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ReportsThursday, 17 July 2003
--> Calgary, Alberta, Canada (6th day) I slept in the guest room of Tammy's house, but I can't really remember that I actually closed my eyes last night. It was so warm and humid that I scarcely slept. And today it would going to be another warm day. r
I got out of bed around 11 AM (I worked myself into the night on my laptop too), I had a shower and found a note from Tammy on the kitchen counter: "Eat whatever you can find," it said and she added $20 to spend at the nearby mall if I needed anything.
I was honest about it to Tammy, but this morning I couldn't easily find anything for breakfast.
Most Canadians who would look into Tammy's fridge would find anything to make something, but maybe it's my Dutch head that I can't figure out what to do with all the stuff I don't know much about.
(Can anybody explain me why every Canadian fridge door is always and always filled up with bottles of salad dressings?).
I eventually found frozen bread and cheese and ended up having a sandwich for breakfast.
I settled myself near the living room fan with my computer connected to the internet connection of the house and did what I do every day.
Tammy arrived back home around 3 PM. She laughed about my failure for a better breakfast and gave some examples of what to do next time with her fridge's ingredients.
She made a smoothy mix from the blender and after eating another pie from yesterday's market, we hit the roads.
To the mountains.
And that's the exquisiteness of living in Calgary. You have so much cattle and farmland surrounding the city, but at the west of the city, just an hours drive, is the entrance to the wonderful Canadian Rockies.
As soon as we left the fenced off suburbs (Tammy never thought about that before, but when I mentioned every suburb or estate being fenced off, she concluded that Calgary has somewhat "something with fences, I guess") we were on the road West.
"I love this road," she said, "it's the way out and that's always good." And I saw the big ski jump arena that was used in the 1988 Olympics coming up.
We drove all the way to peaceful Canmore, the first town in the Rockies, surrounded by the first row of mountains that have were heaved up here only a few millions years ago.
We went here to visit a friend of Tammy, Lynn is her name. She runs a small but cosy spiritual shop.
"She is an awesome lady. Like me she's a single mother too and we know each other from some ten years ago. We used to work in the oil industry and then both went different ways."
Canmore's main street is full of little souvenir shops, book stores, restaurant, pubs and the usual retail fashion stores. It's a quiet little town, not so Disneyfied as Whistler, for example.
Lynn runs indeed a small little store featuring native artefacts, sacred rocks, spiritual literature, oils and hand-crafted jewellery. Walking around in her little shop was already a spiritual experience!
She told me that the town of Canmore died on the day Elvis Presley died. Well, it has nothing to do with Elvis, but on that day the gold mines closed around Canmore. People left town in search for another job and the town almost disappeared off the surface.
"It was thanks to the Olympics in 1988 in Calgary that Canmore was reanimated," Lynn told me. "Suddenly hotels and attractions were built; athletes practised their sports around here and people from all over the world walked on the main street!" Nowadays most people in Canmore are not originating from Canmore at all. "They all come from anywhere else."
Tammy and I had a walk up and down the main street and meanwhile enjoyed the weather.
Sometimes you are not allowed to complain about the heat of the sun, because it also makes lots of people smile and happy.
At one retail store called SAAN along the street, Tammy pulled me in. She couldn't find anything interested for her, but she bought me a T-shirt with the humour text, saying: "You! Off my planet!" Because it was pretty appropriate for me and
Around 6 PM Lynn temporarily closed her shop and joined us at the next-door Chinese restaurant, which was probably the best Chinese restaurant in Canada, according to Tammy.
We crunched various platters with Chinese cuisine and Lynn told me about her travels.
Like when she was travelling through India in a bus with Canadian tourists. "We were driving endlessly through the desert and I really had to go, if you know what I mean. Everybody had to go, but nobody said something. So when I couldn't hold it anymore, I told the driver to stop. Of course it is totally off culture in India to stop in the middle of nowhere to let a lady have an out-door toilet break! Suddenly everybody got off the bus and I had to direct them a bit. 'Okay', I said, 'women at the left and men at the right side of the bus. And no peaking!' Our bus driver had not ever experienced something like this."
After dinner Lynn reopened her shop again for the wandering tourists. Before we left to head back to Calgary, she gave me a few presents. She gave me a little good-luck Buddha to take with me on my travels. And she gave me a bundle of sacred sweetgrass that is ceremonial picked by natives. "Sweet grass is a sacred herb which has the property to bring the positive energies of love. A sweet grass ceremony is a cleansing and purification healing process in and of itself," she explained. And on top of that she also let me pick out a piece of crystal.
I might never see any bad luck again in my life, I guess!
The drive back to Calgary was as interesting as the drive to the Rockies. It's just fascinating how the mountain range just ends. Suddenly it is over and it is all flat farmland.
Those bloody farmers seem to be just cutting down the mountains to get more farmland, I bet!
Back in the north-eastern suburbs of Calgary Tammy and I watched some television, but when my hostess went to bed I settled myself behind my laptop again. I am moving on again tomorrow. There is not much to prepare anymore. I am only seven days away from departing this beautiful nation. And back home I will be having a vocational-break from my travels and I don't have to prepare much for that, believe me!
Good night Calgary!