Before she was a tour guide, Willow worked a desk job, putting together travel packages for destinations such as Australia and the South Pacific. “You sit in front of a desk, and you answer your emails, phone calls and whatnot. There isn’t much social interaction.” For the self-professed beach person, the routine was humdrum. Willow’s affinity for the ocean developed at a young age, and she was raised swimming with the sharks and jellyfishes. “Amongst my hobbies are swimming, paddling, fishing and surfing. I’m in harmony with the ocean.”
It took a gap-year trip travelling across Canada to forever alter her life perspective. Together with her cousin, and throwing caution to the wind, she began working odd jobs. From summer-wedding preparations to cherry picking and farming organic apples, they did it all. Volunteer works also exposed her to the raw side of Canada. “I became intrigued by the unconventional ways people live. I saw how houses run on zero power; how people manage to carve out a self-sufficient life.”
When she returned home circa 2012, she had to figure out a new career path. The internet was her starting place. Yearning to turn her snowboarding passion into a job, she typed “snow” into the search engine. A long list of job vacancies returned. Before long she was working at a ski lodge, cooking breakfasts and dinners for guests. For the rest of the day, the snow-clad mountain was her playground. “I didn’t draw a huge salary, but it was a lifestyle choice that I made. I got to tear down the mountain at breakneck speed.”
Of course, leading a carefree lifestyle is not always pragmatic. When summer nears and the snow melts away, ski lodges are a ghost town bereft of activity. Willow had to seek a part-time job for the summer months. It was then she decided to become a tour guide. To get her feet wet, she undertook an eleven-day voluntary guiding stint.