Monday 20th October. Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Sorry, no photos from the CN Tower. Yesterday was another cloudy one, so I stayed inside except for the obligatory walk to my new regular haunt, the 'Friendly Bar and Cafe'. Truthfully, it was two walks- one for breakfast in the late morning, and a return visit for a bowl of chilli and a couple of beers in the late evening. The regular clientelle at 'Friendly' typify this city, proudly the most multicultural city in the world. I was chatting up...I mean chatting to the waitress, and noticing her strong European accent, I asked her where she was from. She said she was Ukranian. Through further small talk, I found that the chef was the owner's son, from Greece. The handful of customers at the bar were a mix of black, white, and shades of brown, so I asked the where everyone was from. The guy sitting next to me was from El Salvador, behind me at a table was an Eritrean, and the guy talking to him was from Mexico. There was also one Canadian-born Canadian, making us seven people at the bar, each from different country.
Shame about the tower, cause I've heard that from the viewing platform on a clear day you can see the mist from Niagara Falls about a hundred kilometres away. But enough about dwelling on the past. I've been a bit down over the last week or so *in case you hadn't noticed* It's been a combination of tiredness, a bit of homesickness, nerves at the prospect of being refused re-entry into the US, and I've also had a few personal issues to resolve. What, you think there's no personal problems when you're on the road? It's not all laughs and cocktails, you know. This isn't a holiday; this is real life, without the home!
It was time to hit the road. Potential hosts between Toronto and Detroit had responded to my requests, and my route was set. The problem with my excessive webhosting fees had been solved by transferring all my photographs onto some webspace offered to me by a very generous reader from Quebec. Thanks Greg! I had one last breakfast at 'Friendly' and today was lucky enough to get there in time for the special; four eggs, four bacon, home fries and heavily buttered toast. Be strong, heart. My Lonely Planet Guidebook gave clear instructions on how to hitchhike west from Toronto. 'Catch the subway to Kipling Station, and transfer to a 112 bus, which will take you directly to the start of the 401'. Cool. Perhaps I should have been paying more attention to the guidebook last week when I had to walk over four miles to get out of Montreal!
My first ride came after about forty minutes, and had I known he was only going about two miles, I would've passed it up and waited for a better lift. Never mind, from where he let me out, I got a lift quite quickly with Rick, a union organizer who brought me all the way to Guelph, about an hour from Toronto. I walked around the centre of town a little, and one of the first buildings I noticed was the Diplomat Hotel. That reminded me of something Nicole's roommate Mike had said. Mike had grown up, and was giving me some advice just last night. He'd said something along the lines of "Whatever you do, don't go near the Diplomat Hotel". I pushed the creaky door open and strode into the dingy cavern that is the Diplomat. Hmmm...the music didn't stop like it does in the movies. Then again, there was no music, just the television set over the bar. Everyone sure did cop an eyeful of me though; I guess they don't get too many backpackers in 'ere. I asked for a coffee, but when they said they don't got no coffee, I figured a beer would just have to do, thanks very much. I sipped my beer and watched the news while the barmaid swore at a customer, and flies circled overhead. An old drunk lifted his head a couple of times to see if I was still there... and then I phoned my host.
Deb is a police officer, the first cop who's invited me to come and stay with them. When I proudly announced that I had arrived and was standing in the finest establishment in Guelph- the Diplomat Hotel- an audible gasp came from the other end of the line.
"I'll pick you up in five minutes" she said. I told her I'd wait outside, and I sensed relief.
Deb knew that I was in need of some work, so we spent the afternoon doing a few odd jobs around her yard, and taking a load of rubbish to the dump. *The Diplomat and the garbage dump. Guelph rocks* I've never had much of a chance to chat with a cop before, unless you count "Aaargh! It wasn't me. Let me go!" as chatting. I was even more curious to find aout a little about the life of a policewoman. I tried not to bombard her with questions, since I've learnt over the past three and a half months what it's like to be grilled with the same questions over and over *and over and over and over*
Deb worked in homicide for three years. She worked drugs for three years. She worked in Kosovo, counting body parts... and yet still refuses to touch the door handles at the Diplomat! Now she works intelligence, which means she gets to go to work in jeans and a tshirt. No, she would not let me shoot her gun. No, I could not borrow her handcuffs and go back to the Diplomat. No, I could not join her on a stakeout. Hmph..
Deb's roommate Crystal is also a cop. Crystal brought home some big steaks for us all, and fired up the barbecue. Deb cooked up some fresh veges and I helped them eat it all! After dinner, we had sixty minutes of silence in the household as the girls watched 'Third Watch', a televison police drama. Deb had made up the futon bed for me in the guest room and I caught an early night. Well, 1:00 a.m early.