First day on the bus -long ride, beautiful scenery

Trip Start Jul 27, 2012
Trip End Aug 18, 2012

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What I did
Intersting local cultural stops!

Flag of Canada  , Nova Scotia,
Sunday, July 29, 2012

Left Halifax about 8:30. We made 3 interesting stops during the day, each one a different part of the NS (for Nova Scotia from now on) cultural picture.

1.  First stop was at the Glooscap Heritage Center which is a center for the history of the Mi'kmaw (pronounced Micmac) indigenous people who were the original settlers of this area thousands of years ago. They are officially called "First People" not aborigenes, Indians, etc. Theirs is the usual story of being almost destroyed by the first European settlers in the 1700s, the French, not from war but from disease - 75% of the people were wiped out within 100 years. But these people were very friendly to the French who would not have survived the terrible winters without their help. There were displays of beautiful beadwork and baskets made out of tree bark.

Note to Lisa, one of the volunteers there played what he called a ":boudin" which is a flat drum just like an Irish boudwain (spelling???). He said that the name "boudin" in his language means shaman.

2.    Second stop was for lunch and also a music show at the Celtic Music Centre in a small town. This is run by local volunteers who are passionate about their music which is a mixture of Irish, Scottish, and whatever. Almost everyone here plays an instrument and there are many musical gatherings in homes all of the time - called "kitchen parties" because they are  usually held in the kitchen. Some play fiddles, some spoons, washboards, or whatever else they have. The only other place I have been that is so passionate about their music is Ireland with the traditional music in the pubs all of the time.

There are Celts all over the world, not just in the British Isles. We are now on Cape Breton which is famous for its local musicians  who play jigs, reels, waltzes, etc.

3.  Third stop was the most interesting and unusual. at the Center for Mi-Careme which is French for halfway through Lent. It is a local Acadian custom (this part of NS is called Acadia) that half way during Lent, people take a week off from fasting, etc. and have fun. This started centuries ago when some wanted to have fun and drink during Lent but had to wear costumes and face masks so the local priests (everyone here is Catholic) could not recognize them. Now, the local priests join in the fun.

At this center, they make masks and costumes and have a small museum about the custom with very funny videos of what happens each year. Some locals want to be "watchers" which means that they will open their home to the costumed and masked people (called mi-caremes) who wander from house to house knocking on the door. The fun is to try and recognize who they are since they wear very elaborate full masks and costumes (like Carnaval). - if the people in the home recognize them, they have to take their masks off. Then, everyone eats and drinks. The hosts have to be ready almost 24/7 during the week because they can come any time. Sometimes, according to the person at the museum, up to 200 people will be running around the town in costumes and this happens every night for one week. The costumed people can demand any kind of food and drink they want from the hosts. Some costumed people are so intent in not being recognized that they have several costume changes outside in a car in case they get recognized in the first one, they can run out and change and return as someone else.

We saw very funny videos of many people in very weird costumes marching in and out of houses, even small children. This is a custom they are trying to keep going but had some problem a few  years ago with some outsiders who came in, drank and got rowdy.

Apparently, this custom started in Franch centuries ago but now only remains in this small part of NS which is French speaking.  

Had a local specialty for dinner tonight - Acadian meat pie, which was filled with turkey, pork and veggies with a crust on the top - yummy.   Desserts have been huge here - huge bowls of bread pudding, apple crumble and gingerbread. These are not on my Lindora diet but I am still partaking just to be polite of course.

This is a very small village right on the bay with only a few hotels around. Ours has a restaurant and a second story bar/lounge, and they had a wonderful local singer, Sylvia LeLievre, who is French Acadian.

Getting late and Bob is already in bed so got to go. Free computer here. Up early tomorrow but not too bad - 8:30.

Love to hear from you guys. 

Acadian Shirley

P.S. to Brant:  The French Acadians are related to the Louisiana Cajuns - both historically and musically. I am thinking about getting you a CD if I can find one.

Lisa, I thought of you. You would love this holiday.
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Lisa on

Sounds like lots of fun- I wish I could join you. I'm trying to get on the road next week (if I can find ferret sitters). If I come through LA, might I be able to stay the night? For some reason I thought you had gone earlier and Bob would be back next week, I guess I got mixed up on your travel schedule!
If you hear any great local Acadian music and can get a CD from a local band, I'd love to have one and will pay you for it. I've been practicing my mandolin a lot lately and have been learning some celtic tunes to play at the slow jam sessions here in town. I just can't yet even get my fingers to move fast enough on these tunes to play at slow jam speed, but I am improving so hopefully there will come a day I can play up to speed.
Looking forwward to more tales of your adventures - and you'd better write about the train ride too!

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