Stoned in a hostel in the middle of nowhere, with the remnants of a hurricane outside the window, I attempt to edit the clusterfuck of tiny blogs I wrote in the past few days in Cape Breton.
This should be interesting, forgive me in advance for the mess.
I looked at the map of Cape Breton and decided the best way to go would be to follow the Western coastline up and around to North Sydney, where I would catch the ferry to Newfoundland. I didn’t even realise until I was already en route that I had arbitrarily picked the Cabot trail as my route of choice. It’s sorta famously gorgeous and all.
It was hot hot hot outside, so the first small town pub I saw when I hit Cape Breton I stopped in at. Three beers later and I had befriended the strange middle-aged belligerent ex- or current drug addicts. Naturally, I befriend the weird ones. Meanwhile I’d also befriended the lovely young mom bartender who had to deal with them. A joint and some nachos from my new friends later, and I set out along the road. My next ride told me I simply had to stop in at the pub in his town, and gave me $10 to buy myself a drink. Can’t say no to an offer like that!
Things started to become apparently wonderful when a man at the pub spoke to me in Gaelic, with a thick accent that was somewhere between Irish, Scottish, and Acadian.
Then I broke my own hitchhiking rule: I hitched after dark. Dusk was falling and I was in a pretty spot with ample camping options. But I’d had a couple beers and I just wasn’t ready to retire alone; I felt far too social. I positioned myself under a street lamp and before long a lovely older couple picked me up and drove me the 20km to Chéticamp, dropping me off at the pub. I started chatting with people outside.
“Are you going in?”
“I think it’s a $10 cover.”
He hands me $10 and says, “I want you to experience this.”
I happily accepted and waltzed on in to the crowded bar. My new friend who paid my cover bought me a Guinness and told me he’s up next.
What followed was a gloriously Celtic night. Are we sure I’m still in Canada?! This guy was a truly amazing fiddler, and an amazing night was had. By the end of it I had two people offering me a warm place to sleep (shower included!!), and I opted for the fiddler’s couch.
The next morning came and I hit the road again. The skies were beginning to darken and the heat was lessening. A hurricane promised to arrive by Saturday… and I live in a tent. Far from panicked, I had the utmost faith the solution would present itself.
I arrived at a tiny isolated hostel located in the middle of absolutely nowhere. The door was open but there was no one inside. I sat outside for an hour or so, having smokes and watching cars go by – none of them stopping in. Then a small tour van pulled in, and human contact returned to my life. Once the manager came round I explained to her my situation; I had no money to pay for a hostel, but I also was probably going to get pretty beat up by the hurricane in my little tent. I asked her if I could work for accommodation. No problem.
Morning came and the tour van left, leaving just five of us hiding out from the weather in the hostel for a day or two. Except everyone seemed keen to go for a hike – it was just a bit windy at this point, after all. I got invited along to explore with two solo bicyclists travelling the country, one of whom had rented a car for a few days. What followed was incredible. Waterfalls, cliffs, forests, oceans… the Cabot Trail is truly awe inspiring. All three of us were delighted to have others to share the experience with for once.
I spent way too much of my life truly hating my life. It feels so incredible to have nothing I want; I love this life more than anything. I love the road, I love continually meeting new people, I love not knowing where I’ll sleep or who I’ll meet today. I love the ocean and the mountains and the trees. I know that ride will always show up. I love this life I’ve given to myself.
PS For your listening enjoyment…