Eight weeks in Canada

On August 1 I embarked on an eight-week journey through five Canadian provinces, stopping at nine cities:

British Columbia
Cobble Hill*
Tofino*

Victoria
Vancouver

*Cobble Hill is a community and Tofino is a district.

Alberta
Calgary
Banff

Manitoba
Winnipeg

Ontario
Toronto
Ottawa

Quebec
Montreal
Quebec City

In visiting, my goal was to experience as much of the country as possible without spending an extravagant amount of money. Staying with hosts through Workaway (a work-exchange program) and at hostels helped immensely in cutting costs, but it also gave me a richer travel experience.


My first stop was on Vancouver Island at a lavender farm called Damali in Cobble Hill. (I found this place through Workaway.) To get there, I had to fly up to Victoria, take a bus to the Swartz Bay terminal, and take a ferry to Mill Bay.

I had a layover in Seattle first, and according to my itinerary I was to fly out about an hour after landing at the airport. But it turned out that the airlines had canceled the 2:20 p.m. flight without informing me, so I had to catch the one leaving at 6 p.m.

I hadn’t even reached Canada and it seemed like the trip was already starting off on the wrong foot. The last ferry to Mill Bay departed at 5:55 p.m., so I definitely wasn’t going to make it. I had to email Alison (my contact at Damali) to let her know I’d be coming in the following day instead, as well as book a $100+ hotel room. The booking company at that point couldn’t reimburse me for expenses resulting in its failure to communicate the flight cancellation (I called while I was still in Seattle. They said to ask the airlines since that was who canceled the flight. An airline representative I spoke to, however, said the booking company should have informed me since I worked with them. Nobody seemed to want to take the blame for this). I didn’t want to let the incident frustrate me, so once I landed at Victoria International Airport, I made my way to the hotel and appreciated the nice, soft bed I got to sleep on after the long day.

The following morning in Sidney (a town east of the airport where the hotel is located) was a bit gloomy and rainy, but I walked around some before checking out to see what the area was like:

1 - sidney

2 - sidney

I eventually made it on the 83 bus to Swartz Bay and onto the ferry to Mill Bay. At the Mill Bay terminal I met Alison. She was wearing a purple jacket and drove a dark blue Hyundai, standard transmission sedan. We exchanged hellos, hopped into the car, and chit chatted as we made our way to the grocery store. A singer, Michael McCully, was touring organic farms in Canada and was going to perform at Damali in the afternoon and she wanted to purchase chips for guests who came. But because of the weather, she said she wasn’t expecting many people to come.

As we drove through the island’s forest-tall trees, I immediately felt that I was far from home. I am never surrounded by so many tall trees, like the ones we were driving through, in Los Angeles. And once I got out of the car, I knew I had some adjusting to do: I had to make myself at home as quickly as I could because Damali would be my home for two weeks.

1 - damali


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