canada

What I learned reading about Slovak Jews

What I learned reading about Slovak Jews - Almost BananasFor the last month I’ve been busy reading 21 books in English about Slovakia – read the reviews and enter the giveaway here – and six of those books were about Jews during WWII.

Of course we learned about the horrors of WWII in school, of racism and concentration camps. Nazi soldiers often come up in ethical discussions as The Ultimate Evil That Has Existed, i.e. “If you were faced with Nazi soldiers, would x action still be unacceptable?”

But growing up in Canada, the idea of war was so far away. We keep every Remembrance Day, maybe heard stories from grandparents or read a historical fiction novel. It seems closer in Slovakia, to some degree, just because fighting was on this soil. People still go metal detecting in the hills behind our home, looking for war artefacts. It seems strange that those quiet hills, perhaps even some of the same trees, saw such violence and action. When in the Low Tatras, a memorial to partisans killed high up in the mountain seemed so startling.

Call me naive, but I had this idea that the Nazis were the bad guys, Jew and other targeted groups were the victims, and everybody else was just kind of didn’t know what was going on.  Click to continue reading

Mt. Robson and Kinney Lake, Canada

Mt. Robson and Kinney Lake, Canada - Almost Bananas

Mt. Robson is a towering giant of a mountain, both in height and width. At a height of 3,954 m (12,972 ft), Mt. Robson is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, and second in British Columbia. What makes it so impressive to look at, however, is the prominence, the distance from the peak to the surrounding area (the lowest encircling contour line, if you must know) – basically how high the mountain looks from the valley floor. With a prominence of 2,829 m (9,281 ft), the mountain is 7th in Canada and 21st in all of North America.

Mt. Robson Provincial Park has been around since 1913, which is something when you consider that hardly anybody lived in the valley. One of the few routes through the Rocky Mountains passes by Mt. Robson, however, and so it has long (relatively, as this is western Canada after all) been an object of admiration and awe.  Click to continue reading

Mt. Trudeau, Canada

Mt. Trudeau trail, Valemount, BC, Canada

Mt. Trudeau, near Valemount, BC, Canada, contains picturesque valleys and views – but not for the faint of heart.  

This summer our family was fortunate to visit Canada for over two months. With a few pauses on the West coast, we spent all our time in my hometown of Valemount, BC.

High on the To Do List was get in as much hiking as I could, not an easy feat with four children. When a friend organized a group to go hiking up Mt. Trudeau, therefore, I jumped at the chance. Who better to hike with children than a large group of enthusiastic but laid back young people?

The mountain’s full name is Mt. Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Officially named in 2006, it belongs to the Premier Range which has been set aside to honour former prime ministers of Canada. The peak rises to 2,640 m (8,661 ft).

Mt. Trudeau is a favourite hike of mine, for the simple fact that it’s a shortish hike to get out of the forest and have beautiful views. Notice I said short, not easy.

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The Best of 2015

Best of 2015 on Almost Bananas

2015 was the second year of having this little blog space. Almost Bananas transitioned from mostly about food with a little bit of Slovakia thrown in, to focusing more on Slovakia with some weird healthy food thrown in.

I’ve really enjoyed the connections that the blog has brought. Each time somebody leaves a comment or writes me an email, I feel honoured that it was important enough for them to take the time to do so. Thank you to all of you who read, comment, and write emails – you’re why I’m here!

This year, I’ve also started writing at two other places. Holistic Squid is where you will find more healthy food posts by me, including liver drinks and sourdough recipes. The Slovak Spectator is a Slovak newspaper in English and, thus far, I have an opinion piece once a month on matters related to Slovakia.

Also read: The Best of 2014.

First up, the top ten posts written this year with the most views:  Click to continue reading

Winter Hike up McKirdy Mountain, Valemount, Canada

McKirdy Mt. Valemount BC Canada

I wasn’t expecting to get to Canada this year, but in February I made a quick unplanned visit to be together with my extended family. Given that it takes two days to travel one way from Slovakia to the middle of nowhere Canada, I didn’t have much time but was still hoping to get above treeline.

My mom and I did make it up, and I couldn’t have asked for a better companion. We frequently paused along the trail as we got into conversation, solving all the problems of the world.

We went up McKirdy Mountain, and while I have showed pictures and shared memories of my favourite place in the the world before, it was in the summer.

We hadn’t planned on stopping at Hermit Thrush Cabin, but when one of the lenses in my glasses fell out, we traipsed over to tape them back together. That red Tuck Tape has some seriously sticky qualities, and is oh-so-sexy for repairing glasses.  Click to continue reading

Explore the Elements

Wherever we travel in the world, the four elements are there in some form. Thomas Cook is having a photo contest with each of the four elements as a topic: earth, fire, air, and water. I couldn’t help but peruse through the files to see if I had something appropriate.

Earth: Rocky Mountains, British Columbia, Canada
Represents the hard, solid objects of the earth. Associated with stubbornness, collectiveness , physicality and gravity.

Earth: Rocky Mountains, Canada

Despite mountains being an obvious choice to represent Earth, I still choose this photo of the Monashee Range of the Rocky Mountains in Canada, with Kinbasket Lake below. The mountains never fail to inspire awe in me, at their beauty, size, and majesty. Looking down the range like this, one can see more than just one mountain and get a glimpse at their vastness and permanence.  Click to continue reading

Best and Favourites of 2014

Best and favourites of 2014 on Almost Bananas

2014 saw the beginning of this little space and it’s been a huge learning experience. I hope the blog continues to improve. I really enjoy writing and photographing here, and only keep going because you read it. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit Almost Bananas through the year. First, a list of the most viewed posts, followed by some of my favourites! Click to continue reading

Hermit Thrush Cabin, Valemount, BC, Canada

The pictures are from last year and my lens was dying but, as this place is so dear to me, I thought I would share anyway.

Sheep Camp

In the country of Canada, in the province of British Columbia, in the Rocky Mountains, in a valley surrounded by three mountain ranges, there is a little town. Aptly named Valemount (valley in the mountains), this dot on the map is where I called home growing up.

On one of the mountains overlooking the town is my favourite place in the world. There are places in the world more grandiose (even in the immediate area), more jaw dropping, more glamorous. Nevertheless, this is a place of nostalgia and beauty that holds first place for me.

When I was a child, extended family had a sheep camp up in the alpine meadows. Every summer, the sheep were herded up to pasture on the wild mountain tops, braving crazy summer storms and grizzly bears. Two canvas tents made a summer home for the shepherd and we often came to stay.  Click to continue reading