I met Allyson back in 2010 while working at Urban Outffiters. She since then has travelled quite a lot. She is a free-spirit that has incredible drive and determination. I admire the way she speaks and listen to her truth. She is a super positive person, that is on the move and is now living from her passion, yoga. I approached her to participate in this series as we Quebecors tent to go in Mexico only for vacation and I was curious to learn more about her lifestyle. I hope her passion and honesty inspire you to always follow your heart and dreams. If you’re ever in Zihuatanejo, I suggest you stop buy her studio for a yoga session Ynergia !

YUL-ZIH

Name/ Allyson Germain
City of residence/ Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico
Astrological sign/ Gemini
I’m often perceived as \ people tell me I’m/ really smiling and friendly

What does a day in your life looks like?
Waking up a bit before sunrise to open my front door and watch the sun rise sitting on my rooftop, make coffee and meditate, write, talk with my doggy Tanny, check on my plants. Mornings are “me time”. Then, comes normal life, social media, emails, plan somewhat the day, errands, cook, see friends. At 4ish, I head to the studio to clean the space of practice and wait for the magic to happen, see who is going to show up to class 🙂 Sometimes this “me time” is shorter due to morning yoga classes I could be teaching or me wanting to jump in the waves to surf and connect with the power of the ocean.

Why did you choose Zihuatanejo, Guerrero and how long have you been living there for?
I came to visit for the 1st time this place 2 years ago for surfing. A friend suggested me Saladita, a nice quiet surf spot about 20-30 minutes drive from Zihuatanejo and an easy in and out access to the airport. Being in the retail world at the time, we all know we don’t get much vacation 😉 so I was always looking for easy access new surf spots to get away and disconnect from my everyday life. I was put in contact with the owners of LOOT and got to meet these lovely people, and waouw, oh so lovely they were. And when I realized I had to redirect my life, I automatically thought of them and they welcomed me with open arms. Zihuatanejo was once called Zihuatlán, which means the home of the goddess women. So it’s undeniable and evident that the feminine ancestral energy is really strong here and attracts strong powerful women.

Would you say there is a difference between people living on pacific rather then the atlantic side? If yes, how so?
Totally. Like everywhere, we also feel this in Canada. Guerrero is still a really alternative destination for Mexico, apart from Acapulco. And Mexico is generally known for it’s east coast, the calm blue ocean, diving, senotes, pyramids, and with all that comes a lot of tourism, and energy, and party scene, money trades in USD. The Pacific is still a bit more rough around the edges, raw, authentic, real, the power of the waves in the ocean brings in a totally different energy to the coast.

You have started your company, could you tell us a little bit more about it ?
I opened up a Yoga studio in Zihuatanejo, a space to make yoga accessible for the local people. A space to connect, regroup, exchange, discover, explore, a space to feel ourselves into time and space.The 1st 6 months I was living here, I lost touch of my personal yoga practice, it not being accessible in Zihuatanejo and the other places charging in USD was just too much for when you’re reality is in pesos. I realized the importance of yoga in my life when I went back to Vancouver last summer, and it just got so clear that that’s what I needed to do next. Yes I do have tourists come to do yoga, but I’m more working towards building a local community and going hand in hand with the flow of wellness that’s evolving here in Zihuatanejo.

How is dating different in Mexico?
There’s a lot of dancing, men are “hot” you know chilli and seafood are these foods… Men are really sexual. As a white women you can also be perceived a lot like some “fun times”. Until they realize you’re here to stay hahaha well that changes the dynamic. You be nice, you set your boundaries, because abundance is overflowing all over Mexico in all its aspects and forms.

Thoughts on food/eating habits
Food is a passion in Mexico. Every state has it’s food culture. Mexican food is all over the world. And Mexican mama and grandma’s food is like our mama and grandma’s food. Not always the healthiest choice for us but oh so Jummy!! Unfortunately, education towards food and it’s importance and what it does to your body is really low. A lot of processed food, a lot of packed food, a lot of Coca-Cola. But it’s slowly shifting. We have a vegan cooperative that’s doing amazing education by introducing vegan options of  Mexican dishes. Getting the local community to work with what they have, use all the abundance of coconuts around and it’s oil in cooking and foods, etc.

Did you feel it was hard to make new friends and integrate yourself and how different are human relationships? (what differences have you noticed)
I’ve never had issues with this anywhere 😉 And with my LOOT family I’ve been introduced to so many lovely people. LOOT is an incredible networking place. Most of all my strong relationships here in Mexico comes 1st from this place. People in general are really open to new people, to meet you, to get to know you. I have a friend that loves to meet new people. As if everytime he meets a new person, is as if he’s going to explore a new place, a new culture, and going travelling without leaving home.

What is ‘’home’’ for you, as your family is in Quebec, Canada?
Home is where the heart is. hahahahahaha super cliché. For real though, Quebec is a “physical” home in a sense that that’s where I was physically born and raised. Vancouver and Mexico are “nature” and “spiritual” homes as in everyday they make me connect more with the nature around me and deepen my spiritual self. They are all really precious for me and make me feel at home in different ways.

What are myths (violence, poverty or else)?
Guerrero and Michoacán its closest state up north are heavy in Narco traffic. You need to be aware of it and live with it. It happens everywhere around the world. To not live in fear, change your perspective on life, trust your instincts and give it love. That’s the only way.

Do you have access to a lot of cultural events if so what kind?
Zihuatanejo was back in the 1970 was a artist backpacking hub for artist to regroup and create. It is known for it’s Guitarfest every year. 2 worldwide guitar musician are from here called Rodrigo & Gabriela. We have access experience a Temazcal ceremony (Mexican sweat lodge and natural cleansing medicine) every Sunday. There’s fishermen events also as Zihuatanejo all started from being a small Fishermen village. There’s a lot of art exhibitions in the Museum of Archeology. There’s a lot of surf events from all the different waves we’ve got available around here. And much so much more, especially in High Season (during winter time) there’s just always something going on.

 

Suggestions of what to do, eat and stay when there
To do /

Temazcal ceremony
Sunset yoga at my studio Ynergia, where you start with the sun, practice through sunset and finish savasana in the night
Massage on Playa la Ropa for 10$
Boat or walk across to Playa Las Gatas and discover some totally different waters and sand from the rest of the bay
Do snorkelling ot diving with my friend Poto and explore the oceans around and if you’re in whale season (spring) you might see some close by and hear them singing underwater.
Roadtrip to Troncones and/or Saladita, feel the surf towns and wellness energy. Maybe even discover the secret natural Hot Springs 😉

To eat /

Carmelitas Cafe, best Mexican breakfast and lunch in town
LOOT, best coffee and general vibe for everything, chilling, dancing at night, eating and drinking jummy cocktails
Angustina, best place to discover mezcal
El Manglar, in la Ropa for the best beachfront Tiritas (traditional ceviche’ish from here) and guacamole and michelada
Eco-Tianguis Sanka, every Saturday at 9am there’s a local organic market with organic, vegan or raw food options, all homemade and also some arts and natural products

To stay /

Well that depends on your budget because there’s a lot of options.
Cheap deals: my home, El Rincon del Viajero a lovely hostel filled with permaculture and love, El Pirata in La Ropa for a more touristy vibe.
A bit more upscale: La Casa Mx owned by my LOOT family, Hotel Real de la Palma in Playa La Ropa owned by my friend’s family with a lovely quiet energy a bit away from the direct beachfront and super jummy food.

What is the question you wish people asked you and what is the answer?
What do you do everyday to serve your higher self? My higher self is my everyday guide, but sometimes it’s not always what happens. We just need to see these moments as learnings and part of the process of being human.

What tradition/ trait in people would you like to bring back with you in Canada?
Lightness of living, simplicity, enjoying life first and what it has to offer. Its beautiful people, its beautiful nature, take care of it, love it all. Undig your families traditions and rituals, come back and connect to it and step away at times from today’s technology.

all photos by Allyson Germain

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Here is the second part of Robyn’s travel adventures. I hope you enjoyed reading the first part. I never thought I’d one day would be curious about going to India, but her pictures and stories are making me wonder what it’s like to travel to that destination. Thank you again Robyn for your time. x

Thoughts on food/eating habits, a favorite of dish or ingredients that you’ve discovered or wish you could eat again
This has been the hardest question to answer as food is probably the best cultural experience that can be shared with friends. Asian food is extremely diverse and delicious. I could list off a million meals that I would love to eat again, but let’s just say I dream of chai and I miss eating kimchi with every meal.

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My favorite part about meals in South Korea was the communal aspect of eating out. Everything is shared. At some restaurants you are not able to order dinner if you are by yourself because the portions are just too large for one person. Food is usually served as one giant hot pot or plate in the center of the table and guests simply pick from the shared meal and multiple side dishes. Many of the dishes, such as BBQ, are cooked at the table on a burner. When pouring drinks you always pour for another person, or the whole table before you fill your own glass. I defiantly became better at sharing after living in Korea.

Sans titre

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I would like to know your thoughts or how more american traditions as Christmas happen in other countries that you have visited. What were the traditions or celebrations that you’ve experienced abroad that aren’t traditional in Canada?
I spent last Christmas in Seoul, South Korea. Christmas is not a very big holiday there, although it is becoming more popular commercially. For Koreans it is often treated as a time for couples to get together and buy gifts for one another.

The most interesting celebration that I have had the privilege of participating in was the Holi festival in India. Known for the throwing of the colors this holiday is traditionally the time to celebrate the coming of spring. I was in the holy city of Pushkar in the state of Rajastan during the festivities. There was a massive build up for the festival and nights before the throwing of the colors and there were different traditional dances taking place, music, tons of fireworks and bon fires in the middle of the streets.

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The morning of the festival once you stepped outside of your hotel you were immediately targeted by the locals and were coved in all kinds of colors, blue, yellow, pinks, red, green. It was a beautiful moment to see everyone surrounding you covered in a multicolored layer. It was as if all race, age, and identity disappeared, everyone became a large melting pot of purples and pinks.

I don’t mean to just paint this festival as a picturesque and charmingly traditional day, it was far from it. India ripped apart all of my expectations of what I thought things would be. In Pushkar the festival has evolved into a large party scene. There are massive speakers set up in the center of the city blaring phytrance and people cut loose. Indians know how to party. It was really fun for the most part, but as a female it can be intense to be in a crowd where it is fair game for men to touch you and put colors on your body. My sister and I were purple for a few days after, despite all of the coconut oil we put on ourselves.

What are your thoughts on travelling as a woman

  • Be smart.
  •  Do your research before going to the country you are traveling to. A simple thing, such as wearing appropriate clothing is a tremendously important idea to understand before leaving.
  • Know your limits and when to stand your ground.
  • Follow your gut instincts, if something or someone is making you uncomfortable then leave, or be confident enough to say no. “No thank you” became my favorite saying when traveling in India. Being extremely confident and knowing what you want out of situations helps, other people will be quick to pick up on your energy and strength.
  • Be patient and calm.
  • Be understanding of cultural differences. If you are a female coming from the west understand that women are not always seen as equal, but you have to pick your battles and know that getting upset, angry or yelling directly at someone about an uncomfortable issue is not always the right way to go about creating change. I often had to remind myself that “it’s not their fault”, it is a deep rooted issue and you have to be the bigger person. You have to be able to “brush off” certain discrepancies, take a breath and let go, otherwise it could ruin your experience.

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What would be the biggest misconception people have about the fact that you’re travelling over a long period of time?
That every place is beautiful and amazing. Instagram, facebook and every other social media device now has the ability to edit, edit , edit. When people share their experiences they often don’t talk about or show pictures of the less than ideal parts of a place, for example the crowds of people, the giant power lines in front of the view or the garbage at their feet. Those things are not necessarily terrible or great, it’s just what is there and makes the place what it is at the time you visit. Things are not always what they seem. I think the travel “ego” often overtakes the reality of other’s perception of their experience.

The idea of a travel lifestyle should not be put on a pedestal as the most interesting or glamorous way to live, nor should it be condemned as childish or a form of escapism. Different things work for different people. Right now this is working for me and I am driven and motivated to make it happen. At this time there are more opportunities for me abroad, so I will take them as they come.

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 What is the question you wish people asked you and what is the answer?
What item would you never travel without?

My journal. I am not a writer, but I am able to capture my experiences through drawing. My sister gave me the journal when I graduated and there is four years worth of memories in that book. That is the only object I would be absolutely devastated if I lost.

CAM00377

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15942791_10157952729555265_572933388_oI met Robyn, well once actually. She was in town for the summer, learning French and long story short I ended up spending an evening with her and some of her group. It was super fun. I have been following her journey through FB and when I thought of starting this new series, I though she might have some really interesting things to share and boy was I right. She has been travelling and livin’ the life. This is the first of her 2 parts portrait on her travels, her lifestyle and life elsewhere on this beautiful planet. Thank you Robyn for your generosity, honesty and kindness. I can’t wait to follow your next adventures!

YVR – The World

Name/ Robyn Griffiths
Home Base/ Kelowna, BC
Astrological sign/ On the Cusp between Aquarius and Capricorn
I’m often perceived as \ people tell me I’m/ Very determined
Job/ To be a good human on the planet by giving more than I take

Where did you travel in the past few years?
I got my first taste of travelling when I was 21. I travelled in SE Asia for 7 months with friends, a month with my sister and on my own. I went to Thailand, Loas, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia. After coming home from that trip I knew that I wanted more so I looked at my options and found a way to work and live abroad.

Teaching was the best option for me at the time and that is how I decided to live in South Korea. I ended up teaching children ages 4-10 in Seoul for 14 months. I loved that year. I worked extremely hard, but made sure to get the most out of my time there. I was able to do some travelling within the country, but mainly explored Seoul itself. It was extremely difficult sometimes, but looking back on it, the hard times are what made that year worthwhile. Due to the length of time that I was in South Korea I was able to build an amazing community of lifelong friends and form a better understanding of South Korean culture.

After my contract was over I made plans with my sister to travel to India and Sri Lanka. Our intention was to go to Australia and work within six months, but things change quickly while travelling and we ended up in Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand, travelling for a total of nine months.

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What are particular highlights or your travels?
This most recent trip was full of highlights for me. I took some courses and got involved in more share projects. I received my 200hr Kundilini yoga certification in Rishikesh, I went on a seven day trek in Nepal, I spent a month in Goa doing a work exchange at an organic cafe and eco stay, I participated in a silent meditation course. I tried surfing and an aryuvedic cleanse, ecstatic dance classes and worked on a mindful farm, I even rode a camel for four days in a desert. Honestly, the best part of the trip was the fact that I was able to share all of this time with my sister, whom I absolutely adore.

Overall I tried this trip to push myself in new ways, especially when things made me uncomfortable. There are a million more things that I wish I had done. I no longer want to go to places just to check them off some list and then claim I have been there. I think travelling slow is the best way to actually immerse yourself into a culture. “Travelling” has evolving into something more important. It is an exchange of ideas, I want to be able to give back just as much as I received from each place I have been.

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Were there any specific reasons as to why you choose those destinations?
I was always inspired by my mother. When she was younger she backpacked and drove a van though Europe and into Greece, turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal. A few years later she traveled to other Asian countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. I guess hearing her stories and seeing her photos sparked my interest. From then on those places have been in the back of my mind.

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What were the cultural differences that surprised you the most?
Public manners and acceptable mannerisms have been shockingly different from country to country. Some “socially acceptable” actions have made me shake my head in disbelief, laugh out loud and even reconsider my own personal conduct. Koreans are extremely respectful, especially towards their elders. It was so nice to see individuals consistently giving up their spot in line or seats on busses and trains for the older generations. In public spaces people are very orderly and quiet. My friends and I were once called out on a bus for speaking too loud. Saving face is of the upmost importance. Koreans tend to be very reserved with one another. When walking down the street very few people even make eye contact with me and I almost never experience someone stopping to say hello.

Going from South Korea to India felt like going to another planet. People talked loudly on busses, and often played music at deafening volumes on their phones on busses, trains, even hiking in the mountains. The idea of a line up did not exist. You had to be ready to throw some elbows, even towards elderly people to hold your spot. There is not much thought or education put towards how people dispose of garbage, so it is simply just thrown on the ground or out the window. On the other hand, Indians are extremely friendly and open. People were constantly making eye contact, smiling and waving. Individuals would always come up to my sister and I asking us questions and having conversations, sometimes much longer than expected or always comfortable.

These are just a few noticeable differences that contrast my own Canadian culture in a more extreme way. Going to another country and trying to really understand the culture can be a bit like swimming in the ocean. You are completely surrounded by the water and are caught up in the wave of it. It has a unique flow that works for the place. But you are a person and not the water, making some norms feel awkward and hard to sink into. This does not necessarily make certain customs wrong or even better than other places, it is just the natural current of the culture. Sink or swim.

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What do you feel travelling has taught you?
Well maybe not physics…but seriously, I have learned more about myself, others and the world than my four years at University. I keep traveling because it is a form of education for me. Time is the most valuable thing we have. How you spend your time and with whom you spend it with is extremely important. Life goes fast, so do things now.

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What is your next destination?
In February I am moving to Australia to live and work for a year.

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Photo credit @ Robyn Griffith

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