Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tales from a Taxi in Iqaluit

It’s been a busy week here in Iqaluit.  This week I’ve been reintroduced to the joy of taking taxi’s here in Iqaluit.  It’s been darn cold…with the wind chill in the -40C range, so a taxi is a good thing.  Because Iqaluit is so small…taxi’s charge by the person…it’s $6 for anywhere you want to go in Iqaluit. Because of the limited number of taxi’s in town.. and it being so cold…this week when a cab showed up at the Frobisher Inn lots of people jumped in!  It’s not unusual for you share a cab with others! Nothing like meeting new friends while you are trying to get to work on time!

Iqaluit Taxi

This week I have had a few adventures…

* I got in my taxi with 4 others on Tuesday morning…after waiting about 25mins for one to arrive at the Frobisher Inn (Frob).  We all rattle off where we are going… I was heading to a building that was in the opposite direction of everyone else…BUT still got to go to the Hospital, Arctic College, Arctic Hotel (formerly known as the Nova) and then out to the airport before driving back to Building 157 where I was going to work.  Nothing like a tour of Iqaluit to get your day started! (But honestly it was better than walking that 15mins in the crazy cold!)

* The next morning I got into a taxi and headed without too many problems to my destination.  The driver actually took us on a few roads I’ve never been on…that actually got out of the crazy 8:30am traffic rush in Iqaluit!

* Thursday morning was another interesting morning…the driver drove past the road where my building was…then took me to the Arctic Hotel…then up to Building 519…then back to the Post office before heading back to drop me off!  Taking a cab is kind of like an adventure in every ride… you never know how many other people the cabbie will pick up or in what order everyone will be dropped off!

* Friday night I was taking a cab back from my friend’s house.  I thought it would be straight forward…but nope, ended up behind some person’s house waiting for another passenger for like 15mins.  It was only after I asked nicely to continue on the way back to the hotel that the driver carried on without picking up the 2nd passenger.  The funniest with this situation was…I gave him $10…and asked for a receipt.  He said to me, “…I don’t have a pen.” and handed back the $10 for me.  So weird, free ride for me….let me tell you I jumped out fast!

Honestly when I’m back in southern Canada I totally miss these $6 anywhere kind of cab rides.   It’s been a good week for work and for catching up with friends here in town.  I still have some more time here, so looking forward to it!  There’s lots of ‘rumours’ going around in town right now about some celebrities in town…. George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr.  I’ll have to keep my eyes open, but honestly…haven’t seen any one famous yet!

 

Culture and Crafts & Gourmet Coffee

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Iqaluit as I type up this post tonight. The current temperature outside is -26C with a windchill of -40C! It honestly seems like a lifetime ago that I was in El Salvador, but in reality it was only a few weeks ago since I returned to Canada.  It was such and awesome trip…last week I shared about you some of the memories from the resort spending days pool-side!  Today I want to share with you the first day trip outside the resort…where my mum and I had the opportunity to explore a bit of El Salvador beyond the Resort!  So without any further rambling here’s the post…this is a PHOTO heavy post… just too many good ones that I had to include!

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On Saturday, February 15th my mum and I ventured outside of the fabulous resort to see a bit more of El Salvador.  The plan for the day was to visit a few different cities/towns to see their markets and do some shopping…have lunch and visit a coffee plantation and then a factory!  We had a really small tour with 8 people including my mum and I.  Krisia from Decameron Explorer Tours was our guide for the day.  Such an awesome tour guide, so knowledgable and passionate about sharing her country with us.  Thanks for a wonderful day!

Starting off the day… we ran into the farmers moving cattle from field to field!
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The first stop on our day was in Nahuizalco. We started out in the central square…where there always seems to be a Catholic Church…which are usually white!
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From there we walked through the food market…where you could anything from fresh veggies, eggs, fish, chicken and beef! I loved walking around the market and seeing how different the food shopping experience can be from your typical supermarket in Canada! El Salvador0040

After walking around we had a bit of free time to wander in & out of the shops along this street.  I did manage to pick up some things for my nephews’ birthdays…and a table runner and scarf! El Salvador0045 El Salvador0048 El Salvador0049

Back onto the bus we went after a short ride the next stop was Juayúa. This little town had an awesome bustling centre square with a fountain in the middle with lots of shade from the trees!
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Mum and I went in and visited inside the church…then went on to explore some of the market stalls for some shopping! El Salvador0064 El Salvador0067

The next stop was at Santa Leticia, a coffee farm located in the municipality of Apaneca in the department of Ahuachapan.  We climbed up into the back of that truck and visited the coffee trees on the side of the mountain.   El Salvador0075

We took a walk amongst the trails…looking at the coffee plants!  (Did you know that coffee has a ‘fruit’ that has to come off to get to the bean? I did not know this….) El Salvador0077

Below on the photo to the right was my “amigo” who was the Tourist Police Officer that went along with our tour for the day… Mum and I choose to bring up the rear of the hike…so we spent a bit of time talking with him. El Salvador0081

I was so proud of mum this day…hiking in the hot heat…about 1400 to 1700 metres above sea level with her new hips!  Go Mum Go! El Salvador0084

We walked through this trail to the only private archaeological site of El Salvador, a sacred ceremonial place where the Mayans worshiped their gods and where this civilization evolved 2600 years ago!
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Here our guide, Krisia, explained more about “the King” and the “the Queen”.  (faces on these giant rocks… “the prince” had been removed and a replica was outside the resturant where we had lunch!) The King was split into two because someone though that there might be ‘gold’ or ‘treasures’ inside of it! El Salvador0086

Here’s a replica copy of ‘the Prince’… El Salvador0095

After our walk back to the truck and a bumpy ride down the mountain we arrived back at the restaurant where we had a fabulous lunch! El Salvador0090 El Salvador0093

The views of the countryside are amazing… we stopped at this look-out for a photo op! El Salvador0096

After lunch we stopped at El Carmen Estates a coffee factory.  We walked through all the processes of what happens to the coffee before it is packaged in bags to be sold!
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Coffee beans drying in the sun… El Salvador0103

Bags and bags of coffee beans!
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This was an amazing thing for me to watch was these men pick up these HUGE bags of coffee, carrying them on their shoulder to dump into the machine for sorting/grading….back and forth they went… in the hot day, carrying that heavy load!  El Salvador0107

These women were going through the beans to pick out the ones with ‘imperfections’…like the close up one on the hand…every 2-3mins the belt moves on and the women get a new batch to sort through. El Salvador0111El Salvador0110

There was lots to learn…and lots of fun opportunities to take photos! El Salvador0114

We went to the gardens of the main house…to enjoy coffee on the lawn, and have the opportunity to shop and buy some coffee! Since I have never had a cup of coffee in my life, I wandered around taking photos and picked up some coffee beans for my friends in Pang that were checking my mail box while I was on holidays! El Salvador0119 El Salvador0121

The last stop of the day was in Conception de Ataco…which was founded by the Pipiles tribes in the heart of the mountain where the cobbled streets…and woven fabrics.  It was awesome to wander around the streets! El Salvador0124

I stopped in the centre square to listen to this band play…sitting on a bench watching people walk by…such a fun way to pass the time.  People watching especially in a city square is the best place to watch people. El Salvador0126 El Salvador0130It was such a fabulous fun filled day.  It was nice to get away from the resort and see a bit of every-day life in El Salvador!  I was so excited that I was able to share this day with my mum.  Thank you again Krisia for sharing stories and country with us for the day.  It was great to meet you…and this tour wouldn’t have been the same without you guiding it!

Memories of Sun Filled Week

One of my friends in high school was Emely.  She and I met through our church and went to high school together.  For most of my high school years (until Emely graduated–she was a few years older than me) we were like two peas in a pod…always doing things together on the weekend and with our youth group.  Emely was born in El Salvador…this was something I forgot until she reminded me just before I flew there!  My whole week I was in El Salvador my mind kept flashing back to Emely.

Emely and I

One of my fav photos of Emely and I. Summer of 1994… this photo was in the local paper because we were at a youth event in the park called “the Gap”.  We thought we were playing it cool standing on the sidelines of a game checking out boys…but the reporter snapped this, and totally ratted us out in the paper!

Visiting the country of Emely’s birth gave me a whole new insight into my friend. That’s the awesome thing about travel is that you can see for yourself how others live…you can be told, but without seeing it for yourself and experiencing it it’s not just not the same.   I loved El Salvador…the people are so friendly and the country side is gorgeous.  Emely I’m so glad I can still call you a friend…and that after all these years we have reconnected! Here’s some stories and photos of your birth country…enjoy!

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Over the course of the week I was in El Salvador I took about 1400 photos…edited about 300 of those taken. Now I’m trying to figure out how to share them without overwhelming the internets with photos from El Salvador!  I think I’ve come up with a plan to blog my trip by breaking it up into a few posts.

Are you ready for some photos and stories from my week in the sunshine? It’s hard to believe it’s was 3 weeks ago I was enjoying my first evening in El Salvador with my mum. Our trip went from Thursday to Thursday…February 13th to the 20th.

It was a 5 1/2 hour flight from Toronto to San Salvador…we had a bit of a delay (about an hour 1/2) before taking off with a small mechanical issue with the plane. (Apparently those don’t just happen with planes flying in Nunavut!) We were excited to be in El Salvador and had about a 2 hour bus drive to our resort. We were provided with a fun box filled with snacks…

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During my trip I was able to snap this awesome shot out of the front window of the bus.

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Here’s a map of the route we probably took from the airport to the resort. (Airport is point A and the Resort is point B!)

Map from airport to resort

Enjoying the views of the Royal Decameron Salinitas Hotel…and seeing the sun set the first night!

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The next morning there was time for breakfast and then lounging beside the pool…reading books & jumping in the pool for a quick dip when the 32C got to be too hot to stand!

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The Resort was gorgeous…the room was awesome and grounds were gorgeous! It was just like a picture perfect post card.  El Salvador0006

Watching the sunset.  It was so gorgeous to just watch it slip down into the Pacific Ocean and disappear!

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On Valentine’s Day my mum and I went to one of the restaurants…we were greeted with a flower at the door! It was the perfect ending to a perfect first day lounging in the sun.

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The resort was awesome…so many shady spots to sit and read!

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Pool side fun…the days I was on the resort I joined in an aqua aerobics at 11am.  Mum also enjoyed the pool…doing lots of her physio exercises 2-3 times a day! El Salvador0011El Salvador0012El Salvador0013

What’s a holiday without a few drinks?  Here’s the awesome bartenders that made me the perfect ‘fruity’ sweet cocktails that were ‘strong’…I have no clue what they made, but it was darn good!

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…have I mentioned how awesome the sunsets were? El Salvador0015Feet in the Pacific Ocean… El Salvador0016El Salvador0017

I went on 3 different day trips to explore a bit beyond the resort!  For the first day trip on Saturday my Mum joined me as we explored a few villages and a coffee plantation and factory–it was called the Craft & Culture Tour with Coffee Tour.  On the Second day trip on Sunday I headed off on my own, leaving my mum pool side at the resort! I went to Copán, Honduras (via Guatemala) to visit the Mayan village of Copán. On the third day trip on Monday I headed off on my own again.  I went to the Port of Libertad Fish Market then San Salvador Volcano finshing the day with a stop at  Lake Coatepeque!  I’ll post photos and stories from those trips  soon.

Wordless Wednesday LII: Sunsets

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Coming home from work last night the sun was setting and it was so gorgeous! It’s good to be home…even though it’s still crazy cold, at least the sun is shining for longer!

Happy 8th Birthday Samuel

The calendar shouts…
it’s time to send birthday wishes
to my cute nephew…
my favourite eight year old..
may all your dreams come true today!

newborn baby cuddles

Eight today,
Have a blast,
Hope the birthday fun will last,
From early in the morning,
Until very late,
May your party fun,
Turn out to be great.

It’s hard to believe you are EIGHT already!!! Seems like yesterday I was driving to the hospital to meet you for the first time.  Hope you have a fantastic Birthday…

Luv, Aunt Sarah

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