Catching up on blogs after only a weekend away is quite a task! I guess I'm not quite so dedicated a blogger as some... But I had a lovely weekend, marred only by Odious's absence--thanks to a scheduling snafu at work, he was unable to join me and our friends in Seattle on a delightful trip to Victoria. I'd decided when we moved here that I was not about to waste my proximity to another country again--it's most appalling, I think, that despite being hours away from Mexico for 7 years, I never took the time to visit that country. So, now I can add Canada to my short list, and will certainly return at the soonest opportunity.
Despite two of our party possessing passports still under our maiden names (one of which--not mine--was also 4 years expired!), we crossed the border with no problems and caught the ferry from Tsawwassen in good time. I may, at some point, post photos, but they are not developed as yet. The trip through the islands was calm and beautiful, and views of the rugged remote forests and mossy coasts put me immediately in mind of Charles de Lint--he describes just this sort of country in Memory and Dream and The Wild Wood . Once in Victoria, we eventually found our hostel on the Esquimalt peninsula, and knew ourselves blessed. It's an old house on the water, and could easily have been an expensive B&B with its lovely grounds and charming private rooms, but fortunately for us, the owner (who also works as a clown along with her companion Spike the Wonder Dog) has kept it shockingly inexpensive and inviting to the impecunious. Some of those latter seem to have made the place their semi-permanent home, which only adds to its charm--we chatted with three men, and others appeared out of the woodwork during our stay. One of my favorite things was the trampoline in the backyard, but the treehouse, canoes and kayaks, three dogs, two cats, chickens, rabbits, and guinea pigs were awesome too. And, after a good night's sleep, we investigated the mysterous "office" and found it to be a cosy little kitchen with a dining table set for breakfast. While chatting with the owner about her upcoming gigs, we feasted on cereal, toast, yoghurt, a delectable fruit salad, oj, coffee, and tea, all off beautiful china on a real tablecloth. Yes, this was a hostel--a far cry from the barracks of London and Paris!
Though I could have easily spent the entire weekend at the hostel, we had a wonderful time poking about Victoria, dining at both the city's vegan restaurants (the joys of Orthodox Lent!), which were actually quite good; enjoying live music (Peter, Paul, and Mary with a Celtic flair) in a pub; buying goodies from Roger's Chocolates; and wandering along the waterfront. We also spent a long time in the Maritime Museum, which turned out to be much more fascinating than I might have expected. The best part was the first section, which covered local history and the history of shipping in Canada--amazingly interesting, with lots of placards that were well-written and full of history. Since I hadn't had much time to read, I found myself devouring the words of the said placards--maybe why I enjoyed it so much... But it made me realize that not only do I know nothing about Canada (other than the two facts unknown to my companions, viz., that the country has a prime minister rather than a president, and that it is part of the British Commonwealth), but I know so little of world history! There's so much to know, and after reading How the Irish Saved Civilization, I'm realizing how everything is connected, and one small action may have huge consequences over the course of time. So now I'm inspired to read history and get myself eddicated. I think I'll start with that Stephen Ambrose book about Lewis and Clark, which I've been meaning to read since we moved here.