We heard that the blog name ‘Bacon is Magic’ alludes to the fact that small changes can have a big effect (just like addition of pork products to – well, anything!). What small changes have you made recently which are having a positive effect on your life?
It’s as simple as a smile. It can change a person’s day. We tend to just sleepwalk through many of our daily activities and don’t even remember the cashier’s face at the grocery store. I try to smile and say a genuine hello to the people that I meet, even if I am just buying gum from them.
Your mother (and your inspiration) sent you to learn French in Paris when you were sixteen, and recently joined you in Hawaii. Is she an avid traveller? How far is she responsible for your itchy feet?
My mother is not an avid traveler at all and neither is my sister. But my mother knew that I would not stay in my small Canadian town of 5,000 people and that travel would open my eyes. It really changed my life as I saw that people live differently and there was so much to learn. Now as an adult I am able to share that with both of them and it is really special.
Your biggest trip was your solo journey through Latin America. How did this trip change you as a person?
I would say my biggest trip was moving to the Philippines after university for an international internship. I had never been to Asia or really been exposed to the culture. It made me realize all the international marketing courses I had taken left me completely unequipped to really deal with other cultures.
Before I left for Latin America I was well established in my career and had a life many people aspire to have. But I really felt like something was missing. I wasn’t ready to get married, have kids, or spend my savings on a house. I didn`t understand what was wrong with me and why I couldn`t just be happy.
In Latin America I realized that I had evolved into a person I didn`t want to be and that was the struggle. I had been so focused on getting ahead that I didn`t consider if I really wanted the life I had. My priorities have since changed and I think I am a better person and it`s why I wrote the post 35 Things I Learned Traveling Latin America.
Go on, what off-the-beaten-track destinations have you discovered on your travels? Keep it to a whisper…
I always recommend Northern Peru and I wish I had written about it more. I had just left a boyfriend in Ecuador and I was in a low period of my travels and I just couldn`t write at the time. But it really is the best part of Peru, it is very cheap, has a million ruins and fantastic food.
You have kept a journal for many years now. How does this differ from your blog, and does it get tiring maintaining the two?
The first six months of my blog I was trying to be Lonely Planet or some other guide. The blog wasn`t good at all because I wasn`t writing in my own voice. Then I got to Colombia and was in another slump and wrote The 12 Things I Hate About Traveling and people really responded to my honesty. I realized that more of the journal needed to be on the blog.
That said, I do need to keep some things to myself. So the journal is a free flow of thoughts I have as I try to work through things. It`s also where I write about crazy nights out and guys that I am seeing. I don`t write about nights out drinking or people I am dating online because I have to keep some things to myself.
You spent some time recently exploring the islands of Hawaii. How was it? Any must-dos?
I spent a month on Maui Country, which includes Maui, Molokaì and Lanaì. On Maui I would definitely recommend trying Hawaiian food and heading to Haleakala for sunrise. On Lanaì we had a fantastic time clay shooting and taking a 4X4 tour of the island. Molokaì is a very special place that not many people visit but I was in awe of the beauty and tragedy of Kalaupapa Valley.
During your travels in Latin America, you picked up Spanish, having been unable to speak the language beforehand. How did this experience affect your attitude towards language, and are there any others you would like to learn?
I have always believed that you should know basic phrases in a country, simply to be polite. As a Canadian, I knew French, which helped a lot. But there is always a barrier between you and the culture when you cannot really communicate with locals. Sure, a smile goes a long way but being able to crack a joke, negotiate a price or just tell people your life story really makes an experience. It is why after two years I was determined to go back to Mexico. I had met so many kind people and felt like I needed to return to get the real experience.
I would love to say there are other languages I will learn but it`s not likely. My focus is to continue to learn Spanish as I see myself spending a lot more time in Spanish-speaking countries.
Now you’re back in your hometown, Toronto, focusing on shaping your ‘travel-centric life’. What’s in store for you and Bacon is Magic? Any travels coming up?
When I gave up my nomadic lifestyle in Seville, Spain I thought it meant trips would be far and few between but I am still traveling at least a couple weeks out of every month. This spring and summer I visited Maui for a month, Mexico for three weeks and then week-long trips to Portland, New York, Montreal and Montana.
It is definitely travel-centric.
Right now I am trying to figure out the best balance for me. I am hoping to do a bit of freelance marketing work here in Toronto and then travel between contracts. Toronto is an amazing city with so much diversity that I am really happy to be here. Next week I`m heading to Seattle and Kelowna, British Colombia, for a wine festival. After that we will see! I have learned life is best when you don`t make plans.
Thanks a bunch Ayngelina! Don’t forget to keep up with her adventures on baconismagic.ca.