Let the Unknown Guide You

Yesterday was a lesson in the bliss of aimless wanderings. Usually I have a clear plan in my head of where I am going, what I am seeing. Not on this trip!

I have taken my niece on a sojourn to Vancouver, British Columbia as a graduation gift. After checking in to our hostel, we set off without a plan towards English Bay, the body of water that divides downtown Vancouver from the greater city. Sometimes the best way to experience a new city is to let your feet and senses guide you. We strolled along the beach, picking up shells, relishing the salty wind in our faces. The people-watching here is superb. The weather was gorgeous and the entire city was out to play. Beach volleyball, gulls screaming, families with tiny children wading in the waves, guys kicking around the soccer ball.

Suddenly we found ourselves within the lush gardens of Stanley Park. Pleasant, cool, and an absolutely gigantic plant I cannot even identify. Looks like a huge zucchini plant, large enough to hide my niece among the foliage!

The evening was another lesson in wandering. We meandered along Robson Street, the flashy upscale shopping street. Sure, it’s the typical high-end name-brand clothing stores and flashy see-and-be-seen scene. But leave it to my niece to find the quirky side of Robson. A small Japanese market with an assortment of fascinating foods and candy. An athletic store selling retro World Cup team uniforms. (I am almost seduced by the geometric 70’s style German warm-up jacket.) A bubble tea cafe, serving a wide-ranging assortment of Japanese bubble teas, which delights my niece. These are strange, but refreshing concoctions. A tea mixture (in this case green tea and lychee) with “bubbles”, a sort of jelly-like round substance small enough to suck up the straw.

I have never experienced Vancouver this way before – through the wide-open eyes of a teenager and the delights of unknown surprises around every corner. My niece has taught me the value of just strapping on my shoes, throwing a sightseeing plan out the window, and exploring. The bubble tea would never have surfaced otherwise.

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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