I hope that everyone is fit and well, and not too cold! This morning it snowed here at Camp Warwa! Camp is situated a hours’ drive west of Edmonton, one of the main cities in the province of Alberta, Canada and will be my home for the next 8 months as I take a break from studying. So far, every day has been utterly amazing, and filled with lots of first time experiences for me! There is at least a foot of snow on the ground and the lake (Lac Ste. Anne) is completely frozen over! I have to say, the time changes were a bit confusing, to the point of just choosing a number when someone asked what time it was! Vancouver had a three hour time difference to NZ, but then most of Canada had daylight saving last Sunday, and then I changed provinces and time zones gain on Monday so I am now 5 hours ahead of NZ yesterday. I think.
Last Saturday, I flew 13 hours to Vancouver direct from Auckand. This was a group flight, so I got to meet lots of the other 40 volunteers who are starting work this month for the same volunteering outfit, Lattitude. Most of these people are working at camps near Vancouver, but there were a few of us of us who had a connecting flight on the Monday. But I am getting ahead of myself! Us gappies had a two-day orientation around Vancouver. It is such a big city, and everyone is so friendly! We were let loose on the city the first evening, so we could explore and do what we wanted. There were a lot of homeless people around which was a bit of a shock, as was driving on the other side of the road! Lattitude had orgainised a 3 hour bus tour of the city, in a old pink double decker bus. We were all busy taking photos of the sights, while the people on the street were taking photos of us. It’s a strange world! So we got to see Stanley park and got dropped off at Granville Island to explore for an hour on foot. Granville Island is not so much of an island anymore, but has quite a market place feel focusing on arts and crafts. The free specialty chocolate taster was delicious, by the way! We also got a tour of the Vancouver Sports Hall of Fame, by the stadium. It had a very interesting selection of historical costumes and other memorabilia, inluding some of the medals and one of the stages that they presented medals on during the Olympics that were held in Vancouver. We got to learn a bit about people like Terry Fox, an extremebly well-known sportsman who ran across Canada with his prosthetic leg after he was diagnosed with bone cancer in his knee. There is an annual run that school kids here in Canada participate in to commemerate his achievements and help raise awareness and funds.
The food here is similar to what we get back home in NZ. The first night in Vancouver, we had Davies Mongolian BBQ, similar to Gengy’s back home in NZ. The second night we went the the Old Fashioned spaghetti restaurant in Gastown, a beautiful, if a little dodgy, old suburb of Vancouver! I would definately recommend anyone visiting Canada to check it out!
Flying into Edmonton airport was incredible. It is a very flat province, with lots of farms. I could have been in Siberia with the thick covering of snow! Ebbie (my fellow Aussie volunteer who I flew out with) and I got picked up at the airport by Sean ans Wes who are our mentors at the Camp, dressed up to the nines in spectacular costumes with personalities to match! They told us that we would know who they were! I have to say though, I was glad I wasn’t travelling by myself, particularly when I set off the metal detector at Vancover domestic airport! Oops. Anyway, we all got our Canadian work permits without hassle thankfully, apart form the two hour wait!
Camp life is very cosy. Ebbie and I joined Carolyn (from Ontario), Ollie (a UK/Kiwi mix with Egyptian heritage) and Dani (another Kiwi), who are all gappies who have been working at Camp Warwa for the past two months. They were very excited to see us and they even baked me a very yummy chocolate birthday cake! Already I feel as if I have been here a very long time and are family with everyone, even though I have only been here two days! We started off by smashing some old bunk beds (I am proud to say that have mastered the hand-held drill and the crowbar) after the grand tour, then in the afternoon we all got to try the high ropes course This is one of the activities which I will run later on in the year when we get some school groups through. So much fun! One particular challenge was trying to balance with another person to get across a rope. I think Dani and I were laughing too much though. We kept falling off 10 feet in the air. And the zipline was also incredible!
This morning it snowed, so we ended up shovelling snow, and trying to dig out the fire pit, which was buried under two feet of the stuff. I will probably be sore tomorrow after digging that rather impressive hole! To keep fit, the girls have got into Zumba, so for the past to nights we (including the boys, and even Sean and Wes!) have been shaking our booty! Or trying to, at least. Moving on. Tomorrow, we get the day off so we’ll be heading to the West Edmonton shopping mall, the biggest in North America to do some exploring. Also on my list of things to do is go to a Rihanna concert in Edmonton on the 27th of March and walk across the lake and visit the island. I can’t say I have done that before. More firsts!
All in all I think it’s going to be a great year. But I should probably go and catch up on some sleep, so Goodnight!