Well everyone, I have returned to Kamloops, British Columbia and I have begun my last year of university to complete my double degree in Tourism Management at Thompson Rivers University. This will be my last video blog for a while, as the most excitement I will have over the next few months will be drinking coffee, hiking in the Thompson Okanagan, late night study sessions, and catching up with friends and family. The past month was filled with a mix of emotions, exciting adventures, and fantastic memories. It began by celebrating a dear friend’s birthday in a small village of the Netherlands, and ended by hiking through Cape Scott Provincial Park, along with an exploration of Vancouver Island all the way from the bottom to the top. All I can say, is thank you dear world, for the beautiful memories. It’s already time for a new adventure!
It was a great experience to celebrate my birthday abroad with friends from around the world. I felt the love from my friends and family back home, and I know that I’m simply blessed to know so many incredible human beings. My friend, Dominika, who is from Poland, also celebrated her birthday in the same week as I did. In this photo, we are holding gifts that we received. Each is a bottle of wine with glitter in it to look like a magical potion. I’m pretty sure it’s too beautiful (and fun to play with) to consume. This past year abroad has been the best I’ve ever had, and while I am grateful for all of the good times and bad times, I know that my twenty seventh year on this planet will have even more adventures, laughter, smiles, tough lessons, and hopefully, a few surprises as well.
As I wrote about before, Carnaval is celebrated all across the south of the Netherlands in early February. It is such a fun time for all ages! In each city, I think the celebration looks a little bit different and I’m told that the farther south one goes, the more intense the celebrations become.
On the last day of Carnaval in Breda, the Prince of Carnaval returned “the key to the city” to the mayor, and everyone celebrated by listening to the Carnaval music one last time in the main market square. There is a fun song and dance called the Polonaise which looks like the Conga to me. Every time this song played every single person, literally hundreds of people, started dancing in a conga line and singing along. Afterwards, the giant paper dolls were taken down from their perch at the top of city hall and hoisted upon a wooden bed. The wooden bed was paraded through the city centre with a marching band that played a light, fun version of the death march. Once the parade reached the harbour, the wooden dolls were attached to a floating crane and set afire. After a few minutes, fireworks exploded over the nearby castle. And that my friends, was how I spent the last wonderful day of Carnaval!
And here is some more footage from Carnaval. The costumes, the music, the language, the cultural shifts, the atmosphere… Drink it all in, ’cause it’s really amazing to experience! And as is said for five days a year, here in this lovely country, ALAAF!