Author Archives: Gloria



8 months. 5 continents. 16 countries. 20 flights. Too many buses, trains, boats, ferries, rental cars, taxi cabs and tuk tuks to count. Ditto with guest houses, hostels, hotels, lodges, cabins, apartments and houses.

We’ve circumnavigated the globe and, as with many life-altering journeys, finished where we started. Home.

Yet I can’t quite shake the feeling that I am a fish out of water. Everything is simultaneously familiar and foreign. Reverse culture shock is what they call it (whoever “they” are). Perhaps that explains the vague sense of guilt I felt the other day when I dropped a pair of socks in the laundry bin after only one wear – an act that would have been far too decadent when our “washing machine” was the bathroom sink. It’s hard to reconcile living out of a single bag for eight months and then returning to a big house with so much stuff. It’s equally hard to accept that the adventure is over. Continue reading

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A Tale of Two Cities

Place du Général de Gaulle (the main square in Lille)

Place du Général de Gaulle (the main square in Lille)

When I was a young girl, I loved big cities. Compared to the small town I lived in on Vancouver Island, they seemed full of possibilities – so many things to see and do. And the city lights at night? Magic. For the most part, the cities I visited as a kid were in Canada or the US.

But there is something even more special about big European cities, and this past week we’ve soaked up the beauty and history of both London, England and Lille, France. Continue reading

Categories: England, France | 10 Comments


The amazing Semien Mountains National Park

We did a short trek in the amazing Semien Mountains National Park

At times over the past ten days, I’ve felt our extended road trip through the hinterland of Ethiopia may have been a bit too adventurous, given we’re almost seven months into our journey and feeling quite travel weary. Continue reading

Categories: Ethiopia | 7 Comments

“Take a train to Gondor and spit on my father’s grave”


Fasilides Castle built in 1635 by Emperor Fasilides Adam Sagad who is credited with founding Gondor

Fasilides Castle built in 1635 by Emperor Fasilides Adam Sagad who is credited with founding Gondor

That was my Dad’s request back in December 2007, just before we traveled to Ethiopia to adopt Meskie. He was none too pleased at my response, which while sympathetic, explained in no uncertain terms why it wasn’t going to happen.

In essence:

  1. Ethiopia does not have a national train system.
  2. The trip to Gondor from the capital city of Addis Ababa would take several long days of driving in poor road conditions.
  3. Taking said road trip would be a unique form of torture with three children ages 1, 2 and 5 (two in diapers and one likely thinking something along the lines of “Who are these pasty aliens who have taken me away from everything and everyone I knew?”) Continue reading
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Six years ago, we arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as a family of four. The next day we were a family of five… at least on paper. In reality, you don’t just snap your fingers and “become” family. It takes time and shared experiences — lots of both. The good, the bad, and the mundane. Continue reading

Categories: Ethiopia | 8 Comments

Big and small

Concert at Bulugha School near Chintsa on the Wild Coast

Concert at Bulugha School near Chintsa on the Wild Coast

I continue to be amazed how international travel can make the world seem so big and yet so small at the same time. One moment we are immersed in a culture and reality completely removed from our own, and the next we feel as though we have been transported back home. Sometimes it makes my head spin, and I struggle to absorb it all.

We’ve gone months without meeting a single person from Canada or even the US. This week we met several Americans, including a Colorado man working on a water project in Lesotho. And today I had a long chat with a woman from Abbotsford who has spent the past year setting up a new program at a university in Nairobi. Continue reading

Categories: South Africa | Leave a comment

When you heard from us last…

Outside 34 South on Knysna Waterfront

Outside 34 South restaurant on Knysna Waterfront

…  we were at the southernmost tip of Africa, at Cape Agulhas, with only one road in and out of the small village. It had been raining. Hard. For several days. We were advised that the road would be closed if the rain continued overnight.

As we made our way out of the area the next morning, all seemed fine. In fact, the pools of water we drove through the day before were mostly gone. And then we past the “road closed” drum cans. Why did we continue against all common sense, you may ask? Well, we were right behind a large SUV, and by the time we saw the signs on the drum cans, we had already entered the flooded roadway. The SUV kept going. A car passed us going the other way. The road wasn’t completely closed off, unlike others we previously had to backtrack from. We figured it must be a small pool of water.

We were wrong. Continue reading

Categories: South Africa | 1 Comment



When I was growing up, some of my closest friends had “black hair” – otherwise known as curly hair, otherwise known as afro hair. Back in the day, access to black hair products, and hair stylists who had a clue about how to manage it, were pretty limited. As in, basically non-existent. Acceptance of diversity was also in its early stages (translated: having afro hair was not “cool.”) Continue reading

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Bernard and the entrepreneurial spirit

I saw him in the distance, waving me towards the patch of gravel along the side of the mountain road. As we neared him, I contemplated our options: take our chances and try to find a spot further up the road (closer to the base of Table Mountain), or take the safe bet, given that we’d already passed dozens of parallel parked cars on this beautiful (and busy) Saturday morning.

We took the spot.

As we emerged from the car (a protracted process at the best of times), the man greeted us with a heavy dose of cheer, and deftly slipped me his “card,” a faded piece of flimsy paper bearing his name – Bernard – and an inordinate amount of numbers. This was a first.

Continue reading

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Beautiful heart; beautiful mind


Today our oldest baby turns 11! More amazing than the lightning fast passing of time is watching Cate grow into such a remarkable person. She is without doubt the kindest, most thoughtful person I know. She never has a harsh word to say about anyone. And her sense of social justice? Let’s just say she has strong opinions about how things should be in this imperfect world. And I think she will do her part to set wrongs right.

Did I mention that she’s scary smart? She’s a homeschooling parent’s dream – she loves to learn, she proactively sources curriculum (not just for herself, but her siblings too), and she actually worries if she doesn’t think she’s done enough work. Really!

As if that wasn’t enough, she’s a talented writer and is currently working on a novel set during the civil rights movement in the US. (See above re: acute sense of social justice.)

I can’t think of any more fitting tribute to our girl than sharing some of her writing with the world. Below is the intro paragraph to her novel, and further below is a short piece she wrote last school year for a writing class. The assignment was to write a story based on a famous work of art. She chose Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Now I know I’m biased, but pretty amazing for a 10-year old, no??

On that note, Happy Birthday Catie Bella … we love you so very much! Continue reading

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