I've seen paradise. And it's shaped like a big penis.

So you remember the voicemail I was talking about in the blog yesterday? The one that I couldn't listen to because it would cost me so much damn money?

Well I was assuming that was another damn farmer. They've just been pissing me off now I've got so many damn messages from them. But after I finished writing that blog yesterday, it was after 8pm, so I listened to the message. And guess what. On this, my last night in Victoria. My "all work clothes disposed of, no turning back, I'm leaving tomorrow, going to become a hippy" last night in Victoria. This voicemail message, was a message from some shop in Victoria. Asking me to come in for an interview. It was a counter position in a tourist candy shop serving oversized American's if I remember correctly. And without wanting to sound too cocky, I am going to get a job that pays probably minimum wage, once I've got an interview. I'm not, not going to get that job. I'm just not that retarded.

So in what was my last night in Victoria before I leave, to start what will be, essentially, a whole different lifestyle, I have this job on the table. There's no turning back. I mean, there is no way I'm staying in Victoria now. It's just not going to happen. So I'm not even going to bother returning this call. But it's an after-thought, I really didn't have to contend with. Am I happy about it or not?

A part of me is relieved that I can now leave Victoria after 3 weeks, safe in the knowledge that I could have got a job. Despite not handing out a single resume for the past 7 days. And had I not got this call, then the next time that I'm looking for work, then this might have been a hell of a monkey on my back. The paranoia that I'd failed in Victoria, might have been eating away at me next time I was looking for work. So at least I've avoided that, by now knowing that I could have got work, and I could have settled down.

But then there's the other side of me. Before I got this call, I was leaving Victoria, knowing I was leaving nothing behind. I had no life here. As I'd said many times previously, everything started with a job. I could not build a life in Victoria, until I had the assurance of a job. It was the first stepping stone. So when I decided to leave, I was leaving nothing behind. But now I have to know that I could have built a life for myself there. And now, there's almost pressure on this whole hippy expedition for it to work. Because if it doesn't, I'm going to be looking back, thinking to myself about how I could have a job. I could have an appartment. I could have a gym. I could have a pretty comfortable life in Victoria. And I'm not sure I'm happy about that. That's not something that I wanted to know. Because now, I could regret my decision.

Before, no regret. I was leaving nothing behind. But now, the most integral and hardest piece of the puzzle of setting up a life in Victoria, was effectively in place. I'd done all the hard work. I'd absorbed all the rejection. And I knew after that call, that I was leaving behind a life in Victoria. And in a position unwilling and unable to turn back, all that can give to me is regret.

If this whole hippy thing doesn't work out, all it can give to me, is regret.

Because you have to appreciate the change I've been through, in just the past 2 weeks. I can only appreciate it now by looking back. I don't know how it happened. I don't know why it happened. But if I look back at blogs from 2 weeks ago, I was prepared and ready to settle into the city life. I was craving the gym. Boy was I craving the gym. I just couldn't wait to get back into it. I had my Summer all planned out. More than anything, it was going to be about recovery from Pano. Fixing my knee. And fixing my health after what was, by my pre-departure standards, a Winter of bodily abuse. And then it was about preparing for South America. Learning Spanish. Getting qualified to teach English. That, with a bit of snorkelling on top, was my Summer. Work, gym and Spanish. That's what I wanted to do.

Somewhere along the line though, that changed. That guy I ran into in the stairwell; he may well have changed the direction that my life took. I don't know if he was the primary catalyst for this change or what. But now, I don't see a gym at any point in my future. Not whilst I'm living the hippy life. Do they even have gyms in Bolivia? I don't know.

So this isn't just a change in that I'll be working different jobs. My whole life has changed over decisions made in the past 2 weeks. Had this call come in, even a week ago, I would probably be spending the next 6 months in Victoria. As things are now, I don't even know where I'll be next week. And I'm not sure I'm happy about knowing I could have got a job. At any time of doubt, that I'm doing the right thing by living this way, I'm just going to sit there, thinking about the life I could be living in Victoria. I think it really might haunt me.

And had this call come in, even 24 hours earlier, I may still have changed my mind. At that point the only commitment I'd made, was to Jesse at Bodega Ridge. But that was just a casual agreement. Nothing a quick call or email couldn't fix. But in that last 24 hours, I did enough to push me past the point of no return. That included donating 4 bags of clothing. And within those bags were any items that I could conceivably wear to any job interview. Black pants. Gone. Smart shoes. Gone. Shirt. Gone. Unless they were going to accept me wearing army shorts and a t-shirt with a giant pig on it, I wasn't getting that job. And having only bought those items 3 weeks earlier, there was no way I was buying them back from Value Village having just donated them again. I was past the point of no return. And that phone call... It's going to haunt me everytime I have a bad day. Everytime I have doubt that I made the right decision, it's going to haunt me.

Because the person that I wanted to be, 2 weeks ago, looks very different from the person I want to be now. It's night and day. The gym-rat city guy. Or the hitching hippy, working on farms with vegans, buddists and people without running water. And for a period of this length, the different experiences, will shape my whole future. No doubt about it. I just hope I now don't live in regret.

Though saying that, if I take that attitude, then I probably will. Got to think positive. Even knowing this, I think it's the right decision. It's definitely the right short-term decision. If in 6 months from now, I'm fat, looking for a job in Bolivia with no Spanish and no English teaching qualification, then it's the wrong decision. For the next 6 months though, I think it's the right decision. I just need to make sure I find the time to do that other stuff, then it's the right decision.

And a strange coincidence yesterday. The amount of people I've ran into in Victoria, whom I know, has been staggering. But all from Pano, so although 800ish miles from Invermere, it's not too shocking. But you remember Jeremy. He was one of the guys working at Pano that I met in Vancouver when I first arrived. He will have probably featured in one of my very first Canada blogs. Well I was sharing a dorm yesterday, with a friend of his from his town in New Zealand. Now that's a fucking small world. Those 2 haven't even been able to meet up yet, despite being in Canada at the same time for about 6 months now. But despite knowing neither of them before, I've now met them both. It really is a small fucking world when things like that start happening.

Anyway, it's enough of this talk of regret. Think positive. In the short-term at least, this is the right decision. Like I've said, I can envisage regretting it in the long-run. Especially as this will probably be the lesser decision with regards to my bank balance as well. Meaning that I may have to go home earlier. But for the short-time, it's the right decision.

So this morning, after 3 long weeks at Ocean Island, I finally packed up my bags and checked out of there. I got on a bus. It took me to the ferry terminal, probably about 50 minutes away (not bad for $2.25!). I bought me a ticket, waited around for the ferry, and I was off to Galiano Island. The first stop in my new hippy life.

I knew the place I was going was on the far end of the island. But I really hadn't paid much thought to how I was going to get there. Well before I boarded the boat, I started talking to this woman. Probably in her 50's or older. And she was giving me advice on how to get up to Bodega Ridge. They have a 'hitch' culture over here apparently. So I was hoping that it wouldn't be a challenge.

That being said, when I saw her at the other end getting picked up, I was thankful that she was willing to take me, at least to this crossroads. It was probably only about a mile from the ferry. But it got me to the beginning of this long road that went down the length of this island. And I wasn't sure how long I'd be here for. But in probably less than a minute, some guy drove by in the wrong direction, shouting to me that he'd just go to the shop, and he'd be back to pick me up in a minute.

And sure enough, a couple of other cars passed me without stopping, when this guy came back along, and stopped to give me a ride.

I was assuming that he was going this way. But it turns out he just had nothing better to do. He'd only been living here for 4 months. And having been laid off, he was living on some kind of redundancy pay, or some benefit pay or something like that for the Summer. And I don't think he had much else to be doing. Wanted to be a part of the island. Probably didn't want to be the new guy anymore.

But this was a pretty damn long drive. I don't know how long, but 10 or 15 minutes. One-way. In a direction he didn't need to be going in. I was pretty lucky to find this guy, no doubt.

And he was so new to the island in fact, that he didn't even know where Bodega Ridge was. I'd picked up a map on the ferry. And it's lucky that I did. Because once we got to a sign saying that we'd reached the end of the road, then I think it was pretty obvious that we'd missed the turning. And it was only because of this little leaflet map, that we were eventually able to locate this place.

On the plus-side though, I got a tour of the whole length of the island. And my god, this place is spectacular. If there wasn't the chilly Canadian wind, this place would have been this idealic paradise. It still is. The sun was shining today, and my God. It is spectacular. No other way to phrase it. It is an island paradise.

I haven't taken any pictures yet. I wish I had to just show what I'm saying. But this place, really is spectacular. For this alone, it makes leaving that job in Victoria, worth it. Almost leaves you breathless. If all cock was this good, I'd probably be gay by now. This giant penis really is something special.

And when we were finally able to locate Bodega Ridge, I didn't really know what to expect. I've never done this before. There were a few cabins spaced out. And then we got to a building that said 'office' on it, where I got let out of the car. I thanked the guy for his help, because we had barely seen a car all the way up here. I could have been hitching for hours! He saved my balls. And then I went into this building.

And it was so relaxed it was funny. Just kind of walked in there. Met Jesse. He introduced me to everyone, showed me where my room was. And then, it was like I was part of the family. They all just went back to what they were doing as if I wasn't there. And they were just cooking up lunch. So I had lunch with everyone. And then I ended up doing a few hours helping out with things.

They have a big wedding here this weekend. 110 people. So with the first guests arriving tomorrow, there was a lot of setting up to do. So I was helping out with polishing crockery. And we had to put up this marquee tent, which took a bit of work. There really was no settling in period. It was literally a case of coming in, make yourself at home, and then on with the job. It was pretty awesome. Of all the farms I spoke to, right now, I'm thinking I made a pretty damn good decision.

Speaking of strange coinscidences though. You remember how WWOOF was first put into my head by a guy that I met in the hostel in Victoria. He was a person whom lived on the Gulf Islands who hosted WWOOFers sometimes. Well he had told me back then, 3 weeks ago, that I should look for a certain person. He would be able to put me in touch with them. If I remember correctly, that may have been my first night in Victoria.

Well at that point, I had totally disregarded what he was saying. Afterall, 3 weeks ago I had ambition to become a gym rat. Live a city life. I didn't need any of this WWOOFing crap afterall.

Well anyway, putting up this giant marquee... it was a many person job. And when I go out there, I see a familiar face. And it took me 5 seconds to place it. And then I clicked. This was the guy I was speaking to in the hostel, 3 weeks ago, who was the first person to tell me about WWOOFing. And here he was, helping with this giant tent.

And it turns out that this guy, is Jesse's brother. And for all of the hundreds of farms that I applied to. For all of the 40 or more responses that I got, I end up at the farm that this guy I had met in the hostel, 3 weeks earlier, had told me to look up. And I had completely disregarded all of the information that he'd told me. He even said today, that he was regretting leaving the hostel without giving me more details. Because I wouldn't be able to find this place with what he had said. Not that I remembered that anyway.

So this really was weird. The first person who had ever told me about WWOOFing, was coincidentally helping put up a tent, about 2 hours into my first ever placement, 3 weeks later, and a bus and a boat journey away. It really is a small world.

And now I'm here, I don't regret this decision at all. We really haven't determined a timetable of how long I'm going to stay here. And Jesse said to me today, that of the people who arrive here with that mentality, most of them end up staying a long, time. And I may well. This is paradise. I have my own room. I have a double bed. I have free use of all the facilites, all the food. And all I have to do, is help out for about 5 hours a day. This is awesome! If all WWOOFing is like this, then I don't regret my decision in the least.

Unfortunately, having spoken to folks who don't even have running water yet, then I doubt that it will be. But that kind of thing will be experience if nothing else. For now though, compared to Ocean Island, this is luxury. The view from my window is breathtaking. I couldn't be asking for more.

And to be responsible seeing as I'm not earning, and may not be in the near future, I'm going to be monitoring my finances very, very, closely. I got on the ferry today with $33.50. And I am going to account for every penny of that. I'm yet to spend any of it yet. And luckily, there is no shops for something like 15km, so it shouldn't be hard to maintain.

And just as I'm at the point of being so happy that I made the decision that I did, I look at my phone, just as I start writing this blog. And I have another voicemail. This time it's a call from the Delta Hotel. I'd applied for a job restocking mini-bars. And they wanted me to come in for an interview.

This one, was a little harder to take that the job at the candy store. This would have been a cool job. Working alone. Getting reponsibility. The candy store job would have been a minimum wage, shit job. This one paid over $12 an hour if I remember correctly. And it would have been my kind of thing. A job I think I could actually enjoy. Not having to deal with customers. Just working without someone looking over my shoulder every few minutes. And at $12 per hour, compared to the $8 I'd likely be getting paid at a sweet shop, this was a job I could have saved on. So if I didn't before, now I have real reason for regret.

But as I said with the candy store job, it's too late to turn back for me. I've made the decision and I'm sticking with it. I can now know for sure that I would have had work in Victoria. There is no way I wouldn't get one job once getting through to an interview. 2 jobs though. No way in Hell. I can now say, unequivocally, that I would have had work in Victoria. And the Delta job, that one hurt a little bit more. That would have been my kind of work. No use looking back now though. Like I said, there is no turning back. And I'll be honest. Even sitting on this farm on Galiano Island, I had a moment of doubt. I still have to think about my health. I still have to think about my future beyond Canada. And this job... it would be perfect for me. But I'm going to stick to my guns. I've made the decision to leave, and I'm sticking to it. Rightly or wrongly, I'm sticking to it. I'll never know if it's the right decision. I just hope that the next 6 months go well enough that I don't look back with regret. That is all I'm hoping for now.

Fucking Murphy's law eh! You wait around for a job for ages, and then 2 come at once. And it's too late to take either of them because you're sat on an island shaped like a cock.

Even at night-time this place is beautiful though. You can't see anything, but you can hear the wildlife in the pond outside my window. There are 3 awesome dogs living here. One, at only 8 months old, is possibly the biggest dog I've ever seen. It's fucking huge. A great Dane. But, like a giant great Dane. At 8 months old. And I got the time to go for a brief walk with these hippy other WWOOFers that are here. This place is so, so beautiful. We didn't get to a sandy beach. But to get my snorkel out, is on my list for tomorrow. If it looks as good underwater as it does above water, and I don't catch hypothermia, then it will be worth leaving these jobs, and the gym, and everything else, behind in Victoria.

Man my head's spinning right now though. After what was a fairly trying 3 weeks in Victoria, with getting no work, I finally leave. And just as I do, I leave and go to paradise, and all of a sudden find myself being pulled back by things that I looked for but couldn't find when I was there. Life can be strange sometimes. And it can be trying. Can't complain though eh! I guess the best way to look at it, is that I could have had a good life in Victoria, but I chose to move to paradise. It was a win-win situation. I'm sure there are plenty of people in the world who'd be willing to swap with me right now.

And on that note, I'm going to wrap up for today. My board and food is in exchange for about 5 hours of work everyday (or at least 5 of 7 days). And if the weather's as nice as it's supposed to be tomorrow, I want to get my 5 hours done early, so I can go to the beach and try my snorkel, and see if this water's really as cold as everyone says it is. Seeing as snow is melting on all the mountains right now, I assume that it is. But people take ice baths for fucks sake. I can survive 20 minutes in a wetsuit to get a look underneath the ocean. Just need to stop being such a pussy. I'm sure I still retain some of the adaptability of the person who used to go sauna, cold shower, sauna, cold shower, sauna, cold shower, repetitively after workouts. I can't have lost all of that already. Can I?

Man my head is spinning right now. I guess that's the fun of travelling though. You just don't know.

On this day, 1 year ago

Shouting, java java java

The first thing that strikes me about reading this blog, is that I cannot believe it was only a year ago that I was taking my exams. That feels a lifetime ago. And at the point I wrote that blog, I'd only just sent off my application for my Canada visa, and wasn't even sure yet that it would get approved as there was some doubt as to my status having already lived in Canada twice. That was only a year ago. Yet I've now been here 6 months and done so much. It's almost mind-boggling to me reading over this, that all this was happening, just 12 months ago today. You don't realise it at this time, but a hell of a lot can happen in a year!

I find some of the language that I use pretty amusing as well. Didn't even realise that I used to say "bollocks."

And I didn't realise quite how advanced a lot of my thinkings were, right at the beginning of writing these blogs. I preach thoughts about global warming, and about capitalism, that I thought I developed as a result of continued writing. But looking back at this, the first proper blog, my writing didn't advance my thinkings as much as I thought. And I had the luxury of writing this first blog, right after the Burma floods. So it was easy pickings as the reaction to that flood was so disproportunate to expectations. But I have to wonder, we're entering that time of year again. Are we in for similar things?

I really expected it to be a shit blog. But without wanting to blow my own trumpet too much, I found that pretty interesting to look back.

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