Friday, September 30, 2011

Next stop....Australia!

After my incredible journey in the fall, I returned to Canada just before christmas (Dec.22, 2010), started a new job the beginning of January, and after working at my job for a month, was off on my next adventure, to Australia for three weeks.

Back in November 2009, I went on a little road trip with three friends from Quebec; two of which are cheerleaders for the Montreal Alouettes and were trying out for So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Sophie, Joani and Roxy picked me up from school in Belleville on their way by and we spent a wonderful weekend in Toronto together. At the hostel we stayed at, I met a guy named Chester who had just moved to Canada from Australia. Wanting to learn more, I left a letter on his bunk bed and he added me on facebook so we could chat more. I was also desperate for a documentary subject so it turned out that I did my project on Chester. I helped him prepare for his first Canadian winter, moved him from the hostel to the place he rents in Toronto and later adopted him and another Aussie we met later into my family to show them what a real Canadian christmas was like. Since then we've been like brother and sister and Chester has been included in many family events.

When it came time for Chester to go back to Australia to visit his family, he asked if I'd like to join him. Of course I said yes so so at the end of February, we took off from Toronto and flew to Perth, Western Australia via Dubai.

Day 1- We went to the beach to start off and then to the Perth Aquarium. I got to touch a stingray and a starfish :)

Day 2- We went to Penguin Island where the fairy penguins are. Unfortunately it was very hot (38 C the first 4 days of our trip) so the penguins were hiding in the brush to stay cool. They did have a rehabilitation centre for some injured penguins so we got to see them. It's hard to tell how small they really are because I didn't have anything to compare them to in size in their little habitat but they were probably only a couple feet tall, if that. It was so hot that eventually, before we went on the ferry back to the mainland, I  ran into the ocean quickly to cool off. It was so wonderful.

Monday, September 26, 2011

South Africa continued...

Along with all the local stuff I got to do, I also did a couple touristy things with my good friend Michael during my time in South Africa. Michael took me to a place called "Lion Park" which is the equivalent of African Lion Safari here in Ontario. I got to feed a giraffe and ostriches, as well as drive through the game reserve and give a couple new buddies a bit of a ride.

Above: Me feeding an ostrich.
People aren't kidding when they say these birds are really stupid!

Left: One of the highlights of my life was feeding my favourite animal, the docile giraffe.

This lion climbed into the back of Michael's Land Rover, along with another female. Who knew two full grown lions could even fit in the back?!

Left: While I concentrated on taking this photo with my long lens, i had my head out of the window a bit. bad idea. Michael started to put my window up and when i looked up from my view finder, another female lion was right in my face! Yikes!

Below: Michael feeding the idiot ostriches.

A couple days before I left South Africa, Michael drove two hours to a game park and we drove around all day looking for animals. It was definitely one of the top five best days of my entire life!

Above: Michael and I at the place we called "Epic Rock." The view was breathtaking. I really should've done his interview there. I'm still kicking myself for not.

 Left: Michael saw a dung beetle on the road so he went and grabbed it. It rode on his hand for a while, and then he insisted on placing it on me. I was a bit unsure of it at first and then I thought to myself, "I'm in Africa on a safari, what the heck!" so I took a personal plunge and even held it!

Here are just a few of the wildlife photos I took that day. It truly was one of the most incredible days of my life.

Update continued...

So! After a week in beautiful England, I jumped on my next plane from Luton Airport to Johannesburg, South Africa via Tel Aviv, Israel. I had quite the experience with security at Luton airport. They were suspicious that someone in Europe may have put stuff in my bags so I was under their constant watch. Once I got up to my gate before boarding, they actually took me to the "back room" that you only see in the movies. There, they took my carry on and shoes into another room where they ran tests on my belongings. The curtain was open but once they noticed I was watching them, they closed it. There was another man in the back room with me from Durban, South Africa who had spent two years on a work visa in London England and was just moving back. We became buddies and spent our lay over in Tel Aviv together. We bought McDonald's there and somehow I got reprimanded for eating chicken in a "non-chicken" zone, according to the security guard. I wasn't going to argue so I moved a few feet away to the "right" side of the eating area :S

Michael Rea, a good friend of mine picked me up in Johannesburg and so began my 4 week long adventure in South Africa! I felt out of my element with the cultural differences but I had him and many other friends from the Soweto Marimba Youth League to hang out with and show me things.

I spent two and a half weeks volunteering at Cotland's AIDS orphanage and I must say, it was the most humbling experience of my entire life. I made some great friends from all around the world (Holland, Germany, Scotland, Australia) and fell in love with all the kids. At the end of the two weeks, there were two children I had really bonded with that I really wanted to bring back to Canada with me and give them a great home. I hope that they get adopted one day and have a nice mommy and daddy that they've been dreaming about.

Anna and I. Love her to pieces! She reminds me of Boo from Monster's Inc. Too cute :)

Here are the kids practicing at a local park. I spent a lot of time watching them practicing and performing for different communities.

Left: This little guy (not sure of his name) is a neighbour of Portia and Alice who are both members of the SMYLe team and twin sisters.

Below: One of the SMYLe team member's grandma hangin out in the shade.

Above: Three of the teenagers in this photo are members of the SMYLe team and belong to this household of 9 children! The oldest daughter is standing in the doorway, and the youngest is in the arms of his mom.

    Below: The next three shots are photos I took while walking around Dobsonville, South Africa. Unlike in North America, when you walk the streets of South Africa with a camera, the locals ask you to take photos of them. It was great!

Above and Left: My South African Family <3

maaaaajor update!

oh boy! I am so embarrassed that I haven't updated in almost a year!
It's been a crazy and busy one though! 
Alright. To catch up from last October....
Two weeks after my last post, I set out on an incredible adventure for 6 weeks.

It started with me flying from Toronto to Boston, to Reykjavik, Iceland, to Amsterdam where I met up with my friend Rudo, and an hour later, my best friend Jamie who was studying in England for a year. It was Jamie's birthday weekend so we decided to see the sights and might I add that we had the best tour guide in town?! (Thanks again Rudo!)

Next stop; England for a week!
I spent time with Jamie around Sheffield, and then met up with my nephew's dad, Andy and he showed me around the London area. I don't think I could've asked for a better tour guide for England!

Jamie and I during our hike in the Peak District
outside of Sheffield, England.

Hiking up the hill, it was very foggy
but it eventually cleared and the view was so worth it!

The little town at the bottom of the hill called Castleton. It was such a lovely little spot.

Stonehenge- One of my favourite places. Such a strange thing to see but so brilliant and jaw dropping too.

Next, we went to Salisbury cathedral, not far from Stonehenge.
This cathedral has the oldest spire in all of great britain, mostly because it is made of stone and not wood, therefore has never been struck by lightning and burned down.

Blenheim palace was an amazing experience too. I cannot believe the size of it! Winston Churchill was born here and it really is a magnificent place to wander about.

 Andy was awesome and got us tickets to see a football match at Wembley stadium in London one night. England played France and lost terribly but it was still a great experience!

 Above: Tower Bridge by night! So brilliant!
Left: Big Ben :)

     Buckingham Palace. I wonder if Prince William was there! This was before he was officially taken by the way!

Here is Windsor Castle, the Queen's other residence. The fog was so thick that we had to ask for directions to the castle, which is absolutely crazy because it's HUGE! By the time we left, the fog had lifted and gave it quite a different look. Both I loved very much!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Weekend

This past weekend, the Cambridge Times hired me to do their weekend photos, as the freelance photographer was unable to. It felt so nice to be back shooting for the publication again.

I took photos at the Farmer's Market of a couple girls feeding the animals at the petting zoo. Saturday was a special Family Harvest Celebration so there was face painting and other activities as well.


After that, I drove over to the Armoury to photograph the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada open house.


Early into the afternoon, McDougall cottage had a toffee demonstration. :)


Hello there,
It's been a while since i've posted anything but I do have a couple new things to post.

A friend of mine from air cadets passed away on September 23 and to honour his life,
I wrote a story about him for the paper. It was published October 21.

Here's the photo and story.