Week Forty Five - Vancouver
Trip Start Aug 26, 2003
50Trip End Aug 24, 2004
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Where I stayed
Each day is much the same as the next. I get up and have two slices of Jan's home-made bread, toasted, with her own strawberry jam. I make a big pot of coffee and sit out on the deck smoking. I get a bus around midday (1153 to be precise) down to Lonsdale Quay and get the Seabus over to downtown Vancouver. It is usually Sushi for lunch followed by a walk along the Seawall path. I usually call into The Quay for a few Coronas. Steve Rappard is an exact double of Tom Sellick and I usually sit with him and his mate Richard. Steve is developing a staging unit which will be used to display winning Formula One cars behind the winning driver at the end of races. Girls in cars slow down and point at who they think is Tom Sellick. Steve is used to this. I catch the Seabus back across to North Van around six o'clock then No 246 bus up to Madeley Road. I watch TV for a while then I am asleep by 11pm.
Day 294 - Wednesday 30 June
Day 295 - Thursday 1 July
Spend the morning on the phone trying to find out where to get the forms for applying for a Canadian Work Permit. After getting the run around I decide to head into Vancouver to find the Immigration Office. After queuing in the wrong building I am directed twelve blocks away to the Citizenship and Immigration Office. After another queue I am told that I will have to download the forms from the internet. After a couple of Coronas with Steve and the boys I head back over to North Van and go into an internet café and download the forms. I also visit the British Colombia Realtors site and read up on how to get licensed. I grab a Sushi platter and head up home for an early night.
Day 296 - Friday 2 July
Dan, who we met in Laos and Thailand has invited me over to Winnipeg for a canoeing/camping trip with two of his mates. Today is the day. Check out of Beckside and get early morning taxi to the airport for the flight to Winnipeg. I am flying with Air Canada for $350 return. I plan to return on Wednesday of next week. The taxi costs $50. The flight takes 2.5 hours. The flight over the Rockies is impressive as bejesus. Dan meets me at the airport and gives me a short tour of downtown Winnipeg. He looks well although his hair isn't as blond as it used to be. It is raining but not too hard. We have a couple of beers then meet up at one of his friends houses who has organised a couple of canoes. Justin and Dirk(?) arrive from work at 5pm.. We strap the canoes to the roofs of the two cars using various pieces of rope and foam and head off. The rain has stopped. We have to stop a couple of times to resecure the canoe. We arrive four hours later with light running out. Lone Island Lake is our chosen venue and after loading the food and drink into the canoes we paddle in the direction of the lone island. We are heading straight into the wind and the trip takes over three hours. The island just never seems to get any closer. As we approach a family of hicks appear on the shore 'a la 'Deliverance''. They say that we can set up camp on the other side of the island and offer to direct us to the landing point. We paddle round to where they are standing, dungarees et al. The path up to the top of the island is rocky, steep and slippery. Dusk is fast approaching. As we get to a flattish piece of rock and moss the first crack of lightning flashes overhead. I can smell the burning in the air. Dan and Dirk scramble to set up the tents as the rain falls ever heavier. Justin and I run up and down to the canoes to bring the supplies up to the top. By the time we are finished everything is soaked. Inside and outside the tents is a mess. We sit on wet sleeping bags in a pool in the tent surrounded by swarms of nasty mosquitos, Horseflies and ticks. We start drinking then the hicks invite us over to their camp. They have a large tarp over their camp and there are about 10 of them. Adults and scary looking children. We have a sausage each cooked on their fire and carry on drinking. The drink takes it's toll on the lads and soon all three are throwing up. It is a sorry sight. We go to bed around three a.m. and I manage to get some sleep.
Day 297 - Saturday 3 July
In the morning it is a sorrier sight. At least we haven't been raped by the hicks. Justin suffers from a vertigo-like illness and is not well. Also someone forgot to bring an axe so we have no wood to light a fire. The decision is made to head for home. I borrow Dan's phone and ring Air Canada. As it is a bank holiday weekend they cannot transfer my flight so I have to buy another ticket for tomorrow for $300. We load up the canoes and head back to the mainland. It only takes 2.5 hours this time. The ropes are now wet and securing the canoe to the roof is harder than before. We have to stop approximately every 5kms to retie the lashings. We have wedged Dan's trainers under the boat in an attempt to secure the damn thing. It is a nightmare but we make it back to Winnepeg in 4.5 hours. We gladly dump the canoes back at their owner's place and drive back to Dan's parents. Dan makes steak and chips and we have an early night.
Day 298 - Sunday 4 July
Dan's Mum and Dad make breakfast in the morning of ham and waffles. Dan then drives me to the airport. The trip has been a bit of a disaster but it has been good seeing Dan again. We have a beer in the airport then Dan leaves. I realise that I am cutting it very fine to make my flight. As I queue to go through security they are calling my name for immediate boarding. As I get to the front of the line I point out my flight plight to the elderly security lady. She says that you cannot rush security and proceeds to check everything in my bag. A bottle of unopened Tequilla gets the full treatment and I am now hopping from one foot to the other. The remains of a bottle of vodka has to be dumped. I have to turn on my laptop and my MP3 player to prove that they are not bombs. Eventually I throw everything into my bag and leg it for gate 42. A lady with a walky-talky asks if I am Mr McGoogian and phones ahead to say that I am on my way. As I reach the gate they have removed my bag from the hold and it takes a lot of persuasion for them to allow me to make the flight. I do however and gladly take my seat to the tuts of many. Back 'home' in Vancouver I have just missed the end of the Euro 2004 final but I am just glad to be back to sunny Vancouver. I get a bus downtown and the Seabus over to North Van. Jan cannot take me in Beckside Guest House until Tuesday so I am staying in the Lonsdale Quay Hotel right beside the Seabus terminal. It is a nice room and I sit in their bar/restaurant overlooking the water counting my blessings and the empty bottles of Corona.
Day 299 - Monday 5 July
15 Minutes With The Maharajah
I am aboard the Number 10 bus from Downtown to Victoria, heading across to do some shopping on Broadway. I haven't been over here before so I sit up front on the courtesy seats so I can see my stop. An old Indian man sits right beside me. Asian Indian. He is short with chestnut coloured skin. His bald pate is surrounded by close cropped, magnesium hair. He smiles. One front tooth is capped in gold in the shape of a backward 'L'. His pencil moustache doesn't appear to grow out of him. Rather it is a row of aluminium shavings held in place by magnetic teeth (Al non-ferrous notwithstanding). He has not washed. Instead he has smeared himself with 'Pine-Fresh Toilet-Duck'. He smells sweet and sour. Morecambe and Wise. He wears white shoes, brown slacks and a beige shirt (with brown embroidered swirls on the collar). He is carrying an old white plastic bag. It is repaired using white electrical tape edged with dark fluff. The tape is whiter than the yellowing bag. The bag rests on my right thigh. I convince myself that the bag contains the liver of a gigantic royal albino Indian elephant, recently deceased. It is cold and moulds to my thigh. I move my leg and he moves the bag. It settles once more onto my thigh. He does it deliberately, smiling. His sparkling grey eyes hold my gaze. A thin faced blond girl with a huge arse boards and sits opposite us. She pulls a map from her rucksack. 'Where are you going?' asks the old man. 'Shopping' she replies. 'You must get off on Broadway, three stops from now, take the number 16 bus for nine blocks, get off, turn right and walk two more blocks. Walk down the second alleyway on the left and halfway down you will find a shop with a green door. Here you will find what you are looking for. Here is the best nik-nak shop in all of North America.' 'I have only one hour before I leave for the airport' she says. 'You will have time' he says, waggling his head in that affected Indian way. He tells her where to get off for Broadway. I follow. I have a limp. All the power has been drained from my right leg. It is numb. The elephant's liver has sucked the life from my leg. The blond girl stands at the stop, biting her thumb nail. I watch to see if she will follow the old man's instructions. Instead she catches the 'Airporter' bus. Should I take up the old man's challenge? I decide to wait for five minutes to see if a number 16 bus (to Arbutus) will arrive. Sure enough it does. Every bus I have been on has been crowded except this one. There is a young Indian couple sitting halfway down the bus. She in Sari. They are watching me in the front mirror. I count the blocks and get off after nine. I follow the instructions. Sure enough I get to the green door. A hand written over the window sign reads 'Nik-Naks'. In the dusty window is another sign, rested against a red, velvet covered plinth beneath a large brass elephant, simply reading 'Closed'. The 'window display' is backed by that board with holes punched in it which you don't see any more. I think you are supposed to hang shelving in the holes. No pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. I retrace my steps to Broadway and buy a book. Then head home to North Van via The Quay for an early night. Never listen to an Indian Holy Man.