Travelling Tales & Tunes

Certain songs and musical genres connect me to past travel adventures and particular periods throughout my life. 

Brown Eyed Girl – VAN MORRISON, GYPSY KINGS, and SPIRIT of the WEST

I think back with great fondness of being a young naive 19 year old working in a rustic remote resort situated halfway between Jasper and the magnificent Columbia Ice Fields. 

I lived a sheltered and strict existence prior to this experience. This was my first time away from home. My parents were displeased, to say the least. I was only allowed a sleepover once during childhood on the evening of my high school graduation. Typically, my curfew was 5 pm sharp, when my parents served dinner. God forbid I came home later than when the sky turned dark. There was hell to pay. 
A group of us after long shifts, piled into an old beater vehicle that the rare dorm resident owned, to head to a local Jasper bar for cheap drinks (when Long Island iced teas, creamy Brown cows, and Paralyzers were popular). An important milestone for a teenager living in Alberta is that the legal drinking age is 18 years old. This is one year younger than the majority of Canadian provinces.

Throughout my high school career, I was always the kid who had to be squished and hidden between multiple bodies piled in a car to ensure as many friends as possible could tag along, and this still continued despite in my early adult years. The downfalls of being petite. Despite this inconvenience, I participated in the evening fun when I was not working or hiking early the following morning. I often wandered down the nature pathways to enjoy the strong waterfalls and currents of Sunwapta Falls since it was close by and convenient. I was more ambitious to attempt difficult Rocky Mountain terrain on days off. These trails had an an abundance of vibrant wildflowers, brown bears, and fresh waterfalls, but were only accessible by hitchhiking. I would never allow my children to indulge in these risky activities! No seat belts and hitching to hike in the bush without the proper attire and equipment. Thankfully, driving laws have become more stringent and penalties astronomical since my youth. I shudder to think if the driver erred on the side of caution, and refrained from drinking…too much. The mountain roads were dark, narrow, whipping around and around with steep descents. Only the natural lights of constellations twinkling navigated us back to our bunk beds in the middle of no where. I do not ever recall the acronym, DD, Designated Driver, because to my knowledge the term, Drunk Driving, did this not exist. At least it was never discussed back in the day. 

It was a carefree time in my youth. Living in Jasper’s National Park played a pivotal role in my life where my passion of the outdoors grew, and still continues to this day. I have happily chosen to live in an area which is conveniently accessible to the city centre yet within walking distance to the waterfront, mere steps to a creek with a forest of Douglas Firs and Western Cedar trees, and a short drive to the local hills that offer paradise to skiers, boarders, and hikers. 

I’m Gonna be (500 miles) THE PROCLAIMERS & Skyfall – ADELE 

The Proclaimers, a Scottish band, also brings nolstagic memories of Jasper and more recently, newly created ones of a family tour to the Highlands. Of course, I should start with the natural environment: crisp air on dewy mornings, multiple rainbows appearing when the sun brightened up the heavens after dark clouds released heavy rains on volcanic rugged glens and calming loches. On a lighter more ridiculous side, I wondered for the greater part of the day if James, our tour guide, and most Scottish men followed the tradition of not wearing underwear underneath kilts. It was extremely nippy in the Highlands, especially when we reached the valleys and snow-covered mountains of Glencoe. I was concerned that we may witness something I certainly did not want to see. I was relieved when James noted he wore undergarments later in trip. He also explained that men started wearing kilts as it didn’t make sense to wear pants. The temperamental wet climate was not the best environment for pants, easily becoming soaked. I am still pondering this; I am unsure how this makes sense. Damp pants VS cold bare and damp legs? 

And of course, James Bond 007, Daniel Craig and Judi Dench, bring espionage and intrigue to the idyllic Scottish countryside. The irony. 


Stay – RIHANNA

Despite the 4-5 years that have passed since this song was released, I refuse to listen, even to this day. It represents a tumultuous and evil time in my life. I think of Cabo, where the calming Sea of Cortez and the volatile Pacific Ocean meet, and I start to feel anxious. My now ex-boyfriend at the time had moved to Mexico. I spent much time in Baja California continuing a long distance relationship. My memories are dark and soulless, differing from the typical sun burnt vacationing tourist, who may have had one too many sickly sweet margaritas. He recklessly manoeuvred our jet ski under the famous Arch through the shallow water, driving the Mexican authorities and tour operators to frantically and furiously send us a stern warning. Only after we returned to land did he tell me about a recent jet accident where a girl flew off and drowned. My ex lived his life as a suicide mission that I eventually decided not to watch. During this time, my ex-husband who is also a lawyer, was suing me. It was not the first nor the last attempt. I could not find suitable counsel as many law firms that I contacted would not speak to me after taking his name. He had either made contact first or used their services for his other ongoing family court proceedings with a previous partner. The song represents the devastation, of loving strongly and whole heartedly the wrong men. Metaphorically, the devil effects of a cheap bottle of tequila with the worm at the bottom. I wake up from this repeated nightmare in beads of sweat, hiccuping with a vicious hangover. My pores and greasy hair reek of sickly alcohol and vomit. Both men attempted to batter and drain me financially, physically, and emotionally. Despite going to hell and back, I choose to crawl back, making my own happiness, despite being told and shown repeatedly by both, how stupid and useless I was. 


THE ROYAL CONCERTGEBOUW ORCHESTRA at the Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw, Netherlands 

A beautiful music hall with its historical significance and full orchestra playing soothing classical music is my sweet lullaby to fall asleep. One may think I’m bored and ignorant to the great composers like Bach, Mozart, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff. That is not the case. I spent my childhood studying with dedication (yearning for my parents approval) to be a classical pianist, but unfortunately, I did not have the ear of my talented, yet lazy brother. I am delighted that I felt my first born child and daughter kick at the Concertgebouw. It felt like bubbles popping in my stomach. She may have felt as safe and relaxed in my womb as I did on that magical night.

Mr. Brightside – THE KILLERS

I always loved this song and the Killers’ epic Hot Fuss album. However, now each time I listen to this song I think of a recent late summer’s evening on the breezy rooftop patio overlooking red terracotta roofs, white washed walls of the town’s buildings and cathedral towards the Atlantic Ocean of Lagos, Portugal. We begged front desk staff, the fabulous cook (Travis), and other hostellers to participate in the family night seafood BBQ. Travis did not disappoint serving grilled salmon and a local Portuguese fish. It was my first time trying one of my favourite fruits, figs, on the BBQ. The juices oozed succulence and sweetness. The most fantastic thing about travelling is how quickly the new people one meets becomes friends. Christina and Nena were my Brazilian roomies, and who I appreciate for making a request for white sangria on that particular evening. It had a light sparkling texture, and I could not refrain from overindulging on the sliced crisp tart green apples. 

Bailando – ENRIQUE IGLESIAS

I close my eyes witnessing a chaotic large group of tourists, my BFF Brian, and my 2 young kids, frolicking in the a huge pool in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba. I reminisce of the most exquisite beaches I have ever encountered. The sand was as soft fresh snow or as white pre-sifted flour; the Caribbean Sea the most clean and clear aqua-turquoise colour that extended for miles. I am grateful to have experienced this jewelled body of water, and the antique vibrant-coloured American cars on our hour journey to our resort. 

Duele El Corazon and any other Spanish song by ENRIQUE IGLESIAS and other Latino artists 

I spent a week volunteering at a jungle Guatemalan orphanage in Riu Dulce “sweet river.” Every morning, Armando would take me, other children, various food supplies, equipment, furniture, amongst other items by uncovered lancha during tropical rain season which I UN-fondly experienced. The kids where bright, wild, and no exaggeration, some literally climbed the building walls. As bare as my accommodations were, they were still luxurious in comparison to the orphanage. The restaurant at the Backpackers Hostel , my short term, was frequented by locals on the weekend. Spanish dance music blared , echoing from one river establishment to another. 


Yellow
Submarine – the BEATLES 

I always had this stereotypical imagine of the dirty industrial city of Liverpool, but I loved visiting here. And it was not due to the Beatle-mania and museum. I thought it was a very walkable and real city with much character. Everyone I encountered was friendly. 

I could probably end up writing a non-fictional novel on this subject, but the above outlines some eclectic highlights of various music artists over centuries encompassing multiple time zones, and most of all events leading to who I have evolved into today.

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