Greece – The Gravity of a Graveyard

To be honest, I am not even sure how to write about this adventure. I know I have to share about it, as it was one of the most impactful things I have ever experienced, not just on this trip but also in life but where do I even begin…

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I guess it starts with the fact that for a while I didn’t think I was actually going to make it up to Molyvos to see the life jacket graveyard. From the moment I heard it existed it was something that I knew I wanted to go see but at an hour drive from Moria/Panagiouda where I was staying and a bit off the beaten path it wasn’t super convenient and I was here with a mission to serve not as a tourist.

Here is the google map pin if you ever want to check it for yourself. Even the satellite view I screen shot gives some pretty crazy perspective on just how big the graveyard is.

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As I was saying though, I didn’t think I was going to make it up there as I was nearing the end of my stay and hadn’t yet made the trek. I also had told Marianne from EuroRelief that I would work right till the end of my time on Lesvos so there was no foreseeing the opportunity to go. To my surprise though when I got the schedule for the next week I had been given Monday off even though I would leave Wednesday. My first thought was this is my opportunity to run up north to Molyvos to see the Graveyard and Sykaminea Camp After a brief conflict in my heart between going and spending an extra day in Moria (the thought of leaving was already grieving me) I decided that this was a door God had opened and I needed to take it. As I write this I cant actually believe that I almost didn’t go. Two months later as I sit here and write and look through these photos my eyes well with tears at how overwhelming the whole experience was.

After deciding to go, I discovered that there were other volunteers who had the same day off and hadn’t been up there yet, so now I not only had an adventure but I also had a crew to join on it. (LIFE HACK – Adventures are better with a crew) Six of us in total myself, two of my female compadres from the Mytilene Apartment and the Mennonite contingent of the Panagiouda Crew were set to go!

I got up early Monday and headed in to Mytilene to rent a car, picked up the crew and off we went down the winding mountain roads of Lesvos to see what we could see. The car ride itself was a bit of a joy in that even though you spend 8 to 10 hours a day with these people, it is always during work so there aren’t always great chances to hear peoples story and who they really are, so this gave great opportunity to hear about and get to know some of the people had spent so much time with over the past month. Not surprising that in itself was a total privilege. Hearing stories of how God had provided for their trip in unusual ways and hearing their hearts for the people we were working with, that in itself would have made the trip worth while.

And then we pull up to this…

As foretold it was a ways off the beaten path, but not super hard to find even though the  GPS map on my phone is wonky. But after ten or fifteen minutes of bouncing down a goat trail of a path we caught the faint view of orange in the distance.

I don’t really know how to describe my feelings in this moment, other than there were a lot of them. You look at the piles of life jackets understanding that each and everyone of them was worn by someone desperate to change the direction of their life and you begin to gain a realization of how fully broken our world is.

You step out of your vehicle and stare at three huge mountains of orange and black nylon and your mind is blown away when your companion informs you that these are not just piles of jackets but rather these are actually pits that have been filled to overflow.

In the depth of your mind you begin to see the faces of the men you have spent your last month serving and working alongside.  Your heart sinks as you realize that each one of these faces, each one of  your new friends is represented by one of these jackets.

The grief in my spirit was overwhelming and I remember choking back tears, even now as I write this my heart just aches. How do we let this happen? Thousands upon thousands of people in desperation crossing a cold dangerous sea all for a glimmer of hope that rests on the other side.

I had my camera and so under the guise of getting a good shot I left my group to try and make some sort of sense out of all that was happening in my heart. Walking through the piles upon piles of jackets. The winds were also crazy that day adding a poetic touch to the experience as a storm of emotion raged inside me.

There really isn’t much you can do to make sense of it all. I think thats the most frustrating thing for me. There is no apparent solution. Just do what you can to counteract the negative by pouring out yourself in love where you can.

Eventually we loaded up and carried on our way. Silent for the first while as each of us was impacted by the sheer volume of what we had jsut seen. But soon the silence was broken and we were back to chatting. Before heading onward to Sykaminea Camp we wanted to explore the town a bit and find ourselves some lunch.

Molyvos is a beautiful little town and because it was a local holiday we got to take in some sort of a celebration happening in the town square. If anyone can explain to me what is going on here I would appreciate it. There were also people in costumes and such. There are often people in costumes in Greece it seems and I never understand why. Haha

Molyvos also has unreal pita. Definitely a highlight.

After our lunch and tour of the town,  including a super sweet little church we continued onward to our next destination, Sykaminea Camp. Sykaminea Camp is the first place a refugee goes after making the sea voyage from Turkey. At the height of the migrant crisis this place was packed with people and continual activity. When we were there it was still winter in Greece so not many boats were tempting the trek across the sea so it was pretty quiet when we arrived. Located a few hundred yards from the beach you can look out over the ocean from here and see Turkey in the distance. It seems so close but in a dingy overfilled past capacity it must feel like a million miles to cross.

From there we went down to the beach. For me this is where reality of what the refugees face really set in again. This beach is the closest point between Greece and Turkey. Something like 2.5 miles of water is all that separates the two countries and so it is here that the refugees will make the attempt to cross the sea that separates. Two and a half miles doesn’t sound like a lot and really as you look across there is a part of you that says I could make it across.  At the same time with the wind howling and waves crashing, the feel of the cold mist on your skin there is something almost sinister about it at the same time, an underlying understanding that you would not willingly choose to make this trip unless there was no other option. I remember a quote I heard that said “no woman would ever put her child on a boat unless there were no there option” and as I stared across the straight, the gravity of that truth genuinely set in.

Knowing how dangerous it is to cross and hearing the stories of bodies washing ashore from those who did not make it fuelled that same surreal experience. Walking along the beach and coming across the remnant of a boat that hadn’t been cleaned up yet. I say boat but really it was just a fibreglass shell set out across the sea well over capacity. My mind wanders and wonders was this a successful trip or did this shell of a vessel abandon its precious cargo somewhere along the journey. Again my mind wanders, this time to one of the translators description of his journey across. Forced at gunpoint by smugglers onto a dingy with far too many people aboard, supplied with just enough gas to almost get you across, praying that you make it through the freezing cold waters.

Its overwhelming. I am not even sure what I can add.

It was life changing.

 

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The Next Adventure

So things moved pretty fast once I got home. I arrived in Choiceland on Wednesday and barely had enough time to recover from my last adventures when my next was set into motion.

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Photo Credit: Tour Guide Canada
I have been trying to sell my car for over a year now, I had felt it was time to move on from it, and right now I am in the process of setting up a new endeavour that will require greater cargo space.  So I threw it up on Kijiji knowing I’d be back soon and before I even arrived in Choiceland I had a guy wanting to come see it. Friday he showed up cash in hand and within a few minutes I was officially without a car. So long little Focus. You were a great ride!

Not long after an alarming fact hit me. I have no car. Uh oh. In Choiceland, no car, limited budget. This could be interesting. Luckily I had already been perusing Kijiji in search of an appropriate vehicle to create VanLife 2.0. Last summer I spent 6 weeks touring Western Canada living out of this beauty and with some of the adventures I have in development for this summer I was anxious to find a vehicle which I could customize to take the Van Life experience to the next level. 2016-05-12 14.45.02

Last years model was comfortable, great for driving but not really set up as a camper and too nice to destroy by camperizing so I decided to sell it at the end of the season and start from scratch this year.

So, As I said, I had already been looking and had found a few contenders, one of which I had messaged about the previous week and hadn’t heard back from. That is until that Thursday before I sold my car, no wanting to get ahead of myself and not wanting to look to eager I waited to call the guy back but now with the sale of my car complete I needed to get things moving.

But was I really going to buy another van? I live an unusual life, I accept that. Most days anyway. Some days I question my own sanity and really facing another summer living in a van is not exactly conducive to being a grown up and there is a part of me that after 2 years of school and 2 months of vagabonding my way around the world is craving stability. However, let’s be real I am pretty good at quieting that part of my soul. In reality, I just said a prayer, the same one I often say “Lord if you want this to happen make it straight and clear” So I set up a meeting for the next day, convinced my fabulous parents to go for a drive, and early the next afternoon we were on our way. Going in I had preconcieved deal breakers all set in my head. I had a price in my head that I wouldn’t budge above and told myself if I had any reservations I would bail immediately and try to forget about this idea. We got there, checked it top to bottom, needs a windshield, pretty dirty, but the right size for what I want to accomplish and really not in bad shape over all. Turn the key and fires right up, take it for a test drive, shifts nice and has V8 power, not bad at all. OK it passed the reservations test. Let’s talk price – “So what are you looking to get out of it?” “Well, I’d take $2500 for it” CRAP THAT’S EXACTLY THE NUMBER I WANTED. Now I debate pushing him further but really that was the price I felt I was going to pay ahead of time and so my response… “Write it up!”

Well looks like I am doing this! The guy selling turned out to be a pretty good dude too. Runs an importing business bringing in tires and batteries from China, gave me a few tips about the process after I mentioned that my new endeavour involves importing. Pretty cool experience all around.

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So now I have a van! My hours of Pinteresting ideas are about to pay off, but where to start? We stopped at Canadian tire on the way home and I picked up some supplies to start with. They had touch up paint and also a power inverter on sale so I picked those up.

The next morning I went at it making a trip into town to get the necessary supplies to add a bed to my new project. Once home, I started ripping the seats out but what a gong show that became, I ended up ripping all of the trim off of the sides to get to the seat belt bolts. Was missing the right tools to take some of the support plates out. By the time it was getting dark I was sitting semi defeated amidst a pile of rubble. (Displayed in the video below lol) SO I decided to give up for the night and run into town the next day for the right tools.

The next morning I went and got the tool I needed got most of the pieces out and then put the trim back on. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to take it right down to steel or if I should work around what is there for now. Working with what is there is more budget friendly, but stripping it will give a way cooler finished product. So will see, I flip flop on the subject daily ha.

But also that morning I got a call from my old accounting firm and they needed some emergency coverage for tax season and knew I was available, so out of that conversation I ended up with a contract doing tax for a couple weeks. Which on my end is a huge blessing. I live pretty low key financially but its been a while since I have had steady work so this will be a great little boost financially. So since then I have just been in Regina, working my buns off trying to raise the start up capital I need for my next venture.

I have also had a few “interesting” opportunities pop up so stay tuned in the next few days who knows where my next post will be from! haha

Cheers for now

Dave

 

 

Canada – Around the world in 65 Days

65 days ago I took off from Edmonton International Airport on a journey that would see 18 flights through 16 different airports (Edmonton, Toronto, London, Athens, Mytilene, Athens, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Krabi, Bangkok – BKK, Bangkok – DMK, Phuket, Bangkok – DMK, Bangkok – BKK, Shanghai, Vancouver, Abbotsford, Edmonton, Saskatoon) Yesterday when I touched down in Edmonton on my way to Saskatoon I had successfully circumnavigated the world by air! Bucket list – CHECK, haha.

Now as I sit here on my parents couch and reflect on the journey I am absolutely overwhelmed at the entire experience, my heart is full with amazing memories and incredible friends old and new that have journeyed with me along the way. Thank you to each and every one of you, this adventure has been one for the record books. Thank you, Jesus, it is exactly what my Spirit needed after 16 months of beating my brain with academia.

I left Thailand early in the morning on March 31, en route to Vancouver. Along the way though I had a stop over in Shanghai, China. This was the first time I had ever been in China and it was interesting to say the least. First off, because I was only there for about 10 hours I decided not to get a local SIM, this… was a mistake, haha, as the availability of public WiFi was pretty tough to find without one and so Google Maps ended up no use to me. I must admit, it’s a bit alarming at what a crutch Google maps is for me when I travel as without it I was more than a little lost at times, haha. Thankfully, some screen caps and research I had done earlier combined with the help of a friendly concierge at a random hotel I was able to maneuver my way through this adventure unscathed.

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My Shanghai adventure begins with a trip on the MagLev train, a high speed train that got up to 431 KM/h how crazy is that! We were zipping by! And most importantly it turns a long trip downtown into a manageable hour as it took me a good 1/2 to 3/4 of the way down the regular transit path. Arriving downtown I attempted to find a dumping house that a friend had recommended, I wandered for a bit using my screen caps on Maps but in the end this is where I discovered that WiFi for tourists without a local SIM is pretty much not gonna happen, oh well. I wandered some more finally consulting the concierge at the Park Hotel on how to get to the Oriental Pearl which as was only a train stop away thankfully. It definitely was a cool sight, but I didn’t go up as I was being cheap and it was foggy/smoggy anyways so I was not confident on the view I would get from it, that and I was already hungry and should be heading back to the airport soon. So instead I went to a little Ramen place and got some food, which was ok but I got the feeling this was like the McDonald’s of ramen and dumplings so I won’t judge China’s cuisine by it haha. From there I got back on the train and headed back to the airport. I did go the wrong direction for 2 stops first (a pretty typical DaveLife move) but eventually I did make it back to the Maglev and Airport. Onward home!

Arriving home in Canada did not stop my adventures. I got in Friday night and had set myself up at the Holiday Inn Express at the Vancouver Airport, nothing beats a comfy bed after a long flight and to my joy they upgraded me to a King bed, ahhhhh. I instantly crashed, only to be woken at 1am with the jet lag hunger pangs, oi, so there I am searching the hotel for food at 1:30 in the morning, but it is a new hotel so none of that has been set up yet, no room service and not even a vending machine. So there I am ordering and subsequently gorging myself on pizza at like 2:30 in the morning.

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The next day I laid around in my comfy accommodation till check out, hoped back on the airport shuttle to the car rental place and after some minor confusion (FYI Alamo YAY, National Nay), hit the road to North Van to meet up with my buddy Kevin where I would be staying for the night. Looking for a mini adventure Kev had tickets to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and I had never been so off we went! Great little park there, I love BC, it is so green and air so crisp it really is a fabulous place to spend time. (TRAVEL TIP: There is another suspension bridge not to far from here called Lynn Canyon and I believe it is FREE, so if you are not lucky enough to know someone who has tickets to Capilano and are looking for a little more budget friendly experience I would recommend it because as cool as Capilano was I don’t quite see the value of $40 per person)

After, I met up with my friend Alana for a coffee (ALWAYS a delight) before returning to Kev’s for an evening watching sports. You have no idea how much I missed hockey while overseas. Super pumped to come home to my Flames in the playoffs! Haha, way to go boys!!! We did do a little tour of North Van though, man this town is gorgeous! Definitely not opposed to the Lord moving me out here.

The next morning I headed off to Langley, to check out Sunday morning service at Sonrise Church where my buddy Chris is the lead pastor. GREAT SERVICE! Holy Spirit was kicking some butt this morning. Was so grateful to be able to worship with this crew, definitely felt the love.

The next few days, I were spent fighting jet lag, contemplating life and moving my existing blog posts over to this new venue. If you haven’t noticed yet, I was pretty unhappy with Bloggers user interface so have shifted to a WordPress site. Please let me know what you think of the changes. Hopefully this one will work better for all involved. I have really enjoyed blogging and intend to continue, so please click follow down below and make sure you never miss a post ūüôā

Anyways that takes us to yesterday where my touch down in Edmonton completed my circle of the world, and my touch down in Saskatoon ended my journey. Props to my pops for driving the 2.5 hours to Toon town to pick me up.

Thanks everyone for following along and stay tuned for posts sharing all the things I have learned along the way.

Cheers!

Dave

Thailand РBeach and Bangkok Adventures 

Originally posted –¬†April 01, 2017

Well, as I post this, I have just spent my first night back in Canada. AHHHH!!!! So good to be back on home soil. I love to travel but also definitely have a full appreciation of being back where everyone speaks english and I can drink the water. Haha!

The final 3 weeks of my journey were spent across¬†Thailand.¬†I arrived in Krabi and click my brain into arrival mode – bought another new sim, got money and figured out how to actually get to my hotel on Railay Beach as it can only be reached by boat. I figure out the bus/boat system (sort of anyways) buy my ticket an hop aboard. Easy peasy, or so I think…
A good 30 minutes into my trip I am chatting away with my random new friend (I’ve had a lot of those) when the bus pulls over on the side of the highways and the driver yells at me this is my stop, I am very confused as it is the edge of the road, not at a pier which I thought we were going to and there isn’t even any¬†water anywhere in sight which makes no sense to me because I am supposed to be taking a boat the rest of the way. It’s also dark now so that’s not really encouraging me to leave the safety of the bus but he shouts again in broken english that this is my stop so I grab my bags and cross my fingers that he knows better than I do (usually the case). I check in at the little office my bus driver friend was pointing me to and yes he was correct the pier is about 50 yards in from the road, no crisis, whew!

I get the boat ride settled and after a short wait the long boat we are taking arrives and takes us on our journey through the pitch black waters towards Railay. A cool little town I quickly find my hotel, praise Jesus it’s nice, well nice enough, there were some REALLY nasty trip advisor comments so I was concerned but for the cost it was definitely nice enough. I shower and freshen up then decide its time to wander. It’s a very low key town, lots of ¬†little shops but very few people on the whole. I wander the beach front to the end of the board walk where there is a little beach bar where I was able to find a hammock and a cold drink and sit back and listen to the ocean waves crash into shore. Pretty much perfection.

Having enough of the quiet, I left again on search of more adventures, on my previous roaming a promoter in front of the towns night spot “The Last Bar” had stopped me to inform me about live Thai boxing that would be happening that night so I made my way back to it. IT WAS AWESOME! And then to close the night off there were was a fire show, I am super sad that my phone died before I got video as these guys were intense! After that though I was done, bed time for this kid, so back to the hotel for me.

Day 2, I spent wandering the rest of the area, there are 3 beaches each more beautiful than the last, lots of little shops. I figured out where to go rock climbing and where some cool hiking spots were, saw monkeys and also saw what a longboat actually looks like as it had been dark when I climbed aboard the previous night. (They look like a bit like a death trap FYI so I am a bit glad I was kept literally in the dark haha) Spent some time at the beach, by the pool and in my room with the AC (its super hot here) and just generally relaxed, ate some great Thai food, and got a Thai massage. Super chill day. (My favorite kind haha)

 

The 3rd day is where it gets a little dicey unfortunately. I had planned to get up early and do the rock climbing but instead I lazily spent the morning enjoying the last of my AC comfortable living before moving over to my much cheaper but MUCH less comfortable accommodation. Don’t get me wrong I have long held a dream of laying in a hammock on the front of a grass hut near the beach pecking stories into my laptop, so this was very much my choice, but I knew I would miss the AC. Leaving just before noon I got to my hut and moved in, very simple just a bed and a shelf, bathroom with “basic” plumbing (a cold water line to a sink, a shower head and a bucket which was to act as the toilets tank). Lots of creepy crawlies but it had a fan and a mosquito net, ¬†so I would be fine. ¬†After grabbing lunch I was hit with a restless mood so decided I would spend the afternoon hiking up to the lookout and lagoon. I was told it was beautiful and it definitely was, but the hike itself, wow! It was not what I had expected. One of the toughest I have done, but totally worth the efforts as you can see from the pictures.

Fantastic adventure… Check! But, this is when the dicey starts. About 3/4 of the way back down the trail I start feeling “off” I just assumed I was dehydrated, ¬†I had drank a water before I left but this was a tough hike so I was pretty low on fluid. Anyways, I decide to forgo wandering the caves which were just down the trail a way and head back in search of water. I get back to my hut, get water, rest in my hammock but progressively and quickly deteriorate. I am still not sure if it was the food from lunch or the heat that sent me spiralling, perhaps a combination of both, but the next 12 hours would be spent with the porcelain throne my body fully rejecting anything and EVERYTHING I had put in it. Legit Hell. Being sick is bad, being sick in a smelly foreign country all alone in a hot bamboo hut with no real plumbing, that was just the worst (great literary term, I know) by the next morning I had enough so I messaged my friend Niamh in Bangkok. I had previously planned to stay with her the following week but she took pity on my sorry soul and invited me to come earlier. The girl is a God¬†send, a legitimate hero. I did temporarily feel ok for a bit of that day an opportunity I used to go find nausea meds, but it would seem that I over did it and ended up paying for puking in an alley just before my hotel. (TMI? sorry) The meds did help over all but I had had enough of that muggy smelly little town (Sick David has a bad attitude lol) and caught a boat out the next morning even though my flight wasn’t until afternoon. Thankfully the airport was and I found a quiet corner and just sat and waited for my flight.

I got to Bangkok about the same time Niamh was getting off work so I was able to connect with her at the Metro station near her place. There I just basically rested the next couple days watching A LOT of Netflix (How to make a murderer is freaking creepy, yo) Back on my feet my days in Bangkok have been spent using the condo’s office space to work on a project I have on the go for when I arrive back in Canada, relaxing by the pool and using the gym, Asia knows how to set their tenants up right thats for sure. Like myself Niamh enjoys an active social life so most evenings have been spent out for dinners and drinks with friends from Bangkok and across the world. One restaurant called Above Eleven is located on a rooftop patio of one of the sky scrapers, the view was tremendous.
I also did a lot of mini adventures, toured around Chatachuk market one Saturday morning, wandered the crazy huge malls that are in Bangkok, as well as founds some cool coffee shops. I even went and had a suit custom made for me. (Best decision ever!)

It also sounds funny but one of my favorite Bangkok adventures was my trip to see the Logan movie. The theatre had these crazy big comfy seats and the lobby looked super classy I felt like I was going to see a play on broadway or something. Was SUPER cool.

My friend Darren from my university days also lives here. He was a party promoter at one point so he took me out the first Friday I was here and showed me the night life. This place gets crazy thats for sure, there was a time in my life when I would have gotten into a lot of trouble in this town haha. Nowadays however… ¬†we were home by 11. #oldmen
Last weekend Niamh and I met a couple of her friends from teaching at a resort in Phuket called the Cassia. Gorgeous place, I have discovered that I much prefer nice hotels to grass huts near the beach. Amazing what you find out about yourself when you travel haha. It was a great time Mitch and Rachel were great to hangout with and had an awesome little dude who helped keep things interesting. We did a workout on paddle boards at the beach as a group from Niamh’s gym was there the same time. And I got a nasty sunburn, but hey cant win em all!

 

 

The final week there I spent a lot of time in the office working on my new project but I did manage a few adventures! It was Niamh’s birthday, so we went out with her work friends for that and then for my last night in town we went SURFING! Little known fact one of my biggest disappointments for my trip was when I discovered that there was no surf this time of year in Thailand, I mean what is the point of having an ocean if you can’t surf it, seems like such a waste ūüėõ So this for me WAS AMAZING! I want one of these machines in my back yard. It like shoots water up from the bottom simulating a wave, definitely different to ride but was so much fun, I wish I had more than an hour with it lol and didnt want to share :-P. ¬†On the way home we stopped at a Bangkok landmark that is about to be torn down, Cheap Charlie’s is a little dive bar just off Soi 11, it has no walls just a rope that separates the “bar” from the street, its always packed too, partially because the rent was super low so he passed the savings on to his patrons I think. Anyways, the entire area block is being torn down to make room for a new condo (tonnes of new development around here) this week so end of an era. The final Bangkok adventure was a tuk tuk ride the rest of the way home, lol just a few blocks but I had to get in one at least once.

And from there I went home, finished packing ,and hopped an UBER to the airport first thing the next morning. So long Thailand, HELLO CANADA!!!

Malaysia – Dave Life Squared

Originally Posted –¬†March 27, 2017

Upon my departure from Istanbul, I made my way through Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur to my next destination РPenang, Malaysia. 

Within moments of my arrival to Malaysia, I had a new SIM card, pocket full of Malaysian cash and was ready for adventures! The first of which was my very first UBER ride. Yes, I realize I am one of the few people to never have used this service before but man was I impressed. As a traveller I am always nervous in a new city, there are way too many stories of getting ripped off by cabbies at the airport. UBER let me watch the entire drive towards my destination with their real time map, talk about piece of mind. Add in the fact that it was about $10 for a 45 minute drive across the city and we will call that a win. 

Touring around on the back of Dave’s bike, snapping pics as I went

Post UBER experience I arrived at my friends Dave, Tasha and family’s condo which was big, beautiful and way less to rent than mine back home, these expat guys are doing something right I think haha. After getting settled, Dave took me out to a great Chinese place for ¬†dinner and then we just hung out at cool spot on the beach and caught up. Why am I eating Chinese food in Malaysia? Fun Fact: there is a tonne of Chinese influence on Penang as they have heavily invested in the area.

Most of my next day was spent relaxing in Dave’s pool while he worked. The downtime was good as there is a lot to process on this trip. It’s an odd season of life and floating in a pool in a tropical climate is definitely welcomed as I sort out the next moves of my life. We did meet up with a friend of Dave’s for lunch and had awesome bbq steaks and satay for dinner so the day wasn’t without any adventure.

The next morning we went a bit more touristy. Ate breakfast near Dave’s son’s school, I forget the name of what we ordered but it was some Malay dish. After we went the “Wet Market” basically a farmers market/butcher shop, all the fruits and veggies of a typical farmers market but also dead chickens, pigs, fish (I don’t remember if there was beef or not) all being cut up and served direct to customer. Pigs ears hanging from the stalls, fully plucked chickens with their heads still attached, was definitely a sight, but we got our order of chicken breasts and carried on. After dropping off our groceries and a quick stop at home we were off to meet with another connection of Dave’s who is an expat working in the area, was great to hear his experiences as he works with a missions organization throughout South East Asia. ¬†After lunch Dave and I scooted off on his motorbike down to the Georgetown area of Penang, this is an older hippy vibed area that has a bunch of street art. We toured around on a pedal cart and I will do a separate post later with all the art pictures I took as there were a lot. We ended the tour with some delicious cake at a cool spot called China House, sugary goodness for sure. I can’t remember the name of the spot we had dinner that night, I want to call it AVA but not sure. It was cool though, lots of food stalls all in a lot, which let you choose what you wanted that evening, lots of very strange choices and I of course chose something that I had no idea how to pronounce, haha. All in all a super fun filled day!

My last day, we went out for Nazi kandar for lunch, basically a Malaysian form of Indian food. Definitely delicious and like everything else here super cheap. After lunch we spent some time at the mall which I wandered while Dave ran errands, found a very cool marketing exhibit for the LOGAN movie which I will also post separately later. The rest of the day was low key as Dave needed to prep for a speaking engagement he had on the weekend, so I hit up some floating in the pool and then after dinner checked out the night market. Night market was cool lots of little shops selling knock offs of all sorts, picked up¬†a sweet pair of “Raybans”, found a barber and got a fresh cut, and closed it off by finding a Starbucks and strolling my way down the beach.¬†
The next morning I hopped another UBER to the airport and was Railay¬†Beach bound ūüôā

Istanbul – Ramblings from the Journey

Ramblings about Istanbul!

I am not the best travel blogger it would seem. I am loving the adventures that I am on but finding time to share stories along the way is proving to be difficult. Any bloggers with tips out there please share! haha.

Here is a bit though on my adventures through Istanbul, five days in this super cool city was not enough. I will definitely have to come back someday.

The Blue Mosque

On the completion of my Greek adventure, the more personal travel portion of my excursion began. First stop being Istanbul, you hear Istanbul in the news a lot lately often in an unfavourable light thanks to the attempted coup and some bombings that have occurred in the city in past year. So to start I will say this, never at any point did I feel even remotely unsafe. It was a beautiful city with beautiful people an absolute delight to experience from beginning to end. Thanks so much to Danny and Alycia for having me you guys are the greatest.

I arrived late in the evening on the 1st and to my surprise, friends from Regina, Nathan and Amanda were expected shortly after me. Unfortunately, the shortly portion of that statement was negated by heavy fogs on the city which delayed their flight by a few hours. Hours which I did get to put to good use catching up with Danny who was gracious enough to come and meet us all at the airport. It was awesome catching up and was great to get a first hand account of some of the craziness that we hear about in the news. Not to mention the unique perspective he holds from being a Christian in a dominantly Muslim country. Truly an enlightening evening. Though very veeeeery long wait, by the time got home it was 4:30 am needless to say I crashed hard when we arrived.

Waking late the next morning we just kind of hung out till the afternoon when Danny introduced me to Istanbul transit and we adventured downtown to the Kadikoy area. Ok, I say adventured, but for Danny this is just everyday life. Regardless, we crammed on to a crowded bus and started our hour long journey to meet Danny’s Turkish tutor in a sweet little coffeeshop in Kadikoy. Kadikoy is kind of the trendy waterfront area, theres a lot happening around here lots of people coming and going. It reminded me of Times Square in a lot of ways. (I found that a lot of Istanbul has parallels to New York, at least in my mind and experience) Anyways, we met up with Mahmet the tutor, an awesome Turkish guy who loves sports and laughs a lot, seemed like a real genuine dude. They dialogued back and forth, mostly in Turkish while I enjoyed a deeeeeelicious coffee. (The Turks do java well) After, we met up with and I actually got to meet my roommate from the previous night, Cole. (Neither of us had actually been awake at the same time in the house yet) Good guy, on his own random adventure. Anyways, we hoped the bus back to Danny’s for dinner and shut er down for an early night.

Kadikoy

The next day was tourist time, Danny was busy so Cole, Myself, Nathan and Amanda, and Mose (one of my friends from EuroRelief who ended up on a long stop over) all took to the streets on our own. To start Cole and I had to meet up with Nathan and Amanda while we were waiting something crazy occurred…

There we are sitting in front of Starbucks when right beside us pops out from behind a van my friend Sean from Saskatchewan! How on earth do you meet someone randomly in a city of 15 million people. I knew he was there and all but we had yet to connect any kind of meeting, just boom there he was haha, so WILD!

Anyways, Sean goes onward to his meeting, Amanda and Nathan show up and we grab some doner from a little shop (SOOOO GOOD) also happen across a film shoot of some sort. After our stomachs are filled we head out on the ferry across to the European side of the city in search of adventures!

First stop, the Blue Mosque, (that’s the building in the first picture up top) we meet Mose in the courtyard out front, and proceed to the queue inside, make friends with the random American girl ahead of us, proceed inside and are absolutely taken aback by this marvellous work. I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

From there we would make our way cross the street to the Aya Sofia. Another stunning building the Aya Sofia was built by Constantine as a church but was later turned into a mosque when Islam became the dominant religion and all of the mosaics were covered over. It has since been turned into a museum and the plaster covering the mosaics are being removed to reveal the beautifully preserved mosaics.

Funny story about getting in though…

As we arrive to the Aya Sofia we are met by a LONG line up, obviously looking disheartened a sketchyish looking an calls out to us “You pay cash?” “yes yes we pay cash” “Come, Come, $200 lira, come come” he hurries us toward the front of the line, everyones SCAM radar is going off hard, mine included as he basically pushes us forward while demanding 200 lira, scanning the ticket office as we rush past I notice that it is in fact 40 lira a ticket, 40 x 5 = 200 ok at least the amount is right, my mind justifies. “200 lira you pay me total, pay each other after” he rushes our decision. Not wanting to get scammed but not wanting to wait an hour in a queue I jam 200 lira in his hand grab the tickets and move quickly towards the gate trying in vain to keep my eyes on this random dude who was either our time saviour or just scammed me out of 200 lira. We get to the gate and the tickets… the tickets work! Awesome! Queue avoided, hour saved, thanks so much random sketchy dude.

Inside, well I’ll let the pictures speak again, this place was just… WOW!

Isn’t¬†that amazing! But we aren’t done yet. Onward to the Spice Market! This place was crazy! Shop upon shop of nuts, oils, and candies, but not just any candy… Turkish Delight. Which each shop owner claims his to be the best and shoves it in your face to try. Lol. I actually don’t understand how they actually make any money as within 10 minutes of being there I had probably “tested” a dozen pieces of the various flavours of Delight and had a fully satiated any craving I held for sweets.
After touring the market a bit, gaining an education on Turkish Delight we met Danny and was time to close our evening with one final adventure — DINNER. Dinner tonight would be at a chain type restaurant that specialized in and I think only sold a dish called Iskander. Basically beef on bread, covered in tomato sauce, served doused in butter with a side of yogurt. Heart stoppingly delicious!

The next morning, Danny, his kids, Cole and I would do some local exploring. Climbing (ok we took a cab) to the top of the hill near Danny and Alycia’s home. The views from up here were spectacular! The photos don’t do it justice. This is such a beautiful city! We had a very Turkish at the restaurant that was up on the hill and made our way home. The afternoon was spent celebrating Danny’s tutor and friend Mahmet as it was his birthday. A bunch of us just hung out and laughed for a few hours, was great for me too as my friend Sean is also one of Mahmet’s students so we got to connect for a bit. We also took Mahmet for Chinese food, a huge step for this man devoutly Turkish culinary tastes. But he did great, even tried some sushi. (Couldn’t get him to try the eel though, maybe next time) Anyways thats all just to show you don’t have to adventure half way across the world to put a little adventure into your life ūüėČ
And that my friends is my Turkish highlight reel.

Till next time

D

this one has actually been picked away by visitors as there is gold in the mosaics
there is a mirror above the door that reflects the previous image, I forget the significance of this though

Istanbul – The Next Adventure

To the next adventure and my life’s journey

Originally posted –¬†March 03, 2017

So I started this post just as I took off from Greece. I have now arrived in Istanbul, Turkey spent a looooong night in the airport waiting for delayed friends and a groggy day in the city experiencing it from the point of view of Canadians living there to learn language and culture. Today I’ll be playing the tourist so watch good ole Instagram for my pics (#davelife). It’s already proven to be a beautiful city with incredible people, I can not wait to dive deeper.

istanbul

I can without reservation now state that this trip was the correct decision. My time on Lesvos was some of the most heart wrenching, exhausting, awesomeness that I have ever experienced. The opportunity to work along side the team at EuroRelief is one that I will cherish indefinitely. My only regret is that I wish that I had planned to stay longer. I started this journey a month ago relatively unsure that I was making a correct decision but excited for the adventure.  On the outside I maintained confidence and verbally rationalized my decision with ease, on the inside I was far less secure.

I also expected to develop vision for the career path that I am supposed to take. So far however I only have more questions. I keep waiting for a road sign to show up in front of me or the right door to swing open; instead I just have another piece of a bigger puzzle to ponder, and a little voice inside saying “Stay the path”. So as I continue to ponder my future please keep me in your thoughts and prayers (they are always appreciated). I know that the veil will lift eventually, it always does. haha

D

Greece – The Aqueduct Adventure

Originally posted – March 20, 2017

This was a great day. Most of my posts so far have been about the camp and the people that have been a part of my journey and how they affected me. Along the way, in amongst all the hard work and relationships being built I have also had a few fantastic opportunities to be a part of some incredible experiences. As most of you are aware I am an avowed lover of random adventure, I tend to not know what I am doing until I am doing it haha. This day would prove to be no exception…

Our adventure begins the day before as I picked up the rest of the Panagiouda Crew from working the night shift an experience I not so unfortunately missed out on during my time in Moria. (not sure who to thank, Marianna for her scheduling I guess, but anyways I am definitely grateful haha — David is too old for all nighters) During our drive home it was discussed that we all had the following day off and as such an adventure was in order.

The next day I followed up with them to see what was up and within 30 minutes we had a hike planned. Steph and Dusting had driven by random sign along the highway on their previous days adventures that looked like it was a map of hiking trails so they pinned it and we had just been recruited to see where it lead. LOVE IT.

Loaded in the van shortly after we were on our way. Armed only with google maps and an appetite for adventure we toured our way down the winding Lesvos highway towards the pin. As we got closer we noticed a sign that read something about an aqueduct… INTRIGUING but we carried on towards where they had set the pin and finally found the sign they had previously passed.

The sign itself outlined several trails which undoubtedly were beautiful adventures of their own. This entire island is full of the most beautiful landscapes, hilly and filled with lush olive groves, it is truly a sight to be seen. But our eyes all gravitated to one path in particular… the Roman Aqueduct.

Now if I am honest, I had ZERO idea what a Roman Aqueduct looked like or would be but I had a suspicion that it was old, stone, big and most likely VERY COOL, making it easy to sell me on the idea. We circled back to where we had seen the original sign and began our trek into the unknown.

Like everything else in this country, hike towards the Aqueduct was stunning, winding around a small river valley the journey itself was amazing to behold. The quiet of nature, the crispness in the the air and, of course, fantastic company holding great conversation. Though not without any trials, it was super muddy and Sam ended up doing the hike barefoot (2 hours through mud sans shoes thats more than I could have done) but I am sure glad he did because I would have hated for him to miss what we came upon.

As we  travelled further down the path we would get our first glimpses of this marvellous site. Standing for legitimately hundreds of years this astonishing feat of ancient architecture was completely awe inspiring.

As we got closer I felt a little like we were characters in the Lord of the Rings or something, heroes in the midst of an ancient epic quest.

I also learned, for the record, the Romans used aqueducts to move water from the island’s hills into the city’s below. Often they would have to cross a valley to do so and in that these epic aqueducts were built to span the gorge.

I don’t actually know what else to say about this experience. It was humbling and strangely satisfying to be that close to such an enduring piece of history. I was visiting with friends last night discussing our various travels and they were talking about visiting the Coliseum in Rome and the feelings they felt walking in such historically rich setting and I feel like thats a good explanation of how I felt here. I think as humans we have a deeply entrenched desire for legacy that we can too often overlook in our concerns for the here and now and so when we experience this level of physical endurement we cannot help but be somewhat awed by it.

Lol anyways consider that David’s deep thought for the day.

I am also still trying to get some of the footage that Dustin took with his drone. I have a feeling that it would give an even deeper understanding of how incredible this structure is, that photos cant even accurately capture. I’ll post it up, if and when I do.

Until Next time

D

Greece – The Panagiouda Crew

I had to do this post if only to give some honour to the people who made my time in Greece an incredible adventure. I met a tonne of new friends while I was there but this crew and I seemed to have a unique bond, it was like having an instant family. You guys were a blast and totally have a special place in my heart!

From Left to Right: Brit, Steph, Me, Dustin, Sam, Chad

The Wise’s

Dustin Wise – The tall, blonde, surfer dude with a heart of gold. The guy just loves on people, you watch him interact with people you know that he just loves them. Caring, genuine and comfortable he’s one of those guys that you meet for 5 minutes and feel like you have always known. He’s also super talented and creative so if you need a wedding videographer in Cali, look buddy up!

Steph Wise – Dustin’s lovely wife, Steph has a curiosity for adventure. She knows the right questions to ask and is always asking locals and researching what to see and where to eat. She’s responsible for and receives photo cred for the incredible shot of me on the roman aqueduct below. Like myself, she’s an ideas person blessed with vision to use her skills and abilities to help others and has the mind/spirit to make those visions a reality. God has already done some pretty cool things through her and I can not wait to hear what world changing adventure she goes on next.

The Roman Aqueduct we visited, seriously worth the hike!

The Mennonites

Sam, Brittany, and Chad – This trio would be an incomplete package if any one of them were missing. The comic genius that spouts from their mouths, playing off each other, cracking one liners at every opportunity guaranteed a smile on my face every time they were around. I also learned more about Mennonite culture than I ever even knew existed. Three absolute gems.

Sam – Potentially one of the funniest guys I have ever met. Loves God, music, Freeda espressos (did I say that right) and people and probably in that order. He has a strength of character that is impressive for a guy so young. His eye for adventure and willingness to serve are going take him to amazing places. He also loves to tell a good story, which he will have a good one when he tells his fgriends back home about walking miles in bare foot to see a roman aqueduct and not wanting to muddy his shoes. ūüôā

Brittany – My favourite line from Brittany “Sam, I just repeat what you say” and being that she does so at the most opportune moments made her hilarious. Sam’s randomness¬†+ Brit’s timing = PURE GOLD I’ll just leave it like that. She also totally has a servant heart and was quick to volunteer on camp no matter what the task at hand was.

Chad – Sam’s best friend and proverbial straight man, (also Brittany’s brother)¬†¬†Sam would be far less funny without Chad, these two are a package deal. Far more subdued than Sam, Chad is more about impact than volume but his value to this crew as a whole was unmistakable.

And more!

Hack – Probably the most laid back guy I have ever met. His sense of peace makes even me look high strung, I didn’t think that was possible Ha! A hard worker and a born leader he accepted responsibility to take leadership with humility and attentive care. While I saw other Compound Supervisors spend a lot of time at the office, on his shifts Hack stayed out with the crew making sure everyone was covered and even the smallest of hiccups attended to. Truly it was an honour to serve alongside this man of God.

Vahid – Dude, you were only there for part of it but I love your heart, man! Keep letting Jesus take you on adventures.

Hallah – Unfortunately Hallah ended up on the opposite shift of the rest of us when the most exciting stuff was happening. Which is sad because she’s this amazing woman who always made it clear she was there with us in spirit even though not often in person.

I could go on and on. The people at EuroRelief were awesome, the girls at the Mytilene Apartment made my mornings so bright as I had the honour of picking up their joyful smiley faces each morning. ¬†The EuroRelief staff are such a solid group too. (Elton I honour you for the hours you put in that go above and beyond your job description. You may not think people notice it but they definitely do, you’re doing great things man). The shift leaders – SO IMPRESSED! Young women and men getting things done in some intense situations. WOW. I don’t think you understand how rare you are. All the YWAMers and i58 crew, brief moments crossing paths but great conversations all over the place.

The Translators – These guys are refugees who are giving their time to help EuroRelief do our job. They get limited perks and put up with a lot of flack, but really its my interactions with these dudes that complete changed the word “refugee” in my heart and mind. It was an honour to work along side of them.

I probably missed someone important. I usually do, so if you are like hey what about me, know it was awesome to meet you, and thank you all for being part of my journey.

David

 

 

Greece – Life at Moria

Hey, thanks so much for checking out my blog! 2017 has already been amazing for me, I spent a month in Greece and another month traveling my way back to Canada. I blogged my way through it but they were on my other site, in an effort to keep everything in one spot, I have moved all my posts here! Hope you enjoy!

4 shifts left!!!! **tear**

I am finally taking a second to write and I cannot believe that I only have 4 shifts left! ūüė© That seems so unbelievably crazy to me. It has been a full few weeks and has gotten to the point where in many ways I feel like this place is a part of me. The work is exhausting both physically and emotionally but the people and the community that comes with it are equally beautiful and fulfilling.

2017-02-15 14.36.08¬†In most of my travels it’s the dichotomy of the situations I get myself into that often impacts me the most and Greece has been no exception. Here we have this beautiful country with thrilling landscapes around every corner and in the middle of it all is the Moria Refugee Camp, a military base and very prisonesque, which currently¬†houses 2,000 or so men from around the world as they anxiously await their decision on asylum. A place many understood¬†would be a few day stop on their journey¬†to a promised land but has become their home for months, gradually and continually deteriorating the hope they once held.

I haven’t posted a lot unfortunately mostly because I come home exhausted and get up with just enough time to hit the pavement for another day. But partially because being here has required a lot of processing and I want to be careful not to unintentionally paint a darker picture of the experience than it deserves. Like most things in life it is often easier to lose sight of the great things that2017-02-06 17.03.48 are occurring as they fade behind the issues we face.
My role at EuroRelief is different everyday it seems which is a bit of an adventure in itself but lets me see if I can list a few of the more dominant roles I have played.
  1. Security – My first days and a couple times this last week I spent watching gates, this is just a security tool for the residents making sure that people who aren’t housed on the level aren’t getting on, it also means distributing food to the different rooms, but mostly it is just hanging out with the guys, speaking broken English/Farsi/Arabic/French etc and laughing at their antics. I also find this a great opportunity to set spiritual atmosphere and in my heart I pray hope over each of them as they come in and out of the gate. It is also often super quiet so I get a lot of reflection here too. It can also be a bit crazy as people are being¬†moved around the camp constantly in an effort to manage the housing at the camp.
  2. Driver – For a time I was the only volunteer with an international license so that kind of solidified my role as a driver for the volunteers. It adds time to my day which if you’ve been here would likely have heard me complain about, and if you’re doddling at the end of your shift have likely experienced #GrumpyDave but all in all the role really added to my experience. I get to spend time with most of Euro’s volunteers and as a result have been blessed to experience first hand¬†the awesome hearts and spirits of these people who are truly an exceptional bunch.
  3. Warehouse personnel – I tried to make myself sound¬†fancy but really I just move boxes, and boxes, and boxes, oh and then some pallets ūüėõ Managing clothing is one of EuroReliefs roles on the camp and in the ever continuing efforts to improve processes they have been doing a lot of work wit2017-02-16 11.13.55h organizing the donations they receive. And then in the middle of it all they received 24 pallets of winter gear and have to sort what is worth keeping for next year (as it is spring here now) and what to get rid of. Let me tell ya that was a fun few days haha but with a view like below its tough to complain too much.
  4. Info Staff – Sounds simple… hahaha not so much, this is where daily random adventures begin. Yes it can be slow at times but more often than not the words “I need someone for a job” ring out from the shift leader and you get drafted in for an adventure. Usually, it involves moving people from one housing unit to another or checking some simple information or tracking down a resident, but other times the adventure is much greater. ¬†One of my favourites was the distribution of 120 bunkbeds into the big tents. Prior to this the guys were sleeping on the floor so you would expect that actual beds would be greeted with joy. Not so much though as many of these guys had built quite comfortable quarters for themselves and were not excited to destroy2017-02-15 14.38.58 their current accommodation to make room for the new. Add in some trust issues that the beds were actually coming and the short notice and boom EXCITEMENT haha. Once they saw the beds and we started bringing them in MORE EXCITEMENT as we can only bring in 10 at a time and theres always a bit of concern that not everyone will get one. And then once word has gotten out that the area has beds others who aren’t supposed to be in the tent have come in to try and lay claim to them creating a shortage. MORE EXCITEMENT. But like most things in Moria the excitement is short lived and the next day everything had returned to calm. These men live in a state of limbo so I understand completely why they get upset when things get shaken a bit as they are simply trying to hold on to any resemblance of a normal life.
So thats a brief look at my day to day. I’ll try and post again in the next few days as my processing of this experience continues. I head to Turkey on Wednesday which will allow me some recuperation time as well as an opportunity to dialogue with friends outside the situation which will undoubtedly provide new levels of revelation.
I also NEED to do a post specifically devoted to my Panagiouda Crew! My trip would not have been complete with out these guys they are truly kindred spirits to my adventurous heart and I have been so ABSOLUTELY blessed to have them in my life.
As this chapter closes I definitely do not want to leave though. I have gotten to see a change in Moria over the past few weeks and am proud for my tiny part in it. There is so much brokenness but as things are improving my hope is the men will see the hope ahead as well.
Please continue to pray for Moria, for the hearts of the men inside who fight hopelessness, for our world leaders to see refugees as an opportunity not a penance, for the workers in the field that energy would hold for the ones who are here and more would answer the call to this incredible experience.
Chat Soon
D