La Viajera: Spanish for “the female traveler”. My name is Ellen Keith. I’m 27 years old and originally hail from Alberta, Canada. In 2012, I traded in my office cubicle and apartment for a camera and a backpack and set off on a solo, 10-month trip across Europe and South America. I’ve been travelling almost continuously […]
The one thing I can never leave at home is my camera. My cell phone is old and just doesn’t cut it. Here are some snapshots from a few of my favourite trips: from Indonesia to Bolivia, Mexico to the Netherlands. You can also view my other featured photos under the “Photo Fridays” section. Indonesia Mexico […]
If you want to dive a little deeper into my writing world, you can check out some of my publications below. Some are related to travel, and I’ve also included a few interviews on the list. But while I love writing about my experiences abroad, my big passion is long and short-form fiction. I have a […]
I’ve been holed up in a house in the eastern part of the Netherlands for a week now. Writing all day, every day, but not for La Viajera, as it’s clear to see. I’ve been avoiding it. First came schoolwork, then freelance stuff, then writing that I won’t get paid for but that still seemed more urgent than this.
Maybe I’m avoiding it because Africa already seems so far away.
It always shocks me how little time it takes before routine conquers my life again and the memories of a vacation settle in the cluttered drawers of my mind. How it only takes a few days before the last sand of the Namib desert washes out of my hair; before the flush of the Middle Eastern heat leaves my skin; and before the taste of a Stellenbosch pinotage disappears from my palate.
This week, my brother and I are finishing up our three-week self-driven road trip through southern Africa. We’re in Cape Town at the moment, and today we spent our final day visiting some of the townships here.
The first photo was in Langa township at a shack that acts as a shebeen. Here they serve umqombothi, a maize beer that the owners brew themselves. A fire just outside the entrance was maintained to brew the beer, and the smoke seeped in while we drank. This place is especially popular on the weekends, when crowds of men will sit here to drink and dance.
Maybe you’re going to Europe for a month, or maybe you’re going on a RTW trip for a year. Unless you plan on spending all day every day on the beach, packing for an extended backpacking trip can be tricky. Everything you bring needs to go on your back, but you need to be prepared for all types of climates and situations.
As someone who loves playing dress-up, wearing jewelry, and heels, I remember feeling anxious the first time I set off backpacking. I tried to cram three times as much stuff in my bag as I needed. Fortunately, I’ve gone on enough trips now that I’ve boiled down my packing list to a few essentials. I keep this list saved on my computer, and slightly modify it for each trip depending on the climate and types of activities I’ll be doing. To give you a sense of what goes in my bag, I’m posting my packing list for my trip to Africa this summer. Read more →
I lean my head against the taxi window. A plane sweeps down to land, so near that I can make out the seams of its massive underbelly. My leather jacket is creased with campfire ash — remnants of a night that already seems long past. Wet skin sticky with salt. Drifting to sleep to the clink of emptied wine bottles and scattered conversation. But now the rows of tarmac grow ever nearer.
I shift uncomfortably, my muscles tense from a bike ride along the Vancouver seawall. That morning, the tide had been out. Fields of bull kelp and green algae littered the rocky shore and I inhaled the Pacific in all its rawness. It smelled like our island.
I tuck away that ocean scent, along with that of the lingering campfire smoke. Snippets of Canada, the home that I’m leaving.
I’m not lucky, so please stop telling me that. My decision to travel was not a question of chance. No dice were thrown, no cards lain. This life of travel is all me: my lifestyle, my decisions.
When I was ten, my parents pulled my brother and I out of school and took us camping through Europe for six months. They used to grumble about the people who remarked how lucky we were to have that experience.
“It has nothing to do with luck,” my Mom would respond. “It was years of stringent saving.”
I can vouch for that. While all my friends were going to Disneyworld or Cuba in the years leading up to that trip, my family went to B.C. for vacation, and while other kids got Gameboys in their stockings, Peter and I received homemade gifts or books. (Maybe this spawned my future career choice?) Read more →