Starting from Scratch


Well it's been a week since I last wrote, and there's a very good reason for that. And for once, it isn't that my life is so boring that I have nothing to write about. I've finally come to the realisation, that this website, really isn't how I want it to be.

In all honesty, it has 2 real functions. It has this travel blog, and it has the photo gallery. They're really all that I use it for. The hostels page has some use and I guess the 'Where I've been' map, serves a purpose. But the rest of it...

When I wrote this website, it was never meant to be a final copy. I was really just experimenting with code as I taught myself HTML and CSS. But as I experimented more and more, the site took shape more and more. Until it got to the point that I just said fuck it! I've done enough that I'll just use what I've got. And then I continued to learn how to do new things, and I added them to the site.

But the problem, is that a lot of those "new things," are completely irrelevant to the purpose of this site. Like the forum. I think I'll find that when I get back to reading the corresponding blog entry for 'on this day, 1 year ago,' that I even wrote in a blog, that I have no use for a forum. But I just put it in, because I'd learnt how. And how about the webcam. I think I've had that on, maybe once since I left the UK. It's completely obsolete. As are the links page and the downloads page. And the damn flashing random quotes and the Twitter updates. The whole site is just cluttered with irrelevant mess that just detracts attention from the 2 parts of the site that are actually relevant: The blog and the photos.

But then there's another problem. Because I wrote this website as I was just learning HTML and CSS, the code is admittedly, absolutely terrible. All those problems that I just mentioned... Well they're damn near impossible to rectify with this site written that the way it is. It would take longer to try and fix the current website, than to start a new one from scratch. So that is exactly what I'm doing. I'm writing a new, basic, simple, Jro's World. No clutter. No irrelevant features. No flashing logos. Just a simple, basic, website. One that will be easy to change and update, should I need to.

It's not going to look professional. I don't want or need it to. It's simply going to be a site, that serves the purpose of hosting my photos, and my blog. And experimenting with code and coming up with ideas for this "new" site, are why I haven't had the time to write for a while.

I would think it would take, perhaps 2 days to come up with the site design, and then a further week or 2 to transfer content over. I want to host a photo gallery directly rather than using an open-source program as I'm currently doing. So moving and tagging the 3,000+ photos, will take quite a while. But it's taking a lot longer to even come up with the design than I initially anticiapated. And I'm in fact still experimenting with code. But I think I have the homepage nearly there. This is a screenshot of what it will look something like. Like I said, it's simple and it's uncluttered. No space for anything unnecessary. And I said it wouldn't look professional.

I don't know exactly when I'll have this new site up and running. In a week perhaps. Hopefully not longer, because time spent in front of my laptop doing this, is time that I could be spending writing, or learning Spanish, or going to the beach. But I would guess, unless anything especially eventful happens in the next 7 days that I really have to write about, that this will be the last blog entry I write in this format. Hopefully I'll have the new site up and running in the next 7 days or so. Even though I won't have transferred all of the content over, it will still be a big weight lifted and I can start writing blogs in the new site. Once I do that though, everything will still be located at the same URL. There may be a short "transfer" period as I move content about, that nothing will be available at jrosworld.com. But I don't anticipate it taking long. Don't expect any more blog entries or photo updates for a week or 2 though.

Galiano Island sunset With that in mind, you can rest assured that Galiano Island still hasn't grown old on me. As I've said previously, there really isn't much point WWOOFing, if I'm going to stay in one place long term. I may as well get a proper job and get paid if I'm going to do that. But this is a kind of place I'm struggling to build the motivation to leave. Because I know, wherever the next place I go to... of all the 40 or 50 offers that I've got on the table, it won't be as good as this. Not as relaxed, not as welcoming. I get on with the people here really well, the island has everything I'd want in beaches and wildlife. I just don't want to leave.

That being said, I will probably force myself to move on within 2 weeks. If you asked me 2 days ago, I'd set a deadline of June 7th to leave here. But the closer that becomes, the more unlikely that's seeming. But sometime soon. I have to move on. Though the fact that I still haven't even seen a shop since I've been here, let alone spent any money, means that it's not a financially draining trip. And previously I was paranoid about leaving Canada by the expiration of my visa. But that's a paranoia that has cooled recently. And seeing as I have no plans to come back here anytime soon, I have no real motivation to leave by November 19th. If I stay out of trouble, who's going to know? And no one checks your passport as you leave a country. And what if they do? I don't plan on coming back anytime soon. So WWOOFing may be my ticket to becoming an illegal alien at the end of my visa. If I can live this cheaply, then why rush to leave just to satisfy a bureacratic process?

Looking to the mountains Plus I've always wanted a cool title like that. I could introduce myself to people as "Jethro Williams. Illegal alien." It's got a nice ring to it. So although I really don't want to get stuck in one place for a long time, no longer repecting the deadline for when I have to legally be out of the country, means that I don't have to fit all of my travelling here into a 6-month period. If I see fit, I could stay on here for 9 months. Or another 12. Just need to steer clear of authorities, and it should be gravy.

So I'm in no real rush to leave Galiano now.

The other day I went out for a walk. And not long after leaving, I was walking up a road, and Sam, who was the person I met at Ocean Island who first told me about WWOOFing, and my hosts brother, was driving back from the cabin. Jesse, who's my host, his father is building a house up here. And Sam, Jesse's brother, is part of the team building it. So he, along with one of the other builders, was driving past me. And they offered me a lift so I jumped in the back of the truck to save a bit of uphill walking.

This was not long after midday. And I stayed out on this little walk until after dark. And I did not see another human being until after sunset. This is why I love this place. I was in the main sticking to trails. But yet I did not see a soul. Sat on a beautiful beach, maybe for 4 hours or longer. Didn't see another person. Where else can you get such serenity?

Otter on Galiano Island And as I'm sitting on the beach, waiting for the tide to go out a little to go snorkelling, I see what I think it a seal swimming not 15 yards from the waters edge. I realise after watching it for a bit, that it is actually an otter. And this otter is swimming along, diving. And I see this otter come out of the water having caught a fish, and sitting on a rock eating lunch.

This pictures not the best, but look closely and you can see an otter poking his head up from behind his rock.

As this otter was swimming, I'd seen this extraordinarily large bird of pray flying by above. And as this otter was eating, sheltered somewhat by trees, this large bird came and perched in the tree above him. And I thought for a while there was going to be a blood-bath. But maybe the otter saw him. Or maybe he went for a nap after lunch, but the otter didn't appear for a while. And eventually this bird gave up and flew off.

Now I'm no bird expert. But my guess is that this was a golden eagle. I saw a golden eagle cruelly caged when I went to Calgary Zoo in January. And this bird looked the same. It was bigger than a bald eagle, so although no expert, that is the conclusion that I've come to. Which is pretty awesome. Golden eagles have always just been somewhat mythical to me. I don't remember ever seeing one. So that was pretty awesome. And also from this beach, not far into the distance, I could see a multitude of seals swimming about.

Tree And later on my walk, I found some kind of swamp. And walking along beside it, I was getting startled by more otters getting startled by my presence. This "swamp" was also home to birds I've never seen before, as is the rest of this island. It really is full of wildlife. Since I've been here, I've now encountered otters, seals, bald eagles, golden eagles, lizards, snakes, fuck loads of weird birds I can't name. It's just awesome.

On this day where I encountered a total of 2 people, I saw maybe 3 times more otters than people. Probably 4 times more seals than people. The only disappointment of the day, was the when I went snorkelling, the water was too murky, probably from plankton, to really see anything. Other than that, this was just awesome. This is why I love this place. Where else can you encounter seals more than people?

And a couple of days ago I was doing some work on the grounds here. And Jesse comes up in his truck, wants to know if I want to go to his folks place. I've been there before. It's a place that's home to something like 18 peacocks. All free to roam, but they choose to stay here. Right by the beach and a very unique house to say the least. I won't even try to describe it. Just believe me when I say it's unique.

Well getting here after some antics in the truck on the way, on what is effectively their private beach, Jesse's parents each have a canoe. So I took a canoe out into the sea. And I probably didn't go more than 300 metres. And at no point was a far from the shore. But getting out of the shallow bay, my canoe just got mobbed by seals. It was incredible. I think they were just curious. But all these seals come up and start looking at you. Following you as you paddle...

This is just something I can't do at home, and another reason why I love this place. You would normally have to pay tour guides hundreds to rent you a canoe and then take you to a place where there's seals. Here you just go to the beach and take out the canoe already sitting there about 50 yards and you get surrounded by seals. It's just incredible. I've never in my life lived in a place like this.

And despite the choppy waters, I just stopped and basked in the sunlight for a while. Just watching these seal friends I'd made.

Vegetation And that is just one of the many reasons that I'm struggling to leave this place. I just don't see that any other WWOOF placement will be like this. I have my own room with a double bed. There is good wireless here. Heck just today I was able to get a stream of the Champions League final the connection is so good. The hosts are relaxed, nice, funny. Someone's always cooking so there's always freshly made food available. The nearest beach is a 2 minute walk away, the view is spectacular and I can even go kyaking with seals. I just know that the grass isn't going to be greener on the other side. So it's tough to make the arrangements to go somewhere else. Like I said though, I'm thinking probably 2 weeks more. Whether that materialises or not, we will see.

With that in mind though, the hippies left a couple of days ago. They had already arranged their next placement before they got here, and were thankful to have done so or they too would have got stuck here as well. But you know something? I'm actually going to miss those hippies. That's a phrase I never thought I'd say.

Hippies have a lot of fun though! And they gave me a lot of ideas for travelling. I forget the term that they used to describe it, but they were basically saying that they were thinking of finding a random freight train, jumping on and going across Canada. Kind of like what would happen in movies 50 years ago. But it's such a good idea. Trains here are really overpriced. And freight trains have priority over passenger trains, so it'd probably be quicker. And they tell me about their weird naked music festivals and their anarchy rallies that they attend. And that kind of lifestyle, doesn't half sound fun.

Galiano Island sunset You can sit in your office all day, thinking you have a good life because you have a 48" plasma tv screen. But is that really more fun than jumping on random freight trains, hitching your way about, meeting new people at every turn? I don't think so. Those hippies made me see how fun and cheap life can be. I was already planning on hitching my way to different WWOOF farms. But bunking on a freight train! That's genius! I'm not sure I'm going to be able to contain myself from actually doing that at some point. I could be in Halifax in 3 days having not spent a single penny travelling. I love it! I'm going to miss those hippies.

And you know the other hippy trait I could really do with right now? I could do with eating hippy food for a bit. In Vancouver and Victoria I was eating crap on the assumption that soon I'd first be working, and getting to the gym regularly, so I'd be able to work it off. And then once I decided to start WWOOFing, I figured I'd be eating hippy food for a while, so I'd lose weight that way.

Well the reality is that although I get a bit more in fruit and veg here, I probably eat about 10× more food than I actually need here. Because it's so fucking good. And there was another wedding last weekend so we have all this wedding food left over. Professionally cooked wedding food. I am just getting fat!!!

And my assumption once again, is that it doesn't matter because as soon as I leave here I'll be at a hippy farm where I get fed carrots, and I'll lose the weight again. But that's what I thought about this place. I'm just in a great tasting spiral of decline right now. How did this happen? Just 3 weeks ago I was craving getting to the gym, living on a perfect diet again. Yet now I'm eating wedding food by the bucket-load, getting fat, and I don't even care. I'm not sure how that transformation really happened. I've just got to pray that when I do eventually leave here, I end up living with some actual hippies that feed me actual hippy food. Because if not, I'll be the fattest hippy ever. Because they're all normally scrawny little fuckers because they live on lettuce and tea.

My theory is though, however inaccurate, that when I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere, hungry and trying to hitch, I'll be able to live on the fat I've built up. I might start hallucinating and getting light-headed. But at least I'd be alive. So that is my actual plan. I'm going to eat a lot now, so when I decide to bunk on a freight-train, that ends up stopping 500 miles from the nearest shop for 3 days, I'll be able to survive on all the wedding fat that I'm eating now. That's my actual theory! I'm not sure if it'll work.

Well that, very very briefly, is what I've been up to. And this will more than likely be the last blog entry that I add to Jro's World as we know it. I hope to have the new-look site up and running in a week or so.


On this day, 1 year ago

Overdrawn

Well I'll keep this short. That blog is absolutely fucking pointless. I say nothing there that I can imagine why I would want to ever read back over it again. The only thing I take from that blog, is how much can happen in a year. Looking at those pictures of where I lived at university in Hull, that was just 12 months ago. Now I'm living on a resort on some penis-shaped island in the West of Canada with golden eagles flying about. A lot can happen in a year, that's all I'll say.

I learnt Spanish...

Well first, I'd like to say that my lazy methods to pass an exam actually worked. Rather than learning Spanish, I just spent the time to figure out what was on the exam paper, and I got it spot on. I comfortably passed that exam. I just wish I could have seen 12 months into the future. Right now I'm scrambling to learn Spanish, where as 12 months ago, when I was actually a part of a structured program, I just did what I had do to pass an exam.

I'd forgotten how attached I'd become with Hull as well. But reading over this blog again, I remeber actually feeling pretty sad to be leaving. I don't know that I've thought about the sandwich shop mentioned here, or the pub, since I left Hull. But at the time, I was pretty sad to be leaving. Since I started travelling though, I haven't really felt that same attachment to anywhere. Leaving Canada in '07 I remember feeling very depressed on the bus to the airport. And then it was the same leaving Hull last year. But when I left the UK in November. Or when I left Pano 6ish weeks ago, I didn't really feel any emotion. I think now that 1, I'm a lot more accepting of the fact that I'm going to be leaving places behind with staggering frequency as I continue to move about. And 2, I'm looking forwards now, rather than looking back. As opposed to looking back at what I've done and what I will miss about a place, I'm instead looking forward to where I'm going. That or my mind is so occupied with going from place to place that I just don't have the time or brain-space to get emotional. But I haven't felt as sad as I did leaving Hull, since then.

And it's incredible how gym-mad I was back then. I'd almost forgotten how seriously I took my gym life. It wasn't just something that I did for 2 hours a day. It was a 24-hour a day lifestyle. Eating the right foods all day long, resting at the right times. But what I find really funny, is that I'm not happy with the way that I look in this picture. If only I could have seen 12 months into the future and I would have made love to myself when I looked this good.

In 12 months I went from this, to having man-boobs, being unshaven for the past 3 weeks because I'm too lazy, and there's no real need here, having a white-man afro, and a bum knee so I can't even go out running. Oh how I would have looked at myself differently if I could have seen 12 months ahead. I find that quite funny. It's a little startling to me, just how seriously I took the gym lifestyle though. Looking back, I definitely did. But being a scarce luxury in Invermere, and having not done any intense exercise since my knee injury, I'd forgotten just how seriously I took the gym. And I cannot believe I'm pissed to look like this. I'd kill to look like that today!

Bit of a gay picture mind. And you know the other thing about this photo? As I write this blog, I'm still wearing those exact pair of shorts. The button fell off a while back so I rely on the belt to hold them closed. There's a hole in the back and one of the pockets is hanging off. But in all the cull of clothing, and of all the stuff I left back home, I'm still wearing that same pair of shorts today.

And this blog was written before the days of my Canadian visa. My thinking has changed a lot in 12 months. If my visa didn't come through, I was just going to bypass Canada altogether. Man I was a pussy. If I was in that situation today, I would just come over to Canada anyway, live as an illegal alien and pick up what cash-on-hand work that I could find. My thinking, and my respect for law, has changed a lot in 12 months.

And I stand by everything I said about students. They're a bunch of pussy's.


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