On the Wild Side: Introducing Francesca Vivona
This is a shiny new feature where we spotlight an awesome member of our Wild Women Expeditions community. Grab a local hazy IPA or Darjeeling tea and lean in on a fun chat with Francesca. She’s a self-dubbed city gal, intrepid foodie, classic camper and dog-lovin’ paddler who never wondered how or if bears sh*t in the woods. She was more concerned about what she would do on Wild Women’s North Channel kayaking trip!
I’m a 40-something “City Girl” who moved to a rural Eastern Ontario town 15 years ago for love and haven’t looked back since! My love for travel (and ability to do so) has grown since meeting my wife, and together we have made a point to get a “big trip” in at least every two years. I love travelling to places with rich culture and beautiful landscapes. However, if I’m to be completely honest, I travel for FOOD! From braised rabbit ragout over fresh Tagliatelle in Siena, to a 20Rupee (roughly $0.25) Paratha smeared with butter (by bare hand!) and wrapped in yesterday’s (or last year’s) news from a roadside stand in Delhi, I can’t get enough! When we aren’t seeing the world, we love enjoying our downtime in our ’64 Glendale camper with our two dogs exploring the nearby provincial parks that our beautiful home province has to offer!
Tell us, where have you travelled with Wild Women?
In the summer of 2021, as Covid restrictions were finally loosening (and we were still a bit leery about international travel), we travelled to the shores of Georgian Bay (Ontario) for the 8-day North Channel Kayak Expedition.
Why did you choose us?
To be honest, I didn’t! My wife did on a whim, while feeling the stress of lockdown after lockdown. We had both known about Wild Women Expeditions for years and had longingly browsed through the offered adventures, but she finally took the plunge and booked us! The thought of travelling with like-minded, adventure-seeking women was always a big draw for us.
What’s the one story you keep telling everyone about your trip?
See question below…much to most people’s chagrin!
What have you accomplished on a Wild Women trip that you never thought possible?
I pooped in the woods!!! Seriously…I lost sleep prior to the trip because of THIS! It wasn’t the fact that I was going to be out in the middle of the wilderness with a group of strangers or kayaking for hours and hours everyday when I had only just had my kayak delivered (thanks Covid supply chain issues!) a month prior and hadn’t used it more that a couple of kilometers at a time. No, it was “HOW THE HECK AM I GOING TO S***???” A bit of nervous Googling provided insight on the logistics of a good squat, but when I saw a suggestion to wrap duct tape around a Ziploc bag to disguise the result (and also so I could carry it with me for the duration of trip), I began thinking I should probably OD on Imodium and hold it in for the full eight days! Lucky for me, our guide Kris, alleviated my fears in the first few minutes providing plenty of tips and explaining how lifting up a bit of moss creates nature’s natural toilet. She also ensured that all of our delicious meals were full of fibre (including my new favourite: flax meal!) making it a non-issue. I have to say, nature provides some beautiful, fresh-air bathroom views!
Do you still keep in touch with anyone from your Wild Women trip?
Yes, we still keep in touch with several of the women on our trip and hope to someday do a reunion trip! When you spend 8 days with amazing women in the wilderness, its hard NOT to create lasting friendships!
Name three things you MUST travel with.
- A book…or three
- Extra clean underwear (the “wear one-wash one” thing gives me anxiety!)
- Hot sauce!!!
What gear do you swear by?
Merino wool EVERYTHING! It may be pricey, but SO worth it!
What destination did you dream of as a child? Have you been there yet?
Ever since reading City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre as a teenager, I wanted to travel to India. I was fortunate to make it there in 2018, and cannot WAIT to go back!
Where do you dream of now?
Covid managed to kibosh our travel dream of Vietnam and Thailand in 2020, so that is next on the bucket list for sure.
What travel memoir do you insist that EVERYONE reads? Why?
Trail Mix: 920km on the Camino de Santiago by Jules Torti! I LOVE Jules’ writing style! Her descriptive and often laugh-out-loud account of her and her wife’s Camino adventure had me wanting to give it a go…maybe! Or maybe I’ll just read the book again instead! (*Note from Jules, Wild Women’s content writer and blogger: This response was totally unprovoked but a thrill to read! Thanks, Frankie!)
Do you still send postcards?
I still have a stack of postcards I picked up while travelling–I fully intending to send them! Maybe they will make a cool art project some day!
Do you collect anything commemorative on your trips as souvenirs?
I am a collector of many a “thing” that will remind me of a trip- from pebbles to paintings. Much to my minimalist wife’s dismay!
If you could travel with another woman who would it be? Where would you go?
This is going to sound SO cheesy, but I already have found the absolute BEST travel partner in my wife, and I would travel absolutely anywhere and everywhere with her!
Is there a destination or activity that you’d like to see offered by Wild Women?
Honestly, I think Wild Women has such an incredible variety of tours, I can’t think of anything I would add. Well, maybe southern mainland Italy (where my family is from). Some of the most beautiful landscapes…and the FOOD!
What’s the best part about travelling with Wild Women Expeditions?
Meeting other women with a passion for travel and adventure. Everyone has a story to tell, and reason for being there, and it is just such a powerful unifying force.