Canadia – part 1

Sitting bolt upright on a coach from 11 in the eve until 9 the next morn, in front of a hag who needs to get up to pee every 7 minutes and with a crying baby stuck up my arse is something ive only ever dreamed of.  But i guess that’s the thing about dreams.  Transferred into the realms of reality, they’re crap.

And so continues a fools travel ordeals.  Did I forget to mention that after 10 hours on a completely full bus (seems it’s not only me and my good lady that are too ‘environmentally conscious'(!) to travel by airplane these days… apart from the trans-atlantic flight we just undertook that probably gave a Guatemalan child T.B.  sorry about that li’l fella), the piled up New Yorkian faeces in the bucket described as a ‘restroom’ was only a little too ‘nasal’ for my enjoyment.  Restroom?  Who rests?  And where’s the room?  I’m sorry, but fetid vomit box is what it should have said on the door.  Restroom?  Literally, i would rather rest in Satan’s mums colon then in that ‘Restroom’?  However, rest was certainly not what the angels had planned for me and so the 10 hour bus trip from New York to Toronto was undertaken with minimal sleep and maximum methane inhalation and coupled with not knowing who or what was to meet us at the end of our journey, a slight air of trepidation filled our fragile minds.

Stepping off the bus into another country is both exciting and unnerving. Getting off the bus when you’re being met by someone you don’t know and taken to a strange place you’re not familiar with and being potentially tortured with tools you’re not sure how to use can be quite disconcerting.  Thankfully, Dave, our first couch surfing host didn’t have this…

this…

or this…

He did however have this…

http://images.loqu.com/photos/964/903/funny-cars.jpg

and so we free wheeled out of the bus terminal, me in my warmest winter fur-lined coat et mon femme in her heaviest quilted arctic explorers saturday night number and the air around us a stain inducing 98 degrees, and rally burnered off into a new life where people say oot and aboot, swear by a diet of Poutine http://www.montrealpoutine.com/history.html and try to be as utterly fearful of talking to strangers as anyone ever evolved.

However, that’s not to say there aren’t exceptions and boy, have we been lucky enough to weed them out.

So, in true cost-cutting ways that is only natural to yours truly, my woman and I have decided to forgo the trappings of luxury 5 star accommodation for the potentially life threatening and serial killer meeting of Couch Surfing.  That’s right folks.  We travelled a few thousand miles to explore frontiers untouched (by us) from the confines of a lumpy old sofa.  For those of you who don’t know what Couch Surfing is, it has nothing to do with tropical beaches, bikini clad bronzed maidenheads and  dudes with long hair fighting with sharks for control of the balmy seas and everything to do with sleeping on someones couch for free (see www.couchsurfing.org).  Fortunately, our first host, the mighty Dave, had a pull out bed and wasn’t a cannibal.  In fact, after hearing one of his couch surfing experiences which included him waking up to find his middle-aged MALE naked host masturbating to gay porn less than ten feet away from him (he stayed an extra 3 nights!), I felt all the more comfortable and ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

Our first stop, before we even hit Daves pad, was No Frills, a cross between Iceland (the shop) and Croydon (the shit hole), all under one Yellow-Signed banner with the cheery demeanor of one ‘Pablo’ enthusiastically inviting you into the store of which he has become a franchisee.  I took this as a metaphor of the once sneered upon immigrant rising up to become Lord over his previously mocking now grovelling domain, ie, a man from the local neighbourhood making it good and now forcing the little power he has upon the people who used to poke him with hard white dog faeces by making them not only shop for crap groceries that include 89 carcinogenic ingredients per 100 but that in doing so pays for Pablo to collect up all the dried, white dog poo in the world and grind it into his No Frills Pancake Mix, listing it in the ingredients as Natural Flavourings.  Or maybe not.  Anyhow, it was an introduction to Toronto that’s been hard to forget…

David Brown, as his mum named him (they had to eventually drop the Brown as it was also his surname), allowed my tattoo clad travel wife to download 4 million gaganbites of watchable material from his internet source, made us lots of banana/choco/moccha/ mock-ups of milkshake type semi-liquid refreshment, got us a li’l high on more than one occasion and was generally an all round egg of goodness.  However, after a 10 day stint in his (post-realised) mouse house, we moved onward and upwards.  Or rather, downwards…

But only in the meaning of heading “Dooooooowntooooooown…” to the Angel in human form of Mary and her Nanny Hanson-esque view of the more dapper building’d financial district from 8 floors up.  This, quite literally, is the best view of a city I have ever seen.  The C.N tower was within touching distance and skyscrapers loomed over us at every glance and at night, why, if it wasnt for the fact that they all leave their lights on thus polluting the planet by approx. 8% more, it’d be an eighth as spectacular and 100% more life extending for all of our childrens’ childrens’ childrens’ children.  But hell, what cost a glamorous view?  Couple that with staying on the couch (on more than one surfing occasion… try 5) of one of the finalists in the Worlds Loveliest Lady competition and you almost have a cup o’ rosie, served in the best bone china with a coupla custards on the side.  “More tea Vicar?”, “Don’t mind if i do, young supple, fair skinned lad.  Now about those accusations…”.

Mary isn’t the kind of lady who offers you a couch and tells you to be out by 9 and not back til after 6.  No, she’ll take you out at 9, show you the best a city has to offer, take you to a Rad ‘iC’ AL food market filled with all the wondrous snackets one desires, go treasure hunting in the form of geocaching http://www.geocaching.com/ and get you chanting for the home side you never knew you loved so much at a baseball game, involving the mighty New York Yankees ‘divent ya kna’.  Yes, Mary is an all round saint.  She has given us her apartment whilst out-of-town for the weekend, put us up on more than one occasion when couch surfing has let us down and has been the most pleasant, fun, and interesting company of anyone I have met for many whiles.  And right there you have the most positive aspect of the whole couch surfing project.  The ability to meet and thus the potential of making friends with people you would never under normal circumstances have met, whilst being shown the best a place has to offer from the many different perspectives of your very different hosts.  And if that isn’t used as a future tag line (albeit a very long one) for a couch surfing t.v ad, then I’m removing myself from the site and starting my own one up called sofasauling where i get to stay on the sofas of anyone I want, anywhere, ever (you hear me, Mica Paris?)

There are obviously drawbacks, as with all things that aren’t 100% very, very goodnice!  Mainly, not knowing if your host will be a tosser.  But also, not knowing if you are going to contract bedbugs, as has happened to others I’ve read about and also not knowing if you are to be sacrificed to death.  But these are minor drawbacks.  Couch surfing is rather amazing and quite frankly, if I wasn’t to spend the rest of my life chained to a member of the fairer sex (!), I would never again waste hundreds of bucks to sleep in a nice bed for 8 hours whilst not having to worry about pooing loudly in someone else’s en-suite at 4a.m…………….. hang on…………..

We moved from Mary’s Manhattan-esque apartment to stay with Alan.  However, when we got to Alans house, he wasn’t there.  But that’s alright cos he left the key… somewhere.  So, in the pitch blackness that surrounded Alans fetid back yard, myself and the good lady searched the crooks and nannies of this rather Canadian looking shack (it even had a front porch), running hands along places that hadn’t had hands ran along them, probably ever, and for good reason, in search of The Key.  It felt for some time like the next installment of some Lord of the Rings  movie in which the handsome Prince (cough cough) has to find the key to the Castle to enable him and his beautiful Princess to cop it off on a blow-up mattress on a strangers living room floor.  And, alas, a great hurrah was heard for miles around as along the splintered ledge of an old rotten fencepost, a dainty hand was swiped and a magic key hit the floor as if the good Lord of Key Searchers had placed it there herself.  With a clunk and a kick, a great door was opened and into another strangers’ house we stepped.  To find a note.  From our host.  Saying he would be back late and if we didn’t see him, to “…help yourselves to stuff and the blow-up bed is in the living room, we’ll catch up tomorrow, blah blah blah…”.  Have you ever gone to stay at a strangers house and them not been in to meet you, to at least pass off the impression that they aren’t of the Manson clan?  Well, we have and its a wee bit nervy.  Can you imagine going to bed in this strangers house, not knowing if you’ll wake up looking at yourself through eyes that have been popped out and placed on top of the telly staring straight back at you?  I could.  But luckily, Alan popped back before we could rifle through his collection of Serial Killer novels for a hidden murderers meat masher and sighs of relief all round, he didn’t want to bugger my eye sockets.  In fact, he was a decent chap.  He gave me a beer, told us some interesting stories, introduced us to his Thai bride, I mean Chinese girlfriend and undercooked us some salmon on a bbq, whilst we tried and tried and really really tried to find his girlfriend interesting…  But, after a few nights of mainly not seeing Alan much (although we did see Jeff Bridges as a singing ol’ cowboy type and that was pretty enjoyable), we left and moved onto Danielle ‘Maceo Parker’ Mace’s flat, overlooking some lush stuff.  Danielle is a friend of a friend whom we met one day over Pho, who had never heard of couch surfing but was enthralled enough about it to sign up and invite us to be her first guests… for 3 whole weeks!!!  McRadicaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!!  It was somewhere to pop our heads down without the threat of a) ending up on the wrong end of a meat hook (she’s a vegan) and b) being eaten alive by microscopic bugs.  3 whole weeks of goodness with a very cool person who literally will vomit over all and sundry if you hide a piece of tuna on her shoulder and has a cat that would come first place in a cat dressing up as an Ethiopian dressing up as a cat fancy dress competition.  Whilst at Danielles pad, I saw the  most amazing lightning storm I have ever seen, from her 9th floor balcony, ate a shed load of pancakes, saw Roberto Fonseca and Gilles Peterson mash it up, watched my lady get her photo taken, which ended up in Toronto’s number one listings magazine as a ‘HALF PAGE SPREAD’!! and slept on a pull-out bed that sloped away from the centre and perilously toward the hard wood floor.  I guess you can’t have it all, right.  I mean, beggars can’t be choosers, you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth, when in Rome, related proverb etc, related proverb etc…

Amazing really, someone we only met once sharing her last few moments of her time in her flat (she wasn’t dying, she was moving) with two people she only met once over dinner.  Shows that there are really great people in the World who do things for other people at the behest of themselves.  I hope that one day I can do such things for people in the need, although if i do, i think i’ll leave a few books on Nielsen and Sutcliffe lying casually around, maybe with some polaroids of severed limbs under their pillows!!

I’ve also managed to find work whilst I’ve been here, although i guess it found me, thanks muchly to The Punchers, Gregory and Curtis.  A spot of gardening has been on the cards and I even managed to bag a grand from a private paving job so money isn’t as hard to come by as it once was during another travel adventure, many moons ago.

And as for the honey i’m journeying with?  Well, next time you see her, just don’t ask for a slice of the Godfather, she’s likely to chop your horse’s head off…

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