Monday, April 29, 2013

Easter Weekend

At Guelph we merely got a long weekend to suffice as Easter Holidays, which works out well as it means your term isn’t dragged out until May. One of the Canadians we met in Guelph, Caleb, offered to host a group of us over the Easter weekend and it turned out to be one of the most authentic Canadian experiences so far.

The sun was out for the first time after a long Winter (but we were fooled, Winter wasn't finished with us yet). Caleb lived near the town of Delhi (pronounced del-high, not like New Delhi) which is deep in the middle of agricultural Ontario - aka the middle of nowhere. His house is a lovely wooden house surrounded by a forest and miles of land with only a scattering of houses. The Opersko family were lovely being very hospitable from the second we entered the door. There were also two lovely dogs - a Siberian husky and a MASSIVE chocolate labrador, well ginger lab - which were hard for me to stay away from.

Our first stop was to a nearby native reserve where the first nations people live and are protected by the government and pay lower taxes. Visually it looked similar to anywhere else in the area but maybe slightly less wealthy. Although natives get free education they still have the lowest literacy rates compared to other groups in the country. The lower taxes don’t just apply to the natives, other locals travel to the petrol stations and shops in the area to buy high tax items such as cigarettes where you can get around 150 for $8.  Lacrosse is Canada’s national sport and it was created by the natives and they remain the best at it. There are massive stadiums in the middle of nowhere that come to life during tournament season.

We had a relaxed afternoon back at the house where Caleb taught us how to use a lacrosse stick and some of us got the hang of it - others not so much. That evening we built a bonfire and parked the trucks up next to it and had a few beers. There was a scary moment when we noticed trespassers in the forest next to the house - apparently hunters go in there frequently, if not very subtly. Overall though, it seemed like an authentic Canadian way to end the evening and we didn't get to bed until 2am.

The next day we were up early and it was another gorgeous day- which was good as this was the day of our intended polar swim. In the morning we were treated to an amazing breakfast and the sight of deer sprinting across the garden.

Before the polar swim we went to see a lacrosse game which was a lot more violent than I thought. It’s pretty much free-game with the stick and so you can hit people anywhere and as hard as you like. The funny thing with Canadian sports is that they are so rough while Canadians seem so calm the rest of the time.

We drove to Port Dover which is along to coast of Lake Erie which is one of the Great Lakes separating Canada and the US. A proper seaside town that was looking a bit half-hearted this early in the season and to our displeasure it was much colder here than it was at the reserve... We had a quick snack, well a foot-long hot dog, to try and warm our souls but decided to just go for it. We quickly stripped to our swimsuits and ran in with the Australians lasting the shortest amount of time - not surprisingly. Canada and Europe held the fort and stayed in for a few minutes. It was brain-freeze levels of cold though - probably on a par with the North Sea.

After a stop at Tim Hortons to warm us up we got back to Caleb's for dinner - I haven’t been so well fed in a long time! After dinner we got a shot of driving Caleb’s truck on a loop around the house which was great fun but Automatic pick-ups are far too much of a shock
to the system! It was a good job none of us had to drive back to Guelph...

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