It’s Time To Rephrase the Question.

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I have grown up in a society blinded by the goal of having money. Money has always seemed to be the first priority and people around me work insane hours in order to make as much as they can. The result? We stop working to live and start living to work. I can’t count the number of times visiting with my friends revolved around a quick dinner and spending most of that time talking about our jobs – and don’t even get me started on the dating scene, where the first question is always what do you do for work? Every time someone asks me that question I want to bang my head on the table, gulp down my drink and get the hell out of there. I know it’s just how our culture is: we are represented by what we do, not by who or what we love, not by what makes us angry, not by what bring joy and excitement into our lives. I know it’s not easy to change the way you think but quite frankly, I’ve had enough.

As part of a human family, we should be wanting to know and engage with who a person is, not a person’s job. Our job does not define us and it should not be the most commonly discussed topic of conversation. Whether you love your job or just do it to pay the bills, you are more than your job description. Our job title makes up a very tiny part of our identity and yet it is often the focus.

The next time you sit down on a first date or meet someone for the first time in any situation, catch yourself. Stop using the standard, simple question to spark conversation. Start asking the complicated questions, the questions that trigger a story, an emotion, a glimpse into who a person really is. Ask the questions that will give you a unique response from every person, not a robotic line that has been practiced and recited at every dinner party.

Rephrase the question.

What do you do? What do you do with this life of yours that makes it worth while, special even. What do you do that makes you feel like the happiest person in the world? What topics are so unjust to you that it makes your anger move towards activism. What do you do when you’re not working? Not studying? What are the things that are most important to you, that makes your heart fill with love and joy.

And not only what but why. How many times have you told someone your line of work and have them ask you why? Better yet, do you have an answer that you’re proud of? You will be amazed at first by the unsure reactions of others when they say… what do you mean?  As if they’ve never really thought about it themselves. But trust me, the moment you do start thinking about it is the moment your life shifts for the better.

The moment we begin to rephrase this question, out loud and in our minds, we will begin to understand the delicate necessity of balance in our lives (and that doesn’t include work and then watching fictional people live their lives through Netflix, either). We can begin letting go of the notion that we don’t have time to do things, that we don’t have enough money to do things, etc. We can stop letting work dictate our lives and start running them ourselves.  When we begin to rephrase this question, we can stop understanding people on a superficial level and start truly engaging with the person that is in front of us.

Life is all about building true, deep relationships with like-minded people that inspire, motivate and bring joy into your life.  It’s time to begin focusing on the soul of the person you’re with and start rephrasing the question.

Welcome To The Belly of The Dragon: How a Stigmatized Barbados Community Opened My Eyes and My Heart

Those of you who have been following me will know that from January to June of this year I was on a study abroad program in Barbados. Lucky me, right? Usually, when people think of Barbados or the Caribbean in general their immediate thoughts are beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, and the warmth that we all desperately crave for eight months a year up here in Canada. You’ll probably be staying in all-inclusive resorts, living in luxury for a week or two for a reasonable price. Barbados is your island getaway where you can eat, drink and lay on the beach as much as your heart desires.

You will step off that plane and smile as the thick, humid air hits your face and as the days go by you’ll think, what a beautiful place to live (yes, it is). This is paradise (also true). Nothing bad could ever happen here. But what you don’t see from the shores of the beach, the parties on St. Lawrence Gap, or your luxurious resort is the other side of life in Barbados. The side where some people struggle to keep food on the table, struggle to provide their children opportunities to succeed, and struggle to overcome crippling stigmatization. What you don’t realize when you’re lounging at The Boatyard, a popular stop for cruise passengers and resort-goers alike, is that just across the street sits one of the most socioeconomically low communities, where the drugs are being sold and bought, where the sex trade workers come out at night, where unemployment is sky high and where the community children are running around, caught up in the middle of it all.

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Set on the outskirts of Bridgetown, Nelson Street is a notorious street in the center of the St. Ambrose Community. With a history of public drug use, prostitution, and violence, it is locally known as being a pretty rough area. As a social work student, I was lucky enough to be placed right in the center of it all. Based out of the St. Ambrose Church Centre, I was thrown in head first. On my first day there, I was stopped by numerous concerned citizens when they noticed I was about to turn down into Nelson Street, each one trying to redirect me another route that would have added on an extra 20 minutes. I even had one man, of large, muscular build and heavily tattooed comment that he would never walk down Nelson Street alone. I thought to myself, “if he can’t go there, what chance do I stand?!’ Fully apprehensive, I made my walk down Nelson Street alone when a man who would come to be a huge support for me in the development of my project greeted me by saying, “Welcome to the belly of the dragon.”

Although my first few days were filled with catcalls and unspeakable comments made to me by those who limed on the street, they quickly turned a new leaf once they realized I was there to stay. During this time I learned that what you have certainly does not equate to your happiness. Despite their daily struggles, the individuals living in this area all had one thing in common: hope. If not for themselves than for their children and their futures.

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Having the opportunity to work in a neighborhood such as this truly opened my eyes and my heart. I was privileged to hear the stories that others did not want to listen to. I was welcomed with open arms into the primary school where I fell in love with the bright eyes and smiles of the children. I was guided by those who worked in the Centre I was based from. I cherished the dominoes games that I was invited to participate in with the group of men who hung out at the very same spot of the same street every single day and I was forever grateful to be invited onto the porches of those who offered me to come up for a glass of cold juice on my walk back to the bus at the end of each day.

But the moment I was most humbled is the moment a group of young men, who had initially been the worst of all the catcallers, became the people who would tell those following me too closely to back off by saying “she’s one of us”. That moment is a moment that I will never forget and one that I will always hold onto, the moment when I truly realized just how welcomed I had become. To go from being a stranger in the community to being dubbed one of their own was one of the most rewarding feelings and reminded me why I had chosen this career. I will be eternally grateful for this community for truly opening my eyes and my heart and I sincerely hope that these children get the futures that they deserve.

Are Toiletries Taking Over Your Backpack? Take COCONUT OIL Instead!

This may seem like an odd travel staple to some, but carrying coconut oil has saved me from having my backpack weighed down with toiletries. Toiletries are the number one thing that I, and many friends, have complained about. Sure, it can be easy to downsize your clothes and shoes, but toiletries always seem to take up so much space! Not only that, but they’re heavy! All of my toiletries could easily weigh up to an extra ten pounds strapped to my back and you know what? It is completely unnecessary.

Since discovering coconut oil a few years ago, it has made packing light a lot easier. No longer do I need to carry around a facial moisturizer, body lotion, conditioner, eye cream, makeup remover, hair serum AND a million more things. Instead, I just throw a pot of coconut oil in my bag and I’m ready to go. This little beauty has multiple purposes including, but not limited to, all of the ones I just mentioned. Take a peek below to see just how to use it.

Moisturizer
Warm up some coconut oil between your hands and apply to face and body. With a light, naturally sweet scent that will remind you of tropical holidays in the Caribbean, coconut oil helps to sooth and hydrate dry skin. Full of vitamins and healthy fats, coconut oil leaves your face looking brighter and younger.

Eye Makeup Remover and Eye Cream
Coconut oil is the perfect trick to get rid of stubborn eye makeup. Put about a nickel size in between your palms and gently massage over your eyes and even your waterproof mascara will come sliding off. The oil has a double benefit here as the lauric acid works as an anti-inflammatory to reduce puffiness around the eyes.

Hair Conditioner
To use as a hair mask, apply a few tablespoons to the ends of your hair and leave on overnight or even just 20 minutes before washing out. My hair is very prone to dryness so I often cover my entire head of hair in coconut oil about once a week for a thorough, deep conditioning treatment.

Have some oil on your hands after using it as your facial moisturizer? Run your fingers through your hair, focussing on the ends of your hair or any fly-aways to leave your hair looking shiny and smooth.

Body Lotion
Skip the expensive, store bought lotions because your coconut oil has you covered! Use this in the same way as you used it for your facial moisturizer; just apply all over your body.

Shaving Gel
This changed my life and ladies, you will thank me. Say goodbye to sore and unsightly razor burn on your bikini area by using coconut oil as your shaving gel. The oil softens the hair and allows your razor to glide smoothly over your skin. Another bikini shaving tip: once you’re out of the shower, moisturize the area again with coconut oil or with natural aloe vera.

Teeth Whitener
Oil pulling with coconut oil is great for oral hygiene. Again, the lauric acid pulls through and helps to kill off bacteria and plaque that can cause your teeth to yellow.

That’s not all that coconut oil is good for. This multi-purpose, organic oil can be used for so much more. What are you waiting for? Ditch the excessive toiletries, toss in a tub of extra virgin, organic coconut oil and begin reaping the benefits of naturally glowing, healthy skin and hair while on the road!

An Ode to On the Road Friendships

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There you were, sitting in the hostel common room. On the same tour. At the same pub. In the same meditation class. Exploring the same temple. Climbing the same tower. Tossing the same lucky coin into the same fountain. Sitting in the same first-day orientation class on our exchange abroad. You were just another stranger taking in the beauty of new cities and new experiences, eyes wide with wonder and unwavering smiles upon your faces. Some of you were with friends and some of you were also traveling solo, but each of you became significant pieces of my favorite memories.

We met purely by chance, by circumstance; One moment we were strangers and the next we were best friends. We rode a 13 hour bus ride after making the split decision to travel together for a while after knowing you for only a day. We explored three different countries together, suffered through horrible and embarrassing bouts of travelers diarrhea together, signed up for diving courses and hitched rides in the back of trucks. We had barely known each other and yet each of you felt like you had been in my life for years.

It’s a strange and beautiful thing that happens when you make friendships on your travels. You might only spend a week or a few days with someone, but you will never forget them. They are there whenever you think about nearly any moment from any trip: cutting grass for an elephant sanctuary, wild nights on Koh Phi Phi, sleeper buses, dive courses, exploring ruins of Pompeii, spontaneous tattoos, sitting to listen to buskers on the sidewalk, nearly getting run over trying to cross the street in a new country. The list could go on forever and for nearly every single moment, there is a name that coincides.

They’re fleeting friendships, people that you hold fond thoughts for, grateful to have shared a moment with someone just as inspired by the world as you are. But inevitably, there comes a time when you are ready to part ways, off to different countries. Some of you are going home to see your family, some are staying because they’ve fallen in love with a city they had never even dreamed of going, and many of you are continuing on to the next destination.

We all share promises of reunions, of meeting up if you ever visit each others home country, of writing letters; We can’t imagine never seeing each other again. This does happen when the timing is right, when you realize that you are both in the same city again. But mostly, we follow each other through social media. I smile when I see that you’re still continuing your journey around the world even five years later, I feel happy for you when you’ve slowed life down to bring a new life into the world and we silently encourage one another to keep following our dream of travel even though it might seem unconventional to some.

On the road friendships are fleeting and intense, an all or nothing affair. You’re likely to share the most incredible and beautiful moments of your life with these people and you may never see them again. You might even forget a few of them as the years go by until you browse through old photos and see their faces, old travel journals and see their names, emails, and phone numbers scribbled down on bits of paper. These friendships are some of the most pure and unchanged precisely because they’re held by a mere memory of a moment. And despite only spending three days, a week, a month or, if you’re lucky, more, in these friendships, each and every one have become important people in the stories that have made up my life.

A Letter of Hope to Florence

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I came with the best of intentions, the greatest of hopes for your city, with dreams of marveling at world-famous art, strolling the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, and eating my weight in gelato on my 19th birthday. I envisioned classy Italian women going about their daily business, young locals sitting along the riverside, and throngs of tourists with eyes wide open in wonder.

I wanted to love you, to bask in sunlight perched upon the Piazzale Michelangelo and stare down at all of what you had to offer. I wanted to soak it all up: every sight, every sound, every taste and smell. To feel what the breeze felt like, would it be different than other places? You were romanticized in my mind by every word I heard spoken of you, every story I had read.

But what my heart felt didn’t match up with my expectations. Don’t be put down, you were every bit as beautiful as I had imagined. Boutiques lined the street, the Ponte Vecchio lit up every evening, lighting the way and I did get gelato on my birthday (and a very lovely cake and lighter-as-a-makeshift-candle combo).

Sunshine was a far off notion as the rain beat down day and night, chilling us to the bone. I awoke with creepy crawlies on my pillow, inching towards my face, and the Duomo, one of your most beautiful cathedrals, was mostly obscured due to construction. What was supposed to be a blissful time in a blissful city was lackluster. Mark it as a spot of bad timing, the moment not being quite right — isn’t that always the way it happens?  — and a bit of traveler’s exhaustion, but our days didn’t feel as inspired as I had expected. I never wrote about you much here because I didn’t think I had many inspiring things to say and I didn’t want to discredit you.

I thought I had made up my mind about you, Florence. That you and I weren’t meant to be, that you were just one of those places that I didn’t hit it off with. But I have hope for you yet, as you creep into my thoughts every now and then. One day, when I do step foot on the pavement along the Arno, I hope that all of my notions of a romanticized Florence come rushing back. That the sun shines down and that the breeze feels differently.

Until then.

Sunday Snapshot: The Icefields Parkway, Alberta

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This photo, taken along the Icefield Parkway between the Rocky Mountain towns of Jasper and Banff, AB is just one of the jaw-dropping views along this stretch of mountain highway. Looking up to the center of the photo, you can see one of the Rocky Mountain’s glaciers that supply all the surrounding lakes and rivers with pure glacier water. You can fill up your water bottle for a taste of some of the purest water in the world.

The Things I’ve Done For Luck.

If you’ve traveled anywhere, I can guarantee you have been told that by touching something, swimming in a certain body of water, or doing some odd activity will bring you luck and good fortune. I was thinking about a few things I did on a recent trip to the Caribbean that was supposed to be healing for the body and it reminded me of all the things I have done since beginning my travels in 2010, some silly, some scary, and some just plain gross. So I thought I would compile a list of the moments that stand out for me in terms of doing something because it was considered lucky or “rejuvenating”.

The Gift of the Gab

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The land of the Irish is filled with stories based around luck and good fortune, leprechauns hiding their pots of gold and fairy rings that should you step inside the ring, you’ll be cursed by fairy protectors or transported to a land of supernatural beings or forced to dance until exhaustion and death (nice things, fairies, aren’t they?). But most importantly, and often boasted about, they believe in the gift of the gab. The ability to talk your way out of anything or being a smooth talker. For those of you interested in being blessed with such a gift, you can take a ride on up to a town called Blarney, just north of the city of Cork.

Here, you’ll find Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney Stone, or the Stone of Eloquence. Up the tower you climb until you get to a human-sized hole. It’s in this whole, a rough back bend down, that the Blarney Stone sits in the stone wall. At 90ft. above the concrete, I lay on my back and put my life in the hands of a grey-haired old man. With his hands gripping my calves, I leaned my upper body backwards and down into the hole, hanging on to the bars mounted on the stone wall. With a quick glance at the concrete below, I kissed the Blarney Stone and shot back up to safety.

Eternal Beauty

On the Isle of Skye, Scotland, there is a particular river that I’ve forgotten the name of. Flowing under a bridge, we pulled up beside it and sat around listening to a legend of the most beautiful girl in the village. Many, many years ago on her wedding day, this girl was riding her horse across the river when the horse lost her footing and down tumbled the bride-to-be, smashing her face on a rock with a pointed tip. A gruesome event, the poor girl had an eyeball hanging from its socket, her face mangled. No longer was she the most beautiful girl in the village. Determined to be married, she popped her eye back in place, though not well, and hid her face behind her veil. I Do’s were said but when the groom pulled back her veil to kiss the bride, he recoiled in disgust and, being the superficial man that he was, refused to marry her.

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Humiliated, the girl ran back to the river, where she met a leprechaun.. or perhaps a fairy. After hearing her story, the leprechaun told her that all she had to do was dip her face in that very river for no less than 7 seconds and she would be eternally beautiful. As you can imagine, we quickly lowered ourselves down and dunked our faces into the ice cold water and counted to 7.

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Clear Skin in Trinidad

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Many bodies of water around the world are said to have healing properties, rejuvenating qualities, etc. On a recent trip to Trinidad, we stopped at Pitch Lake, a “lake” filled with pitch. All of the major highways around the world use the asphalt from this lake and every time, the lake renews itself, filling again and again with asphalt. Black and smelling of tar, you can walk on the lake as the top layer is hardened, a slightly squishy surface. Certain areas of Pitch Lake are filled with small pools of water, some green in color, others black as Coca-Cola. Locals come to the pitch lake to bathe in one of these small pools as it’s said to aid in healing psoriasis and arthritis due to its medicinal properties.

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Another pool of water in the Pitch is said to be safe to drink a small bottle cap-full once a day as it’s said to keep the skin clear from acne. After playing in the water a little bit, two of us were brave enough to fill up our bottle caps and shot it back.

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The Sai Sin Bracelet

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Thailand has more symbols and amulets for luck than anywhere I’ve been. You ask any vendor on the street what the symbol on a ring, image, or other piece of jewelry means and they’ll tell you it’s for luck. You can often tell a backpacker in Southeast Asia by the collection of bracelets adorning their wrists and ankles, but there is one bracelet in particular that is said to give the wearer great luck. The Sai Sin bracelet. Up on Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I knelt before a monk and a shaman as he blessed the piece of white string before tying it to my wrist and was told that it would bring me luck in my travels, my health, and my prosperity. Whatever you do, don’t cut these bracelets off. Rather, they must break naturally from your wrist when the time is right. If you do cut it off, all the luck it was supposed to bring will be gone.

Three Wishes at the Trevi Fountain

On our very first night in Rome we found ourselves at the Trevi Fountain. There’s a number of legends about the fountain, which started many years ago. It’s said that originally, tossing in a coin or taking a drink from the fountain would ensure good health. Today, the Trevi Fountain has become a mecca for tourists from all over the world. We were told by a traveling family that you could make three wishes, on three different coins, of three different currencies. Swapping coins with one another, we each had three coins of different currencies and, with our backs to the fountain, tossed them in over our left shoulder, one at a time. Each coin had a different wish and, though I’m sure you’d like to know my wishes, they will forever be a secret.

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The Cursed Tomb of Alexander Stewart

Despite all the things I’ve done for luck, my reckless self also did something that is said to curse the individual for as long as they live. In the small Scottish town of Dunkeld sits a cathedral. Within that cathedral, is the resting place of the Earl of Buchan in 1812. After leaving his wife and six children, he was excommunicated and, as a result, he burned two towns to the ground. They say that anyone who touches his tomb will be cursed with bad luck for the rest of their lives. Whether this is true or not, perhaps the many things I have tried for good luck outweighs the curse. Either way, whenever I get a bout of unluckiness, particularly without explanation, I blame Alexander Stewart.

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These are just a few stories of the things I’ve done around the world in the name of luck and beauty. For more stories, you can read about swimming in Tobago’s Nylon Pool for rejuvenation, rubbed Juliet’s breast for luck in Verona, and doused myself in mud in St.Lucia for soft skin and healing properties.

Staying with a Local Host Family in St. Lucia

Traveling through the Caribbean is not cheap, especially if you’re looking for accommodation. It might be cheap by some standards, but by backpacker standards everything can be a bit pricey. There’s no $2 rooms like in Southeast Asia and virtually no hostels to be seen. We found our best bet was to look on websites like Couchsurfing.com, which we didn’t get a chance to use, and Air BnB, which we used in Tobago and St. Lucia.

Lucky for us we found an amazing host in St. Lucia, who welcomed us into her home like we were family. I had never before stayed with a local host family and wasn’t sure what to expect. My biggest fear was that it would be extremely awkward and intrusive, that we wouldn’t get along with our host, and that we would be out on the street with no place to stay. All those fears were shot down as soon as we walked through the front door to our host, Noa, in the kitchen. We were welcomed with hugs and huge smiles and we talked through the evening.

Staying with a local host was amazing and is something that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in seeing how locals live in your chosen destination. One of the main reasons we chose our host was for the great reviews left by those who had stayed with her before. Everyone had only nice words to say and her place was located in the area we were hoping for.

The house was a basic local home with all the good and bad that comes with that. In this case, it was the resident mouse and the cockroaches that thankfully kept hidden in the crack in the bathroom wall. Just extra roommates right? Noa’s home was filled with so much love and laughter that it was infectious, you could feel it in the air. There was never a dull moment with her daughter running around and their puppy to play with. We shared meals together, watched movies and sat on the porch late into the night.  Noa drove us to visit the volcano and waterfall in Soufriere, stopping at every point where we felt the need to snap a photo. She brewed us fresh herbal teas, taught us how to make cocoa tea and we kicked off one of our final nights dancing in the streets of St. Lucia’s famous Jump-Up in Gros Islet.

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As with anything, there are a few things you can do to make your stay with a local host more enjoyable. For me, the top two things you should be doing as a host are:

1. Keep the space clean and tidy. You are a guest in their home, no matter if you become friends or not. Keeping the place as clean as you left it (or cleaner!) is the nice thing to do.

2. Show your appreciation. This can be anything from cooking your host a meal, walking their dog, or even leaving them a small gift. Flowers? Maybe something from your home country?

As for everything else, follow your hosts lead. Every host will have a different personality and a different way of running their home. Some hosts may be young and loud into the night. Others may have small children that need to sleep at an early hour. Music playing in the home might be great, other might not appreciate it as much. So play it by ear and meet your host on common ground that works for you both.

Have you ever stayed with a host family? Were you the host? Share your experience in the comments below!

Gros Islet’s Famous Jump Up

A Friday night in St. Lucia is not complete without making an appearance at Gros Islet’s jump-up, the street party that has made this town famous. Once the sun sets, the town locals and all the tourists flock to the streets to celebrate another week done and another weekend beginning. Our local host, Noa, and her friend Steve had been talking about the party all week and were eager to show us a good time. Sections of town are closed off to vehicles, allowing people to eat, drink, dance and party in the streets all night long.

After stopping at the fish fry down the road for some food and Piton beer, we made our way to where the party happened, being enveloped in the loud reggae music coming from the speakers. There are a few spots on the street, each playing different versions of soca, dancehall and reggae music. Drinks in hand, we followed our ears to the sound of familiar soca beats in the center of the street and suddenly we were surrounded by more white people than I’d seen in four months.

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The street party is well-advertised to tourists. Almost everyone that we met on the beach or on the street leading up to the party was sure to mention it, getting promises from us that we would be there. So we were, and so was every other tourist in the Gros Islet area. The tourists made up the majority of the dancing until after 11pm, when tourists dwindled away and the locals moved in. After 11pm is when things get really good, with St. Lucians showing what their mamas gave them. The music got louder and the dancing never stopped, with a few talented young men busting out some choreography in the center of it all.

Rum punch is available at every corner and for those with a hungry tummy, there’s street vendors selling bbq food. If your money is burning a hole in your pocket and you like art as a souvenir, there’s quite a good guy selling handmade wood carvings and paintings just up the road. Typical me has lost his business card again but if I find the name, I’ll put it here! In the meantime, that’s him in the photo above.

If you’re looking for a unique St. Lucian experience and a great way to interact with the locals, make sure you end up at the jump-up on Friday night.

Bucket List: Volcano Mud Bath, St. Lucia

Dunking myself in warm, scratchy mud was at the top of my list when I headed to the island of St. Lucia. It might seem counterproductive to take a bath in mud, but the effects on your skin are truly amazing! Soufriere is one of the world’s only “drive-in” volcanoes, meaning exactly that. Instead of hiking up a volcano you can drive your car right up and into the volcano itself, parking the car and going by foot to get up close and personal.

The drive to Soufriere is breathtaking, with the road winding through the mountains and giving you incredible views of the Pitons. As soon as you enter the fishing town of Soufriere, you’re hit with the unmistakable scent of rotten eggs — the tell-tale sign that a sulphur spring is nearby. With our local host guiding the way, we walked up to look over the bubbling pools of volcanic mud, steam rising into the air around us.

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A few years earlier, tourists were allowed to actually walk amongst these active pools but this has been prohibited ever since an employee fell through the hollow ground, burning the majority of his body. Luckily, he survived and can now be found working in one of the many resorts on St. Lucia, safely away from hot volcanic mud.

Seeing the pools of mud bubbling up from the ground was good, but the real treat of our trip up to the volcano was obviously the mud bath. If ever there is a chance to do something weird like rubbing mud all over myself, holding boa constrictors around my neck, or taking a shot of green water from a lake full of asphalt, I’ll do it. Especially if there’s rumors of healing properties or good luck.

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So, it was off with our clothes and into the mud for us! But wait, you don’t just dive right in. First, you scoop fistfuls of mud and rub it all over your body as it seeps out between your fingers. The mud is hot to the touch but cools as you continue to a nice feeling of warmth. It’s an added natural exfoliator thanks to the bits of crushed rocks in there.

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Once you’re nice and covered, take a seat or stand and chat, laughing with strangers at how weird you look — especially those who cover their face — until the mud starts to dry on your skin and turn a lighter shade of grey. Then, despite it already being well over 30 degrees Celsius outside, you go on to lower yourself into muddy water that is about the temperature of hot tea, or around 40-45 degrees Celsius. It’s a little hot as first (as you can see by my reaction!) but you quickly get used to it.

Lounging in the water is really quite nice and super relaxing. Your muscles instantly relax and you suddenly feel a very strong urge to take a nap. As you float in the water, the mud will slowly come off your skin but you’ll want to help it out. Chances are no matter how much you scrub, you’ll discover some dried mud on yourself or caked in your hair a few hours later, even after you’ve rinsed off in the showers available.

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Once you’ve spent enough time playing in the mud, you might want to check out one of the nearby waterfalls! Who doesn’t love a good waterfall, am I right?