I Am A Spinach Idiot: I Am Not Meant To Live in Canada

So it is Canada. It is winter. I am sick. I need a smoothie and spinach is the key.

For the zillionth time I have bought this same package of spinach from the local grocery store.

Each time, I read the label that says PULL HERE and if you don’t get that, TIREZ ICI. They even have a big red circle to mark the spot. And not only that, they have 2 huge yellow arrows that point at the red circle.

Okay, so it appears that it is painfully obvious how to open this spinach package.

But I have tried to open this package countless times and each time, I pull from the top I wonder why it says it is resealable. Clearly just another marketing lie. The way I open it, I have to race against the spinach; overdosing on smoothies before my spinach dies.

But this morning, in my sinus delirium, I tried again. I followed the technical instructions, and somehow it worked.

The results are in; the conclusion is clear; I am a spinach idiot.

Which leads me to this.

Life was perfect when there were no spinach packages with instructions to follow, no cell phones with SIM cards, no computers in backpacks, no USB flash drives, no hard drives, nothing to upload, nothing to download, nothing to back up, nothing to store…

Just me, my backpack, some stationery, stamps, a journal and a little old camera with film to develop when I would get home and of course… spinach that comes in a pile and is put into a bag; a bag that I can actually open.

Me in a much simpler life with very little but content. And yes, it is the olden days :) You can tell from the photo quality!

Me in a much simpler life with very little but content. And yes, it is the olden days 🙂 You can tell from the photo quality!

Sick and Still Want To Have Fun? Get a Balcony and Backpack That Way

I had been dreading this moment from the minute we landed in Mexico City (I am a tad pessimist). That moment when backpacking quickly turns from a thrill to more of a pill (the moment you run to the medical kit and begin to search for the cure which in our words is usually cipro).

Well if you have to get sick in Mexico, Patzcuaro is the perfect place to be.

The Rules for Being Sick

1. Carefully choose place to be sick so you won’t get FOMO (fear of missing out – coined by someone much younger and more active than myself)

Sick in Rome when you only have two days? FOMO

Sick at the beach when you have only one week for a holiday and an ocean view? FOMO

But sick in Patzcuaro, a tiny peaceful beautiful colonial town but with no star attractions like Angkor Wat or the pyramids? a lot less FOMO

2. Plenty of bananas (if you are Chris) and plenty of potato chips (if you are me – seriously, I swear by this)

3. Find a distraction for when you move from the “I am seriously dying stage to the I might make it stage”

In the " I am dyiing " stage.

In the ” I am dying ” stage.

So thankfully this stage didn’t last too long. I had my backpacking future riding on this. This was the test trip to see if Chris “liked” it or at least could successfully “endure” it so I would know if we were travel compatible. A huge thing if you are obsessed like me.

Entering the “I might make it stage”, Chris needed a distraction, a good one.

Listening to me chatter wasn’t a good one; The Good Wife on TV was a good one until we admitted we didn’t have a good clue what was going on since we don’t ever watch it, so what to do?

Mr. Parking arrives. Thank you Mr. Parking. You saved our day (or a couple at least).

Mr. Parking in action all day everyday.

Mr. Parking in action all day everyday.

We had the perfect view of Mr. Parking as he “worked” right below our balcony.

Apparently it was his job to help support drivers who otherwise can not park their own cars on a street with zero traffic and well indicated parking spots. In other words, if you would like your car to stay safely parked in said spot, hire the services of Mr. Parking who will ensure that he or none of his friends will rip it off. Kind of a forced service with a forced payment fee. Hands tied behind the steering wheel, most drivers submit to Mr. Parking’s services.

So as the day progressed, Mr. Parking would get tired. He would need a drink of something (?) to keep going.

Mr. Parking takes a break to have a drink.

Mr. Parking takes a break to have a drink.

And as he takes more breaks and has more drinks, Mr. Parking’s services and tone of voice become more flamboyant, more erratic, and more “Cheryl, come here. You have to see what’s going on now!”

Being sick and watching him park, stumble, bellow, sit, drink, repeat is actually turning out to be a sick highlight of our trip.

Some things are so random, so free, so fun that when you backpack, it might be a good idea to build in some time for getting sick. 

The balcony that allowed all our fun to happen.

The balcony that allowed all our fun to happen.

Chris is much better but still watching Mr. Parking in action.

Chris feeling much better but still watching Mr. Parking in action.

The Subway Escape: When “You” Become The Story

We had just moved to the Toronto area.

It was time to explore the city and time to bond. With four girls, Chris tries to ensure he has special times with each.

This was one of those times… or it was meant to be.

Our daughter spent a lot of time getting ready (as teens tend to do) and finally they were off on their way… headed to the subway to find a great place to eat and maybe even a hockey game to go to. Downtown Toronto was waiting.. anything was possible.

Now our girls LOVE the subway, always have. In fact the subway is a highlight of most of our trips; we have a picture to prove it.

The girls on the Toronto subway... during happier times.

The girls on the Toronto subway… during happier times.

So Chris and daughter get onto the subway. And sit down… and blend in… with all the other subway dwellers that are in the same car. Nothing out of the ordinary… at least Chris thinks.

Daughter is a little quiet but not unusually so. She maybe isn’t feeling so great but refrains from letting Chris in on that little secret.

Until the secret is released… now everyone knows… now everybody sees… now everyone who can, backs away in horror. Including Chris, who is beyond shocked.

Daughter is surprised too. She didn’t really know. She didn’t see it coming. Her aim… less than fortunate for some.

Grabbing daughter, Chris and she flee the subway scene before a word is uttered (or at least that is what they recall) but a few looks have been cast. Well maybe more than a few.

They make it to the subway garbage can; a more subtle alternative to the previously packed subway car.

What to do? This is not Chris’ s scene…. not one tiny bit.

So they do what Chris does best. He gets his hair cut under the guise of a free bathroom where she can “undo the damage” that has been done.

Sadly and even a little silly, they return home by taxi and by car; deciding to leave the subway for another day.

We wonder how many people in Toronto heard the gory details that day. Forlorn, but funny…depending on whose perspective. Personally, I was very happy to have stayed at home.

A better bonding moment.

A better bonding moment.

The Opposite of Zen: Getting A Teen Packed for a Trip

So this probably started about a week ago.

Jade, do you know what you will be taking with you to Europe?

I know. I have time. 

Repeat above question a zillion times and repeat above answer a zillion times, and you know what our house has been sounding like for the last 7 days.

Then the volcano exploded (or otherwise known as mom couldn’t take it one minute longer.)

Jade, you have 2 days until you go. Get your stuff together and get organized. Pleeeeaaaaaaase.

I will. I have been. It is all in my bedroom.

Oh, that word, “bedroom” is a scary word. It conjures up socks thrown in all directions, piles of clothing tossed amongst sheets, a comforter pushed aside and who knows what on the floor.

I fear going in to look. I try to let my imagination stay in a happy positive place. But still my curiosity kills me and I enter.

I see the red backpack on the floor, stuff all over the desk, piles of what appears to be random clothing and I leave, hyperventilating.

This kid will never get to Europe at this rate. She will show up with the clothes on her back while others will be dragging huge suitcases.

Jade is, what we call, a minimalist.

Case in point… after having travelled Peru for a week or so, we finally found a place to do laundry. While everyone else in the family had plenty to throw in, she declared she had nothing that needed cleaning. She seems to never have anything that needs cleaning! Yes, she is cheap on the water bill.

So when I woke up this morning, I told Chris that I must be grinding my teeth. My head felt like it was going to fall off but I am certain it was this…

It was Friday. Jade leaves Sat. The packing must get done.

Chris steps in. He is a masterful negotiator; he manages us like we are Israel and Palestine. 

Jade stomps upstairs as I insist oh so politely that I must see all the belongings to go in one place. 

She insists oh so politely that I am the new Monica (from the TV show, Friends) of travelling; apparently a tad controlling, and a bit too overbearing. 

I let that go. (or I try to)

Chris sits off to the side, ready to jump in if needed, and we get down to backpack business.

A lot of eye rolls later,  a few comments made, exasperated sighs overly emphasized and the finish line is in sight.

We break out the chocolate almonds to celebrate and then I (or Monica) say:

Now remember Jade when you get there, you need to…

And then she yells, I know! I have travelled before! I know all this stuff!

And I quietly retreat, agreeing in my head, that she is probably right.

Jade does know her stuff. Her mom just hasn't "realized it yet".  A lesson in letting go. (or trying to)

Jade does know her stuff. Her mom just hasn’t “realized it yet”. A lesson in letting go. (or trying to)

On finally being ready for Europe. The packing is done and now the fun can begin.

On finally being ready for Europe. The packing is done and now the fun can begin.

Why I Prefer Hotel Rooms to Houses

So, it happened again last night.

A sighting of a mysterious insect in Jade’s room and a vow to not return until Chris gets it.

The problem is that Chris is not home for another week! This is unfortunately not the first time this has happened. In fact, our “lovely” and “respectful”  home in another province became a bit of a zoo (read: nightmare) that I couldn’t even take. Think sharing an expensive living space with raccoons in your ceiling, mice in your basement, and squirrels in the kitchen fixtures.

Really… it doesn’t get much better than that heh?

So we take Jade to Guatemala for her first outside North America trip. We also take her to the jungle… you know, a well-rounded trip that will open her mind! Well… we  had a few insect issues like red ants that infested our room and the hugest spider ever in our shower… but at least this time, we didn’t have to really fix the problem and try to sell it… instead we just moved our stuff and got a new room.

Jade still wasn’t thrilled and decided to live in her hammock for the rest of the stay so her feet didn’t have to touch the ground. She also became quite knowledgeable about how to use the mosquito net for the best protection. And.. yes, we did just get her a sleeping sheet that she can wrap herself up like a mummy at night… we just didn’t think she would use it in Canada… but maybe she will.

So I will take a hotel room any day over a house. Another good reason to travel 🙂