We landed in the pitch black and blowing snow of an early Icelandic morning. It would’ve been 1am back home, but in Iceland it was 6am and the sun would be up in a few hours. I was famished. We stopped at a breakfast buffet in the Keflavik airport to grab a quick bite before grabbing our bags and trying to find our way to the car rental desk. It was my first taste of Icelandic prices, but the smoked salmon, cheese, hardboiled eggs, and fruit was worth the airport premium and the inflated exchange rate at that time in the morning.
This post is a departure from my norm. It pertains in part to travel, but is mostly about the growth that I have experienced since beginning to travel. It is about breaking free of childhood prejudices, about the evolutionary psychology that motivates us, the religion that blinds us, and the philosophy that gives us an alternative. It all started a few weeks ago. I was over at a friend’s house and he asked me quite out of the blue if I had written down my life philosophy. It took me by surprise, and I answered no, I hadn’t. He looked at me with a little discontent and said that if anyone was to do it, I thought it’d be you. The subject soon changed and we forgot about it, but the question kind of stuck with me thinking back on the encounter. In part, my philosophy is contained in the novel The Beginning of Knowledge, and my travel philosophy can be found in the short creative nonfiction story Crimson Morning, which is available on the member page. However, I haven’t written a cohesive article that brings my ideas together plainly. I suppose I am somewhat reluctant to begin as my philosophy is constantly evolving. As life goes on and I read new books, travel to new places, and experience new things, my outlook on life changes. Thus, my philosophy changes with it.
Every time I see a post on social media about someone else’s travel adventures, I get a twinge of envy. I look out my window at the cold snow and the reality of work the next day and then back to the screen where someone is lounging by the beach with a margarita, climbing a mountain, or photographing wildlife in the Serengeti. While it may seem like these people have the perfect life with unlimited cash flow, this is very likely not the case. What travellers and writers fail to mention is the work, the stress, and the worry that often accompanies a digital nomad. Here are a few myths about the nomadic traveller in all of us.
As the cold November rain dances against the windows in Canada, I think back to the warmth of the Guatemalan sun. I left at a time when I was kind of strapped for cash. I had just bought a house here in Canada and was putting money into renovations and I remember wondering if I should be taking a trip with all I had going on. Looking back now, the memories are worth more to me than any physical thing I could have bought. Check out my blog post on Guatemala here!
Although Montreal is technically considered a city, it seemed more like many small towns had somehow attached themselves in an outward spiral until, by population alone, it could be called a proper city. Montreal has a slow, relaxing, and quaint vibe to it with the feel of artistry and the smell of croissants drifting through the streets. I took a road trip there with a few buddies as a kind of bachelor party the week before my wedding. A day at the shooting range on the way there, axe throwing, a few local pubs and a lot of time at a premier tattoo shop made up the majority of the trip.
Halfway Log Dump and Bruce Peninsula National Park are one of Ontario’s premier destinations for hiking, bouldering and rock climbing. Just half an hour away from the tip of the peninsula and the town of Tobermory, this picturesque park is home to many protected species and is the perfect place for activities such as canoeing, camping, swimming and SUP boarding. A group of friends and I visited the park for a weekend of climbing and camping. This is our story.
Alberta always sounded like nothing but oil fields and tall mountains until I flew out west one year to visit my sister. Much to my surprise, there is much more to this province than meets the eye. From desert cacti and dinosaur bones to bison, elk, and glacier lakes this province has it all. Here is a totally non-comprehensive list of some things to do while you’re there.
Part four of my introduction to travel continues as we grab a bus into El Salvador and take introductory surf lessons on a rocky beach in El Tunco. The bus ride is long and twists and winds through mountainous territory and dusty towns on the way to our destination. We pass cows wandering through the streets, small seaside restaurants and beautiful scenery while listening to a Spanish radio station that cuts in and out as we round curves in the road. When we finally arrive in the small town of El Tunco, it is late in the day and we try to find a hostel. There is one available for about $20 a night and we decide to take it despite the fact that it doesn’t have air conditioning. Big mistake. Our first night in El Salvador is very hot. Being that close to the ocean, the humidity is almost unbearable after the higher elevation found in Guatemala. I consider sleeping outside on a hammock but decide against it due to mosquitoes.
Guatemala. The name had a mysterious ring to it and I pondered what might lie ahead as we drove down the bumpy dirt road from Belize to the border of Guatemala. The landscape instantly changed from flat sugar cane fields to mountainous jungle at the border, and I welcomed the change of scenery. I didn’t know it at the time, but the experiences I had there would become the inspiration for a novel, The Beginning of Knowledge.
I caught her totally off guard. The sun was setting behind the peaks of the Andes Mountains and the clouds caught the radiance of the dwindling daylight. One star appeared overhead followed shortly after by another. The Sound of Silence played in the distance via a speaker our guide had set up in his cabin. Looking into the distance we could just see the stone staircases of Machu Picchu before they faded into darkness, while the birds chirped a cheerful goodnight. We felt clean and refreshed after our first shower in days after hiking the Salkantay pass and tenting it on the trail. The Llaqtapata Lodge was a five star resort in comparison. We kissed and she turned away to notice the stars. I got down on one knee and pulled out the custom ring that I smuggled into Peru in the bottom of my backpack.
Jonathan Beam is the author of Crimson Morning - The Philosophy of Travel, available on the member page by signing up above. He is a blogger who writes about travel, adventure and philosophy. He has also written a novel that is currently under consideration to be published!