I have lived on islands much of my life. I was born in the middle of the island of Newfoundland, and, aside from a twenty-five year period on the Canadian mainland with all the Come-From-Aways, I’ve lived in England and on Vancouver Island. And, one of the ways you get to islands is by ferry.
One of the most eventful ferry journeys I’ve ever had involved a late night journey across the English Channel to Dover. Having just been tear gassed with a crowd of weary travellers at Dieppe ferry terminal at midnight, I was fed gin and tonics by two British dread-locked backpackers to stave off the nausea I felt from a broken arm splinted together with a borrowed red bandana, the consequence of having slipped on a sliver of soap in the shower of a French hostel I was staying at on a friend’s borrowed ID. All this after I’d been pickpocketed of my passport and all my cash at Nice railway station the day before. I’d been picked up off the floor of the railway station, dissolved in a puddle of tears, my arm in its red bandana sling (I had no travel insurance — not a mistake I ever made again), by a policeman the spitting image of Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. He was beyond ecstatic when he found out I was a Canadian, which I thought was rather nice, but a little bit OTT. He took me back to a shabby police office in the bowels of the train station and dug out about $100 of Canadian Tire money. “Quesque c’est ca?” he said, flapping the crumpled bills in front of me with excitement. For the life of me I couldn’t dredge up the French word for hardware store in my pain-addled, snivelling state, and we parted with him as puzzled as ever and crestfallen at my inability to enlighten him.
I’ve been over to the BC mainland by ferry a couple of times since the New Year to visit Jamjarjude. Unless it’s blowing a gale, I always go up to the top deck and walk around the ferry, taking in the awesome (see yesterday’s blogpost) scenery and looking out for sea lions and eagles. It always surprises me how few other people I meet up there on the outside decks. But I don’t really mind. There’s nothing quite like being alone on the outside deck of a BC ferry across the Strait of Georgia at 8:30 in the morning on a weekday, no one else to share your morning rush hour but the occasional sea lion bobbing up from the depths of the strait.
The next time you’re on a ferry, go outside. You’ll be surprised what you find out there.