Keeping Busy in Toronto

Since this blog is mainly a travel blog, I haven’t written since my return to Toronto two months ago. Here’s a bit of an update on my Toronto life.

I applied for two jobs since I got back. Neither panned out, probably from a combo of over and under-experience. I am not trying to do anything related to past careers. Both jobs had one thing in common: cycling; and neither contacted me. As a result, I am starting my own cycling related business.

Yes, Me. It’s called Cycle Tours TO and, using bike share, I lead tours through west end Toronto neighborhoods, including my own, that have a lot of history and fun events. Cycle Tours TOWhen you visit the city, I’ll give you a friends and family rate on a tour! The weather is beautiful this week so do a tour with me!

So far, it’s not easy. I am trying to get listed as an experience on AirbnB, but there’s a 3 week review process. One week down. I’ve posted as a PWYC offering on Couchsurfing. Yesterday, 3 people signed up, but none showed.

Today, I spent a few hours cycling around Toronto dropping off postcards to different hostels. I biked 20KM and went to 9 hostels. Maybe I’ll get a couple emails! Hope so!

I love cycling around Toronto. And I love learning about and sharing my love of Toronto and all the great things to do and see here. I have been on lots of tours of different cities, and have taken away what people like to hear about those cities and am trying to incorporate that knowledge into my tour.

Here are some photos from my visits to the hostels today. I talked with staff at each hostel and they were generally friendly and supportive.

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After today, I can recommend which hostels in Toronto to stay in and which to avoid. There’s one particularly grotty one I almost didn’t leave cards it was so disturbing.

This weekend is a holiday weekend and the weather looks good so maybe I’ll get some customers, starting tomorrow at 11am. I am getting outside, talking to people and riding my bike. It’s all good!

Where I am Living in San Juan del Sur

I opted to stay with a family on this trip, for a few reasons: it’s cheap, authentic, and I get to practice my Spanish with the locals. That was a good choice because the town of San Juan del Sur is full of tourists and ex-pats so everyone speaks English here. It’s also worked out well because my home is seconds away from the school.

The family

The family whose house I am living in is a large multi-generational and friendly bunch. There is a mother and father and they have grown children – I believe there are 3 living in the house: a son and his wife and their son, Alex who is 8 (yes, he is the only one whose name I remember. He is very chatty and cute and likes baseball and soccer); and two daughters, one of whom does most of the cooking. One or both of them may also have husbands and children, because I have seen other grown men and I have also seen a teen girl. The father had a stroke recently so he doesn’t move around much. He spends a lot of his time on the front porch and is very nice. There is also an abuela, or grandmother (actually, she’s Alex’s great-grandmother). I don’t know how old she is but she’s pretty spry and friendly too. Continue reading “Where I am Living in San Juan del Sur”

Heading Home: What to Even Say?

ColombianFlagSelfieIt’s been an experience. For someone who’s never travelled alone until this trip, I’ve done a lot of new things on my own. I’ve also never been happier than when I saw Brian’s taxi arrive at the AirBnB in Cartagena and I knew the alone part was over!

The volunteering was really great – and really hard. I have a lot of respect for all teachers, and day care workers and babysitters. And parents. But day care workers? Wow. 26 2 year olds. In 33 degree heat and humidity and no air conditioning. Impressed. Next steps? Knowing I will never be a child care worker but still love to play with kids and having the utmost respect for those who do that every day.

The home stay was also great. Warm and welcoming people and a different world for me. I definitely got to use my limited Spanish. Next steps? Spanish classes or a tutor back in Toronto. I went to a couple of language exchange meet-ups, in Cartagena and Medellin, and will seek those out in Toronto now.

Continue reading “Heading Home: What to Even Say?”

End of The Home Stay

Brian is here. My days in Campestre are over. I am now living the life of a tourist with Brian in the walled city of Cartagena.

After getting Brian settled in to the airbnb, we walked around the old town a bit and then grabbed a taxi so he could meet the important people in my Cartagena experience.

Marcela was there to greet us and Libary came soon after, so we got some photos of the whole gang before we separated for good.

Continue reading “End of The Home Stay”

Last Day in Campestre

Today is my last day at Marcela’s house. Three weeks plus three days have flown by, that’s a fact.

Brian is on his way to Cartagena as I write this and I will be moving out of my barrio home to the touristy side of the city with him.

We are having a little “meet and greet” at Marcela’s this evening so Marcela and her family and Libary will meet mi esposo (Brian). I will post photos for sure!


Colombian TV

So my host family does not seem interested in the Olympics, unless the soccer is on. I have seen them watch a really bad Adam Sandler movie (is saying “really bad” in front of “Adam Sandler movie” redundant? you decide), and two different Colombian shows so far. This is another reason, besides the heat, that I do not hang out much in the living room.

Continue reading “Colombian TV”

Where I Am Living

So I have mentioned that for almost 4 weeks I am staying with a Colombian family in Cartagena. They live in an apartment in a middle class barrio called Campestre. I stayed with them for 2 nights in their old place, but they have since moved to a bigger and better place a few blocks away.

This is by no means the lap of luxury. Part of my plan in coming here to volunteer was immersion, and living with a family was better for that than living with other foreigners or by myself. This is a simple home with enough amenities but not everything we are accustomed to having. I realize everyday here how spoiled we are and how little we actually do need to get by. I am not saying I am thriving in this environment! I have some internal struggles being the spoiled brat I am. But it’s going OK so far, and the people are so great it helps a lot! Still, there have been a few times I’ve dreamed of checking in to a hotel for a night – with AC of course, including a search I did on hotwire a few hours ago!

Continue reading “Where I Am Living”