Woohoo, it has finally started, the journey we have dreamed about for so long has finally started. We are on a plane to Canada, something we have not dared to dream or think about for so long. It’s been a long time for both of us since we’ve been on a plane and being on a plane always has something special. On the way to Toronto, we first make a stopover in Lisbon where we have such a short transfer that boarding has practically started by the time we reach the gate for our plane to Toronto. Once on the plane, there appears to be no one sitting next to us, what luck. Lon has been able to sleep on the two chairs, and I mostly watched movies. My biggest hobby is when we’re on a plane. One thing we certainly didn’t miss was eating on the plane, we had indicated that we are vegetarian and each time we were served the food separately. Unfortunately, this was a lot leaner in terms of food than the dishes the other passengers were served, and very often the options they were given were also vegetarian. But you don’t have to take a plane for the dinner haha. After 9 hours of hanging in the plane, we landed at Pearson International Airport. We had already had to fill out a lot of different documents and apps before flying to Canada. So we were curious how easy we would get into the country. On arrival, we had to scan our passport at a machine and fill in some information, such as how long we would be staying, after which we were given a paper that we had to show to a customs officer. He asked a few more questions, but we could continue very quickly. Lon noted that it all went very smoothly and then we arrived at a fork in the road and had to have our form checked by an officer. After a look at our form were sent to the right where we immediately came out in a new line. Hmm, maybe things aren’t going as smoothly as they seemed. Lon spoke it too early, after an hour in this row we ended up in the next row. Here it became clear that we had ended up in the group of people with which they foresaw a problem. The people we saw at the counters 9 times out of 10 had to be helped by a translator (they did not speak English and only Spanish). There was also a lady who at one point started to cry almost hysterically and begged if the customs officer really couldn’t make an exception. Most people stood at the counter for at least 20 minutes before being let in. And a few had to sit down every time, after which the customs officer started to discuss vigorously or worked on his computer. The line crept forward. Meanwhile, we had been waiting in line for 2 hours. We started to wonder if we would catch our bus to our workaway address. This workaway was in Owen Sound about 3 hours drive from Toronto. Our host very kindly offered to pick us up halfway. Only to get to that pick-up location we had to take a bus and every minute we had to wait at customs, our host had to wait for us too. After standing in line for 3 hours, it was finally our turn. The customs officer looked at our passports and asked about our plans. We told them that we would pick up our bus in Halifax as soon as it arrived 2 weeks later, after which we would drive to Vancouver and then take the road south to Argentina. He was quite surprised at our plan and said he had never met anyone with such a plan. After 2 minutes we were allowed to enter the country with a stamp on our passport and a visa for 6 months. Unfortunately, there was no time to stop and enjoy it. We immediately had to go into the rush mode to pick up our bag as quickly as possible from the baggage claim and find a way to get to the bus station from where we could take the bus to Orangeville where Emma (our host) was waiting for us. We decided to take an Uber to the bus station, we were immediately told that we had to catch a bus and that we would arrive exactly when it was due to leave. The taxi driver offered to drive a little faster and well he did. He tore through the city on his way to our bus station, unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough and we saw the bus drive away in front of us. The next bus would leave 1.30 hours later and we didn’t like the prospect of waiting here for another 1.30 hours at this bus station. We also felt guilty for Emma who was just waiting for us. We therefore quickly decided to take an Uber to Orangeville, this turned out to be only 30 minutes with an Uber and for a reasonable price. And then a lot later than we expected we met Emma in the KFC. Emma got hungry and ordered some food from the KFC, meanwhile, we had also got thirsty. So we ordered something to drink and immediately got to know Emma. It was still a 1:30 hour drive to Emma, Patrick, Rosalie, Quinlan, and Nelliana’s house. We saw little snow on the way, which we both found a bit disappointing, we were looking forward to the snow. But the closer we got to Emma and Patrick’s house, the more we saw snow on the road. At their house, there appears to be a lot of snow, really nice that we could experience that. We were both pretty exhausted from all the waiting and the flight and quickly went to bed. We had a room separate from the house in the huge barn here on the land, also called the blue room because of the color of the walls (as you can guess they are blue).
The first contact with Emma and Patrick is very good. They are very nice and lovely people, on the first day with the family we mainly take the time to get to know each other. With Patrick and Emma, but of course also with the children Rosalie aged 7, Quinlan aged 5, and Neliana aged 2.5. In the living room, there are two gymnastics rings, there is a climbing wall, and hammocks hanging from the ceiling where the children climb in and out all day long. As Enzio mentioned before when we talked about the workaway, it’s like a continuing children’s party. It is a lovely warm bath of chaos. We soon come across cross-country skiing during the introduction, something we both have never done before and would like to do and experience here. Especially now that there is still snow. Before we know it, Patrick is already on the phone with a rental company and has arranged skis for us that we can pick up the next day. The following three days consist of helping with the household and cross-country skiing. On the first day, we go to a piece of land where the family has to build a house one day. It is a very large piece of land where we can calmly cover our first meters with the cross-country skis. Lon has been on skis all her life, but never on cross-country skis and that turns out to be different from whizzing down on your skis. She falls on her ass quite a few times and getting up when you fall with these long skis is not easy. Picture a newborn Bambi in front of you and you have a bit of an idea of what it looked like. Also, I have never been on cross country skis, but I have never been on skis at all. And I can say with some pride that I went on my butt less often. It was certainly a bit stressful and it didn’t look smooth at all, but it went pretty well. Even from the small hills. It was nice to get a tour of their piece of land in this way and we both thoroughly enjoyed this natural beauty and the cross-country experience. Because we couldn’t stop anymore, we went the next day with Patrick to a real cross-country skiing area, here the trails were neatly stamped into two beautiful grooves where we could zoom through. We compared it to a winter variant of walking, you are just moving through a beautiful forest. Also, one for the books, what a wonderful way to go through nature. On the last day of cross-country skiing, we went to a nature park where cross-country trails also ran through. We headed for the frozen lake and cross-country skied onto the lake. What a bizarre experience to ski on a lake like that. We ended up on the edge of the frozen part of the lake where the ice had piled up high and a high ice edge had formed. What a special form nature can take, we would never have come here on our own, but Patrick and Emma brought us to this beautiful place that we would not have wanted to miss.
And then the big day finally arrived, March 15, 2022, Lon’s birthday. I hadn’t arranged a real surprise for her birthday, which will come later (April 7), but breakfast in bed with homemade croissants and freshly squeezed orange juice (our tradition) was of course inevitable. Happy Birthday, my beautiful Lonnie. Together we took a walk with the family dog through the forest and baked an apple pie. It was a bit of a different birthday than usual but no less fun. In the evening we went with Emma and Patrick to a second-hand shop as an outing.
During the week there had already been several practice sessions in the house of Emma and Patrick’s occasional band. They were going to perform on St. Patrick’s Day, during a book presentation of a book full of limericks. During those practice sessions, the house was turned upside down and there were often 3/4 other musicians in the house, so a lot of music was made. They were all Irish folk songs that we’d never heard before, but it was nice to experience and get an insight into how you prepare for something like this. We usually didn’t linger all evening and retired to the quiet of our blue room after a few songs. The band’s performance was great fun, it was in a room with a real stage that Patrick had built himself. We met a lot of family and friends of Patrick and Emma, it’s so funny how easy it is to talk to people here in Canada. If this had been in the Netherlands, we probably wouldn’t have spoken to anyone all evening, but here we did have a chat with everyone. It was nice to see them perform after all the rehearsals and it was nice to go somewhere for an evening again.
On the weekend we took a walk with the family to a large waterfall, this was still partly frozen and the walk to it we were slipping and sliding. There was still some snow even though the thaw had set in. We had already been able to enjoy the weather for a day outside in the sun without a coat. But the waterfall was still partly frozen which was a really special sight. We arrived here in Canada at just the right time, we could just catch some snow and winter weather. But now spring seemed to have started anyway, even though that could be treacherous according to Emma because winter weather at this time is always lurking. Another reason we were in Canada at the right time was the Canadian variety of honey, Maple Syrup. This sweetener is extracted from the sap of the maple tree. That tree whose leaf is on the flag of Canada. Now it just so happened that the family also has some Maple trees on their land and that now was the right time to harvest their sap. To do this, it must still freeze at night but be above zero during the day. Then the sap streams in the tree run from the bottom to the leaves, which you can catch through a hole in the bark of the tree. You will then reduce that juice until you are left with a syrup. For this, you need 40 to 1 juice, in other words for 1 L syrup you need 40 L juice. It’s so much fun to learn how things like this are made and make them yourself. We also went to a Maple Syrup Festival for a day where we could admire the real thing. Where we used buckets to collect the sap, a spider web of hoses ran through the trees where the sap was led to a central point. Here she also cooked maple syrup in large cast iron pans over the fire, which is very special to see. Here we bought our bottle of syrup and ate a maple syrup lollipop, which was made by pouring hot syrup over snow and turning it on a stick.
After our arrival, we immediately went in deep and we quickly got to know Canada and the Canadians. What we expected from this Workaway has come true. It is wonderful chaos where anything is possible and you have to be prepared for anything. We’re going to enjoy ourselves here until we get Bob and start our real journey.
Lots of love,
Jap and Lon
Spendings of the Week
Budget per day €54 and per week €378 and per month €1700
|What/Where||Cost [CAD (€)*]|
|Eating out||51,88 (€37,52)|
Driven kilometers: –