Who knew such awesome instances of connection and community could occur when you are headed to new and unfamiliar places?
I could go on and on about our trip, but here are a few moments where we were not only having a blast, we were getting to know others, as well.
Firstly, though we did crazy amounts of driving (we put about 5,500 kms on our rental car in 10 days) and lots of active adventures (hiking, especially), we did stumble upon some really neat performances! On the first day of the trip, we arrived in Quebec City to spend the evening. We ended up hearing about a FREE Cirque du Soleil performace that took place in the Harbour (see picture below on the left). While in Saint John, New Brunswick, we came across a Busker's Festival with a wide variety of performances and displays; ice sculptures to BMX biking to dancing with fire were all on display (see pictures below on the right).
When people gather for large shows or exhibits, there can definately be a "push, shove- get out of my way" mentality that emerges. Everyone wants the best seat, wants to get in before others, and leave first in order to avoid traffic. And this was certainly present in both of these places- but I also saw people seeing friends they knew and calling out, hugging when reuniting; a group of old, french women were going on about how we were being herded like sheep into see Cirque and they were having a hoot- waving a small Quebec flag so they didn't lose each other. There was evidence of people enjoying each other, not just the show, in these settings, too.
We did some really neat activities- a few firsts for us. Neither of us had done a high ropes course before- so we thought we'd give it a go at Treego in Moncton (see picture on the left below). At first the two of us mostly stuck together, but doing high ropes and being 6'4" doesn't work too well, and soon my hubby decided he would take pictures as I continued the course. Nothing deeply profound happened, but I was able to connect with a group of 4 or so young adults behind me- we quickly encouraged one another, warned each other of difficult courses ahead and empathized the anxiety generated by certain really hard parts.
We also went deep sea fishing in PEI (see photo on the right below). We quickly bonded with others on the boat- celebrating when the 5-year-old aboard quickly caught two fish at once!
During our time away, we mostly camped with the exception of 2 nights in two different hostels. I don't know if I ever want to stay in a hotel again- hostels are a fabulous way to meet new people and to have a local perspective on the city you are visiting. We stayed in a really neat hostel in Quebec City (called Nordic Sun)- the owners came by to meet us and shared lots of great suggestions of things we could do with our night. They recommended the Cirque due Soleil show- otherwise, we would have never known about it.
In Charlottetown, we stayed in another great hostel, the Backpakers Inn, and were invited to a bar for music trivia night (see below). So, we went along with a group of others staying at the hostel. It was so fun! I ended up winning a beer for guessing a question correctly (A female artist who was top on the charts in 1999- Britney Spears!) and my husband and I really connected with two Danish girls- they were curious about Mennonites, so we had some really deep conversations with them about our cultures and our travels. Now, we're friends with them on Facebook and might even visit them in their country one day!
While camping, we also experienced the kindness of others. At one camp site in Pictou, NS, the owner insisted on giving us the site for free! At the same site, Chris made friends with an older couple whose RV was close to the water tap. They insisted on giving him some hot water from their trailor since we were about to do our dinner dishes- this was such a blessing!
Our coolest capsite was in Meat Cove, the most northern community of Cape Breton Island. There, of the 20 or so people camping in this location, we ended up meeting a family from Peterborough (my home town) who know my parents! Small world! They had found this camp site 16 years before and now brought their teenage children to see it. Joe, the father, recommended an awesome hiking trail, which we did the next morning- it was glorious (see photo on the right- the view from where we hiked- can see our cap site).
Finally, there is something so special about reconnecting with old friends. On this trip, we stayed with our good friend John, who we knew from school but had not seen in a couple of years. He lives just outside of Halifax now, and took us on many adventures! Through all of our time together, we had deep conversations about life, relationships, faith, community, etc. These conversations- with our thoughts, dreams, wonderings... are so good for our souls! We cherished our time together.
So- oeverall, a rich time of connecting, learning... and FUN!
How have you been having fun with others this summer?