Dear North American Currencies

Dear North American Currencies,

I had forgotten how expensive it is just to be in Vancouver, and how annoying and heavy your Canadian coins are, especially all those loonies and twoonies. And now that the US dollar is falling, everything seems unreasonably priced, especially books with two prices on the back (ie. $10.99USD, $15.99 CDN) when you have to pay the Canadian one even though its not anywhere equal to the USD one.

And, whats up with taxes never being included in the price? I can’t calculate 6.5% of $3.87 to know how much my pumpkin latte from Starbucks will actually cost, and when I sit down at a restaurant to have a sandwich for $9.65, I have to pay 7% provicinal sales tax, and then Im not sure what the difference is between government  sales tax and harmonized sales tax or when I pay them, but they’re each another 6 or 7 %, AND then I have to tip 10 or 20 %, so my ten dollar sandwich winds up costing $14.79. It makes me feel cheated like false advertising does. And why can’t things just cost even dollar amounts? Coffee? $3. Sandiwch? $10. No more of this dimes and cents business.

I dont like pennies, since they make my fingers smell like sulphur, and whenever you need a penny, you dont have one, since when you have pennies, they’re easier to throw away than carry around. Pay phones dont even take pennies, parking metres dont count nickels, and a dime only buys you 1 minute and 36 seconds of parking. Quarters are weighted so sometimes a Canadian Quarter doesn’t even let you make a call in an American payphone.

I just wish we could get rid of pennies all together, sell things for the advertised price, all have the same coins, and bring back the dollar bill to Canada so the tipping culture wouldn’t be so embarassing – no one likes handing a valet parker $4 in loonies. Or we could just get rid of this expensive tipping culture all together, use less coins and make less change with more even prices.

Sincereley,

the traveler who still uses payphones and doesn’t like heavy pockets

Dear World: Everything I like about you

If you’re ever down or bored, try writing a list like this. And if you do, I’d love to read it! Leave your your “like” list in a comment to share 🙂

 

I like painting my toes red or purple. I like tango dancing in red shoes.

I like sleeping with 3 pillows. I like candle lit rooms. I like meditating in old churches.

I like when butterflies land on me. I like when puppies attack me with love.

I like smoking cigars lit with cedarwood. I like fireplaces that burn real firewood.

I like eating before I go grocery shopping so I don’t buy too much. I like having exact change.

I like swimming naked. I like doing yoga in steam baths. I like hottubbing in the snow. I like towels that are actually bathrobes.

I like walking on the sunny side of the street. I like walking barefoot in sand that squeaks under my steps.

I like hosting parties of 3 or more. I like when awkward things happen but no one feels awkward about it.

I like riding crazy horses. I like feeling my heart pulse in my fingertips. I like listening to music that gives me goosebumps.

I like meeting people for the first time but feeling like Ive known them forever. I like smiling at strangers. I like people who have smile wrinkles around their eyes.

I like when my hair tickles my face from being blown around. I like watching the rain fall from under an umbrella, staying dry.

I like swinging in a hammock strung between two palm trees. I like balconies with a view of the sea.

I like spraying my scarf with 5 different perfumes at duty free shops so I smell really good, but not quite like anyone else. And that’s easy to do since I often find myself stuck in airports with huge duty-free shops where I can go wild experimenting with scent chemistry.

 

Dear Mr. DJ

Dear Mr. DJ,

In Miami, I heard the same 6 songs all day long. The same 6 songs played on all the radio stations, so you couldn’t even switch between them to get away from them. They got totally stuck in my head, and now the sound of Miami is a playlist of Saxobeat, Moves like Jagger, Rihanna and Pitbull. They’re all great songs, and I want to keep liking them, so maybe you can play a little something else once in a while so they don’t get overplayed.

In Vancouver, they play the same songs too, but a bigger variety of them, since they also keep playing songs that were big in 2006 which should not still be playing on todays “top 40” type stations. I can almost always find an Adele song playing on atleast one station, and the “Sexy and I know it” LMFAO song keeps plaguing my memory with visions of flabby guys shaking their jiggly junk in prickly speedos.

But most of all, I wish I could actually listen to songs on the radio, instead of flipping between stations and stations of unmelodious advertisements.

Sincerely,

the driver who gets stuck in traffic and wants better radio entertainment

for your viewing enjoyment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyx6JDQCslE&ob=av2e

 

Dear World

In addition to my regular blog posts and Photo Highlight posts, Im going to start this new thing called “Dear World.” Its when I want to write the world a letter, just to speak my mind, complain, send love or make a point. Sometimes Ill address it to a specific part of the world, like Dear Canada or Dear Persians, and sometimes even a specific person, like Dear Gordon Brown.

Its kind of like a Dear Diary entry, that I want to make public. Its for those times when Im not traveling, and cant share any stories from new or exciting places, so instead, I’ll write anectodes from day to day life.

Miami, from the water

I flew from Italy, to Madrid, to Miami, which seemed like a natural transition, between languages, climate, culture, even food. Spain was close enough to Italy, only an hours flight, and the people and place not unsimilar. Then a slightly longer-haul flight to Miami, where the unofficial first language is still Spanish, but the culture a mix of Spanish colonial heritage and raging latin sexiness.

Sunset from the marina

I think Miami resembles Venice, but Venice on steroids – a bigger, shinier, newer city built on invisible islands, surrounded by much larger canals and super-bridges. The city is ten times taller and ten times wider, with probably a hundred times more people, but boats and bridges still connect everyone and everywhere. The boats are also on steroids – instead of romantic gondolas leisurely floating past, you have super-turbo yachts with 800 horsepower zooming by.

The boat

I was visiting five friends, who I suppose you could call sailors, and we had a 30-something foot speedboat to play with for 3 days. We circled around Key Biscayne and traversed the dirty rivers around downtown. I learned how to drive a boat, which was definitely not my idea – not because I didn’t want to, but trusting a female to competently drive a boat around 5 trained sailors can never make you feel like you know what you’re doing.

Captain Katrin, with downtown Miami ahead of us

We docked at the restaurants we wanted to have lunch at, which is probably the only form of free parking between 9-5 in downtown Miami, and lets you get service without shoes or a shirt. We unintentionally took the boat out to jelly-fish infested water, but luckily for everyone else only I was in the water then. I didn’t get stung since my friends inside the boat could see them and direct me where to swim around them and get back safely in the boat. But then moments later, they convinced me to get back in and try surfing behind the boat.

This is something I’ve never seen done before, but you take a regular short board (5’10” or so), sit on the back of the boat to one side, and put your feet on it to hold it steady. Then the boat speeds up to about 2500rpms, and you stand up on it while hanging on for dear life to the boat, mostly for balance. Then there’s a rope attached to the boat that you ease back on, and continue to get dragged behind. Eventually, you find your niche on the wake of the boat, and you can throw the rope away and continue to surf behind the boat as long as your legs can hold out. I think it’s the perfect type of surf – no need to paddle or battle any waves, and when you’re down, the luxurious speedboat comes back and picks you up out of the water, and in my case (I only got up once), congratulates you with a cold beer.

How I wish surfing could always be

It threatened to rain every day we were on the boat, but the grey skies stayed dry until my last day in Miami, when it all came down at once. It was Halloween night, and it poured and poured and poured. The fashion  scene is already quite scandalous, so seeing loud and colourful half naked girls wasn’t out of the norm, but no one could stay dry, so seeing everyone dressed up and soaked down gave an interesting spin to all the costumes. I was a party pooper and didn’t even have a costume, but I was just glad to be off the boat and in enough clothes to stay warm since I started to feel the inkling of a flu coming on – the first I’d had in almost a year. I just don’t understand how a body survives a whole summer, filthy in the frigid Icelandic mountains surrounded by horses and bad hygiene, but gets sick in the tropical heat of Miami beach.