I was in Canada last Christmas and New Year. Canada is a lovely country with super-friendly people and great coffee (I love Tim Horton’s) and, I almost forgot, of poutine which is a weird combination of fries,melted cheese curds and brown gravy on top but tastes amazing.
Every year, I celebrate Christmas in Huntsville, Ontario with my friend. We fly out to western Canada (British Columbia) to visit her other family members and to ski. It was a good cultural exchange for me to see how people in the west actually celebrated Christmas. I realized, here in Nepal, we don’t know how to celebrate Christmas, it’s just another reason for us to drink and party. In Canada, it’s all about family, coming together, sharing love and appreciation. Christmas is about the special dinner (turkey) and drink (champagne and orange juice) along with mysterious Santa filling your stockings with gifts at night, and tons of craft beer (I already miss the liquor store there); it’s a lovely feeling.
It was my fourth visit to Canada, and every time it just gets better and better. The only thing that doesn’t change is that it’s always cold. This one day, it was -36Cin Huntsville. I don’t think I had ever been that far below zero in my life before. On that day, even bright sun was like a joke. After being in the house for a while, I thought of going for a walk. I put on my best winter clothes, took my new camera and went off. It was a good day. And like I said before, there was a bright sun, people were having fun—skiing and hiking. I took my camera out, took only couple of pictures and put it back, realizing my fingers had gone numb. I couldn’t believe that it happened so fast. And I quickly ran back home.
If it was not for my friends—Bronwyn Russel, Kim Russel Brooks, Pia and Glen Brooks,I would not have enjoyed all of the adventures and fun times in Canada over the last four visits.
I still remember how shocked I was, during my first visit in 2015, to see a dog saloon for the first time. Literally, for a moment I could not believe it. I had to ask, “What’s that?” My friends were embarrassed to admit that ‘yes, a dog was getting a haircut in a saloon’. Sure enough, I watched a woman grooming a dog with much care and taking her for a shower later. Another thing that blew my mind was the doggy motel. Yes, even dogs have their own motel in Canada. At the back of my head, I was thinking, we so-called ‘dog lovers’ (worshiping them for a day and kicking them for rest of the year) should learn how to take care of our pets from these people.
I was surprised to see a robot cashier, who would receive a payment like a human, except taking it from its mouth and giving your change from a different part (don’t want to explain). And also by how much watch and love ice hockey. Their national team was one of the best teams in the planet that I have ever seen.
By my fourth visit,I have learned that Canadians do not speak Canadian. They speak English and French instead and say sorry a lot. They are very apologetic in nature. Even if you hit them on purpose, pretending it was a mistake while walking in the street, they might say ‘I am sorry’ first. Not that I encourage it, I am just trying to say they are very respectful of someone’s personal space, which we should learn and bring into practice.
Another thing that I learned in Canada,over the last four visits,was how to ski. When I first put the skies on my foot, I was totally out of my comfort zone. I continued questioning ‘Am I in right place?’, ‘What am I doing here?’ Everything was a challenge, from putting on the skies to skiing, getting on to the chair lifts to taking it off later. It takes so much of your energy if you don’t know theright way and, guess what, I always struggled as I only skied for a week in a whole year. The feeling gets even worse when you are hungry. Life was hard until I met my ski guru,Glenn Brooks.
Everything started to make more sense, it became as simple as 2X2=4, as I started learning from him. He taught me all about snow ploughing, curves and body postures, it was such a fun time. ThoughI have only skied for 21 days my whole life, I can do some expert runs (black diamonds) and small jumps.I am very proud of what I have achieved and I cannot wait to go back again.Peanut Trail, I am coming back!
Lama is a Wilderness First Responder and Executive Director at Himalayan Medics. He is also the Founder Director and Trek leader at LaMa Walks.