Bucket List: Volcano Mud Bath, St. Lucia

Dunking myself in warm, scratchy mud was at the top of my list when I headed to the island of St. Lucia. It might seem counterproductive to take a bath in mud, but the effects on your skin are truly amazing! Soufriere is one of the world’s only “drive-in” volcanoes, meaning exactly that. Instead of hiking up a volcano you can drive your car right up and into the volcano itself, parking the car and going by foot to get up close and personal.

The drive to Soufriere is breathtaking, with the road winding through the mountains and giving you incredible views of the Pitons. As soon as you enter the fishing town of Soufriere, you’re hit with the unmistakable scent of rotten eggs — the tell-tale sign that a sulphur spring is nearby. With our local host guiding the way, we walked up to look over the bubbling pools of volcanic mud, steam rising into the air around us.




A few years earlier, tourists were allowed to actually walk amongst these active pools but this has been prohibited ever since an employee fell through the hollow ground, burning the majority of his body. Luckily, he survived and can now be found working in one of the many resorts on St. Lucia, safely away from hot volcanic mud.

Seeing the pools of mud bubbling up from the ground was good, but the real treat of our trip up to the volcano was obviously the mud bath. If ever there is a chance to do something weird like rubbing mud all over myself, holding boa constrictors around my neck, or taking a shot of green water from a lake full of asphalt, I’ll do it. Especially if there’s rumors of healing properties or good luck.


So, it was off with our clothes and into the mud for us! But wait, you don’t just dive right in. First, you scoop fistfuls of mud and rub it all over your body as it seeps out between your fingers. The mud is hot to the touch but cools as you continue to a nice feeling of warmth. It’s an added natural exfoliator thanks to the bits of crushed rocks in there.




Once you’re nice and covered, take a seat or stand and chat, laughing with strangers at how weird you look — especially those who cover their face — until the mud starts to dry on your skin and turn a lighter shade of grey. Then, despite it already being well over 30 degrees Celsius outside, you go on to lower yourself into muddy water that is about the temperature of hot tea, or around 40-45 degrees Celsius. It’s a little hot as first (as you can see by my reaction!) but you quickly get used to it.

Lounging in the water is really quite nice and super relaxing. Your muscles instantly relax and you suddenly feel a very strong urge to take a nap. As you float in the water, the mud will slowly come off your skin but you’ll want to help it out. Chances are no matter how much you scrub, you’ll discover some dried mud on yourself or caked in your hair a few hours later, even after you’ve rinsed off in the showers available.



Once you’ve spent enough time playing in the mud, you might want to check out one of the nearby waterfalls! Who doesn’t love a good waterfall, am I right?


Whirlwind Travel in BARBADOS

I am so excited to announce that I am starting my new year off in a big way! A few months ago I was accepted to do a study abroad experience for my final semester of my degree. Studying abroad has been a dream of mine since I was thirteen but after being told study abroad opportunities were slim in my university program, I had put the idea out of my mind until I received an email in the summer presenting two international study abroad options. I didn’t even have to think about whether or not I wanted to go, it was an instant yes in my mind. The only question was which option to pick: Australia or Barbados?

Each option held a number of great reasons to go and I could think of no downfall to either. In the end, I chose to apply for the Barbados program. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, I have a rough plan of what I want to do there/how long I want to stay and I know that eventually, I’ll get myself there. On the other hand, I had never given much thought to traveling the Caribbean and I knew that if I didn’t snatch up this opportunity now then I would probably never see the islands it has to offer.

The application process was a constant alternation of rushing madness as I tried to get all the documents needed to hand in on a short time frame, a long and anxious pause, and more rushing madness as the next hoops to jump through presented themselves. Over the course of three months I applied, received a phone call of acceptance, sent in a whole bunch of documents, letters, more applications, and was finally accepted to live in a hall of residences at their university.

I have thirteen days left before I board my flight that will take me away from the bitter cold Edmonton air and drop me in Bridgetown, Barbados. I’ll be gone for a semester, so roughly four months. While I’ve been away from home for longer periods of time than that, I have never spent four months in a single place. During those four months, I’m going to be working at a full-time social work placement (details to come, as of now it’s still a surprise!) in the local community and attending a seminar in the local university.

As this will be a new experience for me and having never been to the surrounding areas before, I have a small list of goals and intentions for this trip.

Study Abroad Goals and Intentions

  • ¬†Be open minded — take in the culture and way of life with an open mind and join in!
  • Make friends with the locals — as I’m doing a practicum there and will be living with other students, I’m hoping this won’t be too difficult. Learning from the locals is the best way to explore a new place.

  • Try new things — this is everything from foods to activities. I want to push myself to do things that I might not do while at home. I want to be open to all of the new experiences this opportunity is going to bring me.
  • Balance — balance school and fun so that I don’t get overwhelmed by everything that’s going on.
  • Explore! — I have evenings and weekends off for myself and I plan on using this time to thoroughly explore Barbados but also the surrounding islands (especially St. Lucia and Aruba!)


It’s a new adventure and one that I’m embracing with open arms.
I’m also excited about having some real content for this space, so stay tuned for more posts, photos, etc.

Have you been to Barbados? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Exploring Grotto Canyon

With the crisp winter chill in the air and impending snow on the horizon, I’ve been reminiscing about warm summer days and breezy autumn afternoons – an afternoon hike in particular. Like any well organized individual, I had a summer bucket list. Hiking was the last remaining and after my recent hike in the mountains I was finally able to cross that off the list as well (even if it is technically not summer anymore).

I tagged along with my roommate on a recent Saturday morning and after throwing on our hiking clothes and grabbing bottles of water, we took off down the highway to a spot surrounded by the mountains. Taking us just about an hour and a half to complete, this was a pretty easy hike that is also suitable for families wanting to take their children along. Parking is available at the start of the trail at Grotto Pond; washrooms available as well (after just over an hour’s drive and a lot of tea drinking on the way, this was a glorious discovery. No squatting in the bush for us that day!)

After navigating through the trees and up a few inclines, we reached the canyon. From there on out it involved a combination of hopping over the streams, going from boulder to boulder, and most of the walking is on loose stones.

grotto creek trail

Grotto Pond

Grotto Pond1

The canyon walls tower above as you make your way through. If you’re a rock or ice-climbing enthusiast, this is a popular place to do both of these depending on the season. Another unique part of this particular hike is the Indigenous pictographs that can still be seen on one of the canyon walls. Pictographs of people and animals can be clearly seen if you know where to look (a mother-daughter team pointed them out to us) and are said to be between 500-1000 years old. You can make out the images in red below, what looks like a canoe in the top photo and 3-4 people in the bottom photo.

pictograph of a canoe

pictograph of people

The end of the hike is marked by a little waterfall running down from the top of the canyon walls. You can choose to climb up the rocks near the top of the waterfall or you can just admire it from the base before turning around and making your way back the way you came. The waterfall is also a good place to take a rest and have a little picnic! However, if you want to keep going the canyon does continue on to the left. We chose to end it at the waterfall but I would definitely go back and continue on my way.

grotto falls

grotto falls1

Grotto Canyon proved to be a fun little outing on a warm autumn day and we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and feeling so at ease after clearing our minds and connecting with nature. I would say that the only off-putting thing about this hike is that the start is located right next to the Baymag plant, which processes magnesium-carbonate. It’s not really a sight you want to be seeing when you want to be surrounded by nature and in the fresh air. All in all, this is an easy 4km hike to do, doesn’t take too much time, and has some nice views. If you plan on taking the trails during the winter months, please be aware that the canyon will be covered in a thick layer of ice and snow and it is highly recommended that you wear adequate footwear to prevent slipping.



It’s About That Time…

…where people start to think about the next year ahead. New Year’s Resolutions are made, fought for and then often forgotten about. It’s the time of year where you can take another look at your bucket list and make plans to cross off a few things. It’s also a time where you can really stop and think about where you are in your life. The photo below asks us a question that can be intimidating, but life changing.

life questions

Are you really happy or just really comfortable? Is your 9-5 desk job really enriching your life, or are you just there because it pays the bills? Do you really not enjoy that activity that used to make you smile, or have you just forgotten the feeling that went along with it? Are the people in your life really contributing to it or do you find yourself in a crowd and still feel lonely? Are you happy to be in one place, with only a week vacation as your opportunity to travel, or are you longing to be on the move and explore several places over a longer period of time? Are you forcing that smile or that laugh when really, you just don’t give a fuck about whatever that person is talking to you about?

This is the perfect time to look at all of the big areas of your life — work, travel, friends, location, family, education, health — and figure out what’s missing and what’s going well. If you, like my brother, insist that your life is perfect the way it is right now, then good on you and I hope that you continue to do the things you love and that your life continues to be beautiful in 2014!

But, for some of us, there might be one area of your life where you wish there was just something… more. Whether in your professional life, academia, personal life, etc. Since this is a travel blog, you might be a traveler already or maybe you’ve never left the comforts of your home. Whether you take yearly trips or have simply been dreaming of taking the plunge and moving across the country, or backpacking through a new continent, this is your chance to expand on what you already do and to set your thoughts in motion. Leaving your family, friends, and the comforts of your hometown can be scary. You might cry on the plane for two hours (like I did). You might get lost or you might hate the new place you’ve ended up. But you might laugh, you might make new friendships, have great adventures and make memories that you’ll never forget. It might change your entire life, for the better. And if not, you can always come back to the comforts of home.

For myself, this year is all about being as happy and healthy as I can be. I want to be around people that make me smile, finish up my school year with a decent GPA, get to the ocean at least once, and go somewhere I’ve never been before. I hope that 2014 is a wonderful year for all of you and that you take the moment to re-evaluate what you want and what you have, and take the risk to make the changes so that you too can have a beautiful, happy year.

Bucket List: Whitewater Rafting, Check!

The musty smell of a boys’ locker room greeted us as soon as we stepped onto the big yellow school bus. It’s a smell that brings back childhood memories of spending the majority of my days in a hockey rink, whether for my ringette practices and games or for my brother and his hockey. But this wasn’t a rink, it was a yellow school bus in a parking lot surrounded by the mountains of Jasper National Park. The back was stocked with wet suits and water booties of all sizes and everyone had eager looks on their face. After spending the previous day lounging at Lake Annette, this yellow school bus was about to take us to the starting point of our whitewater rafting expedition.

The bus ride was full of ups, downs and windy turns before finally coming to a stop. It didn’t take long before everyone was decked out in wetsuits, life jackets and booties. A quick photo was taken and then we headed down to the rushing water of the Athabasca River.

Getting ourselves organized

We spent about an hour floating down 13km of water. We only did a Class II level as we had a few nervous nellies and my younger cousin on board and although there were a few long stretches of too-calm waters for my liking, there were a few rapids that had some of us laughing, some paddling frantically, and others screaming as the water rushed up and over us all.

Having a good time on the water.

Getting soaked!

We chose to go rafting with Jasper Rafting Adventures and everyone agreed that they had a fantastic experience. For $64.00 per person, you get a 3-hour round trip and one of the Jasper Rafting Adventures staff takes photos throughout the ride that you can choose to purchase. If you decide that you want to check out this company, you can check out their website here or go personally and find them on Connaught Drive in the town of Jasper.

Our guide, Andre, was born and raised in Jasper. Whatever question we shot at him, he had an answer. Funny, reassuring, and knowledgeable about the area, Andre made sure that everyone in the raft felt safe, comfortable, and provided us with interesting fun facts about everything that we were looking at. By the time our rafting adventure came to an end, we all agreed that we would do it again but next time we want rougher waters!

And here comes some more water

Somehow everyone but me knew when a photo was being taken