Why You Shouldn’t Ride Elephants! And What You Should Do!


So many people have elephant riding on their list of things to do when they hit Asia. The elephants are incredible and majestic creatures and amazing to be up close to. But there is something so much better that you can do than ride them. Something that will be the best thing you have ever done. Have a relationship with them by not riding them. See how….

It was five years ago that I rode my first elephant. I was in Laos and I went to an elephant camp where they told me they treated the elephants well and I also went elephant bathing in the river. I must say that I really enjoyed it. But then maybe my naive self had no idea about what was really going on with the elephants in South East Asia.

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My thirtieth birthday…. worried about the state of this elephant. The last time I would EVER ride again,

On my thirtieth birthday, I decided I would go elephant riding again and I did my research on the internet and chose a company where people said that they treated the elephants well. What I was disgusted and horrified to see was giant bloody scab marks behind the ears of the elephants and scabs on their skin. For anybody who knows elephants, their skin is very thick and tough, so for their skin to be broken they have literally been thrashed. They used the hooks behind their sensitive ears to guide them and were yelling and screaming.

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If you look closely you will see the dark, bloody scabs in the crease of the elephant ear, the most sensitive part of the animal.

At the end of the day I stood and stared into the horrifically sad eyes of my elephant. She was crying. And I was on the verge of tears myself. The woman was broken. And there was nothing that I could do about it. She was here, and here for the purpose of making money for those who treat her poorly. And yet there was I supporting something that I hated and realizing that most ignorant tourists are getting all happy and excited about how ‘well looked after’ these elephants are and how amazing it is as this is what they have been told by the company. In all honesty, the only way to.train elephants for riding is to break their spirit. I was so disgusted I decided I would never go back and support elephant tourism ever again.

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One of the saddest elephants I have ever seen. Broke my heart as she stood there crying and tears fell down her cheek

Then one night I was drunk in Pai and I met this girl by the fire. She was telling me about this amazing experience she had at an elephant retirement camp. One where the elephants are not ridden, tied up, or belted with metal hooks. She told me of the elephants being happy and allowed to do what they want. She said you could actually tell they were happy by the way they smiled and flapped their ears and that they loved hanging around with the people. That I should go. And so I took a last leap of faith and I did.

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First glimpses of free roaming elephants, Mr Perfect and his girlfriend.

In Chiang Mai I went to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. It was a fairly expensive activity but for what I paid I would pay again to support it. We were taken to the park in the morning and we were lead out to meet the elephants. The mahouts find them by the cow bells they wear around their necks. Otherwise they are allowed to roam the property as they please.

The first two elephants we encountered were Mr Perfect and his girlfriend. Both of them used to be elephants that were ridden in other parks and had been retired here. Since arriving they had become much happier and you could physically see it in their faces. We got to hang out with Mr Perfect and his girlfriend (name I can’t remember) and feed them and pat them.

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Feeding Mr Perfect bananas. A much happier elephant than the others I saw in Koh Chang.

After that we went to visit a couple of mothers with their two baby elephants, one they called ‘Naughty Boy’ at 2 years old and there was also a 5 month old. Naughty Boy was renowned for stealing things off of guests so they gave us tops to wear with giant pockets at the front. At one point Naughty Boy saw me put my water bottle in the pocket and was reaching out with his trunk towards my pocket in an attempt to steal it. I laughed and held my stuff in the pocket. He also rolled around on the ground, kicked up dirt and behaved like a typical child and the mahouts let him. He is a baby elephant behaving like a baby elephant. It was refreshing not to see him getting scorned and whipped.

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Going for a stroll with Naughty Boy as his trunk wanders around trying to find mischief!

The other baby would play with her mahout and pick him up with her trunk and play. It was great to see the relationship between the two of them being so respectful and not requiring brute force. There was literally a great deal of love between these men and their elephants. Speaking of love, at one point we looked over the hill and there was Mr Perfect mounted up on his girlfriend while all of the locals were yelling and cheering ‘yah, elephant boom boom! Yah!!! Hahahaha” It was hugely funny to the mahouts and everybody thought it quite amusing to see. It isn’t every day you see elephants mating.

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“Elephant boom boom”. For the second time that day….

The afternoon consisted of one of the most fabulous and fun things I have ever done in my life. We went into a giant mud pool with the elephants and threw mud at them and gave them a mud spa. We rubbed the mud all over them, threw mud at each other, the mahouts threw buckets and handfuls of mud at us and everybody was squealing and having a good time.

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Getting down and dirty with the elephants

From there we crawled out of the mud and walked down the hill to the elephants and got into the river with them as we threw buckets of water over them and scrubbed them off with brushes. These elephants were having the best time and were flapping their ears and whipping their tails about. I couldn’t stop laughing the entire time.

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Washing all the mud off with a scrubbing brush

I was sad for the trip to end. These elephants I could have spent all day every day with. They were so incredibly happy. One who I was standing next to kept flapping his ear on me and every inch of them seemed to smile. It is a far better life than the one that involves being ridden for hours on end all day everyday, not even allowing them time to eat the 250-400kg of food they need to eat a day. The life that involves being beaten with sticks and separated from their partners. Elephants actually cry when they are separated from their friends. They are sensitive and intuitive animals. It saddens me greatly to think of the numbers of elephants that are maltreated in this world for the entertainment of humans.

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Another happy customer! The elephant I mean… 🙂 And me too!

But the sanctuary? It is the most respectful form of treatment I have ever seen of elephants and if you are considering having an experience with elephants, make sure that you go to a place that does not condone riding and lets you have a real experience with happy and well looked after elephants. The money that you pay here goes towards providing for their massive food consumption and their wellbeing. Hopefully if people do this, more and more of the riding camps will be shut down and the elephants retired into a life where they can just be elephants and enjoy their lives of munching, mating and bathing, the way that nature intended it!

If going to Thailand, check out the Elephant Jungle Safari for an amazing adventure! And remember always travel responsibly! 🙂

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Happy Holi!!!



Ever since I heard that Holi was on the fifth of March this year I have been excited. I actually pre-organized my treks and my flight to Nepal around my desperate want to experience Holi. So to say that I was excited was an understatement. I was literally like a five year old kid on Christmas.

I got up in the morning, put on my white t-shirt and my blue and white elephant pants from Thailand and headed downstairs in the hostel to get my breakfast and see the gang. I was sitting on the balcony when the first water bomb was thrown by the kids next door from the rooftop. I started laughing and then joined back in. We started to throw water bombs back but they had the height advantage so it was a little more difficult for us. The hostel staff gave me my first colour in the form of a blessing on my forehead and then I started out down the road to meet the local family I was spending Holi with.

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Hanging with the hostel boys getting bombarded by the neighbours

When I arrived in the neighbourhood I had no idea where I was going. I started asking around the locals and they pointed me in the right direction. Once I found where I was going I met up with the family and headed out with one of the boys to explore the neighbourhood. Apparently the locals had heard I was coming and I was a wanted target. I met many groups of kids with water bombs and buckets of water and all of them seemed to be coming my way. I was laughing hysterically and having the best time of it.

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Hanging out with the family at lunch

We eventually wound up at one of the neighbours houses on the roof. I am drowned in water and covered in some colour at this point and the war from the rooftops was about to begin. There was a lone kid on the adjacent roof and he was appearing hard to hit. A cheeky and wiry kid. He got some pretty decent shots in on us too.

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The enemy… neighbourhood kids. Cheeky things!

After eating lunch, we continued to explore the streets and get bombarded with more water bombs and colour before the massive rooftop war between three houses began down the road. I was half stung on a bottle of red wine that they fed me at breakfast so my aim was terrible but I managed to get a few good shots in on unsuspecting neighbours reading newspapers and then when the plastic bags to put the water in ran out, we all danced Nepali dance on the rooftops for an hour before heading downtown to Thamel.

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Dancing on the rooftop with the girls

Thamel was craziness. There were tourists and locals everywhere walking around throwing colour everywhere. Given how wet I was from the massive water fight the colour stuck to me like glue. I was a rainbow of pink, purple, blue, orange, green and yellow powders that eventually covered me to a point of unrecognizable. People would take the colour in their hands and wipe it over your face saying ‘Happy Holi’ in a blessing. By the end of the hour I spent in Thamel, I had it caked in my hair, my face was fluorescent pink and I was a total mess. But I had had the best fun I have had in my life. I even had colour in my teeth given that I ate so much of it while I was laughing.

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The product of Thamel Holi street warfare

Post washing, I still have colour in my hair, my face is still dyed pink and so is my hand and I have one yellow boob and one green one. Quite funny. Every time I look at my dyed skin I smile and remember. What a wonderful and fun celebration that allows people to be kids and just play for the day. If only more people would embrace and play every day in life.

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Post face washing…. still stained pink… 😛

I did think many times during the day back to when I was a kid and we would have birthday parties at the bike centre and my Dad would always play devil’s advocate and bring massive amounts of water bombs and water pistols and start up a massive war. It would always be every kid in the place against him, but he would get his own on most of them first before they would bail him up in the toilet and start pouring water over the toilet door. Parents would get mad because their kids would all be wet going home. But what is a bit of water? Especially when it creates so many smiles. The only thing that could have made my Holi better would have been having my family there. Given the amount of warfare we are used to with these fights as kids, the five of us would have been a formidable Holi force to be reckoned with!

The Everest Aftermath

It has been 6 days since they let me out of the hospital and 10 days since I was on the brink of death with lungs full of water being helicoptered off of Everest Basecamp.  My body in that time has pretty much healed itself. I am off all of my antibiotics, my cough is gone, my appetite is coming back and short of the tiredness that reminds me of my lack of stamina and the odd pain I get in my muscles from their weakness, I feel good. My mind I fear will take a little longer to heal than the rest of my body.

In the first two days as I sat in hospital on Facebook to the rest of my family and friends on the other side of the world, the entire situation was a huge joke to me. “Hahaha I almost died and had to get evacuated off Everest with porters practically dragging me over the ground and what not! Isn’t that funny?”.

The third day was a day of frustration at not getting the help that I needed from the nurses in hospital. I was telling them that my wrist was swelling further, I needed more antibiotics, they forgot to give me my last antibiotic, they hadn’t checked my vitals and I had a fever again, I was still waiting 24 hours later on feminine hygiene products and I had asked for and was waiting to see a doctor I had asked for 24 hours previously. After being somewhat patient and asking multiple times without result, the arguing, the yelling, the demanding, the threatening of contacting insurance companies and the crying began. Every built up piece of frustration outed itself at that point and it was the point where I realized “Shit,  I actually nearly died”. The realization of what happened and the gravity of it set in.

The night nurses were good to me and calmed me right down and were attentive.  I got all of the things I had asked for including demanding the other cannula out of my hand and taking oral medications. But once you get the ball rolling with emotions, it accumulates more feelings to surround it like a snowball tumbling down an avalanche until you crash and burn and don’t know what to do with yourself.

The day they told me I could leave the hospital I didn’t want to go. The thought of having to look after myself and do things for myself scared the shit out of me. I had no choice. I was alone. And I had to venture into the hell raising and erratic traffic of Kathmandu. The tour guide operator kept making demands on me to go where he wanted me to go as if getting out of hospital was such a fun and exciting thing that we needed to drink tea and celebrate. Like I was a full bill of health. He drove me crazy with his demands that I wasn’t willing to comply with and then his sneakiness of then calling the hospital behind my back to get them to take me where he wanted. He wouldn’t listen to me and I was losing my mind and patience fighting with him. I just wanted to go back to my hostel. I had one functional hand and another that looked like it had swallowed a tennis ball. I had two bags of trekking gear with me and another bag to pick up from around the corner and bring back. I didn’t realize how weak I was until I had to pick up that 20kg backpack and walk it 200m down the road back to the hostel. It near killed me and I pulled a muscle in my once super strong thigh muscle. The amazing crew at the hostel carried my things for me up the four flights of stairs to my room and after ten minutes of climbing the stairs myself, I settled in to sleep. The only time I headed out that day was to the bakery down the road to buy an assortment of things I could pick at to eat before I took my medications.

My friends arrived back the following day in the early morning. I sat quietly in my room as the door was knocked on fearing it was somebody I didn’t want to talk to. The excitement of finding out what happened for the rest of the trip lasted for maybe half of the day before the haze settled back over my brain. I don’t know what it is or how long it will last but I feel an exhaustion that I can’t explain. Two weeks ago I loved meeting people and had all kinds of time for them. Now I want to hide in my room and not have to speak to them at all. The hustle and bustle and excitement of the streets of Thamel seem too crazy for me to contend with any more. The idea of going out and doing things makes me want to hide.  And yet there were things I needed to do on a check list and I set about them. I got my Indian visa. I bought my gifts for my family and posted them home. Today I even took a local bus with some girls I met to Bhaktipur and spent the afternoon walking around the old town. But after a couple of hours out and about my tiredness and hunger started making me anxious and angry. I wanted to crawl back into the hole of my room and stay there. And I did.

There is a timidness and an agitation that now lies in me where once I had huge courage. My mantra was always “feel the fear and do it anyway”. I never saw the fear as something that would have ever done me great harm but as a mental challenge to constantly overcome. But looking at myself now I have taken a huge fall. I am by no means invincible. I am by no means immortal. Like everyone on this planet, at some point I have to face my own mortality. I have to acknowledge that I nearly died and try to find a peace about it that still allows me to live large instead of meekly like a mouse. The last time I had to deal with such feelings was ten years ago when I was attacked in the street. It took me many months and a boxing coach to find within me that girl that just goes and does it. The girl that fights back. I didn’t want to be that victim girl that is afraid to walk down the street and do things. I don’t know where the courageous girl is right now. She has taken a break to rest somewhere and I don’t know how to find her any more. Right now I feel lost. And at the same time I know running away from the issue and hiding from it will only make it worse. The hardest thing about living through this is that you change and others around you don’t.  You feel that they don’t understand and that they don’t know what to do to help you. And if I am honest there is nothing that they really can do other than check in with me every now and then. It’s my internal war and battle that I now face. And hopefully I will find that strength and courage back soon enough to continue with living large. Until then, be patient with me, be supportive of me and with time and a bit of soul searching. I will be back. That I can promise. I just don’t know when.

 

This Week I Almost Died….

So I embarked on Everest Basecamp super optimistically. I had the whole thing planned out in my head of how it would go. I had my diamox to manage altitude sickness, cotton wool to stuff between my toes for blisters, an array of different medications for pain, swelling in my knees, general antibiotics for skin/chest/sinus infections, even pseudoephedrine in case I got a head cold. I was more prepared than most. And yet what I was moving towards was nothing that I could have prepared for…..

Two days out from leaving for our trip, if you had have asked me who was going to make it to the camp of me and my friend, I would have put money on me. She had gotten a chest infection from the dusty pollution of Kathmandu and I worked tirelessly for two days doing everything I could in my power to get her better because this wasn’t just my trip. It was our trip for so many reasons that are too long to explain here. I steamed her in the bathroom, rubbed tiger balm into her back, got her the strongest antibiotics in town and cough syrup and we were set. She was on the mend, not quite 100% but we knew by the time we got her to the top she would be pretty much right. It was an up and down first couple of days but things were starting to look up. She joked that this kind of shit always happens to her and that she would probably wind up helicoptered out like she did at Machu Picchu. I told her “not on my watch!”

And so the days progressed.  By day 5 we were reaching 4400m altitude. I was feeling fine. I was still hungry, drinking lots of fluids, had a little bit of the head cold symptoms I get at altitude and a bit of a cough. But I was feeling good. My friend and one other on the trip however both had splitting headaches from the altitude and were vomiting along the path to reach the destination of Dingbouche. We eventually got there. I went back into nurse mode and started “bossing people” as I called it, forcing a litre of hot water and food into my friend before bed. The village medical researchers came around and we had her checked out. Out of curiosity I put the gadget on my finger to measure my oxygen levels and heart rate. Oxygen good…. Resting heart rate 124… hmmm…. my resting heart rate is pretty high normally so I figured it was my body responding to lack of oxygen in the air and resolved to keep an eye on it. And so we went to bed.

The following day was the day for an acclimatization hike. I was literally dying going up the hill the air felt so thin. It took me 2 hours to get up to the flagpole at 4700m. With iron will there was no way I wasn’t going. If I couldn’t make it here, I couldn’t make basecamp at a higher altitude so my sheer grit and determination said I was going. And I made it. I felt fine sitting at the top for a while and then I started my way back down again, happy I had made it.

That afternoon however I started to feel very weak and like I had no energy. I figured that the altitude had knocked me around a little so I sat upstairs in the dining room and drank 2 litres of how water and ate a soup trying to get my body to acclimatize.  Heart rate still 124. I figured still having appetite was good but I was starting to show some of the symptoms of altitude sickness that the others didn’t have. The head cold was kicking in a bit more and the cough was getting a little worse. But I knew that this was the way my body responded from the first time I ever had altitude sickness so I wasn’t worried. I stopped taking all pain killers and drugs that day to evaluate what my body was actually doing and to try and heal it. It was the best and the worst choice that I had made….

By dinner I had gotten so exhausted I took a nap upstairs in the room with the fire. Despite it, I was still freezing cold. I sat to eat my garlic soup for dinner, took a handful of pills and some cough syrup to knock me out to sleep properly hoping it would be good by morning and went to sleep.

Two hour later I awoke coughing violently. The pills had failed to knock me out. No matter which way I moved I couldn’t lay without it triggering more violent coughing. I could not manage to get in any more than 30 minutes of sleep at a time. By one in the morning I was acutely aware that I was in very big trouble. I was starting to cough up large amounts of water and that I had a lot of fluid on my lungs. Another symptom of altitude sickness that is very serious.  I needed to go down and I needed to go down immediately but it was the middle of the night and no evacuations were happening at one in the morning. 

I got out of bed to go to the toilet. The toilet was maybe ten to fifteen meters down the hall. It took me two minutes to shuffle one foot in front of the other to get there. After getting up I was so out of breath I was leant over the sink coughing and trying to suck air very aware of the fact that my body at that point was trying to drown itself. It was at this very point that I knew I was in very big trouble.  I tried to calm myself and walk back to the room and get back to bed. I laid there propped against the headboard for another 5 hours drifting in and out of fifteen minute intervals of sleep before the sun came up and I woke my friend. “Get the guide. Get the helicopter. I need down now.”

They called for the helicopter. It was coming for me but not for 3 hours. My friend packed my bag for me and I sat in the window frame of the room as the sun streamed through as it was the warmest place I knew of. I sat still. I tried to be calm. I tried not to move for fear of having more breathing and coughing attacks. I went to the toilet again and ran into some dumb bitch who is saying to me “oh you are getting helivacced out! I thought you looked sick last night but like you know what? You’re in the Himalayas and that is like amazing so like whatever”. If I had have had the energy I would have smacked her in the chops for being so dumb and ignorant, I was that ill, frustrated and annoyed. Who says that? It felt like forever waiting and waiting and then next thing I knew, it was time.

People rushed into my room to collect my bags and took off running. The helicopter was here and impatient and does not wait. People are trying to push me faster along and I could not suck the air in to manage it. I had no strength to walk that fast. Before I knew it, one of the sherpas has a hold of my arms and is pulling me over his back and dragging me along like luggage, my feet semi dragging along behind me on the ground. After dragging me over one rock wall, the next sherpa grabs my arms and throws me on his back and starts running with me across the paddock to the next rock wall which he climbs over and then puts me down. Next it was my porter, the amazing Lalit’s turn to carry me. The man, like all of the others, is shorter than I am and hauling my 70kg  arse on their backs while running. Dressed like a smurf in his blue jacket and hat with his yellow scarf, he threw me on his back and ran me the rest of the way to the helicopter.

As I sat in the helicopter I looked out of the window to see my whole crew standing there waving me on in support. My friend was videoing for her adventure video as she promised me she would and several thoughts passed through my mind. The first was “I hope she filmed the sherpas carrying me through the paddocks and across the rock walls cause my god that would have looked funny” and then this massive feeling of being overwhelmed hit me as I sat there in the helicopter and started to cry. I put my hand on the helicopter window kind of like Rose in Titanic and the helicopter took off, taking my dream of Everest Basecamp and my friends away from me.

I tried to stay calm. I tried to concentrate on the amazing mountains where I was. It was the cheapest scenic helicopter ride I was ever going to get so I may as well focus. The helicopter landed back in Lukla. They were originally sending me right then. But then they changed their mind and moved me to another helicopter. Then they changed their mind again and took me out of the helicopter and told me I had to wait for the next one to Kathmandu. At this point they put me in the kitchen with a cup of hot water.  Despite increase in temperature and oxygen levels, breathing wasn’t becoming easier. I knew I needed medical attention and I needed it now. But sitting there in the kitchen unaware of my condition and not really giving a shit, the helicopter guys lit up their cigarettes beside me and I forced my way up and out of the kitchen back outside to the fresh air. They didn’t want me out there. I didn’t care. I had no energy in me to fight them. One of them fed me a noodle soup for lunch. I asked about the helicopter. Over another hour they tell me. I am furious inside but I have no breath or energy to get mad and fight with them. I wanted to yell at them “I am in serious fucking trouble here and you’re more stressed about your fucking cargo. Get me out of here” but alas, no air and no words. 

The time eventually came and I got on the helicopter and made my way back to Kathmandu in the front seat of the helicopter, taking stock of the view and somewhat meditating on it to calm me throughout the ride. The helicopter eventually touched down at the Kathmandu airport and was met with an ambulance to take me to the hospital. They kept trying to make me lay down on the trolley in the back of the ambulance but I refused and kept sitting.  They strapped me to the oxygen machine and then we flew into crazy Kathmandu traffic with the ambulance siren wailing. My first time in an ambulance. 

Upon arrival at the hospital they put me in the emergency section and took my vitals. Much to my surprise. I had a high fever. I guess getting the chills in minus degree weather isn’t a really strong indicator so I missed it. This is also what caused my tachycardia. I overlooked why I had high heart rate. After listening to my chest I was told I had an infection in my right lung. They x-rayed my chest, inserted a shunt into my hand and started me on antibiotics immediately.  As I was sitting upstairs in my hospital room with the nebulizer on my face and the drip hanging out of my arm the doctor comes in to tell me that I have pneumonia. The infection had also moved from my lungs into my blood as well. But they were treating it all and it should be fine.

I messaged my mum from the hospital then with a picture of my feet in bed saying “greetings from hospital” and making jokes about it. I make jokes and look for the positives in everything. But it wasn’t until later the next day after a sleep that the actual reality of the situation set in. If weather was bad that day, there would have been no helicopter. If I had have stayed at high altitude in minus five with no heater for another 24 to 48 hours, I probably would have drowned myself in my own lung fluid. While pneumonia seemed such a funny thing to me as I was healing and being pumped full of drugs and high on cough syrup and because I was safe in a hospital bed, the reality was I got very lucky. It set on so acutely that even in those moments at 3am sitting in a dark room waiting for the sun, I knew I was in very big trouble but I wasn’t admitting to myself how big of a trouble I was in. Like always I fought with all I had and I knew I had to ask for help. The whole thing now seems somewhat surreal. I still sit in a hospital bed, but I can walk around and do things for myself. Except for the cough I feel relatively healthy. 48 hours ago I was on deaths door. Never before have I been so sick that I needed a hospital or that it was something I couldn’t handle myself. I’ve never been that person before. In all honesty, it scared the crap out of me.

So this week we say hallelujah for modern medicine, hallelujah for helicopters and hallelujah to not dying this week. My lifelong aversion to the word no extends out to “no, I am not dying this week” and so I live to see another day and another adventure. And you can bet your arse I am coming back to Nepal to finish what I started. Nothing beats me. Not Everest Basecamp. And certainly not pneumonia. Until the next adventure 🙂

 

Canada By Car: Leg 4 – Living in Eastport

As we drove up the laneway to Eastport Organics there were people lounging about on the lawn after a hard days work. We met Jason, who owns and runs the farm and Meghan and Cuchulain who were staying on the farm and helping out. We went blueberry picking in the late afternoon in the abundant bushes down the road and cooked up an epic feast of local cod, fresh vegetables from the garden and cheesecake. Dinner was also served with good conversation which was awesome. I knew in the first couple of hours that I was going to enjoy staying here very much.

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The Glorious Eastport Organics 🙂

The next day was the first one getting to work. I planted two and a half rows of lettuce plants, picked some raspberries, and watered and weeded sections of the garden. Gardening is something that I have always enjoyed and I started to learn a few tricks of the trade here. Namely on the first day about compost tea that used compost and seaweed from the beach harvested and kept in a big drum of water that is used to water the garden so that it is full of nutrients. We ate kaplan fish sticks and scallops for dinner which was delicious. My back and hands hurt from the hard work but for the first time in a while my tiredness felt hard earned. I slept very well that night and was super relaxed.

On the farm lives quite a few animals that I quickly came to adore. There was Marley, the cheeky golden retriever, Kota, the black labrador, Zeus, the black and white cat and a couple of horses. We spent the morning hanging out with the animals and taking pictures with them. They are too cute. We had another new arrival on the farm in the form of a German girl, Wiebke. We weeded and watered for the afternoon, picked some blueberries and raspberries and then we cooked up and ate an epic feast of scallop and cod mornay with cheesecake for dessert.

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Chillin on the couch playing guitar with Marley

In the afternoon I watered, harvested zucchini and served customers. There were so many zucchini going about the place that I made stuffed zucchini for dinner. We sat and watched the fireworks over the property outside that they had down the road and then headed off to our first ever Newfoundland kitchen party.

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Stuffed zucchini for dinner, too many zucchinis….

Now I had not really heard too much about these before arriving in Newfoundland but apparently they are an institution and one that should not be missed. So down the road we went to Chad and Thea’s house where we all sat around in the kitchen eating fish and brews (a local dish traditional at Newfie kitchen parties) and playing musical instruments and singing. It was a heap of fun. I don’t know why more people don’t have kitchen parties to be honest.

The following day led us even further to living off the land. We spent the morning planting lettuce and picking raspberries before going mussel diving. The unfortunate thing about this was that there were too many jellyfish and not enough large mussels to make it worthwhile for dinner so we decided to come home with sea urchins instead. After harvesting the roe, also known as uni and a Japanese delicacy, from the middle we decided to make a pasta sauce with the uni for dinner. Adventurous… it kind of has a taste like lobster but with a really buttery type of texture. While it was good, we didn’t have enough uni.

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The sea urchins with the orange uni inside

After working the morning the following day, we got a visit from Chad and Thea at the farm. Chad was building a makeshift pizza oven on the beach from the clay and sand in the area and was curing it for the evening so we could go and have a pizza party. They were to bring the dough, we were to bring the vegetables. And so we went down and sat on the beach with beers and a guitar eating vegetable, uni and blueberry pizzas (not all together of course) and singing some tunes as we went. It was the most glorious day and I was starting to feel really at home in Eastport.

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The makeshift pizza oven on the beach

In the coming days the zucchini continued to get out of control and I spent my days harvesting and chopping zucchini into small pieces and putting them into bags to be frozen. I took Marley to the beach in the afternoon to play fetch and the defiant puppy decided that when I was done he wasn’t and ran away on me. I spent most of the afternoon chasing after him and trying to get him to come home. What a pain in the butt! But I still adored him anyway.

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More zucchinis….

My last day round one in Eastport was spent getting stung by a bee whilst hanging out washing and spending the rest of the day chopping zucchini. In the evening we drove down behind the new land that is being cleared to expand the farm and started up a giant bonfire with all of the scrap wood that was cleared. We sat around and cooked sausages on sticks and played guitar and sang songs. It was a lovely way to spend the evening and I was feeling more relaxed than ever. But it was again time to hit the road for a couple of days and see what the rest of Newfoundland had to offer in the south.

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Friends chilling on the beach playing music

To see what I got up to on my southern Newfoundland road trip, check back in next week!