Abu Dhabi, Orangeville & Toronto – To Toronto and Beyond

 

Were not sure if its sleep. Were not sure if its the inability to really stretch without snapping a leg between two immovable chair frames.

But, our heads aren’t in the right place, and I’m huddled on the floor of the plane, wedged between the frame of the chairs in front of me and the support of our seats, with just enough room that I can curl my feet under the seat of the lady in seat 48k. I don’t think she has noticed, but I can tell you that I wasn’t trying to hide the fact that I was sleeping on the floor.

Bec warns me, “They wont be happy about you being down there”.
I think about it for a second. I think ‘You know what? She is right’, so I take the complimentary blanket, and try cover as much of my body as possible so that I appear more like baggage than a full grown man in the fetal position.

I’m asleep. Then out of nowhere, Bam! Its bright and Bec is calling my name.

I look over to the isle, and our eastern-block air hostess, with the little soul she has remaining, is glaring at me. I perform a very unique cult-like ritual to try and get out from between these who rows of seats.

People even asked me if I needed a hand. People who were already sitting down and were buckled in asked if they could help me. Thats how bad it was. Admittedly, my arm was dead, and I couldn’t work out how much body weight I was actually applying to my wrist. This didn’t help the situation much.

Needless to say, it was 100% worth it. For the few hours sleep that I got, it was worth the risk, and it paid off.

We had an 11 hour flight first, followed by a 14 hour flight 3 hours later. So, as you can imagine, we weren’t really in the best way when it came to not feeling like death warmed up. We stopped in Abu Dhabi and unfortunately didn’t get to see our German friend again, but what we did see was the cops. They were wearing turbans, tunics, sandals and a hi-vis, bullet proof vest. The actual police.

That was the last thing I expected to see.

It was in Abu Dhabi, just as we are about to board the plane that Bec discovers that she is actually Mr. Rebecca Stokes on her boarding pass. Apparently gay lover. It didn’t even occur to us that were in a very not-gay supportive country. Were in a cue with every race of muslim you could imagine, and I just tell Bec to pull a face while I take a photo of her holding her ‘guy’ boarding pass.

Were running on like 5 hours sleep in nearly 2 days. Not the bestest.

We leave Abu Dhabi and land in Toronto. We breeze through customs, and as we are walking out to meet my Aunt to take us to Orangeville, I notice a queue at a particular shop. All the other shops are either closed, or nobody is there. I don’t think anything of it at the time, but little did I know that this would be my first encounter with the infamous Tim Hortons.

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Landed.

We’ll come back to this later.

This absolutely pimpin white SUV rolls up, and I recognise this familiar face beaming back at me and waving frantically. It could be literally no one other than my Aunty Jen. Massive hugs ensue and were on our way to our new home for the next month.

We exchange dialogue over the next hour on our drive to Orangeville. Its apparent that she is excited to have us here. But occasionally, my attention slips from our convo because we’ll turn a corner and she just casually rolls right into the wrong lane. Also, all the passengers are giving us signals instead of the drivers.

I have to remind myself on an hourly basis that they’re driving on the other side of the road. I’m always crossing the road and checking for what is coming, but from the wrong direction. Luckily, they’re crazy patient and very ‘Canadian’ in Canada. Who would have thought right?

We make a quick pit-stop at the house to drop our bags off and have a shower, and were out to see the area. One of the first things that is brought to my attention was the absolutely immeasurable amount of Tim Hortons stores there are. As far as I can gather so far, Tim Hortons is Canada’s answer to Starbucks. To say that it is an answer to Starbucks is an understatement.

It would be like me challenging Arnie to an arm wrestle (in real life, I’d probably flog him, but for the sake of the story, we’ll pretend that he wins). We got 3 coffees (decent coffees too) and 20 timbits, which are the round bit in the middle of the doughnut for like 10 bucks. How do you do that? From what I hear, its a staple of the Canadian diet and culture, and I dont know why it isn’t part of Australian culture.

If you come to Canada, dont think. Just do.

An hour or so passes, we chat and walk, and we decide to walk this lake. The whole walk around is about 8.5km, but we only walk about a 2km stretch as were running a little low on time. The lake is gorgeous and within only 3-4 mins of the walk starting, theres a flock of Canadian Grey Geese just chilling on the water.

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Its always a riverside drive.

The geese are accompanied by none other than… Seagulls. 600km from the nearest salt water body, and we’ve got bloody seagulls contaminating the bird population here too. They’re like the cancer of the bird world.

Despite the contamination of bird life, the scenery is stunning. The thing that is most astounding is that this massive lake is right next to a main road. It seems as though everywhere you go in Canada, there is some sort of body of water and picturesque forestry to accompany it. I actually found out that Canada has 1/3 of the world’s fresh water. Thats how many bodies of water there are scattered throughout the country.

We occasionally pass a local Canadian carefully walking either their dogs, children or spouse or all of the above. I don’t like being a snob, so without second thought, I say ‘hi’. For those of you who don’t know, there is a science to passing someone while saying ‘hi’. Being in a new country, I was even more aware of this. I mean, I am representing Australia, so I gotta nail this.

If you say it too early, then you look too eager. If you say hi too late, then you look like you may be a little slow. Ideally, about 1-2 steps apart is ideal. This way, you don’t need to over-pronounce it and you can both exchange the mandatory nod that simultaneously goes with the ‘hi’. I was nailing it. Timing was perfect. The nod was just enough to mean something without being over-zealous.

But after passing around 4-5 punters, Bec points out that I’m saying ‘G’day’ every single time. The true Australian nod and G’day was something that these Canadians weren’t fully accustomed to. I could see it in their eyes. There was always a brief look of surprise as we passed.

Were heading home, and were parked just opposite a Home Hardware store, so I’m like, “What the hell. Lets go have a look”. I mean, its always on tv shows and stuff, so why not? We dont even make it in the doors yet, and we can smell pop corn. Aunty Jen is like “Oh yeah, its free”. Just casually, like its no big deal. Little does she know that my wife downs popcorn like a champion, she has a chef’s nose, and (when she wants) the ears of… an animal with really good hearing. Nothing is really coming to mind.

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The Magic School Bus

Regardless. Before Jen could finish formulating that sentence, Bec says “Free popcorn?!”. She’s already on her way over to grab a bag. She’s loving life. Cheap coffee and snacks, free popcorn. This place is where it is at.
We have to make our way home, and Bec keeps spotting the yellow school busses. Its one of those things that you see only in movies, and finally to see them in real life is something unreal. She’s so intrigued by them. After were home, she tells me “I never would have expected that the busses would have been such a big hit for me”. Haha. Its always funny to see the things that tickle our fancies.

Day 1 over.

Come Back Later,

Billy

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