Canada – just like Australia but with mountains and bears

Shot from the lake looking up at a huge waterfall.

I have just finished watching Series 2 of the Handmaids’ Tale.  While the show itself is fantastic, if not a little bleak, I wonder if it was made by the Canadian Tourist Bureau. It certainly highlights some of the good political and social features of Canada! What is doesn’t show us is the beauty.

In 2016 I did a solo travel adventure to Canada. I flew into Vancouver and drove from there to Calgary and then flew over to the east coast visiting Toronto and Ottawa. As an Old Chook travelling alone, I would really recommend it as a safe and fun destination with plenty to see and do.

I have put together this short photo essay on Adobe Spark Page. It’s an experimental post to see how blending these two platforms works. Clicking on the picture will take you to an Adobe page. Then scroll through to look at the photos.

Why would any (sensible) Australian ever want to go to Canada?

Through the back of a camera.

Photographers view life a little differently to other people. They can imagine it cordoned off into that small field of view at the back of a camera. Even smaller when it’s held up to your eye. It is for the most part, a solitary pursuit. Well at least the sort of photography I do is. I don’t do portraits but rather document the world around me. Landscape and urban. Big and small. Horizons and minutia.

I spend my photography time wandering the streets or road tripping in search of the things that catch my eye. I’d hate to be driving behind me when I’m on a road trip! I stop all the time, careening off the side of the road and doing illegal U turns all to capture that nice little view between trees or whatever it happens to be.

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I wander around cities all day. Sometimes standing around waiting for a person with the right coloured clothes to come into view in front of the wall art I have staked out. Or for the man at the fish shop to put the right size fish on the scales or the woman cooking the flat bread to turn it over with a bit of dramatic flair.

I sometimes deliberately go into the parts of town that are “not so nice” to get gritty street photos. It’s usually OK and I don’t feel unsafe.

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Usually.

Most of the time.

In January this year, while visiting my daughter, I was wandering the streets of Beer Sheva, Israel. It was Saturday, mid-afternoon, so everything was closed. It had been raining and the souk (market) had  puddles of water that were reflecting the grey clouds very nicely. The cracked pavements and general disorder of the place  all adding an ambient grunge.

As I was sizing things up and looking for angles, I noticed a man a few hundred metres off, walking in my direction. I didn’t think much of it. I was out in the open on a public street. There were other people around. I went around the corner in search of more puddles. He followed me. Perhaps he had business here. Judging by his dress he was not Jewish and therefore probably not observing Shabbat. I went around another corner. He followed me a again. I started to get worried. Was he going to steal my camera?

“Hallo” he called in a heavy Eastern Bloc accent.

“G’day mate” I replied and walked on.

“Are you Greek?”

“No mate, Australian” as I put another 10 metres between us. He was about 20 metres away.

I had been training.  He looked unfit. I figured I could outrun him even with my backpack

“Come with me”.

“Ahhh…. No!” I replied.

“Come to my house. I have house upstairs. It is warm.” he said pointing to one of the closed shops.

“No! Mate just leave me alone”

“I will give you money!”

He’ll give me money? He thinks I am a prostitute? Pffft ….I thought to myself. There’s a first time for everything!

With a final firm and loud NO I walked briskly back to the road and kept going without looking back. I took a circuitous route, so in case he had followed me, I was not leading him to where I was staying.

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I had obviously been in the very wrong neighbourhood, and my lack of local and cultural awareness must have put me in the ‘pick up’ zone. Apart from the proposition, he hadn’t try to close the gap I had put between us, so while his intention was not noble, I don’t think he intended me harm.

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Another learning experience, fellow travellers! Even when you are concentrating on that view through the small square, keep your eye on the big picture!

PS: I never did get any pictures of those puddles!

Confessions of a solo female traveller Part 1.

Washington DC – December 2009

It had been a long journey to get here, to this point; both physically and emotionally. Fifteen hours to LA then another five to Washington DC.

Obelisk - Washington Mall

It was -10oC and the circle of flags were fluttering noisily, standing out stiffly, stretched by the wind to their full length. The metal halyards clanked and whined against their posts.

I could hardly hear the voice on the other end of the phone – the conversation stilted and formal. Not warm or comforting. I complained that all I wanted was to have someone to sit in a nice warm pub with,  out of the wind.  I was not yet ready to take that step alone.  Silent, frustrated tears were freezing on my cheeks as I said goodbye to the man I no longer knew but had spent the last 25 years with. I was 16,000 km away but that was closer than I felt.  My heart felt colder than my un-gloved fingertips.

pc1201621.jpgAs the sun set behind the Obelisk it set on that part of me too. It was time to walk away.

Imagining myself silhouetted by the setting sun, I had an image of Scarlet O’Hara standing up in the vegetable patch; straightening her shoulders and vowing never to be hungry again.

Visibly squaring my own shoulders, I strode purposefully past the Pool of Remembrance as it crusted over, trapping leaves in its icy layers. I stood and watched the ice spreading, fascinated by how quickly it engulfed one leaf and then another and another. Finally, distracted by some chattering joggers– political types no doubt – running past in their active-wear, I moved on.

The Lincon memorialThe cold made me feel alive and I was keenly mindful of all that was going on around me as if I had suddenly transformed into some sort of superhero with special powers to see and hear the smallest of things; the tiniest details.

I repeated out loud “I will never be hungry again.”

 

But I wasn’t hungry… what was I not going to be…?  I searched for the emotion. It seemed nameless…and then…

“I will never be lonely again!” I realised that I felt less alone in my own company than I had in the last ten or so years living with someone who had become a stranger.

I was free. Free to be me.

In that moment of realisation, I had become a solo traveller. No longer a woman apologetically travelling without her partner but a woman choosing to travel alone, on purpose and with purpose.

A solo traveller freezing in Washington DC!

(These images were taken with a little Olympus. I am not even sure what the model was now. Suffice to say my photography has progressed!)