Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sarah's Great Affair is to Move

I can happily say I'm crossing off number 5: "Get out of the city once a week, out of the state once a month, out of the country once a year."  Technically, I did not do this to the letter, but I did leave the country for a day and since it's my blog, and I get to cross things off, I'm declaring this goal "achieved."

When I started with Shake the Dust, I thought I'd fulfill the end of this goal by going to Haiti.  That's proof of how much visions can change in just a year.  Unfortunately, Haiti wasn't in the cards for me.  But since British Columbia is now just a short jaunt away,  I packed a bag and begged a roommate to accompany me on a whirl wind trip to Victoria, BC.  

It never occurred to Emily and I that going to Canada for one night would be thought strangely of.  But, time and time again, we were met with the same perplexed look and doubting air whenever we told someone our scheme.  This personified itself when we attempted to cross the border into Canada.  Apparently, we held within our circumstance the perfect storm of suspicion for a Canadian Border Patrol Officer.  He questioned us so intensely that I was beginning to think that I had, in fact, done something horribly wrong.  The exchange went something like this:

"Where do you live?"
"Why do you have Colorado plates?"
"I moved from Colorado in August."
"When in August?"
"Erm... Early-ish."
"Why are you going to Canada?"
"To stay in Victoria."
"For how long?"
"Just the night."
"That's a long way to go for one night."
"... Yup."
"You might be a terrorist.  Drive here, give this to her, and don't ask any questions because we won't answer them."

Luckily we were found innocent of all terrorist-related charges and continued Northward where a ferry boat waited to take us to the beautiful island of Victoria.  The boat ride was taken in the dark, and therefore lead to many Titanic jokes and slightly more serious wonderings of where they keep the life boats (Deck 5).  

We finally reached land about 90 minutes later.  With mildly shaky knees and bellies full of french fries and gravy (do as the Canadians do!), we boarded a bus to our hostel.  As is the case in most traveling stories, we walked the wrong direction from the bust stop for about 5 blocks before we realized what direction we were going.  But, we got to see a bit of Victoria's China Town, which was beautiful.  Red lanterns hung from street post to street post, and decorative arch ways welcomed in those lured by the smells of fresh herbs and teas illuminated in shop windows.  

Our hostel was finally found around 8 pm, and we were greeted by a lovely young lady in novelty sized, dark rimmed glasses, manning the desk of a brightly painted vessel for young and care free travelers.  Our desires for tea and crumpets and dresses and hats were soon abandoned and replaced with wishes for some comfortable jeans and a micro brew.  Nevertheless, we settled into our room and headed out in search of dinner.  This turned into a walking tour of night time Victoria, which is entirely navigable by foot.  We finally decided on a thai street food restaurant and had an odd conversation with an older man about his nephew who plays soccer for OU.  The conversation dragged on a little longer than was wanted, I think because I flattered him too much based on his nephew's good looks (he made me google him on my phone).  At any rate, he gave me some good "older person travel advice."  Things like, "when you take the ferry back, get the buffet, not the cafeteria" and "Next time just fly here, it's cheaper."

We tried to find a nice Canadian bar to settle into, but this turned into another session of us wandering about in the dark, peering into bars playing the UFC fight and boldly trudging onward.  We finally decided to head back to the bar at the hostel, which turned out to be perfect- they had a band playing, the beer was cheap, and a rather cute Englishman shared a table with us.  After a long and serious talk (sans Englishman), as Emily and I are prone to do in unlikely surroundings (mostly bars), we slowly walked upstairs to our room, giggling as we went, because we couldn't believe we had actually made it to Canada and we were actually  only staying for one night.

The next day, we were both excited to see Victoria by day.  We stopped at Lady Marmalade and had a shockingly fresh breakfast (who knew salad could be that good before 10 am).  After a bit of shopping and some more adventuring around the city, we settled into a coffee shop (where everything was made of drift wood) and hid out from the rain.  We were met by a man with a penchant for staring, however, and had to move on.  

Much to an traveler's delight, we then stumbled upon a Chinese New Year parade and got to see the tail end of it (literally- there were dragons).  We were greeted again by the smells of the night before and the sights of Chinese street markets and sounds of firecrackers and traditional music.  Our time was growing short, though, so we popped into a nearby cafe to pickup food for the ferry ride home.  

We found ourselves in a long, warm room with high ceilings and venerable brick walls.  There were some children sprawled across the floor, quietly playing; young adults with fancy headphones, tapping away on macs; and generations upwards enjoying each other's company, reading newspapers, and turning pages of books.  The food was all whole and organic, the staff all beautiful (of course), and Emily both agreed if we could spend the rest of our days in that one little shop, we would both be perfectly happy.  But, since we both had jobs to return to and, more immediately, a ferry to catch, we carried our wrapped up treats and headed back to the hostel.

Thank Brownie Troupe!
Emily and I both agreed we travel very well together- we are both laid back, open to new experiences, and welcome meeting new people.  There is, however, a trait we share that proved to make traveling rather difficult.  Neither of us listen particularly well to detailed instructions.  This proved almost itself when, after receiving very distinct directions on how to get to our bus stop, we both stood waiting at the wrong corner for 20 minutes.  When we spotted our bus on the other side of the street, a good distance away, we had to run for it- heeled boots, luggage, and all- and made it just in time- laughing uncontrollably, and thanking our stars for the slow-legged Brownie Troupe that was boarding as we rushed up.  

Was it the most eventful trip?  Was it life changing or of grand proportions?  Perhaps not.  But it did remind me of the excitement traveling induces, and awoke that Wanderlust that lay dormant for so long.  And we came away from it with so much laughter and genuine, quality experiences, that I can't help but want to go back next weekend and the weekend after that.  Perhaps even call Victoria home for a while.  Who knows!

And to those, 
especially that border patrol officer, who thought it odd we'd go so far for such a short amount of time, I leave you with the wisdom of Robert Lewis Stevenson- "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel's sake.  The great affair is to move."

And cheers to great affairs!


  1. What a perfect adventure! I've been wanting to go to Victoria--you've inspired me even more!!

  2. Lovely, lovely, let's go back!


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