Abu Dhabi from the window of a cab; do not think you are being clever by hiking up your pant leg to show a little leg. It is a Muslim country after all, and this behavior does not get you the attention you are looking for!     

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The adventures of Bahrain

With all the political uproar in the Middle East, (which to be honest i don't understand), I have been reflecting on what I remember the Middle East to be.
The latest new is in Bahrain, the small island in the Gulf that not many people have heard about. I practically lived there in the summer of 2009 with the then BF, who worked for the national airline.
The two of us had a lot of time on our hand and got to do a lot of things on this small island. I loved Bahrain, (he did not, probably because I got to leave it all the time and he was stuck there).
I wanted to share a few photos from the country of Bahrain that I know, and not the one that is there now.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Advice from Someone Somewhere

I found a few pieces of advice that I just needed to share with someone! Someone's mother probably said them I'm sure... I know mine has said a few of them. I guess it just takes time  and maturity to realize that "mama is usually always right!"

ONE. - When you say "I'm sorry", look the person in the eye.
TWO - Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
THREE - Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.
FOUR - Be engaged at least six months before you get married. (My mother would then say... no dating until your married)
FIVE - When you say "I love you"... mean it.
SIX - Don't judge people by their relatives.
SEVEN - Talk slowly. Think quickly.
EIGHT - Smile while picking up the phone. The caller will hear it.
NINE - When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
TEN - Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Letters From Jane

Today, I am cheating. But I was asked to proof read this amazing piece for a close friend that is going in our school newspaper and I just had to share it with the rest of the world! Its fabulous and I am in love with it! Its not long, but short and sweet and to the point and I am just so proud of this "Lil' Lady"!

Without further delay;

"I don't understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine's Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon." ~Unknown

As Women of the world we are programmed to believe that love will find us and that Valentine’s Day is the day for magic and sparkle. Prince charming (aka the cute guy from trades you’ve had your eye on) is going to come and rescue your lonely cat loving lives. In reality we just secretly pray we get through the day without our mother bugging us about an upcoming date and/or our dad not commenting on the fact that we already ate all of his chocolate chip ice cream ... in one seating... oops!

But seriously girls if you want to have a great v-day, do it with the people you love. That is what this day is really about! I love my girlfriends! I couldn’t make it through most days without them, so take this Valentine’s Day and show those loved ones that you truly care!

If you love what you’re reading then you’ll love my blog! Check me out  and all my advice and a few thoughts along the way!

Isn't she just the best!? Thanks Kesh for the post ;) 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lack of Posts

I know I know.... I'm a horrible blogger. It has been forever since my last post and I do apologize deeply (to those of you still interested).

Between, homework, tourism events, the new research assistant position, the new beau  in my life, fundraising and my bestest girlfriends, I haven't been able to spend 5 mins to write a quick post! I've even been horrible with catching up with some of my friends I don't see every day... I'm sorry Caitlin and Pam!

I had the Fire and Ice event this past week, to raise money for water wells in Africa. The partnership with the Rotary Club and my school made $25,000! Way to go! Pics to follow as soon as I get them from Catherine!

Fundraising for my trip to Belize has been a headache and a half and has taken over my life! Who knew it was going to be so much work! My class has purchased a canoe to sell tickets on.... I think it would just be easier to canoe our way to Central America!

Research assistant job is going well... read more at.... Wine Tourism Research  .

So sorry for the lack of post! ;)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Canadians Abroad

Enjoy this piece I wrote for the Canadian Magazine "Our Canada" in "More of Our Canada" special addition in July 2009.

The first reaction I received after telling my friends and family that I had taken a job as a flight attendant in Abu Dhabi, UAE, was "You're moving where?" After a brief explanation that Abu Dhabi was a small Muslim city and the capital  of the United Arab Emirates, they still thought that I had made this place up!  To be honest I wasn't sure if I was ready to move thousands of kilometers away from home. But after unfailing encouragement from my wonderful parents - my dad, Lee, my mom, Anna, and my step-dad Michael- I was off to a land far far away.

I began my new job after a 14 hour flight to my new home in Abu Dhabi on November 1 2007. Only 20 years old, I'd never been overseas before and I could count on one hand how many time i had been on an airplane. I had no idea about the culture shock I was in for.  Little did I know I was about to learn, first-hand, more about the Middle East in one year than most people in my small town of Berwick, Nova Scotia, would probably learn in a lifetime.

First week at the training academy

I'm not going to  sugar coat it; it was hard being in the minority for the first time in my life. I'd never been the only blonde in a room before, let alone a entire building! Being from a small town, I hadn't met many people of different cultures and religions. The traditional Arab dress of a dishdasha and abaya were new to me and I found myself staring at them just as much as they were staring at me.

My first Christmas away from home was spent in 30 degree weather with my new colleagues. Rather than a white Christmas, it was golden-thanks to the sand. My first Arab summer can be summed up in one word: HOT - and I mean 55 degrees kind of hot!

Things became easier the longer i was in Abu Dhabi. I became used to being stared at and covering up my shoulders and knees. I loved that all the new friends I made were from so many different parts of the world; I've even picked up a bit of a British accent from some of my closest friends.

The religious melodies emanating from the mosques were also something that i just became accustomed to.

My job allowed me to travel and see parts of the world most people only dream about; Paris, Bangkok, New York, Johannesburg and Munich, among others. 



I still knew where the most beautiful place in the world was though, and i quickly realized how proud I was to be Canadian, I missed the leaves changing colour in the fall; the snow falling in the winter; the rain hitting my windshield and the tulips in bloom in the spring. Not to mention silly things such as a Tim Horton's coffee in the morning, or a hockey game on a Saturday night. I really missed the friendliness and slow pace of a small town and the warm fuzzy feeling I get when my plane lands in Halifax. Though I have lived in the Arabian Gulf for a couple of years now, I will always call Berwick my home. And whenever people ask where my favourite destination is, my answer is and always will be the same - Nova Scotia!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Support System!

Just a quick post to tell everyone who follows, reads, and comments how much you mean to me! Your support has been amazing!

Please keep up the amazing dedication! Comment! And let me know what you want to hear!