How to Kill a Summer and Move On…

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Fall is here in this “Paris of the Prairies” and another summer has more than wrapped up, with already one below 0c night that I can think of.  My garden is all pulled up and it’s definitely around this time of year that my mind starts turning Westward.  Or Eastward.  Or anywhere that isn’t this bloody cold! I am usually lamenting the end of the summer here and all the beautiful hot, dry weather that comes with it.  But let’s face it, this summer has been shit.  I am so glad it’s over and I am able to MOVE ON.

As I’ve touched on before, this summer has been completely dominated by my health problems/health scare.  Doctor appointments, neurologists and trips to the University, blood tests, and finally an MRI all to determine what happened in my head back in April where I had “sort of” symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia, but not really.  The more the tests and time wore on, the more I started to get really freaked out that I had MS or something else.  My symptoms were quite bad at some times and I was usually crippled with a near debilitating exhaustion.  Numbness and tingling in my face and fingers and arm, dizziness.  It’s all been very annoying, but mostly just blindingly stressful.  For both of us.  And my family.  What would happen if I had some disease that was going to be here for the long haul? What about our long term career options? My husband is an artist.  What about him? What about travel? Would he have to eventually take care of me? What was going on in my brain RIGHT NOW? 

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Fortunately, to make a long story short, my MRI turned out okay and there are no signs of any lesions or tumors.  I do have some small, minor birth defect whereby a blood vessel didn’t form properly but it’s completely unrelated and won’t cause any problems down the road.  So while I don’t know why I had the initial nerve pain and the fallout from all of that, I am obviously elated that it’s nothing too serious.  I have one more neurologist appointment in November so maybe he can shed some light on what I should do if I am abroad and this happens again. 

Sooooo…..Now that all THAT is over, for the first time, I’m and WE are actually able to start looking forward at what is next for us and what our next travel plans shall be! This has all put a huge new level of excitement on travel for me.  I mean, for a while there, I didn’t know when and if I’d be able to be away for a longer trip again or if I’d need to hang around here for more tests or what.  Nothing had flavour or interest to me during those months and the prospect of travel didn’t really interest me because I wouldn’t allow myself to think of anything that far in advance. 

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We have all sorts of ideas of what we want to do and where we want to go and because of the above mentioned sidetracking, it looks like we will probably be leaving about a month later than we normally do, which is okay because we get a chance to save a bit more.  We’ve started getting some ideas together and budgeting out what would be viable.  Ultimately, as much as we could keep on going and doing this every summer, we feel that this could be our last “big” trip for a while.  We are playing around with the idea of going away until next summer again, coming back here and working another summer and using the money to move to Toronto.  It’s not something we are super pumped about, but opportunity wise, it might be best for us.  But that is a ways away, so who knows yet! It would be kind of nice to unpack some boxes that have been in storage since 2011 and to have my own kitchen again.  But once I start travelling, I don’t worry too much about that so I wouldn’t be surprised if we change our mind again. At any rate, as far as locales and dates we don’t have anything set in stone yet.  I am trying to swing a flight through Vancouver so I can see my family and friends, which would be so great.

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We are also hoping to do some house sitting to cut costs.  Not having to pay for accommodation is a huge deal while travelling and we are looking at joining a particular house sitting website that has great reviews.  This could open up some potential places to use that would otherwise have to be pretty short visits.  I would really love to go back to London and to be able to spend more time there than last time. 

So really, one of the only other positive highlights of the otherwise “heavy”  summer has been my creative ventures.  I’ve managed to fill quite a few personal orders for my handmade items as well as sell a few things a local store.  I’m not sure if I will leave my stuff in there while I am away or take it out.  It has been really fulfilling making things for people and making people happy with things that I can create.  Working on these things has been a great way to take my mind off of stuff when I was so worried about my health.  Apart from this I have been working here and there for a few local businesses with friends either in the local homemade ice cream stand, which I always love, and more recently for a catering gig through the Co-operative Cafe I worked for last year when I was here.  I love being able to use any creativity, through work and get paid for it too.  Now I am trying to finish up some stuff that people have requested I make for Xmas gifts, so that has been keeping me quite busy.  I am always up for more orders though, which I can do up until I leave, of course…more soon, maybe?

 

Almost everything you didn’t want to know about bedbugs…

Why am I writing about bedbugs on a blog that talks predominantly about food and travel? Well, because bedbugs are unfortunately becoming a big part of travel, both when we travel domestically and abroad. Before I get going here, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m any kind of expert.  I just want to post some of the information that I’ve found from years of working in hostels and travelling internationally.  The more we, as travellers are aware of the currently HUGE problem of bedbugs, the better we can combat them and travel more comfortably and peacefully!

As you’ve noticed if you read my blog, we’ve encountered bedbugs at least four or five times on this trip already and we’ve only been gone about four months! This is a huge increase from our last trip where we were away for six months.  The bedbug problem is increasing and they definitely seem to be more prevalent lately.  That being said, we also find them because we know how to look for them, what they look like and where they tend to hide.  When we get into a new room, it’s the first thing we usually do and that is why we sometimes find them before sleeping in the room and getting bit.  In any case, I hope by giving you a bit of info about them, you are not totally grossed out and instead feel a bit more empowered during your next trip abroad or at home! So here goes:

-Bedbugs are non-discriminatory.  Like cockroaches, they don’t have anything to do with what star of hotel you are staying in or how clean or dirty it is.  They can be anywhere, regardless.  It doesn’t mean they don’t clean the room properly if you have them in your bed.  Bedbugs are extremely hardy and can go for a long time without eating.  They can live in the carpet, the floor, the mattress and the bed frame.  They can travel a long distance for a meal

-Bedbugs do not (as far as studies currently show) carry disease or transmit anything from one person to another.  They are essentially harmless except for their extremely itchy, annoying bites

-Bedbugs look like this:

I spared you the actual photos I found on google because they were just too disgusting.  Note the colour and the lines on their body.  If they are full of your blood they can look fatter.  I know this is disgusting, just hang in there!

Like I said above, they can hide in all sorts of places, but if you are trying to find them in your room you can look for them under the mattress.  Peel back the seam of the mattress and look for tell-tale signs.  If you don’t see them, you may find lots of black specks.  These are their body casings (they molt), and poo! AAAAAACK..so gross!! Shudder…okay.  Look in the bed frame.  If your bed frame is made of wood, look in the knot holes and the nail holes.  They like these kind of places.

-Bedbugs come out at night, specifically when you are in the bed as they are attracted to the warmth.  I read somewhere that they are most common between the hours of 3am and 5am and I tend to agree with this.

-Bedbug bites look kind of like mosquito bites so sometimes you might not realize what is getting you when you are travelling.  I’ve seen people just covered in tell-tale bites complaining of all the mosquito bites they’ve been getting while they are relaxing poolside chatting with their friends.  If you are getting bit in rows, especially in groups of three bites or more, these are most likely bedbug bites.  Check out this:

Messed up Bedbug Bites

These are three nasty, upset bedbug bites on M’s finger after the aforementioned “incident” in Ho Chi Minh.  I think he is a bit allergic to them, so you can see they are a bit infected.  We eventually had to lance them.  Yummy!! But you see how they are red, inflamed and in a set of three? Bedbugs!  How many readers have I lost yet?

-What to do if you find bedbugs: This is only my advice and what works best for us, and again, I am not a professional in any way but what works for us is to leave.  This is bad I know, because in some ways it heightens the risk of transferring them to the next place you are staying, and spreading them.  So this is why I suggest you take everything you are wearing, everything that has been out in the room and has been in contact with the room.  Put it in a plastic bag and tie it up and get your laundry washed.  Keep your bag as far away from the bed area as you can.  Tell the place you are staying and if they don’t speak English (as is usually the case with us), bring them the bedbugs if you can and show them.  Explain to them that they are biting you and they need to spray the room.  As for your bites, we find that a hydrocortisone cream works the best.  The itchiness goes away after a few days.  In fact, the worst thing about bedbugs is the psychological problems they bring.  After you know you’ve had bugs crawling on you in the night, sucking your blood, its hard not to get crawly and yucky feeling when you crawl into bed.  You may feel like you have them on you when you don’t and you don’t want to move to a new place after you get a “good” room for fear of getting them.  It kind of messes you up a bit.  But unfortunately, there is not much you can do about them. 

Anyway, I hope the above stuff helps some travellers and you are not too grossed out by me! I promise I won’t post too many more disgusting blog posts and I’ll get back to flowers and food and nice things in my next post! Thanks for hanging in there!