Sunday, November 21, 2010

You Know You're in Canada When...

Long time no see, blogfans!

Once upon a time I started this blag for a wild journey I took to New Zealand (hence the name), however, at some point I became swept up in my adventure and thus was unable to maintain weblogging pace with unfolding events (i.e. I got lazy/distracted). Perhaps some day the adventure tale will be told in a volume called Rise and Fall of the Kiwi, or something of the like.

I just took a trip to Vancouver, BC (Canada) and thought, "maybe I should use that old NZ blog to make note on occasional less-interesting travel." So now you're up to speed. On the day after I arrived (last Monday), a friend emailed to give well wishes and I replied thusly:
...yep I got in fine and went to my nerdy engineering conference today, thanks for checking. ... Canada is weird because if you didn't know better, you'd think it was America. I'll have to keep observing and see if I can figure out what the difference is...

Now on the night of my return home I reflect back and yes, I knew the moment when I figured out the difference: you know you're in Canada when the Greyhound driver informs you that bear mace is not, in fact, allowed aboard the bus. "Bear mace?" I ask. "Ya'd be sarpris'd" he counters in a thick Canadian form of English. Hm, Canada is a different place, I realize. So now I'm just thinking of how many more You-know-you're-in-Canada-when- lines I can come up with. You know you're in Canada when... Burger King has poutine.

Thinking it a bit odd that people would bring bear mace on a bus from Vancouver to Whistler, I did, in fact, see a black bear the night that I took the Greyhound bus. No, not out of a bus window. As in, I was 30 feet from a wild bear at 2(?)a.m. after having too many drinks with Manny, my new Indian-English mate who runs this.

Luckily my fantastic hostel outside Whistler Creek had a free copy of BEAR SMART at the front desk and I had looked it over earlier that day while waiting for the local bus to the village.

Given this incredible packet of information, I knew exactly what to do:

OK I know what you're thinking: JESUS Trevor you could've been killed! Well maybe, but I was just doing what BEAR SMART told me!

Well, at least I sort of did #2. Switching gears, you know you're in Canada when... The New Amsterdam Cafe is exactly what it sounds like. This establishment was around the corner from the hostel where I stayed my last night in Vancouver, and yes there are people smoking pot in there, plain as day. Yes, it's supposedly illegal in Canada. Yes, the police know. It's seemingly some kind of strange legal gray area where there is just no enforcement of the law. No, I didn't partake (honestly!) but I had to stop in to see (and unavoidably smell) this for myself. The signs clearly read: "We DO NOT sell marijuana here. Do not ask." I buy an Odwalla juice drink and the employee of Asian descent with dyed dreads, tattoos, and piercings says, "That'll be $4.20." I laugh, "Haha, really? Did you guys do that on purpose?" "Nope." She is not entertained. Waiting on stoners all day must wear upon one's patience. Or maybe she was just out of it; I suspected she must have been high herself, from hours of second-hand smoke, if nothing else. I took a look at their collection of exquisite hand-blown glass hurricane lamps while I drank my expensive juice and then returned to the hostel.

Further short stories and photos will be posted in coming days. For now it's time to crash after that transcontinental flight. Seeya!