Surprisingly often I get the question “Why did you chose to come and live in Canada?” And I’m like “Are you serious?”
About six weeks ago I thought I was going to die from frustration. I wanted to start working and got a surprising amount of cool job offers but the work permit just kept on taking forever to get ready. I’ve applied for a few study and work visas before in my life but I’ve never expereinced a slower process than in Canada, not even near. Something to keep in mind if a year of working and traveling in Canada is on your wish list – Apply. In. Effing. Time. Unless you’re Australian!
However, looking back at it all I would not have wanted my summer to turn out in a different way. When I realized I still had weeks of waiting ahead of me I left my river raft guiding friends behind in Canmore and took off to Golden. After a massive improvised detour up to stunning Jasper and then down to a boiling hot Kamloops, that is.
I spent about a month in Golden last year but after coming back this time I realized I had only scratched the surface of what the place really has to offer. I’m deeply in love with it’s people and surroundings. Especially the Blaeberry Valley, a 15 minute drive from dowtown, where I found myself living among buffaloes and wildlife, waking up gazing at mountains in every direction, the sun my only alarm clock.
The Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch is the name of this magic spot, where I’ve been helping the ranch owner and buffalo expert Leo as a photographer and a little of everything in exchange for wonderful, local, organic food, and the best bedroom the Rockies has to offer, if you ask me.
Now my frustration has shifted to another issue; The fact that not even a lifetime, or five, will be enough to fully explore all the beauty this part of the world has to offer. Knowing that I’ll have at least a little over a year from now on to work on it makes me pretty darn happy though.
Life is beautiful. Over and out.
Not long ago I witnessed what must have been the most mesmerizing moonrise in my entire life. I had just finished off (I thought) one busy evening chasing the light along highway 93 between Lake Louise and Jasper when I turned left and drove down towards the lodge next to Bow Lake.
I literally screamed out loud in a mix of amazement, happiness, panic and excitement when I saw what was about to happen. The full moon rising behind this purple tinted peak of the Rockies as the sun splashed its last bit of light on it.
Well played, nature, well played.
Spending one night simply observing the Milkyway while your camera is processing one long exposure shot after the other, certainly leaves room for many interesting thoughts to pass through your head. I love stargazing and if it wasn’t for the fact that I fear being eaten by a mountain lion I would spend every night out there, just philosophsing about me versus the universe and life on planet Earth in general…
Happy enough to call this place my home again. The Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch, 10 minutes north west of Golden, BC. I spent about a month here last fall and totally fell in love with the place, like basically everyone else that has passed through over the years. It’s a magical piece of property, surrounded by beautiful mountains in almost every direction. I sleep in a screened in porch on one end of the house in the photo below. No electricity there, so I light the room with candles and fall asleep with my eyes resting on the mountain peaks, while listening to the sound of the nearby river flowing by.
Tomorrow I will get on the bike and explore some more of the tracks up along the river delta. I love my life.
On my last attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean around midsummer, the employees at the airline company I was supposed to fly with decided it was time to strike for better working conditions. Fair enough, but when I got these news I was greatly looking forward to be back in Canada two days later, so I freaked out a little.
However, flexible as I am most of the time it turned out that they could reschedule me to fly out that same evening, “but unfortunately”, as they put it, I would have to spend two nights in Reykjavik before I could continue on to Vancouver. Unfortunately my ass, I was beyond excited and told them to reschedule me right away. A free trip to Iceland!!!!!
The two days that followed I got to experience the night life scene of the capital, hitchhike the entire Golden Circle, feel the heat in one of many geothermal hot springs and generally fall in love in this rather small but highly fascinating and friendly nation in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. So wild and untamed…
Sure thing is, I will be back for way longer next time.
I ventured off to Calgary earlier this week to pick him up. A Canon EOS 6D. Full frame. My dream camera, finally mine. Some people may wanna assure they have a job and some sort of income before they burn their last bit of savings, but too much safety was never my thing.
Here’s a couple of our first performances together. Expect many more to come.
Especially when the view changes every other night or so.
I’ve been reunited with my dear mobile home and spent the last few days around different lakes in a sunny northern Idaho. Reading, swimming, meeting new people, drinking whiskey, watching the stars… A feeling of freedom that everybody should get to expercience on a daily basis. I might be crazy poor measured in money, but I’m in love with my life.
I’ve never really been that tempted to travel around Europe. Being from the same part of the world, it always felt like my backyard. An unexotic place, (too) easily reached by a short flight. But years of traveling to faraway lands have brought me perspectives and slowly changed my way of looking at it. Especially last year, while voyaging from the Peruvian Andes to the Canadian Rockies during 11 months.
There are similarities in between the European countries for sure and Madagascar will always be more exotic than Slovenia to me, but my previous assumption that there wouldn’t be much of interest for me in Europe has heavily been disproved.
I left Canada last fall to spend a couple of months home with friends and family with the intention to head back after Christmas. Somehow that didn’t happen I ended up on a last minute flight down to Málaga in Spain. That was the beginning of four amazing months in the same backyard I’d previously neglected.
As always, I’m beyond grateful for all the experiences I’ve gained and beautiful moments I’ve created with people I’ve met along the way. I wouldn’t change my decision to stick around in Europe for anything in the world.
Now I’m sitting in the airport in a rainy Reykjavik, watching the raindrops slowly slide down on the other side of the window. Time has come to finally head back to life as I left it in Canada. I don’t know a lot about what’s going to happen over there, but I’m beyond excited.
So long, Europe, it’s been a pleasure.
Below, a little collection of photos from Budapest, one of many great, impovised nights, with equally great people.
That slightly euphoric feeling when your biggest passion in life finally pays off. First travel photography assignment sealed and done. Thanks for the light show Italy, and to all of you who believe in me.
Wow, time has been flying. I moved north from Barcelona and spent about a week in France before I entered one of those countries I’d long wanted to visit, and oh Italy, you have seduced me rapidly.
It’s not my style to travel fast but that is what it feels like I have been doing the last couple of weeks. Constantly on a move. Not because the south of Europe hasn’t interested me (not at all!!!) but because of a secret date in the centre of Europe that I’d known about for a few months… ;) Only three days away now. I’m excited.
But for now, from me to you, dear all – some Italian eye candy…
After one rainy but great last night in Barcelona, drinking Sangria with new found friends until the early morning hours, I packed my backpack and left the pickpocket capital of Europe behind. Pockets intact.
One week in Spain quickly turned into two, then four, then suddenly two months. Time will probably never be enough, and that’s why we need to make the most out of it. Thanks for this time Spain, the memories, the climbing, the wine, the tapas.. it’s been beyond fabulous.
Off to see what France and Italy have to offer.
Last week I was helping out at a local tourist activity center in Costa Blanca, Spain. One morning when I went to feed the animals this colorful guy pulled off an extended show to impress his one and only lady. While she didn’t really seem to give a shit and rather focused on her breakfast, I partly died from fascination. I’ve seen peacocks before but never from such a close up perspective. His feathers were litterally in my face but he acted as if I didn’t excist, a photographer’s dream.
Back to civilization after spending one magical week in El Chorro, one of Spain’s and southern Europe’s biggest rock climbing meccas. Great people, good food, amazing views and some fantastic climbing. Pushed myself into new levels and can’t wait till the next time I’ll be fighting gravity in great company, wherever that’ll be. I’ll let this photo of my temporary casa for the week sum it all up.
After five days of sailing the Caribbean Sea from Colombia I had made it to the capital of Panama. In the end I didn’t spend more than two days in the city. That, however, turned out to be enough time for the following.
- Stumble upon the head of Albert Einstein in a bush
- Meet the Brazilian guy who made two months of traveling around Europe financially possible by sleeping only on park benches and in public restrooms
- Check out the Panama Canal
- Manage to enter one of the fanciest night clubs in my trashiest clothes
- Get arrested by the police
- Deal with a Venezuelan psycho bitch DJ
- Get locked out at 5am in the morning
- Score a mansion including king sized bed and roof top swimming pool for no one but myself at the 52nd floor, for free.
Sigh. A perfect mix of drama, fun, weirdness and excitement. With that in mind I packed my backpack for the 532nd time, jumped onto a bus and took off for new horizons.
For those of you who didn’t yet notice, I love life as a nomad. But as I occasionally return from the road I am repeatedly reminded how much I also love the place I’m priviliged enough to call home. A place with four distinct seasons, the land of the northern lights and the midnight sun… mountains, forests, lakes, rivers… and beloved friends and family.
Ten years ago I couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Today I’m thrilled whenever I come back every now and then. Just another of the many great things travel does to me; It provides me with perspectives and a greater appreciation of what I have. Makes me see things with different eyes. Transforms what I before ran away from into the charm I return to. At least for a while. Until the itch takes over and I’m off again.
Thanks for this time, Sweden. I’ll be back.
Big brother in action (Photo courtesy of Erik Nordin)
“Life is better in flip flops” I once got told, and flip-flops are awesome for sure. But I’d say life can be pretty damn excellent in closed shoes too. In ski boots, hiking shoes, rubber boots, flippers or fricken no foot wear at all, as long as your feet support your aspirations and take you in the direction you want to go.
Photo below captured at Isla Mujeres, off the Caribbean coast of Mexico. A brilliant place for the shoeless alternative, no matter where you go.
The day before I was about to leave the Colombian capital behind, sweet Doris asked me where I was going next. “Hm, probably Villa de Leyva”, I said. “Oh really?!” She replies, “I got a really good friend living there, I’ll hook you up!” Said and done.
The next evening I was standing in the center of this little cosy colonial town, when I picked up my phone and dialed the number I’d got written down on a note next to the name Norma, without much of a clue of what to expect.
20 minutes later she came greeting me with a big, welcoming smile, accompanied by three other family members. Together we walked back to her house, where I met the rest of her extended family.
The two days that followed I was hanging out with this wonderful group of people, getting treated like a family member myself, fed, given my own room and shown around town. Not to mention the free intense Spanish course as basically none spoke English.
It’s like there’s no limit to how hospitable people can be sometimes, and as always, this amazes me. A complete stranger in their house, immediately a part of the family, and they expect nothing in return… Colombia has been treating me so well. Not exactly this angle they use when feeding us news about the country through media at home. A dangerous no-go area as I got told before I went – by people who never put their foot in the country themselves.
To these people I’d like to say; Don’t believe everything you hear, rather go and find out for yourself and you will be amazed how much beauty there is to be found in the world.
Bogotá. The sole thought of entering this mega city gave me anxiety long before I had to face it (I was born in a forest). It was gonna be just another enormous, busy city I would have to cross on my way to more appealing destinations further north. My plan was to rush through as fast as possible, to basically just spend the night and then be off early the next morning.
But that was before I met Edward. The young local doctor who opened up his nice home for me, which he shared with his equally nice and sweet mother Doris. He saved me like 12 years of time by taking me straight to all these hidden spots and highlights, and bit by bit the city started to seduce me. For a moment I could even picture myself living there… That was a bit too weird though, and I began to speculate what kind of pharmaceutical drug(s?) Edward had put in my morning tea.
Anyway, lesson learnt – Never judge a place before giving it a chance. And the by far best way to do so is with a local pro by your side.
Catedral Primada in La Candelaria, the old part of the city
Catedral Primada, with Cerro de Monserrate (the hill) in the background
Rush hour in and around one of many TransMetro stations – a successful public transport system that helps keeping the already over-packed streets of Bogotá less packed.
Oscar sharing some skills
Doris, Edward’s sweet and extremely sporty mum who pulled me out of bed at 6am to go climb a mountain
View from Cerro de Monserrate – One of the biggest urban landscapes I’ve ever seen spreading out in front of me, home to about 9 million people. That’s like the entire population of Sweden, only a wee bit more cramped together… perspective?
High palm trees, reaching towards the sky… Most people, like myself, picture sandy tropical beaches by the thought of that. However, this is not the case when it comes to Valle de Cocora, Colombia.
Couldn’t help but feel like I was walking around in alien land when I finally got there, because in a way the trees seemed so misplaced… But, regardless how it makes you feel, it’s a place that shouldn’t be missed out if you ever make it anywhere near Salento in the central part of the country.
The start of the trail, that makes a nice day hike, can be found a short pickup truck ride away from central Salento. If you read your maps and follow the signs more carefully than me, it might even be a pretty short and pleasant trek! After detouring past a point where hummingbirds can be seen from a close distance, I started to follow a trail that was taking me up a steep mountain – all according to my map. Eh…
45 minutes later I found myself at the top of the hill, sweating like a pig in the hot afternoon sun. I remember thinking how great the timing was gonna be. According to my calculations I would reach the actual palm tree valley on the other side just in time for the golden light before sunset. That was before I realized I’d climbed the wrong mountain of course. A brutal 10-minute-speed descend later I was back on track and by moving fast I still made it in time.
To be more specific, the trees, native to Colombia, are called Wax Palms and are among the tallest species of palm trees to be found on the globe. Apparently, they can grow as high as 60 meters and reach an age of 100 years. The fact that grassy farmlands are all that cover the hillsides they grow on, kind of adds to the feeling of them being t a l l .
Over and out.
Salento. I don’t remember how I first found out about this place, but once I heard what it was about – organic coffee, rolling green hills, a lovely climate, rivers and good hiking – it turned into a mandatory stop on my journey up through Colombia. For Oscar it was a non-explored spot of his own country so he was happy to check it out. We had to overnight in the bigger and not near as welcoming city of Armenia before we got there though, as it had gotten pitch dark and pretty dodgy outside after leaving Cali.
If you’re on a very tight budget when traveling, artesanos are like the best travel companion you could imagine. Often, the money they make in a day is what most westerners would spend on parking fees that same day, and thus they have to keep their expenses low. And they know how to.
Anyway, not wanting to be dependent on me to cover his part of the hotel cost for the night, he took off to the nearest busy traffic light to earn a few pesos. I tagged along and soon found myself sitting in the middle of the street watching and documenting his actions.
Not long after a local woman pulled up next to me, rolled her window down and asked me with a troubled face if I had a place to stay for the night. I smiled and said I indeed did and that she didn’t have to worry about me. As far as I can remember I never got mistaken for a homeless person before, but I suppose me sitting there on the concrete with big holes in my jeans and shoes, unshowered and all hooded up, kind of gave that impression that night. I was slightly touched by her concern.
The next morning we were once again standing along the road with our thumbs in the air. A few cars passed until this young Colombian lady and an older couple, coming from the opposite direction, pulled up next to us and asked where we were going. We told them we were unfortunately going to Salento in the other direction. They nodded, drove off a bit, turned around and then stopped next to us again, saying “Well, let’s go then!”
Marcela and her parents, that constituted the older couple, were more than happy to take the half an hour detour back to Salento to help us out. They fed us and then invited us to come and stay with them or contact them if we ever got a problem. Or if I wanted a job teaching English or so, Marcela, a teacher herself, promised to help out with that too. To me, this is Colombian goodwill in a nutshell.
The week that followed in Salento, I collected many good memories. A highlight on my journey through this enchanting country.