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Reports

Sunday, 6 April 2003
Pembroke --> Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

After having pancakes for breakfast, Lori and I hung around bored at the house in Pembroke, Ontario, where the mum was in the kitchen and the dad watching CNN or hockey on TV most of the day. I didn’t have any existent contact with them as it stayed smaller than small talk what was actually exchanged.
Because Lori was hanging around bored, and that Dutch visitor could easily keep him busy behind his laptop at the table, Lori took me along for a drive around again.

The weather was way better than yesterday and I actually saw my first Ontario blue sky.

Let’s throw in a gibberish poem!

Ontario Blue Sky
You are too bright in the morning
You are too dull in the afternoon
And when you get darker
I will get blue and sparkle

I am bright in the evening
I get dull at night
And when I get darker
It’s time for you to make me startle


I had actually seen everything of Pembroke already, so there wasn’t much left to take photographs of. We were really bored. Visited another sister of Lori at their family home, did a quick e-mail check and mailed out my chronicle for the Dutch newspaper Sp!ts.

At 6 o’clock exactly (“My dad gets furious if dinner is served later on Sunday”) I joined the family at the dining table. When I took out my camera, Lori told me that her parents won’t appreciate being photographed. Not that they said that or something, it was just something I should acknowledge without questions. So I did...

During dinner – the parents were sitting at this table too – Lori told me that she not often joined the table like this. “I think I have dinners like this four times a year.” During dinner her mum and dad were absolutely quiet, so it felt quite uncomfortable to make any noise. On the background we listened to the talks of irritably reporters live from a torn-up country in the Middle East, live on The War Channel.

So guess what; after dinner, it was back to boredom again. And when Lori wanted to take me along for a drive through more dullness outside, I asked her: “Why don’t we just drive to Ottawa again?”

“Are you serious?”
“Why not? I have seen everything here twice already and there isn’t much. You are mostly negative about the whole place and bored of it all, while in Ottawa at least a bit more could happen for both of us.” She thought about it for a second and I added: “At least we won’t be bored that much.”
“Pack your bags, we are leaving!”

And now she surprised me! Suddenly I changed her entire schedule of sharing dreariness with me, into something exhilarating: the escape out of Pembore.

I packed my bags and Lori’s mother asked Lori if I was angry or something, or if she had done anything wrong. I didn’t hear a word from them myself until I thanked the parents for helping me out. “Now, good luck on your travels,” her silent father said and he gave me a big hand at the door.

Door closed. Engine started.

It was some 180km back to Ottawa but this could not be a bother to either Lori or me. We both seem to feel happy to get out and back to a place where things do happen.

We figured out that we could easily stay very cheaply in a hostel in the city centre and explore the place the rest of the night. With my cell phone back in business again (seems to work only in big cities) we called a few hostels and made a booking for one of them.

We arrived at the Ottawa Backpackers Inn around 10pm, where we registered ourselves in and Lori paid for two beds for the night. I dumped my stuff and pretty soon we were walking around downtown Ottowa.

Normally a Sunday evening in Ottawa should be as boring as Pembroke on a weekday afternoon, but today there was a difference.

Tonight was the big night for the Canadian music industry as it was the night of the Juno Awards. The Juno Awards are the big annual national awards for Canadian musicians. A big show on television, hosted by Shania Twain, would feature all the nominees and award the statues to the winners. And of course, this all happened in Ottawa tonight!

Big spots were lighting up the sky at the place of the ceremony. Lori actually wanted to go there this weekend, but it was hard to get tickets for the event.

As we wondered around downtown Ottawa, Lori introduced me to a beavertail (a deep-fried pastry topped with cinnamon and sugar, nice!) and we had a few drinks at the Whiskey Bar on York Street.

It took some talking to get in this place, because this was one of the official after parties of the Juno Awards. You have to imagine this red carpet at the entrance and hyped-up bouncers and managers at the door with name lists and everybody dressed up very formally.

I could not provide any ID that I was over 21 years old, which I found very complimentary of them, but when they figured out I wasn’t Canadian and I could say my year of birth without hesitation, they simply let us in.

And suddenly we were joining this party of people that had just been to that award ceremony. Lori bought me a few beers and we even tried the special shooter of the night, the Jagged Little Pill (tequila + Sambuca + Tabasco + sugar) which I do not recommend to anybody! Ha!

We got involved in conversations with other guests and heard all this gossip of possible ‘famous’ people coming by at this party. It was always “they expect Shania Twain within 15 minutes,” and half an hour later “it would be another twenty minutes, and – oh – Avril Lavigne was on her way too!

The music was good and loud, the drinks cold and the people warm. Lori had become very talkative and the men were just surrounding her and giving us free drinks. Now, that's always good! (smile)

So, what a difference this place made to Pembroke, doesn’t it?

Good night Ottawa!

Ramon