The Sexy Surface of Vancouver

4:48 PM

When we were house shopping, Tory and I came across a sign advertising a "sexy house" and I laughed, but when we looked at the pictures, I decided that it really was a sexy house. Our house... not sexy. More lodgy. Perfect for us. I would extend to say though, that as a city, Vancouver is sexy. In a really good, natural way. Friendly beaches, hip people, really nice people too. Tons of natural resources, city recycling and even composting programs, diversity, and art.
I feel honored to have been able to see the city's great sides through couchsurfing, biking, and walking around, but also to see Vancouver's dark side. The hours after we arrived, we started walking through Gastown and in search of Chinatown and instead, stumbled upon East Hastings. The concentrated mental illness and other really sad sights was such a shock to us that I looked up the area after we got back. The reviews are mixed; locals mostly wrote supportive comments acknowledging the sadness of those few blocks and encouraging tourists to not avoid the whole eastside because of it, and many tourists reviews talked about accidentally coming into the area and speed-walking through with looks of terror. I did not at all feel in danger in the area, but Tory and I both felt the heaviness of it and saw both some really sad and some overtly evil things that still weigh on my mind. One tourist commented: "If your in Vancouver on a nice vacation do not go here! Avoid it at all costs. You do not need to see this." I would counter that if you are on a nice vacation, this is exactly what you need to see. It's not pretty or happy, but poverty and suffering is a global reality that in North America is not usually so concentrated. I'm not advocating any sort of disaster tourism, but a wish for people to see the humanity there and everywhere (especially your own place, city, etc). Practice understanding, really seeing, and humility, instead of FEAR. Fear cannot help others, see others, or understand needs or virtues. Fear and love can't coexist. I really loved my short time in Vancouver, and am trying/learning to truly love the city I live in.

One of the best ways to overcome fear of the unknown and make a conscious decision to know instead is to try couchsurfing. If you haven't yet, please check out it out. My profile will help you get a feel for the system It is the best way to see a city. Fantastic accommodations, local knowledge, great company, special places to hang out, views of the city and even more that money couldn't buy if it tried. The point of it is to offer your couch when you're home and stay on other people's couches when you're not, in a market-free, pay-it-forward kind of exchange. Our hosts in Vancouver lived 2 houses down from the beach and we watched the sun go down from these spots on the front porch while chatting and drinking wine. The next day, they took us to the best vegetarian poutine place in Vancouver since Tory had never tried it, and then we borrowed bikes from them and worked off the gravy and cheese curds with a bike ride around the entirety of Stanley Park.

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  1. Inspiring and insightful. Very true words in this blog.


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