Silver Linings

Early morning departure from Horseshoe Bay

This week I visited my cousin Donna who lives on Vancouver Island. The scenery on the BC Ferries ride between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo is a bargain at 16.50 CAD.  People on Alaska cruises pay thousands of dollars for the same vistas of the Gulf Islands.  I sat inside because on deck it gets too blowy for my liking. However, halfway through the sailing, I wished I’d braved the wind. Excited passengers started scrambling around, extending their arms and pointing fingers – for sure they had spotted an Orca! According to them – one of the whales had breached to the stern, then again on the starboard side of the ship. It is an awesome sight.

Donna waited for me in the arrivals area, and after big hugs, we drove down island to our favorite café in Genoa Bay. While we feasted on the catch of the day, we were entertained by the antics of enormous sea lions barking and jostling for the sunniest spot on the rocks. And at times, we could scarcely hear one another for the racket of gulls swooping overhead – obviously, they expected to be fed lunch on board the fishing boat we saw puttering towards the dock.

At Genoa Bay

I do love to shop, but the clapboard store had a limited selection and neither the fishing lures nor the canned corn beef called my name. We spent a bit more time strolling along the beach, and then drove to Donna’s new house in Duncan. She moved in the same day I arrived in Canada, and I felt special to be her first overnight guest.  On the way, I read a handmade sign: SLOW DOWN – BABY DEER ON THE ROAD. Donna did take the next turn slowly, yet she had to brake hard when a fawn skidded down the bank and tumbled onto the asphalt. My breathing stopped until he righted himself and scooted back into the woods. A few minutes later, I spotted an American eagle with a wingspan of at least two meters circling above the forest. From Donna’s deck, we had the day’s final “fauna sighting” – a rabbit jumping along the retaining wall above the lawn.

“Primadonna” and I talked non-stop through the afternoon and evening – we never run out of things to say.

Thursday morning, Auntie Alice and my cousin Dani arrived at 9:30 for a drive up island. Again – more deer, eagles, and a black shape disappearing through the cedars that was surely a bear.  Vancouver Island is like Wild Kingdom!

The landscape is obviously different in Canada and Mexico, but punctuality is another distinction.  For my return to the mainland, I got to the ticket wicket for the 3:15 ferry departure, at 2:58. “You just made it,” the attendant told me. “Passengers must be here 15 minutes before the scheduled departure. If you’d arrived just 2 minutes later, I would not have been able to sell you a place on the next sailing.” Sure enough, as I scurried to the gate, the metal gate clunked behind me. I felt grateful. Had Dani hit one more red light during our race to the terminal, I would have been standing on the other side of the barricade, watching the boat pull away from its berth.

I dozed and listened to Leonard Cohen all the way back across the water, and when we landed, I hurried to catch the bus to North Vancouver.  We made good time until the transfer point and then accidents on two bridges caused a gridlock. I had to wait an hour and a half before my bus came by.   For the punctual Vancouverites this caused major aggravation. But for me, the inconvenience had a silver lining. There were lots of Latins in the crowd and I got to speak Spanish for the first time in a month. ¡Que felicidad!

The bus finally came after 1 1/2 hours, but it was crowded!

 

My Tale of Two Booties

We see change and contrasts all around us.  And since arriving in Canada, this has been constant for me. The flowers and trees, food and drink, the clothing, entertainment – everything is different to what I am used to.

But transformation and changes keep us on our toes.

Now, speaking of toes…mine will be having a variety of different experiences over the next six months. For now, my sassy Merida sandals are the popular choice. My red polished toes enjoy the cool breezes. However, looking ahead, I decided I’d be wise to prepare for the inevitable, and when I saw these “Black Beauties” on the sale rack, I snatched them up. I think they are just as funky as the glittery sandals, but they sure feel different. They are the first pair of boots I’ve bought in decades. They are sturdy and roomy, they have a good tread and I can wear at least two pairs of warm woolen socks to keep my tootsies from freezing. My feet will like tacos!

As my friend Mary pointed out, this is just one of the accommodations I’ll have to make when the weather gets cooler. She says my tailored leather blazer is not going to be nearly warm enough. I’ll let you have a peek at me in my parka when I purchase one.

For several years the changes staring at me from the mirror have been worrying. More weight, more wrinkles and more sun damage have made me cringe – but I have avoided doing much about the results of too many delicious meals and too little sunscreen.

I find my latest footwear purchase is a good simile for the shift in my thinking. Black rubber boots don’t sound nearly as appealing as strappy gold sandals, but I thought ahead and have a couple of funky, fun “friends” to help me through the weather that’s waiting in the wings. And cutting back on my carbs and revving up my exercise are the allies to help me effect the physical makeover that needs to happen.

Change is the only constant in our lives… Gotta’ zip up my boots and jump on board!

The day after…

 

The Canadian flag – made up of Canadians

I have lived most of my life in Mexico, where outpourings of love for country are common. On festive days, music blares, tequila flows and food is consumed with absolutely no concern for the heart’s arteries. All ages dress up in crazy costumes and silly hats, hugs and kisses for everyone – I love it!

Canadians are known for wearing maple leaf lapel pins and flying their flag on the front lawn. In the spirit of solidarity, they are fiercely devoted to their own musicians, celebrities, and Tim Hortons. They can get worked up at hockey games, but otherwise, Canadians are as prudent as their politics.

Not yesterday though! To celebrate Canada 150, I saw a fun-loving, collective show of patriotism such as I never imagined could take place in this country. The same funky clothing and headgear (but red & white, not tricolor), loud music, uninhibited dancing and fireworks all along the horizon – I had such a great day!

Canadians of all ages enjoyed the party

 

Canadians of all backgrounds too…

 

The RCMP in my home town of North Vancouver saluted the country from the Capilano Suspension Bridge

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – “This is Canada… this is home!”