Friday, 15 February 2019

Lizzies aussie adventures, remasterd

And so it started once again,
I was back on Australian ground. 
I had reached my goal of returning as soon as I had my degree.

Melbourne, Oct 2018

After living toward this day for a good 3 years I was equally excited as scared.

 What if everything had changed? what if I didn't recognise the city I once grown to love so much? 
what if I had glorified everything in my head so much I would be disappointed by reality?

But it hadn't, the city was still as wonderfully full as when I left it 1222 days previously. For which I was grateful. 
QVM views

I'll forever love Melbourne, the city just gets me. It's always been there for me, through the good the bad and the ugly. 
Needless to say I was so glad to be back, and for a couple of days everything was bliss. I was able to show someone from home the city I'd been talking about for so long. 
So together we explored this wonderfull city. Going back to familiar places for me like the awesome Queen Victoria Market, which is an absolute MUST if you're in Melbourne. Even for a day. 

This huge partly indoor but completely covered market truely has everything you could need or want. Endless rows of fresh fruit and veggies, a labyrinth of meat and fish as well as a hall filled with cheese, breads and all kind of other prepared goodies. And on the other side you can shop your hart out finding things from real leather belts, shoes or jackets to a pet bird and all it's needs. 

Books for Cooks

Around the outside you'll find a bookshop called, 'Books for Cooks'. So naturally, as I was traveling with a chef, we HAD TO go check that out. About a gazillion books  neatly stacked in shelves just about everywhere you looked and all about, you guessed it, food. 
It was quite the sight to see.

Basically we spend out time eating a lot of food and drinking coffee everywhere, walking for hours all over the place and chilling on the beach in St Kilda. 

Next up for me was to get back to my beloved horse-life. Which I did where I had done it before, in northern Victoria.

Victorian bushland, Oct - Dec 18

And so I stepped on that 3 hour bus that would take me to Kyabram, where it all started 4 years ago. 

But I was back in the horse world, the reason I had worked so hard for those past 3 years at uni. 

I was so happy to see this rascal  (<---) again! The cutie on the left here is Wilson, The last horse I worked on in Aus 4 years ago when Steve plucked him of a paddock and we worked on him to be able to get the vet in safely to castrate this beauty.

Needless to say I was extremely happy to learn he was still there and I was able to help with breaking him in further! I learnt so much from this kid in the 5 weeks I had the honour to work with him. He's a lot of work but he's so willing to work if you do it right.  
Oh how I missed these country sunsets
hay season
roundyard views

Equine dentist @ work

I will be forever great full for all the things this family has done for me, when I first met them 4 years ago and then when I went back now all over again. 

Spending my days working with the horses and the evenings eating, drinking, talking and laughing,  Playing games, meeting new people. 

And sure, not everything was as I had thought it would be in my head but then again, it never is. So life was pretty damn good there at that time.

After a month of chilling with the horses and chilling in general I got a job as a vet nurse (again thanks to Steve and Charlotte obvs)/ My very first job in Aus and as a vet nurse and all !!

So I went from left to right 4 days a week. 
It was such a great experience to be able to work in a vet clinic. I learned so much from the head vet and the other vet nurses in such a short period of time its insane. 

newborns at the clinic after my very first cesarean
on my first day of work

So for a few weeks I was living the life, working with animals 24/7 on duty soaking up so much information about how everything works in a vet clinic here and after hours or on days off working with the horses at Steve and Charlottes'. 

long live those days we had 25odd kitties in for spading
Kyabram is a great little country town. Right in-between the bigger cities of Shepparton and Echuca it's rural but still quite easily accessible (for aussie standards of course). The town also has a great fauna park which is always worth wandering around through. It has a walk-through aviary and kangaroo's and emu's jumping and walking around freely, needless to say it's a great day trip for all round.

taking out the girls for some exercise
land of irrigation
So northern Victoria is essentially irrigation and dairy land. Because it rains so little farmer have to rely on irrigation to get stuff growing there. Even though I had lived in this region for over 4 months in the past I hadn't actually seen the process in action. Except for the first fase where you order the water and open your little gate to let the water enter the channels across your property. 
The goal is to basically flood a certain amount of land so that crops can grow. To control the flooding you work with check banks along your fields so that you can regulate the flood as such. It really is multiple days worth of hard work job. the day before the water arrives you have to make sure the channels are closed off in the right places and that there are "gaps" allowing water to flow in between each check bank. When the water starts flowing into your own channels (usually around 5 am) you have to make sure it is indeed flowing and that the channels are clear for them to fill up efficiently. And then you have to check up on the process every few hours to close up the first check banks as they will have gotten flooded first as to give the last check bank a chance to get flooded completely as well.  

This was such a weird concept, to literally flood your own paddocks to be able to grow crops out of it. But in the hours and days following the transformation of those two paddocks we irrigated was amazing.  They went from so dry and dusty to lush, healthy growing crops in such short time. 
Safe to say that that was a real Aussie-bushlife experience for me. 

And with the memory of yet another beautiful sunset I'll talk to you soon about my dearest Nala and our adventures on the road !
xoxo Liz

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

summer summer summer

Quick last recap before the start of my Aussie adventures part2

My European summer started out pretty good. Everything was going as good as I could've hoped for. Within a week I had a place to live in my beloved Ghent, within another week I got a job with great colleagues and I had reunited with all my loved ones. 

I had just over a month to finish and perfect my dissertation, which I did. And I could not have been prouder of the result. After all the stress of finishing my dissertation I escaped life for a short city trip to the beautiful city of Prague.

Phara, July 2018

One day I might write a post good enough for this beautiful city. because it really is a gem. But for now I hope to spark something within you to go and experience it for yourself.

You can't miss the beauty of this wonderfull city. There are so many places to see and things to eat. Easy to walk around and get lost for days in the small ancient streets, up to the castle or to the other side of town to the memorial hill. Something new to see, experience and eat around every corner. 
Vítkov memorial hill view

Castle hill vineyard

We only spend a couple of days here at the end of June, but we absolutely loved it and I would love to go back and explore the city even more. 
Sleeping in the many parks along the river, walking far and wide for the best views of the city and eating in small alley ways was great to start off our European summer!

famous 'dancing house'
Vítkov memorial 
picturesque old town
View over old town from the astronomical clock
with the national memorial on Vítkov in the back

Ghent, summer of 2018

Two weeks after Praha we booked our flights to Melbourne, Australia. Finally. I was going back.
But first, I still had to finish my degree. obviously. 

So my last European summer I spent living quite a good life, finally in the city centre with a good job, my friends and loved ones close, exploring ever more corners of the beautiful city of Ghent. 
Nature reserve, 'Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen' just a
10min bike ride out of the city
Castle of the counts on a beautiful summers day
day break at work on the Korenmarkt

Another couple weeks of hell survived and I finally, FINALLY got message that my three years of hard hard work had paid off and that I would officially be graduated about a week before my departure for Australia.

Edinburgh, September 2018

Off we went to Edinburgh, my brother, two sisters and myself. Off to our very first all sibling adventure!

Edinburgh is such a beautiful city, again a great European getaway. We were only there for a couple of days again but managed to get the most out of our time nonetheless (considering my oldest sister was highly pregnant at the time lol)

Ancient buildings woven in between so many parks, I love discovering and exploring these kind of places around the world. Plus it reminds me you don't always have to go far and wide to find great travel destinations !

Pretty chilly as summer draws to an end quite a bit sooner as in the south of Europe we still had great weather, always in for treats, coffees or lunch at the right times to avoid the showers.
Also very exciting was that I met up with a friend from Costa Rica here aswel! Which was super fun to see and catch up with her again. So great full for the people I'm meeting and reuniting with around the world. 
Arthurs seat is just a walk out of the city, a decent walk up is rewarded
with absolutely magnificent views all round.

I spend my last week in Belgium moving my stuff from my place in Ghent to my moms house across the country and then organising all my stuff at home. Sorting out what I wanted to take with me, what I wanted to keep and what I wouldn't need anymore at all.
Spending time with friends and family, trying to have seen everyone before my one way departure to the other side of the world.

Excitement building, I couldn't have been more ready to go back.
Today I'm almost 4 months into my adventure and so much has happened. can't wait to finally start filling you in on all the weird and wonderful moments I've had here.
xoxo Liz

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Captivating Costa Rica

Costa Rica 2018

In my last year of uni I had to do a 3 month internship. Naturally I wanted to do this outside of Belgium, knowing I would want to use my degree internationally after graduation. 
It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get the required grades to be able to go on an international internship.When I got the green light I chose Costa Rica for it's lush wildlife, obviously wanting to work with wildlife. I was correct in thinking this would be a great place to do so.

So I applied for an internship at a wildlife rescue centre on the Pacific Coast deep in the jungle and so Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR) became my home away from home for almost 3 months.

As I also wanted to see as much of Costa Rica as possible but couldn't during my actual internship (working 6 days a week), I gave myself a week before and after of vacation to see a bit of the country.

Feb 4th, San José & Caribbean Coast 

And so I left cold, wintry Belgium behind for the beautiful dry season in Costa Rica at the beginning of February. 
After a miss understating at the airport (apparently you need an ESTA-visa even if you're not officially entering the US and just staying in the airport for 3 hours) I arrived in the city of San José. 

I had heard and read that the city isn't much special. That most people only spend a day or two at most. So I didn't have my hopes high for the city. But I was pleasantly surprised!

As per usual I did the free walking tour on my first morning, which was really good as usual. Even though San José doesn't really differ to any other big, capital city, I still enjoyed spending the day walking through the numerous parks, learning about the history of the city and country by extent.
Costa Rican National museum

San José is nestled in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, tucked in between 3 volcanoes the temperatures are fairly constant throughout the year with a mean of 22°C.

As Costa Rica is tropical is does come with wet and dry seasons, which obviously makes it a less desirable destination some months of the year.

Fun fact!: San José receives almost 2m of rain every year!

After a fun day, meeting new people, learning new things and getting a hair cut in Spanish I headed back to my hostel to figure out a rough plan for the following week. I wanted to hike one of the nearest volcanoes, but discovered too late that there's only one bus going out there daily and it departed about half an hour before I woke up. So that plan was off the table. Instead, I decided I wanted to see the Caribbean coast as I would be working on the Pacific coast so I would be able to explore that side on my days off. 

Eventually it took me an entire day to get to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, a laid back little town with mostly dirt roads in the south eastern corner of the country. A full days worth of waiting, because the bus I wanted to take at 10 was booked full and the next one wasn't until 12 followed by a 4 hour trip that ended up in an almost 7 hour sweaty uncomfortable bus ride.

Safe to say I was happy to wake up in paradise the following morning. I was promised paradise and paradise is what I got.

I spend the next 3 days, walking along beaches and slices of tropical rainforest, looking out for monkeys and other wildlife, swimming in the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea and drinking out of coconuts. As well as meeting new people, learning Spanish and stuffing my face with Gallo pinto (a national dish consisting of rice and beans eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

In my determination to see as much as possible of the Caribbean coast while I was there, I quite impulsively booked a domestic flight from Tortuguero to Quepos (northern east coast to central west coast). This would save me a full days worth of busses in the best case. Tortuguero is a world renown national park for its turtle breeding and beautiful mangroves. The likewise named town is only accessible by boat and after some research I found a good priced boat that would take me from Límon (which is an hour north of Puerto Viejo by bus) all the way up to Tortuguero. 
It would've been perfect, an awesome boat ride up the coast and a full day to discover the national park then an easy flight out to my internship. 

Allas, things don't always go as you want them to. In my case they don't usually when I start planning stuff haha. hence why I don't really plan a lot of things.

Anyway, less than 24hours after booking everything (flight, boat and hostel) I got an email my flight got cancelled. Apparently the company I booked through (NatureAir), one of the two only companies who fly domestic in Costa Rica, didn't have a licence to fly anymore. This because of a recent crash that killed an American family and the pilot. So in a way I was glad I didn't have to take that flight and possibly crash but still, it left me kind of stumped with my "brilliant plan".

Either way I wanted to see and go to Tortuguero, so I took the boat up. It was an awesome trip. Public transport and tourist trip all in one!
The trip took about 4 hours and the captain stopped to show us all the wildlife along the way.

Hence we saw crocodiles, sloths, monkeys, raccoons and a lot of different birds and other aquatic animals.

Once arrived in Tortuguero, checked into the hostel and walked around the little town, I found a comfortable hammock to figure out what to do and how to get to the other side of the country. 
After a lot of research, a chocolaty snack, a phone call home, many conversations with the hostel mom and a mental breakdown, I found a way around my problems. 
First of all I managed to start the process of claiming back my money through the company. And secondly I found a way to cross the country all be it that I had to sacrifice my full day in Tortuguero. 

So the next day after a mere afternoon in the beautiful Tortuguero I woke up at 4:30 to get the very first boat out of the island at 4:45 am. A taxi, bus, a walk across San José, another bus and taxi later I arrived at the KSTR headquarters, a good 10k into the jungle from the nearest town, Quepos. 

And all of a sudden I was home for the next 10 weeks.

Feb 10th, Kids Saving the Rainforest & Pacific coast

The weeks to follow I worked as a vet tech in the wildlife rescue centre clinic, alongside the two vets, rehab intern and another vet tech volunteer. With one day off a week to explore the region most adventures took place far in the jungle in the rescue centre. 

morning foodpreps
  Every morning and every afternoon first things up was doing the food prep for all the animals in our care at the clinic and in rehab. Fresh fruit and veggies were cut up to fit every animals needs and wishes.

The rest of the mornings usually consisted of treatments. These treatments could be anything from the basic administering painkillers, antibiotics or extra vitamins, changing bandages, cleaning wounds to surgeries such as removing an eye or amputating a leg. 

After everyone had their food and medication/treatments done we took to cleaning and enriching the enclosures, always making sure we and the clinic was ready for emergencies/rescues that came in at all hours of the day. 

Following are some snaps of daily life at work
holding Colin, the Squirrel monkey, still for his acupuncture treatment 
Lavalamp in bootcamp during my nightly behavioural observations 
Scarlitto the Kinkajou munching away
on a piece of banana as Kinkajous do 

Moncho dunking his head in his daily vitamin treatment

Some days weren't much special, just the usual food prep, treatments and cleaning. Other days we would have birds dropping from the skies it seemed. Big, ugly and bold ones like Gonzo to little, pretty and feathery ones like Tiny. All rescues are rehabilitated and released where possible. 
Little Moncho had been held captive as a pet for his entire little life, he got so imprinted on people it was decided that it would not be safe for him to be released into the wild, simply because he would not now what to do in the wild. Lavalamp, however, was one of the many rescues we were able to fully heal, rehabilitate and release after getting electrocuted. 
Patty and Grubby chilling during their
playtime in bootcamp
Gonzo, the baby Toucan during one of his
many feedings

Shrek the Tamarin looking angry at me because I usual was the one to catch him to treat his amputation wound
Tiny, the little parakeet with a broken leg
Holding an orphaned coati for his medical-check
team clinic & rehab for the win ✊💙
On my days off however, I took to exploring the beautiful Pacific coast.  Drinking coffee and having big brekkies with ocean/jungle views, surfing and sea kayaking with friends from work, exploring the famous Manuel Antonio National park or taking the bus to hike to beautiful waterfalls down the coast.
treat yo self brekkies with views to die for

Nauyaca waterfalls, best way to refresh after a 5k hike
wanderlustig in Manuel Antonio nat. park

I met so much incredibly great people, staff of the clinic and sanctuary and volunteers alike. I learnt so much from the vets and all the animal-passionate people I met at KSTR. And I will be forever great full for the opportunities I got working in the wildlife rescue clinic.

April 21st, Playa Santa Teresa 

For my last week in paradise I decided to not travel around but to treat myself to a weeks worth of surfing, pristine beaches and yoga. I did this because I still had a lot of work for my dissertation for uni. So I made the deal with myself that I would spend a couple of hours a day analysing and writing for that so that I could chill for the rest of the day. 

My bachelors dissertation got titled: The human influence on injured wildlife in Costa Rica: a 5 year study. In short I analysed all the animals that passed through the rescue centre, looking at why they came in and what happened to them. It was extremely interesting but extremely time consuming to gather, analyse and process all the data. But well worth it in the end. 

So my last week consisted quite literally of writing, surfing at various locations, exploring the region, yoga and eating. which looked a bit like this .....
A wild Coati foraging in the Cabo Blanco nat.park
Playa Cabo Blanca, well deserved beach
after a good 2 hour hike
Playa Santa Teresa surf
Playa Hermosa surf sesh, with some hostel friends

Playa Santa Teresa

From this beach I took two busses, a ferry another bus, spent a night at the San José airport and two flights back to Belgium, back home. 

my last Costa Rican sunset on the ferry
across the Gulf of Nicoya
And thus I skipped most of the winter, arriving back home in spring to find a new place to live, get a job and work hard to finalise my dissertation and pass my last couple of exams.
xoxo Liz