Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jasper, Alberta

We are here and one week into working for our new employers!

I will start from the beginning as to give the most accurate description of the events that have passed since our arrival.

We took the Greyhound Bus from Vancouver, and I was unpleasantly surprised at just how SHITE it was! I never imagined the scenario where I would be comparing buses in Canada to those in South America (on the large part in Brazil, Argentina and Peru, admittedly) and turning my nose up at them! The seats didn't recline, it was cramped and the bus was old. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is Greyhound for you.

However, the ride was quick and smooth and the driver was very helpful. The view from the window was stunning too - tall pine trees, trickling glacial rivers and tall mountains capped with snow. For ten hours, all I saw was the above. As you can imagine, looking at the same thing, whether beautiful or not, for 10 hours becomes tedious. Furthermore, given that we passed very few signs of life on the way into Jasper during the journey, I was struck by a scary feeling of remoteness - it felt like I was being led into isolation! I had one vivid and worrying thought - 'what if Idon't like the place / the people / the job?'. It stuck with me for the remaining 2 hours of the journey and shaped my mood until the day after our arrival.

When we arrived into the bus station, or rather got dropped off at the bus stop (Jasper is SMALL), a lovely guy called Dwight was waiting there to meet and greet us. He was instantly likeable and we've had good banter ever since. However, he wasn't instantly recognisable. All I had been told through e-mail was that his name was Dwight and he was head of maintenance. Thus, when I descended from the bus and saw a portly gentleman in his 60s with a grey beard, I was certain this would be Dwight. I know that if my name was Dwight and I was head of maintenance, I would be portly and have a grey beard. Even if I didn't have grey hair!

Following this initial shock, Dwight loaded our bags into the van and took us of a quick tour of Jasper. Now, as I mentioned, Jasper is small. I'm not sure there is anything other than a quick tour therefore. I am certain there are some Wetherspoons' in England that are bigger. All the same, we were guided to all the main points of interest.

We arrived at our apartment block and again I had mixed feelings - the outside of the building was quite impressive, however the corridors were hideous - they would not look out of place in The Shining. Once the door to our apartment was open, I realised we were on to a sweet deal. Uninterrupted view of the snow capped Rocky Mountains, plenty of space and a nice new bathroom - perfect!

Despite the great apartment, my feeling of unease and slight sadness persisted.

On our first whole day in Jasper, Cressy and I got busy making ourselves acquainted with all the local facilities that we'd be using, i.e. library, gym, grocery shop, second hand shop etc. They were all excellent. Further to that, we were introduced to the other members of our chain gang for the next 6 months, and they all seemed normal and nice! I started feeling a lot happier, and since then, I definitely feel like this is a place I can happily call home for 6 months!

One last thing about Jasper - in spite of its minuscule size, there is an incredible amount of things to do here to keep oneself entertained. For example - plenty of good pubs with regular special offers, countless walks to explore the beautiful surrounding countryside, green / blue lakes with ample sized beaches to swim in and bbq around, excellent leisure centre and a library with a fantastic stock of good books and fast internet access.

I should mention the job too. The staff seem like the nicest people you'll ever meet in your life (apart from me obviously), the location, log cabins and grounds are in fact even MORE beautiful than the pictures on their website, which is a first for me and I have variety in my work. I am The Maintenance Man (in capitals as I am sure they will release a film about me in this role in the future) and have already checked smoke alarms, made sure TVs are working, shifted tonnes of dirt and driven a big manly truck that has the ability to tilt its back end and dump stuff. In addition to this, I get to ride a 3 wheeled bike with a basket on the back (I challenge any male to ride one and NOT look camp) next to a glacial river and look at the mountains whilst moving from job to job. I literally ride along whistling, smiling and wondering what my friends and family are doing at home!

This last section will be reserved to revere Dwight. He already has gained legendary status, for a few reasons. Firstly, all inanimate objects are female. For example, when referring to a garden rake, 'oh, just chuck her over there'. In addition, he calls his truck, 'the old girl'. Finally, he says very often, in a southern USA accent, 'Ooh heck'. Need I say more?!

I look forward to the next six months, and in particular the visits of my parents, some friends, and Cressy's family. I still dearly miss my family at home that I won't see until November and hope they can make it out before then if possible! Big up to the T Wells crew and Darren.

Keep it real homies and don't let David 'I'm an arseh*le' Cameron win the election!!

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