Silver Linings

Early morning departure from Horseshoe Bay

This week I visited my cousin Donna who lives on Vancouver Island. The scenery on the BC Ferries ride between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo is a bargain at 16.50 CAD.  People on Alaska cruises pay thousands of dollars for the same vistas of the Gulf Islands.  I sat inside because on deck it gets too blowy for my liking. However, halfway through the sailing, I wished I’d braved the wind. Excited passengers started scrambling around, extending their arms and pointing fingers – for sure they had spotted an Orca! According to them – one of the whales had breached to the stern, then again on the starboard side of the ship. It is an awesome sight.

Donna waited for me in the arrivals area, and after big hugs, we drove down island to our favorite café in Genoa Bay. While we feasted on the catch of the day, we were entertained by the antics of enormous sea lions barking and jostling for the sunniest spot on the rocks. And at times, we could scarcely hear one another for the racket of gulls swooping overhead – obviously, they expected to be fed lunch on board the fishing boat we saw puttering towards the dock.

At Genoa Bay

I do love to shop, but the clapboard store had a limited selection and neither the fishing lures nor the canned corn beef called my name. We spent a bit more time strolling along the beach, and then drove to Donna’s new house in Duncan. She moved in the same day I arrived in Canada, and I felt special to be her first overnight guest.  On the way, I read a handmade sign: SLOW DOWN – BABY DEER ON THE ROAD. Donna did take the next turn slowly, yet she had to brake hard when a fawn skidded down the bank and tumbled onto the asphalt. My breathing stopped until he righted himself and scooted back into the woods. A few minutes later, I spotted an American eagle with a wingspan of at least two meters circling above the forest. From Donna’s deck, we had the day’s final “fauna sighting” – a rabbit jumping along the retaining wall above the lawn.

“Primadonna” and I talked non-stop through the afternoon and evening – we never run out of things to say.

Thursday morning, Auntie Alice and my cousin Dani arrived at 9:30 for a drive up island. Again – more deer, eagles, and a black shape disappearing through the cedars that was surely a bear.  Vancouver Island is like Wild Kingdom!

The landscape is obviously different in Canada and Mexico, but punctuality is another distinction.  For my return to the mainland, I got to the ticket wicket for the 3:15 ferry departure, at 2:58. “You just made it,” the attendant told me. “Passengers must be here 15 minutes before the scheduled departure. If you’d arrived just 2 minutes later, I would not have been able to sell you a place on the next sailing.” Sure enough, as I scurried to the gate, the metal gate clunked behind me. I felt grateful. Had Dani hit one more red light during our race to the terminal, I would have been standing on the other side of the barricade, watching the boat pull away from its berth.

I dozed and listened to Leonard Cohen all the way back across the water, and when we landed, I hurried to catch the bus to North Vancouver.  We made good time until the transfer point and then accidents on two bridges caused a gridlock. I had to wait an hour and a half before my bus came by.   For the punctual Vancouverites this caused major aggravation. But for me, the inconvenience had a silver lining. There were lots of Latins in the crowd and I got to speak Spanish for the first time in a month. ¡Que felicidad!

The bus finally came after 1 1/2 hours, but it was crowded!