Just Another Dumb Tourist

I’m confident in the water. I grew up as a competitive swimmer before becoming a lifeguard, teacher, and coach. I even spent some time teaching water aerobics. I have no problem hopping into a lake for swim – though I despise leeches, I’ll deal with ripping one off as needed. When it comes to ocean beaches, I’m usually the first one in and the last one out. I love the water and I’m a huge proponent of water safety.

I’ve spent many hours on the beaches of Atlantic Canada, down through to South Carolina and Florida. I thought I knew a thing or two about jellyfish…how to spot them, how to avoid them, etc.

After several summers of sea time on the beautiful beaches of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, I learned how to recognize a mild* jellyfish sting. They look like a long scratch most times (like that from a cat) and while they do burn, they aren’t generally worth making too big of a fuss over.

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Arctic Red jellyfish – the jellies commonly found on the beaches of Prince Edward Island. http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/12209781

So, it turns out I’ve only ever seen White Moon and Arctic Red jellyfish.

Ever the blogger – even especially when on vacation – my sister, Erin, and I had been traipsing around looking for the best insta-worthy photo ops.

Check out this shot. Gorgeous, eh?

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In this picture, I’m concerned about capturing the beautiful blue sky and the gorgeous coastal vista…and I’m completely oblivious to the fact that I’m inches, INCHES away from a Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish.

Take a closer look.

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Total dumb tourist.

As I was approaching the rock outcrop for my photo shoot, I saw a blue plastic water bottle floating in the water. I thought to myself, “what a shame that there’s plastic floating in this beautiful, clear water” and I even considered grabbing it to throw in the trash when I went back to the beach.

I’m not sure what stopped me but I forgot about that plastic for a minute and did a few silly poses for my sister before swimming deeper into the waves for some body surfing time, while Erin retired her photography for some tanning in the hot sun.

It wasn’t until I had dried off later that afternoon when she turned to me and said “I have to tell you something…” Apparently a local had warned her that she wasn’t to go into the water near that spot because of the dangerous nature of those jellyfish. He even said that he was surprised to see “that girl” (me, the idiot) being so cavalier to pose for pictures next to it.

Fortunately, the local resorts actually work to remove this species of jellys when they’re in the high-traffic swimming areas. Obviously, though, nature, “uh, finds a way.”

I was horrified. HORRIFIED. How did I become such a cliche? Me? I’m Ms. Feet-First-First-Time! I’m the one who tells parents not to let their kids use flotation devices when the tide is going out. I’m the most annoying, water-safety woman around. I could not — and still cannot — believe it.

In my only, pathetic defense, the thing REALLY looked like a plastic bottle. In fact, they’re also known as Blue Bottle jellyfish…so…there…

The lesson to be learned is that we are all naive and dumb when we travel to new places. Experience doesn’t always translate. Be aware and be safe. If you’ve never been somewhere, educate yourself and take necessary safety precautions. Take a look around you before you start your instagram photo shoot. Your safety is more important than a funny picture.

Don’t be me. Don’t be just another dumb tourist!

* The irritation of the sting of an Arctic red can be treated easily with the nearby sand. https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/pe/pei-ipe/securite-safety/animaux-wildlife

Man-of-War Jellyfish, close up pic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/p/portuguese-man-of-war/

 

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My Pumpkin Spiced Nightmare

I’ve never been particularly enamoured with pumpkin. The only exception I can recall is a delicious pumpkin ice cream pie that my aunt used to make for family gatherings.

When I first tried the now-infamous pumpkin spiced latte in 2010, I was immediately turned off by the weird peachy colour and sweet pumpkin taste. Because of this, I was – and continue to be – shocked by the meteoric rise in popularity.

But hey, drink what you love!

I shouldn’t be surprised by how many other brands have jumped on the trend and yet, there are SO MANY pumpkin-flavoured products in the aisles these days. It’s insanity!

When did October become a pumpkin spiced hellscape?

You think I’m kidding around?

Some products, granted, make sense to have autumnal flavours.

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But others are totally bizarre! Pumpkin milk? Pumpkin margarine? Are you joking?

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And if you think this trend isn’t bleeding into non-food avenues, you haven’t witnessed the horror that is this pumpkin spice latte handbag.

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I’m a fan of Betsey Johnson, but this is so not my cup of tea (or coffee, for that matter)!

Please, someone wake me up from this cinnamon scented nightmare!

What’s the most unnecessarily pumpkin product you’ve spotted this season?

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Farewell to Nova Scotia…

Good morning, Baltimore!

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Yep! You read that correctly. I’ve travelled south from the sea bound coast and have settled in Baltimore, Maryland in the ol’ U.S. of A.

Listen, I’m as surprised as you are. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a devout Haligonian (now as much as when I first arrived seven years ago). I will continue to proselytize the virtues of Nova Scotia to any and all during my tenure abroad — don’t you fret about that. Alas, a research opportunity for my partner arose here that was too good to pass up. So, for the next 2 years, I will be blogging about life as a displaced Canadian (with every intention of returning to my home and native land).

Despite my heartbreak when leaving NS, I’ve decided to embrace this experience with open arms. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling a wee bit culture shocked here already. It’s so interesting how close we can be geographically, yet still be so uniquely different cities. (And we both know my politics don’t align with the current US agenda…to put it lightly.)

I’ll also be continuing to work on growing BlogJam Atlantic and will keep you apprised of all the exciting developments we have this year! Have you registered yet? Click here to do so now!

If you’re interested in checking out Baltimore and my neighbourhood here, check out my insta stories! Follow @halitrax on Instagram.

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