Corruption In The East
Trip Start Jan 30, 2011
262Trip End Nov 16, 2011
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I peeked out of my berth and made my way to the shower, only to find the man who gave Kathy 'the creeps’ coming out of it; he does indeed tend to stare a little too long, but after two nights just feet away he can’t have been too much of a threat as we’re both alive to tell the tale.
Kathy and I made our way down for breakfast, only to find the pancakes and Maple syrup I’d overlooked on my first morning, in the hope I’d be able to have them on my last, were no longer available, instead the sweet choice was a mere apple fritter
The ‘ladies first’ commandment afforded me my tea and orange juice before the other two girls on the table, and I silently thanked the waiter for putting me above the others, even if it did make me feel a little self-conscious. Whilst finishing up, Kathy and I noticed the other passengers leaving tips on their evacuated tables, but my purse was back in the berth and I suddenly remembered Jane’s comment about the English being lovely people to serve, but that they never left tips; to buck the trend I borrowed a few dollars from Kathy and left a little something on the table. Granted it was very little, but the thought was there. I was careful not to forget our attendant Jodie, as she was kind enough to provide extra pillows, extra towels, and even an extra chocolate at bedtime; I think she was just glad to see someone under forty in the sleeper section
Realising that I’d not had chance to buy a souvenir badge or train-driver’s hat I set off in search of the souvenir store with Kathy in tow, but soon realised all the staff were elsewhere preparing for our imminent arrival in Toronto; a full circuit of the train ensued to get the $3 pin, but with minutes to spare I didn’t have time to ask for the hat, which was probably a good thing, as I’m sure it would have been crumpled to oblivion in my backpack.
We arrived a little hot and bothered back at the berth, only to see the CN Tower looming over us as the train came to a standstill; whilst taking a picture of the train dwarfed by the world’s tallest freestanding structure, a woman lighting her first cigarette since Winnipeg told me to get off the tracks as they were live. I thought her concern for my possible impending doom was ironic, as she warned me whilst lighting a death-stick and signing her own death warrant. Just in case, I stepped off the track and made my way towards the luggage carousel to collect my oversized backpack, so oversized that it needed a tag warning potential lifters of its weight; I blame the antler.
When I found the carousel at the bottom of the escalator I was greeted by my dad’s cousin’s friendly face; Margaret found me amidst the flurry of fresh-off-the-boat faces and we waited for my backpack to appear from behind the ominous black curtain. In my haste I’d turned my back on Kathy, but soon greeted her again whilst we anxiously awaited our bags, doomed to be at the very end simply because there were people waiting for me. An anxious moment when the carousel stopped turning was followed by the eventual arrival of my oversized bag, and as I bid goodbye to Kathy I made my way into Toronto alongside Margaret, getting a ride in their swish Audi to make a change from the buses and taxis I’d last seen the road in. We took a ride over to their son Oliver’s house to collect him and his camera, catching a glimpse of the numerous runners on Lakeshore Drive, and the rowers out in force on the lake; if only the cost for a month’s membership wasn’t nearly as much as a year’s back home I might have been able to join them.
I stepped into the familiar house at Lorne Park to see a beautiful set of renovations had taken place since my last visit in December 2009, at the end of my first solo venture into this big old world of ours. Pumpkin the gorgeous strawberry-blonde cat remained unchanged amidst the lessons regarding everything’s new place; I must remember where the tea is kept and watch my head around the extractor fan, which of course means I’ll forget where the tea is and have concussion by the end of the week.
I was then treated to a tour of the blooming Ontario garden, and introduced to the local wildlife, which included chipmunks, squirrels, frogs, toads, and even an abundance of tadpoles, but not one cow was seen. To quash my pangs for the heifers back in Alberta we took a walk down to the also newly refurbished local library, where Oliver had a photograph on display and the mayor was putting in an appearance; mayoress to be exact, as the ninety-year-old hockey-playing pink-clothed lady was in full swing of her speech when we moseyed in. We listened to the various VIPs’ speeches before heading into a side room where Panera Bread was serving an abundance of free food, the fact that we’d had lunch just hours before didn’t keep us from filling our boots, but we were careful to wrap up our goodies and store for later; as we left and passed through the security scanner I feared the food might have been chipped and made a swift exit in the hope the food thief wouldn’t be caught.
There was no time to stand and stare, as I was treated to a night at the cinema, watching ‘Water For Elephants’ at the same cinema I saw ‘Quantum Of Solace’ in 2008, and the French subtitled film ‘Conversations With My Gardener’ in 2009, unfortunately they’d also been renovating and the familiar torn canopy had finally been taken down. I’d not heard of the film, but had sat behind a girl on my way to Rocky Mountain House way back in April who had been reading the novel and made a note to look it up, and as such hoped the film would meet my excited expectations. Unfortunately Robert Pattinson is well-suited to his role as a vampire because he lacks so many lifelike features, namely speech; if only he’d uttered a few more lines rather than trying to smoulder his way through the film, he may just have found himself a new fan. Irrespective of his performance, the three of us acted like true rebels as we meandered our way through the cinema’s rules and regulations regarding taking your own food and drink inside, and as we ate the chocolate it tasted so much sweeter because of it. The rebels’ return to Lorne Park was made even better by the library goodies we’d snuck out earlier in the day; the east is corrupting me.