I’ve been getting out of Vancouver a bit over the weekend.
On Saturday Mo (another former Nigerian VSO) collected me and we took the ferry across to the Sunshine Coast. A friend of hers has a house there, where we spent Saturday night. We had a couple of nice meals, wandered around a bit and caught up on all the news since we last saw each other in Nigeria.
Today Dugly and I took a fairly long trip for a bath. In the forests near Harrison, along various rough logging tracks there’s a lovely little hot spring, undeveloped apart from some hot tubs and decking. It was lovely sitting in the hot water and looking out at the trees and snow-topped mountains. The way back was less relaxing, various traffic holdups and torrential rain.
The weather has been lovely over the past few days, although a bit on the cold side.
The raccoon was just at the entrance to the park. Locals obviously feed the animals there as they were all very tame and approaching people looking for food.
Yesterday I flew back from Kelowna to Vancouver, going from a dry -7°C to a warmer and wetter place.
I met Adrian’s girlfriend Amy at her work, dropped off my big bag and set off for a wander to occupy some time. I only got as far as the big public library around the corner, which had the benefits of being warm and dry and having internet.
Once Amy had finished work we headed for the apartment, in the West End of Vancouver. Amy then took me for a walk to show me the neighbourhood and we had dinner at a Greek restaurant nearby.
This morning—after a nice lie-in— I did some washing then wandered into central Vancouver to buy some new rechargeable batteries for my digital camera.
The apartment is quite close to Stanley Park, so I went for a walk round the sea wall, which has only recently reopened after severe storm damage last year. It’s a lovely walk, especially on a cold, clear day like today. The first picture shows an apartment block near the park; the tree apparently represents the height of the trees that used to be in that area. The second picture is of ships waiting to enter the port.
The past few days I’ve been staying with Tammie at her house in Kelowna, British Columbia. It’s a nice town by the side of a huge lake and is apparently popular with people wanting to escape the rain in Vancouver.
The town is mostly quite low-rise, with quite a few nice old houses dotted around the streets. I visited the Okanagan Heritage Museum and the BC Orchard Industry Museum and went on a tour of the local brewery.
Yesterday Tammie and I went on a tour of a few of the local wineries: St. Hubertus, Cedar Creek and Summerhill Pyramid (that’s where the pictures were taken). On the tour of Summerhill I had to bite my tongue as they explained how their pyramid-shaped cellar and its magic powers improve their wine.
I’m sitting in Tammie’s house typing this as I eat my breakfast, after a good nights sleep.
Early yesterday morning I left Stirling with Mum and Dad, heading for Edinburgh airport. The start of a long day of airports and flying. I’d allowed plenty of time at Heathrow, in case of delays, so I ended up hanging around there for several hours. I’d bought access to the Servisair lounge in Terminal 1, so had somewhere pleasant to sit and something to eat and drink. Unfortunately, they only allow you in three hours before your departure time and my flight started boarding well before that so I only got two hours for my £18, not sure if it was worth it.
The flight from Heathrow to Vancouver seemed endless. The food was good (sausages and mash) and they’ve now introduced video-on-demand, so I could watch films and TV programmes until my attention span dropped to the point where I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I managed to doze for about half an hour and then woke up with the usual stiff neck.
Vancouver airport seems very new and shiny, lots of sculptures, nice wood panelling and a few water features. A lot of construction still seems to be going on. The immigration staff were polite and friendly, lots of questions about what I’m doing in Canada but that’s fair enough. Then I had to check in at the domestic terminal and sit and wait for my flight to Kelowna. By this point I was in that weird state that seems to happen after too much flying and not enough sleep, everything seemed a bit surreal, especially as the airport was mostly empty.
Today’s plan is to wander around town, see if I can persuade one of the Canadian mobile networks to sell me a pay-as-you-go SIM and buy a few supplies.
I’ve just finished reading Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, an interesting book about a girl growing up in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. I found it a bit confusing at times as she sometimes refers to her family and other settlers as Africans, but then also uses the same word to refer to the indigenes of the countries she was living in.
The book also follows the common European/American habit of treating Africa as if it’s a single homogenous place. The settlers seem to be fond of declaring their love for Africa, based on living in one small part of it. It would be like saying you love Europe when you’ve only been to the south of France. My cynical side would say that they didn’t fall in love with Africa so much as with the lifestyle of being the ruling class.
I also recently read Ryszard Kapuściński’s The Shadow of the Sun (Penguin Celebrations), in the foreword he says:
[Africa] is too large to describe. It is a veritable ocean, a separate planet, a varied, immensely rich cosmos. Only with the greatest simplification, for the sake of convenience, can we say “Africa.”
These books reminded me how quiet it is at night here in Stirling. Lying in bed all I can hear are traffic on the A9 and the muffled roaring of the glass wool factory. In my house in Kaduna the air was full of the sound of crickets, frogs and all the other night creatures.