Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas in Canada

Why would you trade the warmth and beaches of the Caribbean for the cold, barrenness of a Canadian winter?! Are you crazy?!

Apparently so. So now that we’re past a discussion of my sanity, I had a really wonderful and energizing time in Ottawa over Christmas. I have to admit that getting off that plane that first night, I thought I could never be warm again. I definitely have a better appreciation for new Canadians and winter visitors – it was as if my bones were cold too! Needless to say, my weakling ways wore off (mostly) after a few days of being back. I got to enjoy a bit of snow, make new friends and spend some quality time with old ones, reconnect with my family and get my fill of Canadiana – though I forgot to have a poutine!

Seeing friends and family over the holidays was a privilege, something I don’t always get to do when I’m abroad. But this was the first time I actually had two separate lives running parallel and active at the same time!

I couldn’t help but be curious about what roommates and friends in Barbados were doing and get the scoop on what I would be going back to. Don’t get me wrong; there was nowhere else I would rather be than home for the holidays. It was just over in a flash and now I’m back in the swing of my Caribbean life, though there seem to be more challenges than I remember. But my new years ‘resolution’ (not big on the formality of making one) is to seek positivity in my life and be responsible for my own happiness. All that to say: I plan on not letting others affect my ability to enjoy life. There are always people who want to put you down, who treat you as though you are a lower human life form and who see only what they can gain from you.

So here I am, starting my first full week back to work and to life on a small island with an unwavering optimism that, while being tested, is making me feel grounded. Plus, we have UNICEF colleagues from Trinidad and Tobago coming in this week to make sense of our new programme for this year – quite the challenge to merge two offices. And Patrick, my supervisor, hasn’t once called me Julie this year! UPDATE: Scratch that, he did this morning.

Welcome back to Barbados! Looks like everyone is coming for a visit:

Side story from the trip back: On a positive note, while overnighting in Toronto Pearson Airport on my way back here, I helped an elderly Chinese lady who couldn’t speak a word of English to go across terminals to catch a flight to Hong Kong. She sat beside me on the flight from Ottawa and after landing she latched on to my arm and never let go, pointing excitedly at the boarding pass in the pouch around her neck. So without so much as a word, I took her up and down escalators (did I mention this might have been her first time out of China), on moving sidewalks, trying to get to Terminal 3 where international airlines depart from. So we hobbled onto the skytrain and got off in a deserted corridor. It was at that point that my heart sunk. I never checked to see if her baggage was going all the way through! What if her bags were still in Terminal 1?! Luckily the woman at the Cathay Airlines counter could speak with her, and after outfitting her with a wheelchair (why hadn’t I thought of that?) and a pin with her seat number, she told me that indeed her luggage was on the plane. Phew! And I got a heartfelt thank you via the Cathay translator. At least I only had 7 more hours to kill before my morning flight!

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