sloths go west

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

a new world

real date: 13th July 2017

Louis-Philippe is making us laugh again.  He has a whole cast of characters in his repertoire but this one is the best.  Zorro the Raccoon.  We have been asking about what we should look out for along the way in Canada.  I am particulary worried about bears.

"Bears?  Oh, you'd be lucky to see a bear.  No, there's a worst pest than bears.  Raccoons!!"  And he goes on to describe their appearance - the tell-tale 'zorro' mask - and how big they can be. And then he sticks his thumb out.
"And this is their critical weapon! An opposable thumb." He mimes opening up a jam jar.  "With an opposable thumb you can open up anything!  And they will.  They'll open up everything!"  Lysanne nods in agreement.  Now, you may think they're exaggerating but I remember asking about the bin lid on the first morning we are at theirs.  The lid has a massive hole ripped into it, from one edge.  What happened?  "That's the squirrels.  They'll eat into anything.  They've eaten the handle off the barbecue.  And they're BIG!"  Louis-Philippe is unaware of my general fear of mammals.  Quietly I am adding 'squirrel' to my list of Ones To Watch Out For.

We spend three nights with our super-helpful Warm Showers hosts.  When we fly into Montreal from Reykjavik it's late afternoon and we have to unwrap and set up the bikes before rolling out of the airport.  Everything goes smoothly and we are soon riding along the fast highway out of the airport.  It's a really rough road - we seem to be in the lane with all the gouges and broken potholes - but, as there are three or four lanes and rush hour has passed, we are not bothered by other traffic.  It's dark by the time we arrive though.  Lysanne and Louis-P invite us in to beer and lasagne and when they find out it's Gayle's birthday they even manage to rustle up a sparkler to put into the dessert.

The city has a huge network of bike paths which makes riding around fairly easy and we enjoy exploring the downtown and old quarter and some of the funkier neighbourhoods.  The Jean Talon market is a blend of deli and gourmet food with organic produce. We are only there for about five minutes when we notice a couple chowing down on a roast chicken.  We have to have one.  Bear in mind that we've just arrived from Iceland where the prospect of eating meat would have meant me unlocking the credit card..... Within a few minutes we are tearing a chicken to pieces with our hands and greedily sucking and gnawing the bones.  It's like one of those cameo scenes in Tampopo.
the joy of fresh produce

We are quickly retrieving some French phrases from our brains.  If we start a conversation, we try to do so in French first.  Then, when the locals hear our shoddy attempts, they respond in English.  Lysanne and Louis-P went to live and work in Quebec City for some years and were quite shocked to discover on their return that the percentage of anglophones had increased.  They estimate it now at about 50%.  They have to use both languages in their jobs.  It seems inevitable for Canada's third largest city.   Now, how do I phrase the question..... Est-ce qu'il y a des raccoons autour d'ici?
merci nos chers amis