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24 Sep 2017


By Gracie Carroll

3 Toronto-Based Artists Share Their Dream Vacays – If Only They Were Free to Travel 

By Anastasia Barbuzzi

Photo via @summerfridays

Quarantine – it’s been a challenging period of time for everyone.

It can be hard to picture a place beyond the confines of the pandemic and though the restrictions on cross-border travel, shopping, dining, and socializing have put a damper on people’s plans for the summer, the extra time spent indoors has sparked the imaginations of creative types everywhere. Entrepreneurs have made it to their duty to become more innovative and artists and writers, especially those with a social media following, have taken a special interest in helping those feeling stuck, stay positive. 

If only we could get away from it all… right? 

Having to conjure up pictures of happier places on more than a few occasions ourselves, we asked three Toronto-based artists to describe their dreamiest vacation – free of the COVID-related stress we know all too well. 

Here’s hoping we’ll be able to escape it soon. 

Priyanka Saju, @priyanka.saju 

With a halted stop, the plane finally lands after what feels like days of flying and connections.  You don’t mind though, you know that as soon as you get off the plane, your vacation is finally ready to begin. You grow restless as the last of the passengers slowly collect themselves and their luggage from the rows ahead. Slowly you make your way to the exit as the warm wrap of humid air envelops you in the sweet smells of vegetation and ocean. You take in this new reality with a deep inhale, releasing the stress and responsibilities with every out-breath. You can feel your shoulders drop as you allow yourself to land in this new adventure.

You gaze out of the window of your taxi at the shoreline, spotted with palm trees and turquoise blue water frothing at the shore. The salt spray of the ocean whispers to you through your rolled down windows. The driver, annoyed by the lack of AC gives you a hesitating glance in the rear-view window. You don’t mind though, as you smile wide with eyes closed against the midday sun. You know there will be time for the beach soon, but for now, you’re on your way to the jungle.

You are welcomed to your hotel with a kind smile, and cool, sweet drink. You are overwhelmed by the beauty of this place – thatched-roof buildings nestled in the hillside overlooking the jungle below. Everywhere you look you are greeted by the honey-sweet smells of flowers, lush and overflowing from every branch. The calls of birds flirting and chatting amongst themselves fill the air around you. The jungle is alive and breathing, and you are the newest exotic creature to join in the fun.

You make your way to your room. Cool, crisp white sheets call to you. It is finally time to rest – you’ve made it this far. It’s finally your time to celebrate living. You hear a knock on the door and are greeted with a plate of beautiful fruit, overflowing with colours and shapes that compete with the flowers outside. You smile appreciably and take your bounty to the balcony to have one final look before your rest. Suddenly the skies burst open and the world is covered in warm, tropical rain. You gaze out at the jungle below, listening to the soft drumbeat of water droplets splashing against the canopy of trees. The sound is oddly familiar – like the sound of a meditation you listened to daily back in March. Strange when you consider the difference in this experience. Grateful, you take another bite of ripe mango and consider how lucky you are to have experienced both.

Tamara Makeda, @makedaart 

I let the hot summer rain undress my first layers, gracing sun-scorched fingertips over a smooth vase.

A chance flight grants me the story of shores I never dreamed I would walk. 

Through teardrops of rain, I can see a sliver of an archway covered in rose petals. 

Squishing their underbellies with my feet, I draw back woven curtains to reveal soft light…

An evening market stirs, brewing as if it were a pot of coffee on a stove, lit from inside.

I smell deep cardamom and saffron emanating from coils of incense in rafters. 

At the edge of the market stalls, an open port rests, a body of water at the edge of a dry spell and ships flowing outwards to sightsee by moonlight. The open water is an invitation to shed past confines and I can feel a letting go… a drawing near. 

I straddle my tea laden parcels to my sides and make my way to the edge of the port. 

The burning sun casts amber shade over white tents behind me as sandals off, I board the first ferry.

My heart is lost to here, 

This is another home.

Shelby McLeod, @darlin_the_cowboy 

American girl plays on the radio

On a road through a place where they have table tops for giants

They invite you to sit and eat
It’s illegal to eat the cactus here but everyone does anyway.

They will ask you,

Where are you going?
Where are you from?

And that you look as pretty as that little hallucinogenic cactus flower.

Good etiquette is the law of the land.
Although a bad reputation doesn’t mean much

when you never stay long enough for it to catch up with you.

Left in the dust like a used cigarette out the car window.

Smelling like sugar and heat

Trouble pure and undiluted

Where the men look mean and saying hello is your first mistake

The strobic red neon signs turning into red rising suns

Where its endless night skies or

rooms with no windows

so you never know the time.

Lifelong Gamblers will tell you their tricks of the trade-in exchange for a kiss.
Is this where all the lonely people go?

When you’re beautiful and nasty
It’s easy to get into trouble

I will walk along motel railings
After drinking too much whiskey

Looking up at that big night sky
Knowing this sandy ocean with its

mean looking men and long-ass highways

is all mine.



(Story by Contributing Editor, Anastasia Barbuzzi)


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