Monday, August 22, 2005

In My Neighbourhood

It's strange adjusting to life in a tourist town. A friend of mine warned me that, for the years she lived in Victoria, she always felt like she was on vacation. I understand.

It's so strange that most of downtown is in the "Inner Harbour," which is also tourist central. Okay, first of all it's strange to be going about your business in a downtown where there are horses and buggies, and people heading out on whale-watching ventures, and those statue buskers like I saw outside of the Louvre. It's strange to accidentally turn down Government St. near the legislature and the Empress Hotel, and suddenly have to be dealing with the heaps and heaps of tourist buses, unloading countless passengers. It's nearly impossible to drive downtown right now, because there are jaywalking tourists everywhere.

Chris pointed out that a lot of Victoria feels like we're in a completely different country. I can understand -- there are trees right out of Dr. Seuss books, giant tropical plants, and stores advertising Melton Mowbray meatpies. Men of all ages walk around shirtless, or at least with shirts unbuttoned to the navel. I barely recognise the stores, because the city favours independent or island-run businesses. Big box stores are relegated to the suburbs, or stuffed inside malls. Even those places that I know, such as Safeway or McDonalds, are done up in a style entirely different. Often, they'll have a McDonald's as part of an old building, as they do in Paris. There are spiders in my house the size of Chris's hand. The homeless population downtown is large, visible, and assertive. Everyone knows several vegetarians, and the forest on the road to Ucluelet was (ironically) littered with posters by radical environmentalists, protesting the chopping of trees for parking lots and tourism. Living here means owning a good backpack, a Gortex jacket, and a kayak, apparently.

In my city, there are no signs on the streets to indicate how to get to the airport. You head down on the highway marked as "ferries."

My local phone book has a table for the tides, and instructions on how to handle an earthquake.

Where I live, few people mention the weather. A nearly-two month drought is hardly a topic for conversation. (Where I'm from, that would be the top news story, and a primary prayer request in church services.)

It is going to take a while for any of this to be normal to me.

1 comment:

Janny said...

I hope your surroundings never get normal for you. You need to miss Saskatchewan so you will come back.