One lonely humpback

Trip Start Jul 17, 2014
Trip End Aug 06, 2014

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Friday, July 25, 2014

Today was an exercise in traveling alone. It's not something I mind too much. In fact I do it more often than not, having travelled overseas solo on several occasions now. It can make me very happy, but it's sometimes a bit sad. Knowing the emotions tied to this trip for me, coming alone worried me somewhat.

It's particularly hard to see couples traveling together. And families. It's a tough reminder that the one thing I want most out of life is out of reach. The thing that gets to me most, though, about travelling alone – is when something really awesome happens. I want to turn to someone, grab their arm and squeal "Woah!!! Did you see that?!?" I want to share the experience. I think part of the pull we humans feel to pair up, or to be around each other at all, really, is to share experiences. To have someone else bear witness to the events in our lives. Like that somehow validates everything.

This is probably why I like travelling North America. Folks be friendly. Always a stranger happy to be included in your travel adventure. It's also why I've developed that annoying habit of talking to almost any person about anything. My friends will complain to you that I know too many people, spread myself way too thin, and yet I'll still be off making friends with the old toothless man in the corner. Cos he knows something cool about Orcas. Or cotton farming. You know. Today on the boat I made a bunch of friends from New Orleans, met an Austrian that sounded like Heidi Klum, and convinced a young Canadian to go off on her own world adventure. I just like people.

In the past, when there wasn't a conversationally inclined random to make friends with, I used to get around the loneliness by texting dad. He'd always respond with an appropriately toned text to my location. "Damn, sweet honey chile!" "Have fun y'all!" and other appropriately dad-joke-pitched texts. I still remember the last text of that kind I sent him, standing over the bridge in London from the place he trained in the 70s. "Say hi to them for me", he replied. 

But luckily, there's a third way I get around travel loneliness. By blogging. I get to excitedly recount my life events to you, friends, and that makes me happy. I've treasured all the kind words of encouragement that have come in via FB and blog comment. Thank you. It's nice to know these posts don't disappear unread into the ether, and that people are enjoying them.

The first thing I want to share today is a bit random and not at all deep or funny. It’s specifically for Kirbs – to whom I've raved on and on and on and on about the lobster grilled cheese at Mr Brownstone. Here it is, and it was as good as I remember:

But back to today. Travelling alone. I really should have gone to the doctor today. I can't stop coughing. My chest is heavily congested. My cough kept me up all night, I probably kept Marty and Julie up with it too, and I feel terrible for that. But I didn't have time for the doctor. I was booked at 8am to head to Victoria, on Vancouver Island. The island was always high on my Vancouver bucket list and I never got around to it. I fly to Mexico tomorrow. Today's the day.

I'm headed off with Prince of Whales Tours, because I'm too lazy to get down to Tsawassen for the ferry, but also cos I want to get some whale watching in and I’m hoping to make some friends on the tour boat. We take a four hour, very roundabout, very cold, very windy trip to Victoria. For most of it I shiver, drink hot chocolate, look styling in my fluoros and make friends with Louisianans... But right in the last half hour we are FINALLY rewarded with one lonely humpback sighting. Well, as much of a humpback as you do sight.

I also learn some fun facts:

1.      The Eagles – we spot one pair of Bald Eagles just out of Stanley Park. There are three pairs living there and these Eagles mate for life. Each year, they'll hatch three chicks of which only one will survive, pushing the weaker two out of the nest. The parents won't intervene as they only have the energy to raise one.

2.      The Bridge – we sail under the famous Lionsgate Bridge I mentioned in yesterday's post, and I learn it was built by the Guinness bros. Yes THOSE Guinness bros. They created masses of jobs during the depression building it and spent a tonne of money. They did it based on the business assumption that if they did, West Vancouver (across the water) would grow and they'd make money from it. And grow it did! Today West Van is one of the priciest pieces of real estate in Canada, and many Vancouverites were saved by having work during the depression. You'd think the Canadians would give the Irish better work visa options in return, eh?

3.      The Orcas – while we didn’t see any this trip, the reason there are so many Orcas here (usually) is that the Fraser River is actually the largest salmon spawning river in world. There are five types of salmon but like us the Orcas prefer Chinook. The biggest and fattiest. Speaking of fatties, we also pass some Harbour Seals, just hanging out.

As we drift closer to the island, the sun makes an appearance. Vancouver Island is protected by the Olympic Mountains from a lot of the inclement weather plaguing the Pacific Northwest. The bad weather gets deflected by the mountains away from the island to the South and also to the North where it hits Vancouver and gets stuck wrapped around the North Shore Mountains. This is where it got stuck, falling on my head, as I hiked the Grind on Wednesday. Now we know mountains are to blame for my pneumonia… also why did I never live on the island?!?!

By the time we reach Victoria the sun is blazing and it's deliciously warm. We have just enough time to check out the Busker's festival, Bastian Square market and Canada's oldest Chinatown before some lunch by the water and a quick stroll of the historic buildings. A shuttle then transports us up to Burchart gardens for another speedy stroll before boarding the boat home, where we spot Harbour Porpoises along the way. It’s been a whirlwind, but worth it, and for the most part the speed of it all has made me forget I’m on my onesie.

By now, though, I’m actually dying. My cold medication is INEFFECTIVE. I try desperately to get into an after-hours clinic somewhere but there really aren’t that many and they’re all closed by now. I settle for crying to the pharmacist at Shopper’s on Commercial who tells me I need something completely different and gives me something to fix me right up. I want to kiss him.

So now, tucked up in bed, secretly wishing for someone to bring me a cup of tea and rock me to sleep, I’m staving off the travel lonelies by writing to you.

Don’t feel too bad for me. Tomorrow morning I’m up at 4am to go to Cabo, where there’s someone very special waiting for me.

Hasta Luego,

Your B. xx
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