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Up the creek with a paddle (part two)

On meeting the Edmonton team (where Paula’s family lives) the night before we depart, we have to redistribute our loads. A canoe is only allowed to carry 28kg weight during portage; combining all the luggage, we find out that’s not a lot if you include food and camping gear and we desperately re-pack and re-order our bags. The dinner that night is the largest I have seen in ages, everything we eat now does not have to be carried tomorrow. The Alessi coffee pot plus espresso beans (half a kilo) does not make the cut, due to weight restrictions. This is the time to really get alarmed....
Next morning, we drop off our canoes at the starting point, take in the instructions from the Park’s staff, weigh our loads (we pass) and are on our way. Oops, don’t forget the bear spray, Gavin says, every canoe has to have a canister of bear spray.....For the uninitiated, bear spry is basically tear-gas which you spray into a bear’s face, when it comes too close. Make sure you carry it all the times, w…

Up the creek with a paddle (part one)

 When Gavin, Christine’s brother, invited us almost two years ago to join him and their sister Paulaon the Bowron Lake Circuit for a 10 day canoeing adventure, we happily agreed to join without giving it too much thought; now, sitting outside the Bowron Lake Visitors Centre after an hour long presentation of what to expect the next week and a half , I am not so sure......

Stories of Brown Bears and Grizzlies on the loose, stranded canooers in freezing rapids (don’t lose your paddle!)and tipped boatsare plentiful during the introductory talk, maybe to scare us a little or to prevent ‘yahoo’ behaviour, but still.... If you are well prepared, nothing will happen, the kind Canadian Park Ranger tells us. Well prepared ? Dunno; let’s see.

At the time of the invitation, we were in the middle of our year in Tajikistan and battling outdated Russian business practices in a post-Soviet world(not to mention minus 30 Celsius temperatures and resident rats) so we confidently assumed that …

10 months in the swamp, some observations

It seems that Christine is adapting easier to daily life in the Netherlands than I am. It is over two decades ago that I lived here permanently and things are very obviously different now. The country has changed, I have changed and I have a hard time getting used to (my opinion) the  rigidity and sometimes harsh insensitivity of this society, where it’s a positive character-trait to be as frugal as possible. Embarrassment of riches anyone?
I admire Christine for her light-heartedness and stoicism about the issue. Of course, she is not from here (I am, could that be the frustration ?) and she has very different 'fish to fry' right now; the character of the Calvinistic Dutch populace is not high on her list of priorities. She says, with some understatement, that every country has its pros and cons and that the Dutch (although they may be a little bit unusual) are no exception. Much like Tajikistan, she remarks, tongue in cheek. The food is bad, the attitude of the people hard…

And finally, almost a year later, the stories continue

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean from a deck of a friend’s house in San Pedro, CA (where we have set up camp for a two months) we can see the pelicans soaring over the Pacific and blue whales frolicking in the Bay. We contemplate life in general and our last ten months in particular. Very quickly, we have returned to our old Southern Californian days and ways. We catch up with old friends,  drive the notorious freeways as old-timers again and revisit all the great places of this incredible city. Life is a beach and San Pedro, LA, is as close to home as it gets.   It's now mid-August 2012 and it’s been roughly a year since we made our last blog entry; we feel compelled to share our adventures again with friends, family and followers (FFF ??) but where to start ….
Via former colleagues, papers and Google News we hear of violence in our former home, Khorog, the administrative center of GBAO in the Pamirs, which we left September 2011 after a year of volunteering. Drug lords are fighting …