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Traveling vs. Going on Vacation

Canada, on average, is the coldest country on earth. Colder than Antarctica, colder than Iceland and even colder than Siberia. Okay, granted Canada includes huge parts of the arctic in it’s geographical boundaries, but still…

In December of 2009, Edmonton (population 730,000), recorded it’s second lowest temperature in history. Minus 46.1 degrees Celsius. And no, Edmonton is not in the Arctic! What’s a Canadian to do? It’s not like we can go into hibernation (though that should totally be an option, especially for the Bears). No, usually we have to escape.

And fortunately, Canadians have access to a reasonably priced and fantastic parallel universe called Cuba. In this fantastic parallel universe, champagne is served as the plane enters azure skies. Snow doesn’t dare exist. The world’s best cigars fall from the sky. Succulent seafood, fresh, tropical fruits and sweet desserts are laid out on tables for the taking. All there is to do is lie around on white sand and stare at crystal clear waters, while sipping on a pina colada. Yup, it’s an all inclusive vacation.

And this. This is not what we will be doing on our trip. I think there’s a huge difference between travelingΒ and going on vacation. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Especially anyone who hasn’t been traveling. To me a vacation is an escape from your daily grind. Hitting pause. But mostly, as it is in Cuba, it’s Canadians acting like Canadians, just…in a different location.

It’s not a break from your life, it is your life.

Traveling is inherently different. It’s not a break from your life, it is your life. It’s as much about the getting from here to there, as it is about the stops along the way. It is you in different countries, cities and worlds, trying to find your way around, where nothing is familiar and you can’t speak a word of the native language. It is pointing at a menu and hoping that what comes out isn’t dog meat soup, fried tarantulas or monkey’s brains. It can change you. Shake your foundations and give you a whole new perspective on life and what it means. Show you that the small view of the world and what you think it is, just isn’t. And it’s challenging. Of course, there will be moments of awe in front of the world’s most famous monuments and moments of peace on the world’s most inspiring beaches. But there will also be moments in rural China, where you are standing on 2 thin planks, over a dug out ditch in the dark, going to the bathroom, and praying that you don’t fall in.

For the next year of our lives, this is what we’ve signed up for. May it be as rewarding as it is challenging. And may it change us in ways we can’t possibly imagine.

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