Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Before arriving in Canada and even for the first few days I did not seem to notice big differences between USA and Canada, but for many Canadians it seemed awful to be even compared to the Americans.
Little by little I started to put more attention into what we were doing every day, into our contact with the local culture and environment and the more we were driving up north away from the border, the more I was feeling like I am back in some European country.
Montreal is a great city to explore on bicycle and we had great time here but we were on schedule so after 4 days here we decided its tie to drive up into Quebec with the first destination Quebec City. If the southern parts of Canada you can still feel you are on American continent but once you arrive in Quebec it’s a completely new feeling. From the nature, to the vendors in the shops no one here seems to like to speak English so actually I would say English speakers are in minority.
Quebec city was founded by the French, who built a mighty citadel walls, constituting the only walled city in North America. Here, we contacted Benoit, a man who was continually accommodating different Couchsurfing travellers with whom we felt comfortable, despite the cold and aloof temperament contrasted with Canada´s previous hosts.
Sometimes it is difficult to relate with people that seem not able to relate to others.
Although Benoit seemed interested to have many people around him, at the same time his involvement in the relationship was diminished by the fact that he was hosting so many people, that probably at one point he did not even care. Anyway, everyday we did our best to interact with him and gave him some good advices for his next trip into Vietnam. I was more than happy to leave from his place and start a new week on the road, camping with our self sufficient van. Although it was so cold sometimes in the night, we spent very relaxed days, travelling slowly towards Gaspe and Nova Scotia.
Definitely we were not in the high season, most of the hotels and parks being already closed, but we enjoyed the landscapes and the presence of black bears almost everywhere.
We had realised that the rest of our stay in Canada will be about the amazing landscape and nature but also we got the chance to be hosted two more times during our stay. Pierre is a French Canadian, living in Les Escoumins, and works as a coast controller. After visiting the Baie Sainte Marguerite, in the afternoon we drove to Pierre´s home, who received us wonderfully. Because we knew there are whales in the see over there, we commented to Pierre the fact that we would like to see some and he pointed to his amazing view of the ocean in front of his hose, and after staring a bit at the ocean we managed to spot a wale. We cooked dinner and at the table there was also a friend of Pierre, a lady in her 50s that she could not understand any English although she lived in Canada, supposedly a bilingual country. If in Catalonia, all the Catalans speak Spanish, here in Quebec it seems there are many people who cannot or do not speak or know any English.
We were supposed to take a ferry across golf St Lawrence, but the weather was so bad for the last days that many ferries were not working. We booked one for the next day but it was cancelled, and the one of the next day again. The see was troubled, there were huge waves and wind and rain. It was the worst time of all. Finally we could make a reservation for the ferry from Godbout, but that boat was leaving very early in the morning and we were 250k away. Next day we woke up at 4 am and started to drive in order to arrive by 7.30 at the town where the ferry was leaving. Once there we were informed that also this boat was cancelled. We were stuck there. The weather was apocalyptical and if we were stuck there we would have to go through a horrible night of torment. Watching how the waves were braking into the shore and how the wind was blowing with such rage, I almost thanked not being on a boat.
The people in the port told us that there might be a boat from another town, 50km away and that we should hurry for the boar was leaving at 5 pm. We drove the last kms and waited in town till we were informed that yes, the boat was leaving at 5. The torment wasn’t gone and once on the ferry we realised how bad the sea was. The boat was rising and falling at least 1 to 2 m on every wave. I think we spent the most horrible 3 h on a boat. I felt very very sick, almost vomiting, all my stomach was up and down. It was just too much and I think all the passengers were raying to arrive safely at the shore. After 3 h we landed and it was great, but the storm outside was fore strong. We started to look for a place to camp but we realised we should go out of town. We drove at least 50km till we found a nice picnic area on the coast and we could sleep although I really though that with the rain that was outside we might have a change to be under water by the next day. Its been almost a week of rain and cold and it was getting to us. The night was setting pretty early and the mornings were humid and cold. It gave us the feeling of going home and abandoning the travel. Bad weather can be very depressing for travellers.
Slowly, visiting things , we were heading towards Halifax, Nova Scotia, where we would be hosted by a man called Wayn. On the way to visit Halifax we went to Kouchibouguac National Park, where we spent the night in spite of seeing a pair of black bears in the evening. I decided it was the best spot for a beautiful night of camping and not even the park rangers bothered us. After 6 nights of camping we finally arrived at Wayn’s house where we could take a shower and relax. Meeting Wayn was a bit shocking for me because he seems to be a hoarder, his house being packed with stuff. I have never seen a house like that. He has hundreds of thousands of books and boxes and things thrown everywhere. It was obvious that there was no women in the house. Another pretty disturbing fact was that he was in a BDMS ( bondage and sado-maso) club and was a nudist , although during our stay he was using a bathrobe. We had a very cluttered room but the room had a lock so during the night we were locking ourselves in. He was an ex army guy, recently divorced and experiencing life to its limits. He liked to talk openly about his sexuality and also about his variated interests like Tarot, Numancy, Chiromancy and other paranormal stuff. After leaving his home, we went to visit Peggy´s Cove, a fishing village southwest of Halifax, really worth visiting. Despite the cold wind, we climbed the road behind the town towards the lighthouse, the view made Jan stop the and he went to take pictures of the little lighthouse with the raging sea in the back , but I dod not dare to go out. It was too cold.
With so much time on our hands, and long camping days, we have started in the last few months to think about how our life will be once this travel is over. Although it has been already almost years on the road, the 16 months that we still have ahead seem a short time. It is quite strange to think that our lives will be so different when this amazing travel is over, that all the good and bad experiences will become memories. It almost makes us sad but we have to decide how our future will be and we have to do that now, during the last months of this amazing journey.