Travel Presenter Series – Zoe D’Amato
Where do you call home and why?
Nova Scotia, Canada is home. It’s where I grew up, and where I always dreamed of settling. After over a decade of travelling, I was finally able to move back and re-establish my roots.
What is your insider secret this place be?
Nova Scotia is a beautiful place to visit. It’s a tiny peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean, so there are quaint fishing villages and magical spots where farmland merges with the sea. My most calming vista is that of cows grazing on pasture lapped by waves. You don’t see that everywhere! We pride ourselves on being the friendliest province in Canada. You can plonk yourself at any bar with a pint and the stories will roll. We have a fantastic thrift culture here – nothing goes to waste. I’ve learned the hard way that if you put anything that looks like a “giveaway” on your front lawn, it will be gone within hours! So there are amazing antique shops, an infamous used clothing chain called “Frenchy’s,” and a website called Kijiji.ca that all have incredible bargains if that’s your thing. It’s definitely mine.
What’s the longest you have stayed in one place?
Whilst travelling, my longest “stopover” was in Paris. I lived there for a year. Now, I’m such a homebody – I’ve been settled in Nova Scotia for five years! I still travel all the time, but that really is home.
What are you essential travel items?
Passport, of course. Camera, iphone, headphones and converters. Neck pillow, travel socks and Elizabeth Arden 8-hour protection cream. Leggings and a poncho. Makeup for work. First aid kit. Cliff bars. Then I pack all the clothes and shoes that I never wear at home so I’m forced to dress nicely!
What is your most terrifying moment when travelling?
I’ve been in quite a few road accidents, and those are always terrifying. Most recently, in Cambodia, our van collided with a motorbike. The young woman driving the bike had her baby balanced on the seat in front of her and only one hand to steer – so her tiny swerve as we passed resulted in an accident that thankfully was minor, but could have been tragic. The baby was unharmed and our tour guide and I administered first aid for the woman’s grazes but she was so shaken – I think we all had a bit of a cry.
You know how some travellers seem to take pride in the risks they take abroad that they’d never take at home? That drives me completely crazy, but I do find that I have to put on a mental armor when I’m in places where the rules are different… and moments like that collision just crumble it. The woman on the motorbike with her baby was just as scared and unhappy about the way she had to drive (to work, as it turned out) as I would be in the same situation. A dangerous scenario isn’t any less dangerous just because it’s commonplace.
What is your most wonderful memory of travelling?
I have so many wonderful memories from my year spent living in Paris. It is the ideal city for a naive young woman. My boyfriend at the time was a musician, so we took guitars to the park and listened to tons of live music. I spent a lot of time wandering around lovelorn in the gloom of winter, like a character in the impressionist paintings I visited often in l’Orangerie. I took silk painting lessons, waitressed at a creperie, walked about eight miles a day and wore a lot of hippy clothes. I was quite depressed and lonely at times, but it was still the most perfect “coming of age” travel package a girl could ever want. If I went back in time, I’d still order that one!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently producing a show of my own which is set on 800 hundred acres of wilderness in a little old cabin with no electricity or plumbing. People with amazing skills come to visit, and share their knowledge. So… it’s basically part talk show in the woods, part survival documentary. Having grown up in a farming community with ‘back to the lander’ parents, I feel desperate to practice and document the old ways of carving out a homestead. It’s filled me with satisfaction to film the pilot and I really hope it goes forward. Either way, that’s where you can find me in between jobs this summer!
Most important life lesson gained from travelling
Travel has lots of side effects, like perspective, independence, resourcefulness, awareness, appreciation… but those all depend on the kind of trip you take. The act of travel itself only guarantees one result: you will say goodbye.
Goodbye is the most powerful word I know. It tells you what a person means to you. What you mean to them. A goodbye can loom over you like a shadow, or be a light at the end of the tunnel. A proper goodbye allows you to acknowledge the impact a person has had on your life, without regret or expectation.
My parents said an amazingly confident goodbye to me when I flew alone to Europe for the first time. They crafted it for me to feel free and capable of conquering the world, and I did. Travel has taught me to respect every single goodbye; from the least significant ones, to the ones that mean “I love you”.
Travel wish list
I don’t really have a top destination, but I’d love to travel by some kind of epic mode of transportation. By boat, train, reindeer or dog sled, on foot or horseback…. an old-fashioned adventure. Are you sensing a theme yet?
Favourite place on earth you have been so far?