Canada, Part One
“I’ve never known anyone I’ve never met before,” Luke said to me while we waited for John at the laundromat. It’s just one of the many unforgettable moments I had in Canada.
We stayed in John’s house, located on a large stretch of land. Even now, I’m not sure where his property started or where it ended. But it didn’t help that everything was covered in white untouched snow. It was a sea of white, so property lines were hard to make out.
The house itself is considered a “kit house” and John’s father, Stanley, originally built it for his mother. It was cozey, it was comfortable, it didn’t have television. Hallelujah.
We were cooking all the time. John is an excellent cook. I, on the other hand, am not. When I asked who taught him how to cook, he shrugged, “No one.” He cut slabs of chicken into smaller pieces, “Good cooking comes from an appreciation of good food. And from trial and error.” So we ate and it was good.
And so was the tea. We drank lots of tea. My favourite being camomille just before going to bed. Mixed with a bit of honey and half-and-half. So subtle, so smooth, and so relaxing. I also enjoy green tea and peppermint tea. There is something strange about it; there’s a love for tea in Canada that I haven’t seen much in the States.
No one puts chains on the wheels of their cars. Everyone buys snow tires and many vehicles are four-wheel drive. The snow banks averaged three to five feet high. On the fourth day since I’d arrived, it snowed nearly two inches. That was the day we hiked through John’s “backyard” of sorts. Trudging through snow is tiresome after a time. Especially when the snow is knee-deep or deeper.
We were not without our adventures or strange occurances. There was a morning a policeman showed up on John’s doorstep looking for a “John Shetcheek and Charlie… or… Carly??” Sometime after I arrived in Ottawa, there was a miscommunication between myself and my family, thereby leading to Officer Sandy of the O.P.P. and a phone call home letting everyone know that I was fine and safe.
That same evening, we “broke into” the local dump and stole sheet metal to repair John’s “Chariot”, which also needed to be “stolen”. John’s car was sitting at a local garage, awaiting repairs and being refused because Hugh, the garage owner, is unjust.
It was ironic because we made it away with the sheet metal and we successfully removed John’s car from Hugh’s, but it wasn’t until Juliana (John’s best friend) and I landed in a snowy ditch that police finally showed up. Somehow our devious plot became everso slightly chaotic and our adventurous desires morphed into simply getting home. Which we did and had a good tumble about later.
Saturday night (the 21st), John, Luke, and I packed our things and we started to drive. Our goal destination was Sussex, New Brunswick, which is the location of Bethany Bible College. We all had people we wished to see and catch up with. Bethany is the reason we are all connected. John and Luke are both former students there, Ryan and Luke were roommates, and I’m friends with Ryan.
However, just as we were about to leave, John’s mobile rang and the message was tragedy. He couldn’t come because of a family emergency and he had to leave immediately. He handed me the key to the Chariot and gave Luke the map and said, “I’ll call you as soon as I can and try to meet you there on Monday or Tuesday.” We understood and we all hugged and Luke and I set out on the road and without our friend.
Montreal is interesting. And beautiful. But the drivers there are aggressive and possessive of the road and I did my best to avoid them. I drove the first shift while Luke dozed, saving up energy for when we would switch places. We listened to St. Germain and I fanticized over French words, finding great joy in phrases like “Je ma souvies” and “Ou est le toilette?”
There is a town in Quebec just before the Riviere du Loup (River of the Wolf). I was mesmorized by this town. We stopped there because Luke needed to refill the gas tank and empty something else. It was just before dawn, so most of the town was still sleeping. With my hands shoved in my pockets, I leaned up against the Chariot and waited for Luke to come back from the washroom. A man stepped out of the station and looked at me. I smiled and shook a little from the cold. He smiled and said, “Avez-vous besoin de l’aide?”
At that point, I was still practicing French in my head and not out loud, so I said, slightly embarrassed, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French.”
He nodded and continued, “Why?”
At first, it seems like a ridiculous question… I don’t speak French… Why?… Well, I… Because I don’t?
I answered to the best of my ability. “We’re just passing through. We’re going to New Brunswick.”
“Oh, alright,” the man said and gave me a wave.
Luke came back and handed me the key. As we left the town, I took as many mental pictures as I could. Because it was stunning, and I knew it was stunning because no one else would agree with me. I plan to go back there some day. And no one will have to ask me why I don’t speak French.
Le voyage continuera..