Thursday 9th October. SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE!!
What a spinout, as they say. How the hell did I get to France? One minute I'm hitching a ride from northern Maine to Moncton, New Brunswick. Next thing I know, I climb out of a semi trailer and I'm in France. People are parlezvous'ing everywhere. No-one comprenez the inglish. All the signs are in French. What's going on? I didn't even want to go to France. I wish my nieces *pesky but clever...and bilingual* were here to interpret for me. This is too confusing.
Marcie got me to the highway just after seven o'clock. It was soon obvious that it would be another day of many short lifts *sigh* A few miles, a few miles, to the next intersection, to the next exit. Somehow, I ended up at a truck stop on the I-95. Oh, I forgot to mention the first! I got a ride in a motorhome. Miracles will never cease. Anyway, I was wandering around the truck stop asking truckers for a lift. One guy said he was going my way but had a vicious dog in the cab, that didn't allow passengers. I retreated to the on-ramp and it wasn't long before the trucker with the vicious dog pulled over for me.
"I just use the dog as an excuse" he said. "I started to think about what it's like when you're in a pinch, and it sucks, so I figured I'd help you out." I'd told him earlier about my visa expiring today, and that was why I was in a hurry to get to Canada. His dog Abraham did take some convincing before he allowed me into the cab, but once I was in he became my best friend, drooling on my leg and breathing his stinky dog breath all over me.
The driver *whose name I forget because I'm so confused about being in France* dropped me at a huge truck stop just two and a half miles south of the Canadaian border. Sweet. It was only lunchtime. I had a big cooked breakfast at the truck stop and walked to the on-ramp. Memories of trying to hitch across the border from Carcross to Skagway came back to me, but I tried to be optimistic. After two hours, the optimism faded and I moved out onto the motorway. The next vehicle past me was a highway patrol, who didn't seem too bothered by my illegal presence on the motorway. After another two hours, I'd forgotten what optimism meant. I walked back to the truck stop with my tail between my legs. Five o'clock. Hmph!
The management of the truck stop seemed friendly enough and didn't mind me asking drivers for a lift. I drank so much coffee over the coming hours, I could hear my kidneys wrinkling. By eight-thirty I came to realize that no-one wanted to take me across into Canada in case there was some problem with me at the border. A Border Patrol car turned into the truck stop, so I wandered over to talk to them. I explained my situation and asked them if it would be a major drama if I didn't get a lift till tomorrow. They weren't the least bit sympathetic.
"If you're still around in three and a half hours, we'll arrest you" they said, grinning as though they were already looking forward to it. I asked them if they'd be charitable enough to drive me the two and a half mile to the border, but they said they can only do that if someone was freezing to death.
I told them I was slightly chilly. They stopped simling. No sense of humour.
So I caught a taxi to the border. The stiffs at Canadian immigration also had left their sense of humour at home, and after convincing me beyond any doubt that they were indeed miserable bastards, gave me a one month stay. One month exactly, not a day more! I wandered off into the darkness. What was I to do? Should I just wander off into the woods and get some much needed sleep? All my invitations for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, except one *thanks Jude* had fallen through. People had either moved, or changed email address, or their email box was full and I my emails kept bouncing back. The first approaching vehicle was a semi trailer. I stuck out my thumb and like magic, it stopped.
Mike was driving to Montreal. He was tired and could use the company, he said. What the hell, take me to Montreal, then! So here I am many hours later, trying to convince myself that I'm still in Canada. Mike dropped my by the interstate and I walked the two or three miles into the old town. This is a French speaking province, all the signs are in French only and the people in the street are Frenching away to each other. The area around this hostel is even more French, with cobblestone roads and backstreet boulangeries and cafes. There are several people I could stay with here in town, but I was too tired to even speak, so I checked into a hostel and slept the afternoon away. When I walked down to the dining room this evening, I heard a familiar accent.
"Is that another Aussie? Maaaate, we're taking over this place!" So an Aussie called Troy gave me a beer and made me a vegemite sandwich, and I've been hanging with him and a few other Australians this evening. Now they've gone out to party, but for me it's time to go back to bed, and tomorrow figure out what the hell I'm doing here.