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Traveldiary chapter 9 [May 2004 - October 2004] as PDF
(Canada & side-trip to visit Urs in the Dominican Republic)
|Photos: Canada 1 - Canada 2|
Canada, by car from Vancouver to Halifax
We were surrounded by Sari's and Turbans and of course, by other Asians, coming from all over the continent. It was quite amusing, how long it took, till all the Indian people had found seats that suited them better than the allocated ones, and this in a full plane. Later, when meals were served, China Airline personnel was busy for ages, distributing about a dozen different special meals, to satisfy all the different requests the various ethnic groups had made, before the Western and Asian passengers also got something to eat. Afterwards, when a movie was shown, we heard a Chinese shyly ask a flight attendant, whether it would be appropriate, to ask the Indian Sikh sitting in front of him, to remove his turban, so he could see the screen too. Well, after learning that this is a religious symbol, he didn't dare asking...
Finally, after 15 hours,
Canada gave us a friendly reception - apart from the long questioning customs clerk. We saw big green gardens and clean wide streets. Every Canadian, we got in contact with, had always time for a chat and they were very very friendly.
The city of Vancouver is extremely multicultural, which gave it a nice and very special character. Especially Asians were here in big numbers, be they immigrants, tourists or language students. In many parts of the city, almost 80% of the faces we saw, were of Asian origin. Many of them had taken the chance to open an own business, often a restaurant. But also many immigrants from other countries did the same. Unfortunately, within our two weeks in that city, we couldn't try them all, because the choice was just too big. At least we got to taste some Malay, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mongolian, Indian, Ukrainian, Greek, French, Mexican... Most diners, it didn't matter whether they were immigrants or tourists, seemed to prefer their country of origin's kitchen over the other ethnic varieties or North American fast-food. It was not uncommon, that all the other guests came from the same country as the Chef and at one place, they didn't even have an English menu. The only thing common, probably of Canadian influence, were the huge portions, as for example the 300gr. of Feta-Cheese, served on a mixed starter plate! In general, the quality was quite high and prices were rather low.
The only annoyance in
After the heat in
We enjoyed it double,
after 5 months "covered" in
Except that they didn't feel ashamed to go nude, they were even seeking a suntan, whereas in
We believe, we have
seen almost all of
After checking many sites in the internet, to check out those most typical American cars, we had been offered, we found that they depended on 13-16 litres for 100 km. But as you all know, we much rather spend the money for OUR food, than for the car's and so we looked harder to find an alternative, until we found that needle in the haystack. So we became the owners of a Saturn, a brand owned by GM and inspired by Japanese models. It's a 9 year old station wagon with a 4 cylinder engine and only 87'000 km. It cost us 3'750 Canadian Dollars plus tax, which made a total of C$ 4'300 (about 2'650 Euro).After driving it for some time, we were delighted to find out, that it really consumes 6.3 lt/100km only. Bingo!
We got registration and
insurance very quickly and even the bonus for good driving records we have had
Now we were ready to
start our big tour across
At least, not all of those fast-food chains were of the greasy North American type: some served Mexican food, others freshly ground coffee, freshly baked muffins or croissants. One was even specialising in ice-cream.
We found also many so-called "looney shops" which sell most items for a Looney. In case you hear this for the first time; here some explanation: The name of Looney was given to the 1 Dollar coin, as it depicts a Loon, a species of water bird, the Tooney; 2 Dollar coin, then probably got it's name of a slang, meaning two. Further they call the 25 cents a Quarter, the 10 cent a Dime, and the 5 cent a Nickel.
As we stayed at a
hostel with a good kitchen, we went to the supermarket to buy some food. We
were quite puzzled how expensive quality food in
From Squamish, we continued north through an amazing alpine landscape, seeing the first few Canadian deer, which they call Elk here. Even though it was raining, we briefly stopped at the posh summer- and winter ski resort of Whistler. The entire "village" had only recently been built between the ski slopes.
After another couple of
hours on windy, but wide mountain-roads, we stayed overnight at Lillooet.
Even though, this was in the middle of no-where, there was a certain legacy of
the past gold rush left, despite the fact that of the 15'000 inhabitants it
apparently had in 1860, the population shrunk to 2'700 today, most of the
buildings still have that look, which gives the whole place a "wild
Along many rivers and lakes, we drove on through a hilly countryside eastwards. Reaching Salmon Arm, we were looking for accommodation quite hard, as we couldn't find neither a Hostel nor a cheap Motel. In the end we got rewarded with an experience, we're not sure, if otherwise we would ever had made it in our lives: we stayed at an old people's home!
Guided by a good weather
forecast, we went south to the
Thanks to the Lady that
runs the Hostel where we stayed, we found
Continuing along various lakes and taking the free ferry across the Arrowlake, we came to the beautifully located little NAKUSP INTERNATIONAL HOSTEL in Nakusp. This place had recently been opened by an English-Indian woman and her French partner. We had some very interesting chats with the young couple and they gave us directions, how to find not only the commercial hotsprings, but also some lonely hot-pools in the forest. When we reached St. Leon Hot Spring in the woods, we shortly talked to the couple that was just leaving this beautiful site and then soaked in the 40 degrees hot sulphur water enjoying the quiet and superb setting beneath the fir trees and were thankful to those people, who set-up and looked after this manmade little bathing basin.
On the drive out and
also on the next day, we were lucky to see bears along the road. One was just
crossing the track a few meters in front of our car. As there was still a lot
of snow in the mountains, they moved down to lower areas, where food was
already plentiful and now after their hibernation, the bears were very hungry.
Driving into the Canadian Rocky Mountains of
As we continued our trip, we came across lots of wildlife, mostly deer and at almost every stop we saw Chipmunks, whistling marmots or ground squirrel. Coming out to the prairies, a beautiful wolf crossed just in front of the car - or maybe it was a coyote - we're not sure.
As we wanted to meet our friends Juliet & Basim in Calgary, we interrupted our discovery of the Rockies National Parks. That meeting was a funny happening, as Heinz had met Juliet 16 years ago whilst traveling in this very area and they had stayed in contact since then. One and a half years ago, Juliet, meanwhile with a family, moved from
When we continued our
travels, we came to the
Approaching the Rocky Mountains again from the south, we were driving back west towards
As we can take advantage of nature's power on the positive side, we decided to go out to a hotspring on our way. We were told that the forest road to the spring we had chosen, was not suitable for our car and so we drove out to some other one, that was recommended. The dirt road to that place was in excellent condition but got muddy as it started to rain and so, our car was covered in a mud pack by the time we arrived. Surprised how many cars were at the parking lot and seeing how good the track was, down to the river, we thought, we better pack our bathing gear this time - just in case. Reaching the three pools of the hotspring, we were not surprised to find them all crammed full, as it was Saturday and we were also not surprised that all men wore knee-long trousers. As we had heard before, from some German immigrants (some bakers), a man wearing knickers as common on any beach in Europe, often gets judged as being homosexual all over Northern America, and therefore, gets lots of attention. Heinz didn't want any of this and Brigitte didn't want to get changed in front of this big prudish crowd, that had already lots of empty beer cans around... So we just backed out and went off, to wash our car.
Via Invermere, we drove back up
Although the road reached an altitude
of over 2'000 meters above sea level, we drove on a more or less straight
valley highway. Every now and then, we, or cars in front of us, spotted some
wildlife, mainly grazing along the roadside. Somehow it felt like driving
on a popular alpine safari track. Apart from bighorn sheep, we also
saw Mule Deer (called Elk in
The next 4 days, we stayed in Jasper, which was the
first place, where many private houses offered rooms for rent and funnily, we
ended up staying with a nice Swiss Lady, who had immigrated 36 years
When we left the mountains towards
However, there was only one supermarket and that was a very special one; it was purely Chinese, with probably less Western products on offer, than any big supermarket in
Somehow, we didn't feel like stopping
As on any other campground in this country, almost all of the guests arrived with a campervan, they are known here as "RV's", which stands for "Recreation Vehicle". Therefore, campgrounds are not equipped with fancy facilities for people with a basic tent, as for example with kitchen, shop or snack-bar. But Helios Club Members went out of their way to accommodate us, quickly giving a finishing touch to their rental-caravan. Within an hour, they brought in a fridge, which they placed in the forest, because the one in the trailer wasnft working. As the light was only designed to run on a battery of 12 Volt, somebody quickly extended the wire, so that we could connect it to our car. We also got a spare battery, for the case that the one of our car would go flat. Everybody gave us a very warm welcome and we started to enjoy the club's outdoor hot tub and heated pool. We were told, we could also use the sauna, if we didn't mind to heat the oven with wood. As we asked, when it usually runs, we learned, that it hadn't been used for the last 3 years! Heinz thought; gthen it's about timeh and announced that he would gladly heat it up in the evening. So, we informed everybody that was staying Sunday night, the sauna would be on. By the time we came up to the "Aqua-Center", as they called it, somebody already had cleaned it out and lit the fire. There were about a dozen people showing up, taking advantage of the rare occasion.
When we went out shopping the next day, we tried to find some bread that was not yet sliced and packed in plastic bags. The Lady from the supermarket IGA's bakery department helped us. She found a solution by selling us frozen doughfs that they usually bake up themselves and we even got them for the wholesales price. The only trouble was, we hadn't made sure beforehand, that our caravan's gas-stove oven was working. So, the next morning we had this beautifully risen dough and tried desperately to make the oven run – but sure enough it didn't!
Luckily, our neighbour Paul, a young dropout who lives permanently at Helios, could solve the problem and from now on, we had fresh bread daily.
Considering that it
apparently often still snows at the end of May, the weather spoiled us now
and it was warm and sunny and thatfs why we finally stayed on for more than a
week. Daily, somebody invited us for a drink to his or her site or cabin and it
was very sociable. Here we felt even more hospitality than before in very
Leaving this real
Naturist-heaven, we visited Drumheller
next, an area famous for its finds of dinosaur fossils and it's unique
sandstone formations, called hoodoos. They formed in a dry washed out canyon,
in an otherwise very flat environment. Driving east for many hundred
kilometres, the green flat and treeless prairie started becoming boring and so was
the city of Saskatoon,
the capital of
Continuing our way for
another two days through endless flat
On the first two nights
at the hostel in
After 5 days, we left to
Crocus Grove Nudist Camping about 70 km north of the city. This club is
superbly equipped with sauna, hot-tub (indoor), a heated swimming-pool and a
generous club-house with a communal kitchen that was even suitable to cook
for big events. You just have to bring your own groceries, as the next proper
food-store is more than 40 km away. Or, there is a restaurant just 2
km from Crocus Cove at the local golf club. There were mainly
fast-food type items on the menu, as often in the Canadian countryside,
but what they served, was surprisingly good as everything was freshly prepared.
One thing we didn't consider, when we returned a second time, was that they
closed already at 8 in the evening, as often away from the big cities.
Back in the club, we cooked the last Spaghettis and later enjoyed the Aqua center. We stayed in a little cabin and enjoyed it to be with the very hospitable friendly 'bares' and talked to almost all the Club-Members that were present. We just didn't like the wildlife, which was abundant during our visit: the very famous Royal Canadian Mosquito! Those nasty animals followed us in swarms and loved it that everyone here exposed the maximum flesh but they really drove us off, after a few days.
It wasn't far to the
With Good Luck, we got a
small apartment at Glen
Echo, a naturist park in the north of town. We felt ripe for a weekfs
holiday of our travels and this was a perfect oasis for this. It had many
indoor facilities, as a big swimmingpool, a Jacuzzi with the most powerful jet
wefve ever enjoyed and a sauna that was (automatically) heated three times a
week. Upstairs, there was a big games- and reading area with 3 ping-pong
tables, a pool table, dart and tablesoccer. Glen Echo had big lawns for
sunbathing and a beautiful pond with a tiny island. The campsites were dotted
around the forest that surrounded the Club but they had no power. We could walk
the trails through the forest, even out to the fields which we enjoyed, as
not many mosquitoes were at our pursuit.
The weather was always warm, which unfortunately provoked thunderstorms every day, but one. Unusual to us, it mostly started around lunchtime, and sometimes arrived within only 5 minutes to previously blue skies. At one stage, there was so much rain, the pond overfilled and flooded. The hillside lawn soon looked like a waterfall and the children's playground was suddenly in the middle of a big river.
One day, we visited Toronto,
After Glen Echo, we left
to Niagara Falls on
the border to the
After only two hours, we
On the same side of the
Driving back to
In Ottawa we made an experience, we hope we otherwise won't make it ever again, in our lives: we stayed in jail! Actually, it has now become a Youth Hostel. We had a good laugh on our way there, when the driver stopping besides us on a red traffic light, seeing that we had a map on our lap, asked us helpfully, whether we knew where we were going. How to explain to somebody in just 5 seconds, that we wanted to go to the prison?
Crusty baguettes could be found everywhere in the centre, along with fresh cheese, fruit and vegetables. But only a few hundred metres out in the suburbs, it still looked like in English-Canada, with all it's fast-food chains.
Now came the time to
As the weather-forecast
now on the end of July, predicted some warm and sunny weather, we wanted to
take advantage a little longer and opted to stay on another naturist ground, of
which there were 9 to choose from between Montréal and
We picked Loisirs Air Soleil in
Alternatively, they had
about 40 campsites for visitors and some were "equipped" with a
little private hut, containing a fridge and toilet. Altogether, they had around
350 sites taken by members who had either put their caravan there or built a
house. More sites were being added. Unlike in
In the newly developed
part of the campground, an indoor pool and Jacuzzi had recently been opened, a
perfect amendment to the heated outdoor swimming pool, mini-shop and Snack bar,
Restaurant. That restaurant was very cheap but didn't meet the otherwise much
higher standard in
The only unpleasant surprise was the language. As we both spoke some French, we were quite puzzled when we realized that we didn't understand a single thing, as Québecois sounds really quite different to European French. Here they had two employees in a professional reception and the one of them that spoke English made sure that every English speaker on the campground got to know about our presence. On the next day, Robert came round in his golf cady and showed us around the huge ground, which also consists of a big area with unspoilt nature. He also introduced us to many Québecois that were capable of speaking English and some Americans. Further, there were some of his family members that belonged to the club as well. Soon, we felt that here in French Canada many naturists had the same open attitude, telling their friends and family how much they enjoyed the club and that's probably why the acceptance and popularity is increasing here, while it is declining in the rest of the country.
Among those people we had met, were Olga and Steve, an American couple that chose to become members of Air-Soleil because they felt, that all the American camps they visited were too quiet and boring, despite the language of which they meanwhile master quite a bit. After chatting for an hour, they spontaneously invited us for dinner after which we sat around a campfire till late. We talked abut our lives and learned, how they and many other Americans feel ashamed about the Bush-Government and also the whole business of suing each other for money on the most stupid reasons.
The next day, we got an invitation to go fishing but we could talk ourselves out of it but arranged to share the meal of their success...
When we showed them a copy of 'Naturist Life' with a story of us, they spontaneously said, there should be some other people in the photographs and offered to have their picture taken. The same evening Robert and Steve came back to our caravan starting a lengthy story on the modalities to take pictures on the camp. Both of us got the impression, there was trouble ahead, and we would probably be asked to delete all the photos we had taken, as it had happened before in some place, where an official club-photographer took the same pictures - just of the two of us, again - exactly the same way we had done them, except that he took these close-up's so close, that you surely can not recognize anything of that club around us. After that, two board-members had to approve them, before the pictures were e-mailed to us 3 weeks later... But the same thing didn't happen here in Air-Soleil - we were now in Québec! In a long story, we were being informed that the pictures of the afternoon were all right, but they had decided that we should show how family-oriented and lively this place is and therefore, they wanted to call other members and their children together to pose for some pictures. By coincidence on the next day, a professional photographer for naturism, Richard West, showed up. Needless to say he was interested in taking such pictures as well. When the owner of the campground was finally asked for permission, he didn't agree to such a short noticed photo-session, as he had had a lawsuit in the past and wanted to make sure that everyone had a disclaimer form filled in and signed beforehand. A few weeks later, the disclaimer forms were out and a photo session could be held. Although we were long gone by then, Richard, and also Olga & Steve sent us more than enough photos to show the family oriented atmosphere at Air-Soleil .
We enjoyed our 10 days at this club with it's many animations that included Petanque, Tennis, horseshoe-throwing, Volleyball or in the evening: a theatre and song-games (of which we unfortunately didn't understand a thing...) Furthermore, since at virtually every site one or two golf cadys were parked, they had organized a race with these. It wasn't the teenagers only that drove like Kamikaze pilots down the steepest sand hills! Within the domaine, was a big gravel-pitch and there were also forest trails that was usually driven on with these cadys and they led to a beautiful swamp with a beaver dam and to a river.
After 9 days at Air Soleil we left to visit Joe Beelen, Brigitte's former Boss, who lives now again in Montréal. We have last met him at Costa Natura, where he had had his first naturist experience in 2002. He really loved it and he made us laugh with his spontaneous comment "I can't believe how civilized all those people are here". He might have expected a bunch of Hippies.
it was very hot in his apartment, he didnft mind, if we sometimes stripped off.
But as Shizue, Joe's new Japanese partner didn't feel comfortable with this, we
thought we better hop into our cloths again after the morning toilet, otherwise
we felt we might promote a crisis in their relationship. Unlike other
Asian immigrants to
were shown around their neighbourhood and were delighted to find that in
branches of the same supermarket chains we got to know in English Canada, the
choice of food here was so much different, bigger and better. Especially
in the fresh food and deli department we felt like being back to
the sweet side, they didn't only have three standard chocolate bars but
also a big tempting selection imported from
and Shizue showed us around many pleasant sights of the city, from the
beachside boulevard down on the St. Lawrence river up to
It's amazing what little promise in Good Luck is necessary to lure people into dropping buckets full of coins into those slot-machines or spilling money like tap water on the tables. It was somehow shocking to see how easy it is to make the masses believe what is right or wrong. If you are addicted to a drug that either pours money into the government or has a strong lobby you are perfectly acceptable, whereas if you are addicted to another drug that neither brings in money nor has a lobby, you are considered as being criminal. Is our society not smart enough to tell things apart and realize how much is being manipulated?
went downtown several times by ourselves to discover the city of
evening, we went out with Edith & Ioran, a Spanish/Dutch couple that was
here now and whom we had met in the hostel in
left Montréal eastwards along the
Aug. 12th we arrived at "Nature-Détente",
a naturist camp near
We took advantage of the "forfait" (special package) that included the room and two meals a day for $ 90 per couple or $ 480 for a week (Euro 55/290). For a single it would have cost $ 70 or 365 per week (Euro 42/220).
Ronald, the chef cooked with devotion. On the first look, his menu appeared rather simple but he did usually add three "plats du jour" as daily specials. Everything was always prepared fresh and with love, decorated with fruits or salads and even eating "a la carte" was not expensive. Also in the restaurant, nudity was the norm which meant that we never needed any garment during the entire week we stayed. No matter how mean the weather might be, in "Natur Détente's" indoor center there is always enough to do and nudity is natural all day and night.
This does not mean that it's not nice outside as well - if it is... They have a swimming pond with a sandy beach, which became very crowded on the weekend when we were there. Then, people also took over the Volleyball and pétanque fields, played minigolf or threw horse shoes or went for a long hike on a forest trail. There was also a "Maison de jeunesse" in a separate building, plus an outdoor kiosk with snackbar. Presently, the center is open from May until September daily and every weekend during the winter. The owners have extension plans and probably by the time you read this, a Thalasso therapy healtcenter and more rooms will be added, thus allowing "Détente" to remain open daily year round. Already now, winter weekends are so popular, you need to book long ahead if you want to stay for the night, not only for a day.
We found quite a few people, guests and employees, that spoke English or even German, while we tried to work on getting used to what makes Québecois so different from European French, as the written language (at least) is fortunately not all that different.
a nice nude week, we left to Québec City. This town
was really a jewel surprising us with its fortrified old city that claims a
place in the world heritage list. To us, it looked very European or to be more
precise: very French, but with clean public toilets and without the dog-shit on
the pavement... The down town (or rather uptown) had many
old buildings and was packed with tourists from all over the world. With
its uncountable number of souvenir shops and restaurants, it reminded us a lot
of French Sarlat-la-Canéda in the
We know that the people of Québec are very proud of their identity and they don't like to be compared with the French, however, we don't see what could be wrong with that, since everybody who has seen English Canada knows about the different way of life here.
or not, it feels like Québec is another country! Of course, it would not
make sense, if Québec would separate from
We couldn't help seeing so many striking similarities in the way how they live and behave, how they built their cities and even more by reading the menues of the restaurants.
Usually the meal consisted of at least three, sometimes up to 12 courses, which takes in the whole evening, not like in Western Canada, where people often manage to order, eat and pay for a five-course set-menu, within 20 minutes only, especially at Chinese Restaurants.
Sorry to come back to France: in Toronto a Canadian, speaking of his past holidays couldn't believe how long everybody had to sit in the restaurant until all courses were being served and the most amazing he said " nobody complaind about it!"
In all of Québec food came in small often nicely decorated portions and dogy bags are unheard of. The food was described in a bloomy way consisting of items as gmagret de canard, foie gras, riz d'agneau or chèvre chaud, terrine or paté as starters and not only the fish was swimming in a sauce. Needless to say, that we enjoyed any aspect of this beautiful city.
Luckily, this summer was exceptionally warm, so we decided to reveal our body to the sun again. Now we chose "Le Cyprès", a 300 ha naturist camping along a river, where we hoped to do some extensive walking, canuding and cycling. Although we got there, we never got to know the grounds. Despite having reserved a cabin by telephone only 6 hours prior to our arrival, the Lady on the reception couldn't remember us and had given away all the cabins. As she neither cooperated to find another solution nor apologized, we decided to clear off and go to "Nature-Détente" again instead, which was less than 50 km away.
unlucky at first, turned into Good Luck again as the restaurant, from where we
phoned to find out whether "Nature Détente" had some space for us,
was a real
As it was Saturday evening, there was still some animation going on at the naturist camp by the time we arrived and we took advantage of the sauna and spa on the same night still.
For another three days we enjoyed the club's superb facilities and Ronaldfs great restaurant.
the next heat-wave was moving in, we wanted to discover yet another naturist
camping: "Centre Naturiste Cité du Soleil"
near Lac St. Jean further north. To get there, we drove through an area that
consisted mainly of thick pine forest and lakes. This naturist camping might be
small, but it was very personal and beautiful. Considering that it is in the
middle of the Saguenay region, which is bigger than
All 12 tourist offices in the surrounding of "Cité du Soleil" distributed it's brochure and the camping also advertised regularly on the local and regional radio stations. We learned that almost all of Québec's naturist grounds advertise that way. Even more amazing for North-America: a weekly local newspaper showed a big picture from a couple on their front page in an article featuring that ground, they were depicted from the back but plain nude. "Cité du Soleil" had about thirty campsites, and some more under construction. There was a swimming pool, pétanque course and only there, we found a very pretty little natural lake with a pedalo boat and a float for the guests use. Brigitte loves boating, so her captain Heinz had to find out how to steer the bloody thing!
The very friendly owners Elise and Jean-René invited us to see and later to eat moose, after we told them, that we had seen almost all Canadian wildlife, except those. As a hunter, Jean-René knew a lot about Moose, he was even able to call them, although when we went out with him to the forest, we could hear the moose but it didn't make any appearance. However, the meat from the animal he hunted last winter, tasted just great.
Now we understood French better up here, either we got adapted or it was more Parisian what they spoke. We rented a caravan where we did some home-cooking and visited one of the gastronomic places around.
urge to be tourists as well and not "just" na-turists finally
succeeded, as we learned it's now just the best time to see whales down in Tadoussac
on the conjunction of the
At several points around Tadoussac it was possible to see the mammals from the rocks on the shore. They came only shortly up to the surface to breathe, before they dived down again. National park personnel were there to explain about the animals and we were lucky to see quite a few species each time we waited on the different observation points - it paid to be patient.
On our first day the weather was most beautiful and 26 degrees warm but it seemed as if autumn had arrived overnight. The next day, it was a cold 14 degrees wet and foggy. We stayed in a nice Gîte (B&B), where the Lady served us a great breakfast and in the evening we enjoyed the many Fren... so sorry; Québecois restaurants, which served gastronomic meat- and lobster dinners.
a ferry, we crossed St. Lawrence river that was 40 km wide here at the height
rained, when we arrived in the
we were staying in a very comfortable Bed & Breakfast, we went from there
to see the famous Hopewell
Rocks in the
the weather promised to be unusually warm again in the next few days, we felt a
bit more naturist life would please our body and soul. Back in mainly English
We assume, they just wanted to check their prospective members and visitors identification before ringing back but of course in our case, they could not do this. In another club we visited, it was no problem to stay as long as you wanted, if you were a foreigner owning an INF-card and it didn't matter whether you were single or a couple. Everybody was welcome up to three times (trial visits) and then you had to pay the annual fee to become a member, which was just a formality after you had brought along the required criminal records!
prudish attire in big parts of northern
By the way, in none of the clubs in Québec, that had been clearly signposted for any outsider, we saw "hundreds of gawks queuingh at the gate, as some feared they would...
naturist environments, people mostly were very prudish, in comparison
Another ironical example was an episode of the TV series with a candid camera: they tried to advertise for a video camera that allegedly could record cloths transparently. Wow, everybody said and afterwards had a very close look at the result on the video's screen. What did they see? Except the filmed persons underwear, all other clothing had indeed become invisible...
Shediac, we soon came to the
Even Mc Donald's posted big signs along the road, proposing a lobster-sandwich and we were curious enough to try it. We must admit, we liked it - and even more, as they forgot to charge it!
temperatures now started to plunge and jump, every time they rose to 15‹C or
more, shops started the aircon again - probably Canadian's are afraid to get
used to warm weather. We, on the other hand, were thinking of the beach once
more, especially as it got up to 26 degrees the next day. Even if there was
no club for us to visit east of
we drove out to a remote place near
Breton on the northern tip of
the other side of
felt, that things in
On some lakes, swimming was not permitted at all and everyone who was going on a boat was requested to wear a life jacket, children sometimes even had to wear them to swim in a pool. This resulted after ridiculous claims were laid against the owners of the grounds, after some accidents had happened...unofficially, because there was too much alcohol involved. Who is still responsible of himself? You should see the operating manual to our car; about one third describes what may happen, if you don't wear seatbelts, don't clean the windows, don't light headlights at night, don't walk behind your car before reversing or if you drive whilst drunk...this list goes on and on and you might wonder whether most car buyers won their driver's licence in a lottery and therefore the manufacturer of the vehicle has to tell you all of this garbage.
Halifax was a pleasant city
with lots of tourists concentrating around the big harbour area, where earlier
in summer, big cruise ships called in, making it even more bustling than it was
now. We stayed in a beautifully located B&B, not far from Peggy's Cove. This was
still a true fishing village that lay protected behind uncountable little
islands. When we arrived, the fog just lifted. Fog seems to be as abundant here
as lobsters and not only in autumn. We were lucky to see the sun throughout the
next days when we followed the southern coastline until its western tip at
soon as we came to the north shore, the scenery changed and in our opinion, was
not quite as spectacular anymore. The road led us around the Bay
of Fundy, that brought us back to the southern part of
We stayed for a few days in a nice cottage in St. Martins, where we had a rest and continued writing the story you are reading now. The owners of the cottage also have a Mini-horse farm plus a "Bed & Breakfast" place. To our big surprise, they recommended us a lovely spot, where a freshwater-lake is almost meeting the ocean, separated only by a sandbar. This place could be reached after half an hour's walk and that's why it could be suitable for skinny dipping in summer, they mentioned. But it was a bit too cold when we were there.
our way, we sighted a big black bear crossing the highway just before
On our stop in Edmundston, we were already back in dominantly french speaking territory, even before reaching our favorite Province: Québec again.
high expectations were not disappointed. Even in the small
stop was Rivière du Loup,
before we continued westwards, along the
We didnft want to bypass this place without taking advantage of its gsavoir vivreh again. So we had two more nights at the Youth Hostel, in a room that was cheap and two more gourmet-meals that were notc
went to say gHelloh to Joe and Shizue in Montréal, just before continuing to
When we saw the touristy place of Mont Tremblant resort, we were quite astonished how many people had come to this ski-resort on Friday Oct. 1st, weeks ahead of the ski-season. The village had only been built 15 years ago by the same promoters that had also put Whistler on the map, even though by Swiss standards, ski lopes werenft that long. It offered more than any tourist would need, useful or not and people from around the world came by the busloads to see this artificial place.
After that, we returned to Montréal, where we could stay at Joefs apartment again. He was offering us a lot of help and facilities, so it was the perfect place to organize the sale of our car and a new onward-ticket.
Our favourite provinces lay to the East and West edge of the country with the frontrunners being French influenced Québec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and also Ontario, plus on the west side it was British Columbia with Vancouver, influenced by Asians and the Rocky Mountain National Parks of Alberta. The center, we found rather dull but by crossing the country from west to east, it was possible to get an overall impression and to feel the differences that can be quite amazing from one province to the next. Each has its own traffic rules and regulations. If you're a qualified professional, it's not sure that your diploma will be recognized outside your own province. If they exceptionwise recycle, then there's plenty of different ways, how to do this.
recent immigrants from
the Canadian summer is much shorter than a summer in
And now, what's next? Well, just by coincidence, end of September we passed a farm where 3 Wallabies hopped around and we're gonna do this:
want to hop over several small islands in
On our way from Canada to Australia, we would have loved to visit several Micronesian islands. We had made reservation for about a dozen island-hopping flights on Oct. 14th, but unfortunately the next day Palau Micronesia Airways was not able to issue the tickets, as the flight from Palau to Darwin had suddenly been suspended. With some Good Luck, we could thereafter find a cheap ticket from Montreal to Melbourne directly.
|Photos: Dominican Republic|
Casa de Campo: no problems inside the holiday ghetto!
Before that, we made a week’s side-trip to visit our friend and former flat-mate Urs. He lives now mainly in the Dominican Republic, where his wife Teresa originated. They were officially separated for a few year, although depending on her mood, sometimes they were not. She died voluntarily one month ago and he had trouble understanding this and was even more suffering, as he is terminal ill with cancer. We tried to make him see our positive attitude towards death and eliminate his fear to die.
Our charter flight did not land on the airport close to his home and so he picked us up in Punta Cana 100 km east. The island was lush and green with incredible flowers on trees and bushes. The people lived in very colourful houses but mostly they were very poor. We were told that the three main sources of income, apart from tourism, are sugarcane, rice and coffee. Most Dominicans earn less than USD 150.-/month and Haitians from the other part of the island, who come here as guest-workers, are paid even less.
Urs owns a villa in the 27 km² holiday- and "rich people's" resort called "Casa de Campo". Although we were impressed by Urs' house, in comparison to many others of the approx. 1'200 villas, his was quite modest. The whole resort consisted of beautiful gardens and was safely fenced and guarded round the clock. There were uncountable pass-times on offer for the luxury-tourist, to enjoy this safe and worry-free oasis. There were 4 big golf courses, dozens of tennis courts and swimming pools, more than 200 horses to ride and a shooting range. On the sea, you could book sailing- and diving-courses and there were noisy jet boats for rent. For those that just wanted to relax on the beach, there was no need to bring a towel, as they were distributed for free and placed by servants on a sunbed, which they placed under the desired tree or sunshade.
After we saw how many black Dominicans work as servants of the rich upper class and the many white tourists, it reminded us of colonial times. Within 'casa de campo', and also in many similar resorts, each house creates at least two jobs, often more, for cleaners, watch-man, maintenance staff and the like. To distribute its thousands of employees to their respective working places, the resort operates its own big bus-network.
Considering the low income, we were shocked by the high prices of the few supermarkets. The same goods cost two or three times less in Canada!!! Still, we wondered why so many local people shopped there.
The prices in restaurants were even more out of this world, and in the resorts, it was the worst. Can you imagine how our appetite just vanished upon hearing that the price for a simple sandwich was a dreadful USD 25.-? This was more than a menu gastronomic would have cost in Quebec, where wages are at least 10 times higher than here!
The Dominican Republic is a poor country and the consecutive governments drive it even deeper into chaos and bankruptcy, because they use the money mainly to enlarge the government member's own wealth and for the army that is meant to protect them. The bulk of the population, on the other hand, lives in poverty.
As the gap between rich and poor is immense, no wonder they have a big problem with crime. In many shops and on all construction sites, where they had more than three bricks laying around, we saw armed security guards. When our friend Urs went to the garage to have his car fixed, he routinely took his lawyer along, just to make sure no good parts were removed.
The only thing, Dominican women seem to be able to spare a few Pesos for, is for beauty-products that should make their skin bright and their curly hair straight.
Hair-rising, however, we felt was the behaving in traffic. We doubt they have rules, but if they do, they are just to be ignored and we were surprised how well Urs adapted to this dangerous game, as we have never seen him driving like this in Switzerland.
He showed us the area around La Romana, where we collected all these impressions, but when we were within the resort of 'Casa de Campo', it was as in a different world. The so-called Caribbean dream, to us, was neither in- nor outside the resort.
It was very interesting to meet Urs in this country and we have had some deep discussions during the week we spent there..
Air Transat's sardine-jet flew us back to Montreal, where we spent the last 3 days of Canada in the city center. Apart from closing our bank-account and picking up the next airline tickets, we met again with Edith, having some more interesting discussions over a meal à la Québecoise.
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