East coast living.
Trip Start Jan 16, 2011
12Trip End Ongoing
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Whether it was the 6 hour bus trip to here from Saint John, which turned into 8 hours because the drivers changed every 90 minutes and each swap over took nearly half an hour, or an alcoholic Japanese man in my dorm who made very odd sounds in his sleep (think Chewbacca from Star Wars) and was convinced Leprechauns existed only to look completely heartbroken when I told him they didn't. Or, getting miserably soaked to the skin while house hunting with a Colombian. Or indeed the crazy Belorussian taxi driver with wild eyes and a tendency to drive with no hands on the wheel while telling me in a very strong Belorussian accent that "Nova Scotia is shit my friend" before giving me a piece of advise; "Get the f..k out of Halifax....it's shit." I don't know why he thought this, but all I knew was that my first week here was pretty eventful
Now I wouldn't go so far as to say the declarations made by my new Belorussian friend were in anyway prophetic, but for a few days after wards I was beginning to think that maybe there was some method behind his madness.
After the initial settle in period and once again finding my way around my new surroundings, one of the first places I felt the need to visit was Pier 21, which is to Canada what Ellis Island is to America. Being the first piece of land that was touched by most immigrants arriving here on the long boat trips from Ireland, Britain and most parts of Europe, I thought it would be interesting to see how times have changed. Once inside it certainly brought things home about the tough conditions faced by the tens of thousands of people who were lucky enough to have survived the boat trip. I'll certainly think again before complaining about lack of leg space on a long haul flight that's for sure.
Having also set off on the job hunt again, the responses I was getting were generally more positive, however I was beginning to note a common trend; "Come back in the summer" was a phrase I heard at least once too often.
However, after coming back to the hostel after one particularly cold day on the job hunt, I noticed a sign saying that a volunteer was needed in the hostel, which in return for four hours work a day they would give me free board and a few other little money savers. I figured it was worth a shot for a while as it would allow me to save a few quid, as well as continue with the job hunt in the afternoon. The work involved doing some interior painting and decorating to the hostel, in time for the summer season. Although it was a little bit tedious at times, it ultimately led to greater things.
Shortly after this, I noticed that the hostel was looking for full time staff as the 3 of the 4 current staff members were leaving their posts. So, having applied immediately I was more than happy to be given the job on St. Patrick's day, which was a nice little bonus. It's something I never thought about doing before, but considering the amount of hostels I've stayed in over the past 3 years, it doesn't seem like such a huge leap. I've lots of ideas that I'm hoping to bring with use and bring them into the job which will make it a better place to stay and I suppose, make my role a little more fulfilling
One of my first unofficial roles in the hostel was to organise a St. Patrick's Day party in the hostel, which would include decorating it, providing the music and cooking a massive pot of Irish stew for everyone to try.
Luckily we were blessed with good weather on the day too, so a few of us decided to head outside and make the most of the Haligonian sun. The initial idea quickly snowballed into an impromptu busking session from Caleb, a Kiwi, and a very talented musician, quickly followed by the deck chairs and the Guinness. Although some passers by looked a bit confused, generally everyone smiled and quite a few even joined in, most of them tempted by the honour of having photo with a "genuine Irishman" and claiming to be Irish, at least for the day anyway.
As anyone who's ever been abroad for this time of year will know, St. Patrick's day has a different vibe about it altogether on foreign soil. A lot of people on this side of the country do have genuine Irish heritage and others, well, they just enjoy a day of fun, but I was genuinely impressed with the lengths some people went to to celebrate the day. Almost everyone in the streets had some form of green on their person, and one kid in particular had dyed his hair green and styled into a mohican
Of course, it got me thinking that although Ireland is not a perfect place to live right now, and like myself, so many people are on foreign soils trying to create something new in their lives. While we may not entirely sure where the journey will bring us, it doesn't make me or any of us any less proud to be Irish and to see the reactions people have when I say where I'm from, which are on the whole, very warm and positive. I don't think any other national day is celebrated so extensively throughout the world, and that, for one thing is definitely something that we (Irish) have excelled in.
As the evening drew to a close and all too familiar cold weather joined us for the for the sing song, we retired indoors to taste the stew, which by all accounts went down very well with everyone and as the compliments were paid to the chef, I must also pay compliments to some of Ma McCawley's secret recipe, which I certainly cannot take credit for.
So at the moment I find myself in a much happier and positive surroundings with some good mates in Jeff and Adrian from Toronto, Karl from Australia, Caleb from New Zealand, as well as the usual and varied mix of people that can only be met in a hostel, but definitely keep things interesting and humorous. I am also in the process of getting an apartment, which will be a huge relief to be finally have a place to call home, and all before Amanda arrives in just two weeks time. Although I only left, just over 2 months ago, it definitely feels like longer and the next few weeks will be busy, but I've no doubt they'll be very rewarding.