Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Learning Spanish in Guatemala


   The only remotely excusable reason as to why this is the representative photo of this blogpost is that I was honestly really in this town just to learn Spanish. Also, my teacher kept reiterating it was dangerous to keep pulling out my big dslr in public. The bottom half of this lady you see in this photo was my homestay host. A tiny lady, she could not be more than five feet tall. Always wearing her traditional Mayan dresses. I want to say her name was Esmeralda but it's been a while since I've thought about it and my memory is a bit foggy. But more importantly, she was so sweet, she fed me three times a day and helped me practise my Spanish each day after school.

   Planning my Guatemala trip, I knew that I wanted to dedicate a good portion of my time there learning some proper Spanish. After some research, I decided to go to Quetzaltenango and attend a school called El Portal Spanish School. Many foreigners go to Quetzaltenango to learn Spanish because well first, it's a lot cheaper than say Antigua (a bigger city) and because it's more common to be taught one-on-one. Also, if you are staying with a homestay family, they are likely to host less students at once. I would highly recommend staying with a homestay family if you are considering it, it was the ultimate cultural experience for me.

   The reason I chose to attend El Portal Spanish school in particular was because they support poor single mothers to help provide their children with education. I thought that was special. This is their website: http://www.spanishschoolelportal.com/

   As for pricing, I believe it fluctuates depending on the season but I went in August and it was 900Q for a week of school (5 hours of class per day) and 300Q for home and board so 1200Q together. I just googled the conversion and it comes to $205.25 Canadian. Also after class, there are different daily activities such as going chocolate tasting, textile shopping, taking the chicken bus to the next village, or my favourite - going to the market for local ingredients and making nachos.

   My week in Quetzaltenango learning Spanish was nothing short of awesome. I left having learned a lot and with so much more confidence than when I arrived. Gracias!

x

Han.
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Travelling Guatemala as a Solo Female


   In this day, travelling as a solo female is quite common. Having said this, I was met with a bunch of concerns when I announced I'd be travelling to Guatemala alone. Now, being back safe at home, I do have some tips if you find yourself in the same shoes. Honestly, most or all of it is common sense and probably things you have already heard before and what you should practise in any country you travel alone really.

   First, this is not so much a safety concern but I did find it really helpful having researched how much things were generally going to cost beforehand. There were a few times where I had locals ask for double or even triple the going rate. It's easier when you are travelling with a partner or in a group to discuss or negotiate pricing, but when you are travelling solo you have none but yourself to rely on. Second is dress code. I hate this, but has to be said. Modest, non-flashy clothing to defer unsolicited attention. I would say apply this to your backpack/purse etc. also. Third, alertness and awareness. I practise sobriety when I travel alone - unless I'm really craving a beer, I'll have one. And if I'm tired I'll get myself coffee. I think I also kept a packet of instant coffee in my bag just incase for on the go. Lastly, one comment I read and was told often was that Guatemala City was dangerous and to get out of there asap once you arrive. I met a guy in Xela who told me he was mugged there with a gun pointed at him. yikes.

   These are the precautions I pass on to you, but I'd like to say I never encountered anything that made me feel I was in danger at all. Travelling Guatemala was insanely beautiful and such a culturally fulfilling experience! 100% recommend!

x

Han.
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Monday, 18 February 2019

Life Update


   I was such complete rubbish about posting on here in 2018. It's also more than half way through February this year! I dont think I've posted about Nuka yet, but basically what happened was - Kyle went to go see a puppy our friend was fostering from the humane society and then brought it home and never gave it back. We named her Nuka. This was near the end of 2017. So she's about a year and half old now. It's pretty insane how fast they grow. The first two photos are of when we first got her and the latter is more recent haha. We didn't really know anything much about her, other than that she was from a northern community up island (we live on Baffin Island). It's safe to assume she's part sled dog - she absolutely adores the snow. Anyways, so yeah, I'd say she's the most significant update as of late :).

Please visit a Humane Society near you #adoptdontshop

x

Han.





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Friday, 5 October 2018

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

Have you seen the show Vikings? 

Regretfully I hadn't before coming here. This place holds the remnants of Norse men (vikings) of thousands of years ago! It's so neat the way they have recreated their encampment with dressed actors and all.

Plus, Kyle and I had fun dressing up ourselves!


Parks Canada link https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Admission Fee:

$11.70 CAD Adult: 18-64
$10.05 CAD Senior: 65+
FREE Youth: 6-17
$10.05 CAD Group: Up to seven ppl arriving in a single vehicle

Parks Canada Discovery Pass:
$67.70 CAD Adult
$57.90 CAD Senior
$136.40 CAD Group 


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Gros Morne National Park


    When I was planning out our cross Canada trip months prior, one place I knew I wanted to hit up was Gros Morne. Up top the view is incredible and well worth the tough hike! I think it took us about a little over 2 hours to the top, overall roughly 5 hours. 

    We were told dogs were not allowed because the terrain would be hard on their paws. So we went to Parks Canada and asked what our options were for Mojo. To my surprise, the Parks Canada lady pulled out a list of numbers I could choose from to dogsit Mojo for the day. His dogsitter ended up being a sweet 12 yr old boy trying to make some summer cash (his parents were home).



Parks Canada link https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nl/grosmorne

Gros Morne National Park Admission Fee:

$9.80 CAD Adult: 18-64
$8.30 CAD Senior: 65+
FREE Youth: 6-17
$19.60 CAD Group: Up to seven ppl arriving in a single vehicle

Parks Canada Discovery Pass:
$67.70 CAD Adult
$57.90 CAD Senior
$136.40 CAD Group 


Where we slept: 
Gros Morne National Park: GreenPoint Campground https://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/plan-and-book/campgrounds/211400

Unserviced $25.50 CAD
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Prince Edward Island National Park


I think I was in grade 4 when a classmate sitting across from me told me her family was moving to Prince Edward Island that summer. Her name was Paige. That's all I remember about her. 

What I wondered was what would make a family want to move from Vancouver to the complete other end of Canada. What was there?

Well what they definitely don't tell you in elementary school, (or what they failed at) is how absolutely beautiful the beaches are here. Were we really still in Canada?



Recommendation: Green Gables Heritage Place

If as a child or youth you have read the book Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, you probably will want to visit here. Everything is recreated as in the novel!

It's not within PEI National Park but everything within that island is close enough!




Parks Canada link https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/pe/pei-ipe


PEI National Park Admission Fee:

$7.80 CAD Adult: 18-64
$6.30 CAD Senior: 65+
FREE Youth: 6-17
$15.70 CAD Group: Up to seven ppl arriving in a single vehicle

Parks Canada Discovery Pass:
$67.70 CAD Adult
$57.90 CAD Senior
$136.40 CAD Group 



Where we slept: 

Unserviced $27.40 CAD
Electrical $32.30 CAD


Next: Gros Morne National Park


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Grasslands National Park


    Everyone talks about how friendly Canada is, well you don't know friendly until you've been to Saskatchewan. Honest to God, I think we had pulled over on the side of the road for a little break and the truck behind us pulls over next to us just in case we were lost or needed any help at all! 

    I know partaking in a cross Canada road trip is a right of passage for most Canadians but I don't think many stop through Grasslands National Park. I assume the biggest factor in this is that it's really just in the middle of nowhere. But would you look at these photos, the badlands.





There is a reason why the slogan on Saskatchewan's license plate says Land of the Living Skies.

Parks Canada link https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/sk/grasslands/index


Grasslands National Park Admission Fee: FREE

Where we slept: 

Overflow $15.70 CAD
Electrical $29.40 CAD

We spent the night in a Tipi!


Next: PEI National Park



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