So, here I am, back where I started, in Brian's chair in his apartment in Vancouver, using his computer and mouse that has a lead that is a fraction too short to be convenient - the perfect length to rile me but not short enough to incentivise me to do anything about it. I believe the formula is "perfect length / the square root of annoyingness".
Today is a sad day - Brian beat me at squash. Correction, he whooped my sorry, tired, lazy traveller arse. Admittedly I had a turd racquet and we used a blue dot ball which made my task all the harder, but a whooping still it was. My tail is well and truly between my legs. A rematch is defo on the cards!
Canada - we're back. And my god is it expensive. It literally pains me in my chest when I now pay $5.50 for a beer, having paid on average $1 for the last 4.5 months in South America. Thus, Cressy and I have resorted to shopping in what they call Thrift Stores (charity shops) for clothes, and convincing ourselves that the items do infact look excellent on us. I did get a Jansport jumper for $5 that looks in perfect condition - you have to see it to believe it.
Vancouver Island was heaven like. Our plan was to head to the west coast to a town called Ucluelet, or Ukee as the locals call it to surf, then head across to Mount Washington to snowboard. I spoke to the guy I know (Mike) who runs the hostel in Ukee, and he told me that hitchhiking is very common on the island. Cressy and I decided to do it, and along the way ended up saving ourselves over $150 and met some incredible people.
We must have travelled in excess of 500 miles just hitching, and every person who picked us up felt like our friend after a short period. The Vancouver Islanders are such a warm and friendly bunch - we were even invited into two of their houses, introduced to family and shown around like we'd known them for years. Each one said they'd hitched in the past and just wanted to help us out.
On a sadder note, having taken lifts from a couple of people who were Native Canadians (or First Nations people as they preferred to be called) I learnt about the atrocities the British committed against their ancestors in the past. First Nation children were forcedly removed from their families and sent to 'residential schools' where their culture and language was essentially beaten out of them. Physical punishments, brain washing and sexual abuse was commonplace. My heart literally felt heavy upon hearing the stories and at times I felt ashamed to be British. The situation has improved today to some extent, as they are allocated reserves where they can live tax free, but it is scant reparation considering the ethnic cleansing that occurred.
The time has finally come - we're off to Jasper tomorrow to start work! It's been a long journey, we've met some amazing people along the way and had lots of fun. I'm looking forward to having a routine again, and most of all, a uniform. Actually, I will be the resort's handyman, so in fact the most exciting thing is that I will have a tool belt. All I need is some stuff to put in it! I am already imagining the phone calls from guests - "yes Mrs Smith, I'll be right over, but this is the FOURTH time I've fixed your fan this week, are you sure you're not trying to seduce me?". We will see!!