I'm visiting a friend that I met in Botswana, a "Quebe-coi" who came to New Xade to do research. She lives here now with her boyfriend and their cat and are by far the most hospitable, nicest young couple I've ever met-- and I've me quite a few. While they are out doing their normal adult-day things, I am wandering around Ottowa and I am ashamed to say, I've seen the Canadian Supreme Court and Parliament even before I'd ever laid eyes on my own country's capital buildings. Ottowa is impressive... and old. Not that America isn't old, or Africa isn't old. But the buildings in Africa are so new and ugly, laid in concrete and brick. Ottowa has stone, and wood, and cobblestone walkways with francophones, asian tourists, and Canadian business men saying "eh?" over the phones as I walk by. Photos of Queen Elizabeth are everywhere (Why? Canadian history is completely lost on me) and oh, they put maple syrup on everything! I'm just kidding about the last one, I wish they did though.
This morning, I went for a run along the Ottowa river, where I was stopped by a local news anchor who asked me to run up a ridge holding a fake Olympic torch made of construction paper and a black pepper grinder (Look for me in a montage of fake olympic runners on the local Ottowa news in August!), then I helped a father carry his daughter's bike away as first aid technicians carried his daughter off on a stretcher ("Murphy's Law" he explained to me, surprisingly calm), later on, I saw a very old man taking a walk without his pants on. Incidentally, it's not his pants that I noticed first, it was the very happy smile on his very wrinkled face.
Everyone in Canada is nice, but I can't help but think that they think I'm an idiot. I walk funny, my car is full of shit, and I can't drive worth beans. Every time I enter a neighborhood I don't know, and this happens every time I enter a neighborhood, I can swear that everyone behind me is glancing at my PA license plate, smacking their foreheads and looking for ways to pass me as they mutter french expletives under their breath. I try not to speak to cashiers because I expect that they'll start laughing at my American accent as soon as I say "Hi." But then I dont want to remain too mute or else they'll think I don't speak english. (Already in Ann Arbor a clueless bartender tried to explain to me what a Margarita is, "It's made of this thing called tequilla and it tastes like tequilla") Same goes with taking pictures. I passed by a chinese girl taking "artistic" photos of Seagulls, and, as she tossed bread onto the pavement, she asked her family why they aren't afraid of people. First, seagulls? Second, feeding seagulls? Then I passed by another chinese family explaining to their tour group how they found McDonalds. They talked excitedly in-between big bites of yellow-wrapped hamburger and pointed animatedly toward one of many roads that house one of many McDonalds.
Not to diss Ottowa, but why are these asian tourists coming here? And taking so many pictures! What's so amazing about the North American seagulls? The Ottowa senate? The McDonalds?? (Before you jump to the conclusion that McDonalds is a North American tourist destination, let me just say that I've been to China and there are a lot of McDonalds there, the only difference between their McDonalds and our's is that their Happy Meals have Hello Kitty toys). Everywhere the asians go, it's click click click click click flash! "OOOOOH ha soo!" Peace Sign. GONG!!! Whenever I see tour busses full of asians pulling up to the side of the road, I power-walk away as fast as I can lest a tour guide come out and kidnap me.
I'm enjoying Ottowa. What I'm not enjoying is being so far from family and friends so soon after coming home. Even though I'm only a few miles away, it literally feels like a different country (because it IS, dum dum). I already have a credit card charge to dispute, I dont understand the currency, signs are in a different language, people talk funny here, and oh, no data plan! no texting! international roaming fees! When I walked into a coffee shop today, I thought I'd be clever and pretend to be a French-Canadian. But instead of saying "Ou est le toilete?" (High School French) I nearly said, "A go na di toilets?" (Setwana). Panicked, I forgot my english, gunned it towards the bathroom sign, and when I accidentally made eye contact with the barista, I screamed deliriously, "Toi-ath-room?!?" (Asian Tourist)
Speaking of... one just walked in wearing a red bucket hat and a burberry cash wallet wrapped around the front of her neck... she ordered an ice water and sat down with her laptop. (Free Wifi)