Busy week in Montreal

Trip Start Jan 01, 2010
Trip End Jun 30, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Friday, May 6, 2011

I fly… 12 hours and 50 minutes to backtrack a year-long adventure trail. Over Southeast China, the Tibetan Plateau, Central Asia, Eastern Europe… until Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport, terminal 2E. Next flight to Montreal after a 24 hours layover, which gave me the time to run into Paris to meet my Chinese friend Hailong and have some talks about… China.

Another 7 hours flight and I finally land in Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau international airport in Montreal. May 6th, 2011, the day I became a Canadian Permanent Resident, only one day before my immigrant visa expires. I don't remember how long I have been waiting for this moment. Just a few more seconds, the time for the immigration agent to sort out my papers and wish me welcome in Canada. The agent looked surprised I had not arranged accommodation so far and that I was carrying only a few clothes, a broken Ipod and a tent. In this conditions she did not bother checking my backpack. My lucky day ! Later I learned that if she had found the salami and the Camembert I was carrying as a gift for Fabien, the guy who host me the whole week in Montreal, she would certainly have fined me something like 800$... Not the best welcoming gift :(

I wrote on my Couchsurfing profile that the inventor of CS is a genius. I really mean it. My stay in Montreal was great. And it was not only thanks to the everyday sunny sky. I don't couchsurf a lot, because it takes me a long time to make it work well. Reading many profiles before electing 2 or 3 persons I guess I would enjoy, writing the requests and planning my arrival. The latest was easy in this case, I have known for long I would land in Montreal at 5:20pm on May 6th, 2011. But finding a host was a tougher task...

Take the example of Hong-Kong, where only 75 members say they are ready to host couchsurfers : you must be lucky if somebody host you, because they probably receive 50 requests everyday… But finding somebody who suits you should not take a long time, when there are only 75 profiles to read (considering that some other criteria may reduce the number of profiles to read to a much lower number).

Now, Montreal : 1.842 people are ready to host (!!!). Unless you consider Couchsurfing as free hotel search engine and you are a fan of copy/paste (in this case, just send a request to the first 15 members of the list, I guess it works better if you are a young girl with a big breast), then better looking for a needle in a haystack. So. I have to refine my search, with age criteria around mine, but even though I must have read 50 profiles altogether before sending 3 requests : one teacher in the northern part of downtown, a student girl who lives five minute walk from the hotel Christiane will stay and another student in the Eastern part of town.

2 hours spent, but on the 3 requests I sent, I received 2 positive answers ! (my usual success rate, by the way). I chose to stay with Fabien, the teacher of sociology and religions, but stayed in touch with Cecile, the student girl, as my plan B because one week by the same host is a long time, and it was not guaranteed he would be available all the time, or if he would tolerate me more than 2 nights ;)

My plan B was never used. I got on very well with Fabien. Just after my arrival, a Friday night, after 19 hours flight and 12 hours jet-lag, he motivated me to join him for a pizza party and a few beers with his friends. Later in the week-end, he introduced me to more of his friends. After just 2 days in Montreal, I was feeling as if I had lived there for many years. I am not sure if when I will come back in Canada, for a long period I mean, I will elect Montreal (for my job, Vancouver or Calgary may be better bets, even if I signed a paper telling I would settle in Quebec, I hope nobody who works at the Quebec immigration agency is reading this blog ;) but Montreal will definitely rank high in the list of options.

And then I spent the week alternating between the necessary bureaucracy every new immigrant has to go through (open a bank account, exchange driving license, get a social insurance number…) and dedicating myself to the biggest event of the year : the visit of Christiane. For the last few years, I have seen my mother once or twice a year, so every visit is necessarily the biggest event of the year (for her)... Normally, it is me who come back to Nice, but since I now decided to limit my visits in Nice only for unmistakable events, such as weddings, funerals or eye transplant… Then her only chance to see me was to jump in a plane and make the first long-haul flight in her life, despite an uncontrolled fear of a plane crash with all passengers dying in agony… And she did it, well done !
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