Living the (Puerto) Dream


*** none of these photos are relevant to this blog post, but it's beautiful here, so enjoy! 

Since the beginning of Alternative Routes, I’ve debated how personal I want to be in my social media presence. In the age of the selfie, a big part of me is terrified I might get sucked into the narcissistic vortex of the social media circus, but another part of me knows that what makes travelling with Alternative Routes unique, is my ability to be open and share with the people around me. I want to keep that part of this venture real and visible, because really it’s the reason I’m doing all this, travelling and starting AR, to keep sharing unique experiences with interested people. 

I wondered if I should share with you my trip to Mexico, and how I could make it relevant to AR’s fans and passengers. Can you believe I almost forgot who you were?  I understand now that of course me taking a trip to Mexico is relevant. Because, for the first time in a long time, I remember what it feels like to be a traveller!  For too long I’ve been hosting people in the vulnerable position of getting to know a new place without getting away and being in that position myself. This time it’s me that get’s to be blown away by the unfamiliar landscapes, smells and food, and the new palettes of colour, the most beautiful colours! I’ve been reminded of the value of authentic travel experiences and feel more in touch with what it is I set out to do in the beginning. 

Wow! Are we lucky people, the one’s who chose to travel.  I’m sitting in a blissful daze in my Airbnb in San Cristobal de las Casas, freezing my ass off under a blanket, so happy to be getting some weird sort of vacation from my vacation. Everyone does this right? Takes “me time” in their travels? Time to veg, in whatever form that takes for them, time to process all the new experiences they've had, the people they've met, and the drinks! But only enough time to remember how nice it was to be on the Pacific Ocean playing in the waves drinking Mezcal Margarita’s with the boys back at Puerto Dreams. Making decisions is hard when you travel. There are always so many places to go, so many people talking about beautiful things you need to see, it’s amazing anyone ever gets out the door in the first place. 

The good people from Dalhousie’s school of Planning invited me this week to present at their PechaKucha fundraiser, and although I have no idea how I did with my slides and scattered brained chatter (prerecorded from this very same room), I hope that somehow I touched the people there with my desperate rant about how important public transportation to rural places in Nova Scotia is to enhance the cultural experience of this place for everyone. Because of Mexico’s extensive transportation system my trip has been fuller than I ever could have imagined. I’ve travelled to four cities in two weeks with six different modes of transportation, not including the plane that got me here. The options here are so vast, I even met a couple that chartered a plane for a much too reasonable price, and yes, they arrived with all their limbs! 


So it seems this working holiday, that was starting to look just like a regular holiday, got me back to my roots. Reminded me of how Alternative Routes came about in the first place. My imagination is running wild, and I’m picturing being in your shoes again, I (almost) can’t wait to get home to plan all the ways how this second summer can be better than the last.  And now since I’ve found my roots and vulnerability, I think I will be able to share it with you more sincerely than I would have before, because to me, AR is more than just a shuttle, and it's more than a way to travel, it’s a way of living.


Who Am I And Why This.


“Why aren’t you guys coming here?” 

“It’s so big!”

“It’s too expensive!” 

“There’s no way to see everything I want!” 

Ah! Ha! It was my moment, and everything clicked into place. They were right. From what I saw, unless you rent a car, the options for travellers were pretty slim in Canada, especially outside the Toronto-Montreal corridor. And Canada is so much more than that bottleneck. We have some of the most expensive flights around the globe. Our expanse is enormous; Most of the backpackers don’t want to travel in a personal bubble. They are the people who want real experiences of the places they visit, and they want to meet local people, impossible things to do while handling the wheels of a car. 

So, I’ll be honest, I never imagined myself starting a business, but after hosting travellers in my home for the last three years and seeing that no one else is catering to the market of tourists I love so much, I felt it absolutely necessary to do something. So, I’m doing something, and I’m excited to have all of you be a part of it. I can’t wait for our first ride on July 1st, my perfectionist side says that’s too soon, but my good side: the fun side says: “let’s do it!”  

I’m that other freckled redheaded kid from across the strait (the Northumberland Strait that is), who upon moving to Nova Scotia, immediately fell in love and starting calling it home. Ten years later and better travelled, I decided I want to make this place more accessible so that others would get the same opportunity I did to fall in love. 

When I first had the idea for Alternative Routes, I was traveling across Canada, from Edmonton to Halifax. It was the third time I’d made this journey, but the first time I noticed how many hotels, motels, and campgrounds were almost empty, or already shut down— and it was the middle of summer.  This piqued my longing and my curiosity. I had just returned from a lengthy journey backpacking through Europe and Africa, and what I saw just wasn’t matching up with what I was hearing from my peers:

 “Oh Canada, you guys have the best nature.”

 “Canada is amazing, so wild and so much to see.” 

“ I can’t wait to visit Canada.” 

These were the phrases echoed by everyone I came across during my hostel stays.  So, I couldn’t help but wonder: why aren’t they coming? If they were coming, these beautiful little towns, which had evidence of a once booming tourism industry, wouldn’t be coughing up so many ghosts. So, I got on the social media and started asking these friends: