sloths go west

Tuesday, 28 November 2017


real date: 24th July 2017

Flavienne is a superhost.  Not only does she keep plying us with wonderful food, she also takes us out for a meal and a drink at her favourite craft brewery down in the Quartier Funky. And then she invites us to stay as long as we want.  Careful, we warn her, we have been known to take up such generous offers.  As it is, I am trying to negotiate a replacement Thermarest camping mat and seeing if I can find a local shop to help me out.  And there's the blog to start writing.  And we're still trying to meet up with Ruth and Gordon, who have followed us here from Montreal.

if my eyes are closed it must be because I'm savouring the beer

While I start plodding away at this blog with the opening episodes from Europe, Flavienne and Gayle go for a spin on their bikes along the river.  The city has created a riverside park area with a bike path that connects to the coastal road we're going to take when we leave.   I take a trip to MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), Canada's foremost outdoor equipment and clothing store, with my broken mattress and sob story.  Here's the deal - the manufacturer have offered to replace it but I need to give them an address for somewhere in 2 weeks' time.  So I asked them if I couldn't just swap it at a local supplier.  The problem is I had to write in black pen "Do Not Replace" and then photograph it for the manufacturer, so when I first explain at the customer service desk they seem unimpressed.  Did I buy the mat at MEC? No, I didn't.  Then I'm sorry but...... I bite my lip.  I know I have to get beyond the customer service clerk and to a manager.  Is there any chance they can reconsider?  I understand they are under no obligation, but I'm on the road and I'm desperate.  Bingo.  The clerk goes to speak to his manager, Adreanne, who is very sympathetic and trés sympathétique aussi.  Despite not being able to connect with the manufacturer, she agrees to a swap. First class service from MEC.

the view from the citadel hill
Meanwhile Gayle has connected with Ruth and we finally meet up with our friends.  It's about 10 years since we first and last met them in Turkey, but for some reason they feel like old friends.  They're a real hoot, and we catch up on their ride from Toronto to here and their plans to reach Gordon's ageing aunt and uncle in new Brunswick.  Ruth confesses that she really wants to take us for some traditional Canadian activities.  Would we like to go clubbing? Seal clubbing, she means.  

We're hoping that our friends can assist us.  Ever since we arrived in Canada we've been followed.  All the time in Montreal and even in some of the small towns we passed through on the way to Quebec City a man in a white van has been cruising around, keeping an eye on us.  We don't want to seem paranoid, and we know many countries have clamped down on security since 9/11, but who is this Mr. Purolator guy?  Ruth glances at Gordon.  "Do you think we should tell them?"  She looks concerned.  Gordon hesitates.  They keep mum.  We will never know.....

We end up at Quebec City's (and North America's) oldest surviving grocery store. Gordon and Ruth are thrilled to discover a jar of maple syrup butter.  We sit down outside for a pause and Gayle asks Ruth how they eat it.  In response, she produces a teaspoon. "With this!"  The sweet sticky stuff is soon despatched.  We say our farewells and hope to catch up again on their home turf - way out west - someday soon.

in the Bas Ville

Before we depart Quebec City, Flavienne has one more delight to share with us.  She tells us she has been saving it for some time, as it's something you can't buy in the shops in Quebec.  We are honoured guests as she prepares us a fabulous meal featuring moose steak.  Not only this but she has asked a friend, who owns a cabin at the ski resort village we will pass through tomorrow, if we can stay there for a night.  Her friend has happily agreed and so we are indebted to Flavienne for a wonderful stay in her city and for the next night too!  Elle est incroyable!

a feast